November 2, 2023 | ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT | By Katie Rowley
Guess who’s back to talk about Taylor Swift. It’s me – your favorite official Taylor Swift reporter at The Catalyst. This week I am talking about Swift’s latest release: “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” which hit streaming platforms at midnight Eastern time on Oct. 27.
Originally released in 2014, “1989” is considered by many – including Swift herself – to be her first pop album. The album is filled with some of her most popular singles, including “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space.” In the years following its release, “1989” would go on to win best pop vocal album and album of the year during the 2015 Grammy Awards.
“1989” made Taylor Swift one of the pop girlies.
As a fan of Swift since 2006, I fell in love with her country music, so her shift to pop, although not unexpected due to her previous pop-adjacent album “Red,” lost me a bit. Despite the hits and the 2014 nostalgia packed into this album, as Swift released more and more music, I found “1989” consistently ranked at the bottom when comparing her albums. It’s not a bad album, and I don’t hate it, it just wasn’t my favorite.
However, her recording of “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” might have propelled the album to the top of my list.
As I laid in the candlelit darkness of my bedroom at 10 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26, and pressed play on the opening track “Welcome To New York (Taylor’s Version),” I was instantly transported back to the mid 2010s. It felt like I was scrolling on Tumblr again, reposting the faux-grunge photos and begging my parents for a polaroid camera.
Two of the songs from the rerecording had previously been released, including “Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version)” in 2021, and “This Love (Taylor’s Version)” in 2022. Both singles were released because they were featured in a movie or television show. And, in 2021, I crashed my car while listening to “Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version).” So, while I listened to the first 16 tracks, anxiously awaiting Swift’s new vault tracks, I opted to skip both songs (which, doing so, I avoided the flashbacks to my car accident).
When talking about Swift’s re-recordings, one of the most common questions I am asked is: “what’s the point if she’s not doing anything different?” While a quick google search of why Swift is recording her albums again provides a general answer, any Swiftie would be able to tell you the re-recordings differ from the original albums. Not only are there some sonic and production differences in Swift’s “(Taylor’s Version)” albums, but Swift also releases new songs from “her vault.”
Vault songs are songs written during the eras of each album but were never recorded or released. The most notable one being “All Too Well (Ten Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault).” These songs range in popularity among Swifties, and, although no general consensus can be formed quite yet, I’d say that the five vault tracks from “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” are going to soar to acclaim. And, for me, they make the album.
The track list was released on Sept. 20, via an Instagram post from Swift, and the title of the first vault song, “Slut! (Taylor’s Version),” left fans anticipating an upbeat, anti-slut shaming anthem. Instead, we were met with a sweet, pop, love song that I cannot get enough of.
Upon a first listen, the line “got lovesick all over my bed” made me scream. In this song, Swift says the slut-shaming she has experienced all her life might be worth it because she is worth this person she has become. Although it’s not the rock Olivia Rodrigo adjacent song we were all expecting, it may be one of Swift’s most powerful declarations of love.
“Say Don’t Go (Taylor’s Version)” and “Suburban Legends (Taylor’s Version),” the second and fourth vault tracks, are amazing, but they didn’t stand out to me as much as the other two vault songs. This is all to say, I won’t talk about them in depth, but you should give them a listen too.
The third vault song, “Now That We Don’t Talk (Taylor’s Version),” sounds a lot like many songs on her studio album “Midnights.” It’s pop, but a bit more alternative and mature. The lyrics are backed by a mesmerizing synth as Swift recounts the loss of a relationship. In the outro, Swift starts listing all the things she is happy to have lost, including an interest in acid rock and talking to “important” men. She is so real for that.
The album concludes with the vault song entitled “Is It Over Now? (Taylor’s Version).” Wow, I wish it never ended (both the album and the song). This song made the album for me. It is insane, especially for a Swiftie who was praying for a collaboration between Swift and her ex-boyfriend and international popstar Harry Styles.
Months before the release of “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” rumors spread that Styles would be featured on the song “Style,” which Swift famously wrote about him. The track list release confirmed that wouldn’t be the case, and this final vault song put a nail in the coffin for any fans hoping for a reunion of the two stars; I was one of those fans.
Now, without delving too much into “Haylor” lore, Styles and Swift dated for a bit, and it ended with Swift sitting on a boat, by herself. This photo turned into a meme, but many people believed the relationship between Styles and Swift ended amicably. In this concluding song, Swift confirms that there was a lot of cheating and calling Styles a “lying traitor.”
But she also admits to being able to keep her, “nights out of sight/only rumors ‘bout my/ hips and thighs,” and that she admits to throwing herself off of buildings for his attention (real!). This song is sonically amazing and, knowing the history, it is insane. I need everyone to listen.
To conclude, listen to the vault tracks on “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” please. They are so good. Until Swift releases new music, or gets engaged to her bae Travis Kelce, this is Katie, signing off.