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“Screaming, crying, perfect storm”: A review of “1989 (Taylor’s Version)”

Taylor Swift sings at her Eras Tour stop in Arlington, TX in April 2023.
Taylor Swift sings at her Eras Tour stop in Arlington, TX in April 2023. Photo credit: Ronald Woan from Redmond, WA, USA, via Wikimedia Commons

Welcome to “1989 (Taylor’s Version).” It’s been waiting for you!

The highly-anticipated, re-recorded 2014 album is here and dominating the charts. As per usual, the latest Taylor Swift album broke records.

On release week, eight out of 10 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 list were from her new album. “Is It Over Now? (Taylor’s Version)” debuted at number one, marking her 11th number one hit.

In 2019, Swift announced that she would re-record her first six albums after her masters were sold to music executive Scooter Braun for $330 million. Subsequently, he sold those masters to Shamrock Holdings for about $300 million.

“Fearless (Taylor’s Version)”, the first re-recording released in April 2021, included the term “Taylor’s Version” to signify that she owns the masters. The 2021 album included six previously-unreleased tracks dubbed “From the Vault,” meaning Swift had unlocked the vault of old songs that never made it on her initial albums.

“1989 (Taylor’s Version)” contains 16 original songs and five vault tracks. Most of the songs sound the same, if not better than the original 2014 record. The harmonies across the album are beautiful and are especially prominent in “Blank Space (Taylor’s Version).”

Swift’s vocal evolution can be seen in “Out of the Woods (Taylor’s Version),” and her improved vocals take center stage on the track “I Know Places (Taylor’s Version).”

Songs like “Style (Taylor’s Version)” and “New Romantics (Taylor’s Version)” stick out for how distinct they sound from the original recordings. Some Swift fans, however, were disappointed that the electric guitar opening in “Style (Taylor’s Version)” sounds softer than the original version.

The more electric sound of “New Romantics (Taylor’s Version)” also came as a surprise to fans, as the original version was a popular track on the 2014 recording.

The lyrics from the vault tracks scream 2014 with their captivating hooks and rhymes, but the production leans more towards her album “Midnights,” likely due to her continued collaboration with Jack Antonoff.

Without further ado, here are my rankings of the five vault tracks, from least to most favorite.

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5. “Suburban Legends”

Though it is an upbeat pop song with fun lyricism, “Suburban Legends” is my least favorite out of the bunch.

The song tells the story of two people in a relationship who were “born to be suburban legends.” This seemingly alludes to the fame of her 2012-2013 boyfriend Harry Styles, as they dated during the peak of One Direction’s popularity.

It packs a punch with lyrics like, “I broke my own heart ’cause you were too polite to do it,” but the song does not hit as hard as the other vault tracks.

4. “Say Don’t Go”

“Say Don’t Go” is the longest and most heartbreaking out of the vault songs. It’s about the end of a relationship, as Swift dedicated more time and energy than her partner did. The song features Swift’s deep alto notes, powerful metaphors and flowy lyricism.

The most heart-wrenching part of the gorgeously written track is, “I said I love you / you said nothing back.”

3. “‘Sl*t!’”

This was my most anticipated vault song and was completely different from my expectations. I thought it would be a fun pop song like “New Romantics,” but it ended up being a love song more akin to “This Love,” with a softer melody and image-provoking lyrics.

Though differing from my expectations, I adore the ethereal aesthetic and metaphorical lyrics about being in love.

“Got love struck went straight to my head / Got love sick all over my bed” are my favorite lyrics for their effortless flow and clever wordplay.

2. “Now That We Don’t Talk”

Though the shortest of the vault tracks, this song has quickly become a fan favorite. With a catchy beat and hook, this song can be played over and over again. Swift’s intelligent lyrics and Jack Antonoff’s upbeat production make for a fun song to sing and dance to.

My favorite lyrics are, “I don’t have to pretend I like acid rock / or that I’d like to be on a mega yacht / with important men who think important thoughts / guess maybe I am better off.”

1. “Is It Over Now?”

Swift saved the best for last with track 21, “Is It Over Now?”

Heartbreaking lyrics over a fun melody are a quintessential feature of iconic Swift songs. It’s no surprise that “Is It Over Now?” debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 — this catchy song demands to be played on repeat.

Some Swifties even made a dance routine to the bridge which has gone viral on TikTok. Fans immediately became obsessed with the track and posted their theories about it online.

“When you lost control / red blood white snow” is thought to refer to the same snowmobile accident with Styles that Swift references in “Out of the Woods.”

“Is It Over Now?” is absolute perfection and one of her best vault tracks yet.

Rating: 13/10

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