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The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Album Review: ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’: It’s been waiting for you

“1989 (Taylor’s Version)” is titled after the singer-songwriter’s birth year. (Photo courtesy of Pitchfork)

When Taylor Swift released “1989” in 2014, she took her first official step into the pop music scene, a genre-switch that would change the trajectory of her career. She became pop royalty, cemented by the long-term success of songs like “Wildest Dreams,” “Shake It Off” and “Bad Blood.”

Last week, Swift released “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” a 22-track return to her multi-Grammy-Award-winning album featuring five previously unheard songs from the “1989” era. She has now re-recorded four of her first six albums, a decision that came after her former record label Big Machine Records sold her masters to controversial manager Scooter Braun.

At its heart, “1989” is an album about being in your twenties, being freshly heartbroken and finding yourself again under a New York City backdrop. Despite nearly a decade of distance between writing these catchy heartbreak songs and now, Swift was able to deliver an album that is familiar, yet fresh.

Swift sounds older and wiser on “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” but still brings the young, confident and slightly vengeful energy that can be found on the original album. My favorite track, “You Are in Love,” where Swift sings about watching two of her friends fall in love, holds the same wistfulness that I fell in love with on my first listen. The production on this track is exceptional, especially when the music pulls back as Swift dives deeper into her desire for a simplistic, peaceful relationship.

On the whole, the album recaptures the magic of her classic songs. However, backed by a different production team, Swift does not shy away from taking creative liberties. For example, the updated version of her singing “Boys only want love if it’s torture/Don’t say I didn’t, say I didn’t warn ya” on “Blank Space” brings out her backup harmonies more, showcasing her vocal growth.

The biggest surprise on the album was “I Wish You Would,” a song I admittedly thought was a little boring before the re-release but found to be more vibrant on Taylor’s version. While most of the changes made make great songs even better, I do prefer the original production and vocals of “Shake It Off,” a song that sounds subdued on the 2023 version.

Each re-release features tracks “from the vault,” songs that were written originally for the album but were ultimately cut. The star of the vault tracks is “Now That We Don’t Talk,” a rhythmic song about how she is better off after ending a relationship paired with a synthetic sound and excellent vocals. I cannot believe this song is over nine years old and I am just hearing it now. 

The “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” lead single is “Slut!,” a vault track that Swift replaced with “Blank Space” on the original album — a decision I fully support. Both songs see Swift owning the “serial-dater” label she was given during her early career in a cheeky way, with “Slut!” being more explicit in addressing the media’s harmful portrayal of her as she sings “I’ll pay the price, you won’t … If they call me a slut/You know it might be worth it for once.” I had very high expectations for “Slut!” and, while the song has a nice, dreamy sound, it is nowhere near the level of artistry that the familiar “1989” songs and the best of the vault tracks are at.

I would push for “Is It Over Now?” to be the next single. This vault track is a reflection of a past, messy relationship with an incredible musical build. Her cool anger while singing “Let’s fast forward to three-hundred awkward blind dates later/If she’s got blue eyes, I will surmise that you’ll probably date her/You dream of my mouth before it called you a lying traitor” is one of my favorite moments on the album and the most fun to dramatically sing.

Each time Swift releases something new it seems like she has outdone herself and “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” is no exception. With the album breaking the record for the most streamed album in a single day on Spotify (previously held by her 2022 release “Midnights”), Swift proved that she will never go out of style.

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About the Contributor
Isabella Gaglione
Isabella Gaglione, Culture Editor
Isabella Gaglione (she/her) is a junior English and Film & Media Studies double major from Long Island, New York. The Lafayette's resident Taylor Swift Reporter. 

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