On Oct. 27, 2023, pop icon Taylor Swift released her re-recorded album, “1989 (Taylor’s Version).” This new album earned 176 million streams on release day, making it the biggest album debut of 2023 and the second biggest of all time, only behind Swift’s other album, “Midnights.”
“1989 (Taylor’s Version)” contains 21 tracks, 16 from the original deluxe version from Oct. 27, 2014, and five new tracks “From the Vault.” Swift also released a deluxe version of this re-recorded album with an additional song, “Bad Blood (featuring Kendrick Lamar),” a highly requested remake of their original version from 2014.
Swift is re-recording her original discography due to an incident with her former record label, Big Machine Music Group. A private equity group called Ithaca Holdings, managed by Scooter Braun, a prominent music manager in the industry, acquired the label. In 2019, Braun sold the masters of Swift’s studio albums to Shamrock Holdings for $300 million, a move Swift has publicly disapproved of.
Through re-recording, Swift emphasizes the importance of owning one’s art. Any time a song from the original albums receives streams, Shamrock Holdings makes profit. As a counter move, Swift pledged to re-record all of her original albums, ensuring that she owns her own intellectual property.
Thus far, Swift has re-recorded her 2008 album “Fearless,” her 2010 album “Speak Now,” her 2012 album “Red” and her 2014 album “1989.”
The original 1989 era marked a monumental shift in Swift’s career, as she experimented with the synth-pop genre popularized in the 1980s, after making her name in country music during the early 2000s.
Following is a breakdown of each of the five vault songs featured on “1989 (Taylor’s Version).”
Many fans are speculating that Swift’s first vault track on “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” is a perfect complement to the song “Blank Space,” released as part of the initial “1989” album in 2014. Jack Antonoff and Patrik Berger co-wrote “Slut!,” and Swift’s vocals bring it to life as she pays homage to the media’s hyper-obsession with her love life and the conflation of her personal history with her identity of being a “slut.” She acknowledges the double standard with how mass media labels men and women in the industry through lyrics like “I’ll pay the price, you won’t” and “And if they call me a slut / You know it might be worth it for once.”
The song’s lyrics also offer commentary on the reality that despite Swift’s best intentions, the media will continue to nit-pick her every action, so she might as well allow herself to love freely and openly. On social media, fans have acknowledged that “‘Slut!’” would not have been as well received in 2014’s social climate, and instead, the more upbeat and directly ironic “Blank Space” was a better conduit for relaying similar themes and messages.
“Say Don’t Go”
Immediately following “‘Slut!’” is a synth-pop-infused love ballad, where Swift pleads with her partner to reciprocate her feelings. The song’s pre-chorus features lyrics such as, “Say, ‘don’t go’ / I would stay / Forever if you say / ‘Don’t go.’” In this song, Swift is holding on to hope for a relationship that her partner is no longer invested in. Featuring the complexities that often accompany young love, this vault song perfectly encapsulates the one-sided heartbreak that couples face when one partner moves on before the other.
“Now That We Don’t Talk”
The third vault track, titled “Now That We Don’t Talk,” follows the previous song, “Say Don’t Go,” almost chronologically. From a temporal standpoint, “Now That We Don’t Talk” seems to continue Swift’s reconciliation with the aftermath of the break-up she introduces in “Say Don’t Go.” In the first chorus, Swift explains the universal feelings of going no-contact with one’s ex-partner with lyrics like, “Remind myself, the more I gave, / you’d want me less / I cannot be your friend, so I pay / the price of what I lost / And what it cost / Now that we don’t talk.” Through this song, listeners get a glimpse inside Swift’s psyche; she wants to check in and wonders about her ex but also reminds herself that the relationship ended badly, which justifies the existence of the mutual no-contact rule in the first place.
The 20th track on “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” titled “Suburban Legends,” explores both the thrill and tragedy of young love. Swift sings about an unexpected romance that arose after high school ended. She fantasizes about surprising “the whole school” by walking into their class reunion together, but the song’s ending line, “I always knew it / that my life would be ruined” reveals the romance’s ultimate demise. Fans were quick to point out that sonically, “Suburban Legends” closely resembles “Mastermind,” a track off of Swift’s “Midnights”
album released in 2022.
“Is It Over Now?”
The final track on the deluxe version of “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” is titled “Is It Over Now.” Swift expresses her anger over a complicated relationship that was on and off with seemingly no clear conclusion. The lines “Was it over when she laid down on your couch? / Was it over when he unbuttoned my blouse?” suggest that both partners were guilty of cheating on the other. Fans speculate that this track, along with most others from the record, was written about Swift’s fleeting relationship with Harry Styles in 2012.
Taylor Swift has had one of the most successful years of her career, not only releasing two re-recorded albums but going on the second-highest-grossing tour in history: The Eras Tour. Swift has been selling out stadiums across the United States and Mexico since the first show in Glendale, AZ on March 17. The tour will continue into 2024, with 78 international dates across five continents, beginning on Nov. 11 in Buenos Aires.
The Eras Tour allows fans to experience each of Swift’s 10 albums and their greatest hits over the course of about three hours. Swifties took it upon themselves to start several trends during this tour, such as dressing as their favorite “era” (associated with Swift’s albums) and making friendship bracelets to trade with others. The lines, “So make the friendship bracelets / Take the moment and taste it” from the “Midnights” track “You’re on Your Own Kid” inspired fans to make friendship bracelets. ”
The Eras Tour film also made its way into theaters on Oct. 13, giving fans a chance to relive the tour or experience it for the first time (if they lost the great war against Ticketmaster last fall). Mimicking the actual tour, fans have been encouraged by Swift to show up dressed in their best costumes and with friendship
bracelets in hand.
“1989 (Taylor’s Version)” is an addition to an already iconic year for Swift, proving that even Swifties never know what she has planned next.