To the excitement of millions of fans, Taylor Swift released her fourth re-recorded album, 1989 (Taylor’s Version), on October 27, 2023. It includes the original 16 tracks from 1989‘s Deluxe Edition and five previously unreleased songs ‘From the Vault.’
Swifties’ opinions are already flying around on social media. Some are upset about subtle changes in vocals and music while others are excited; some are unable to recognize any difference.
There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the production of the vault tracks sonically. Many believe they sound too much like Swift’s newest album, Midnights. So, why not just listen to the original version?
The original 2014 release of 1989 was early in her career and now that she’s rereleasing the album she’s come even further than anyone could have imagined. Swift’s career may have even reached the highest it can possibly go: she just finished the North American leg of her record-breaking Eras Tour; she’s dominating the Billboard charts; Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour film is making millions of dollars at global box offices.
All of this buzz has collectively made Swift a newly-minted billionaire, which makes this album one of the most anticipated of the “Taylor’s Version” re-records, and for good reason. 1989 is widely known to be one of, if not the best, of her albums. It won Grammy awards for Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal, and Best Music Video for the song “Bad Blood.”
Swift is re-recording her albums to reclaim her music. When she moved to a new record company after recording her first six albums, she wasn’t given a fair deal to buy back her masters. To attempt to recreate an album with so many accolades is quite a feat. Can she accomplish this and keep everyone happy? What can Swift do to keep fans buying and streaming her versions?
Is This Version Better or Worse?
In terms of the re-recorded tracks, I’m feeling a mix between happy and discontent. As a long time Swift fan I’ve listened to 1989 many times and it’s difficult to listen to a new production of a favorite song without being at least a little critical.
While some songs sound higher in quality and more polished than before, there are a few changes that take away from the original versions for me. For example, in the songs “Style (Taylor’s Version)” and “New Romantics (Taylor’s Version)” the music in the beginning sounds completely different, which upset many seasoned Swifties—myself included—since the intro to “Style” is an iconic riff.
There are a few other minor issues with production choices, but overall the album re-record sounds just as good or even better than the original.
For example, in “Shake It Off (Taylor’s Version),” the energy is still there and the improved vocal control adds more nuance to the song. Swift re-recorded the spoken word part immaculately, and the new version breathes life into a previously overplayed classic by giving the old song a fresh sound.
5 New Tracks on the Album
In terms of new tracks, my ranking is as follows:
5) Suburban Legends I really did like this song, and upon first listen it was one of my favorites. The lyrics were really well done. Taylor Swift uses a lot of metaphors in this song; she loves storytelling and that is apparent with this track. My main issue with this song is that the replayability isn’t very high. With most songs, the more you listen to it, the more you appreciate it. With this, I was bored after listen number three.
4) Now That We Don’t Talk This is fun, bouncy and very danceable. So many of the lyrics are absolutely perfect; choosing a favorite would be impossible. This is Taylor Swift’s shortest song ever at 2 minutes and 26 seconds, making it very replayable. It gets better with every listen. Sonically, it really sounds more like Midnights, which is fine, it’s just not the vibe for this album. Regardless, it’s entertaining to listen to.
3) Sl*t!: Only Taylor Swift could make such a derogatory insult into an absolutely beautiful love song. She starts the song off with strong imagery and sets the scene. She shares the criticisms she receives, but also brushes it off because everything in her relationship makes it worth it. It’s a bewitching song, from the lyrics to the music. It’s kind of like her song “Gold Rush” in a sense, musically and lyrically.
2) Say Don’t Go I love this song. I love the way the music builds up from the beginning. I love the emotions she places behind the lyrics. I love the metaphors she uses to emphasize her pain as well as her relationship with the other person. This song is very much giving “You’re Losing Me” vibes while also being danceable and sounding wholly 1989.
1) Is It Over Now? 1989 was the first of Swift’s albums without an iconic break up song, and here it is now after being locked in the vault for nine years. I think it fits in perfectly with “Forever and Always” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” This is classic Taylor Swift and should not have been in the vault that long. This song can be played over and over multiple times in a row, several times a day.
Overall, 1989 (Taylor’s Version) has great vault tracks, the majority of the re-recorded tracks sound as amazing as the originals, if not better. Swift’s marketing for this album re-release was the best so far with the bonus polaroids included with the special edition CDs and vinyl. It was like we were back in 2014 and the 1989 era. With only two albums left to re-record, I’m excited to see what’s next for Swift.
Have your own take on Swift’s latest re-recording? Please share in the comments!