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New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Review: ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’ proves the album will never go out of style

Taylor Swift’s rerelease of “1989” is a dreamy rendition of her New York past that showcases her lyrical artistry.
Kiran Komanduri
“1989 (Taylor’s Version) was released on Oct. 26, 2023. (Kiran Komanduri for WSN)

Red lips, smeared eyeliner, a blue dress on a boat, one lost Grammy and a suspected snowmobile crash with then-boyfriend Harry Styles — 2014 Taylor Swift had every bit of inspiration to pull from for her upcoming album. With “1989,” she created what is now affectionately referred to as the “pop bible” to mark her musical shift into the genre. New York became her city, her hair became this “fuck ass bob” and her iconic “girl gang” was born.

When I first listened to “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” I hated it. “Welcome To New York (Taylor’s Version),” “Blank Space (Taylor’s Version)” and “Style (Taylor’s Version)” all sound overly produced with reverberated bass and flashy synths. The overwhelming backing tracks shroud her vocals that are screaming for acknowledgment. But, listening to Taylor’s rerecordings with an open mind is imperative because they are just that: rerecordings. Without Max Martin — an original producer on “1989” who wasn’t invited to work on the rerecordings — the hit radio singles aren’t trying to appeal to the masses anymore. Taylor is trying to own what should’ve been hers in the first place. She has grown and matured — just like her fans — and “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” is reflective of her time in the spotlight, as well as her personal preferences. While I’ll never get over the new EDM feel of “Style (Taylor’s Version),” I can understand why she chose to change things.

It’s almost as if Taylor, tired of her overplayed singles from the original album, rerecorded them half-heartedly, saving her passion for some more of the underrated songs. She places the clarity of her voice first, as opposed to the focus on production in the radio singles. The “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” tracks illuminate the less mainstream fan favorites. “Out Of The Woods (Taylor’s Version)” and “I Wish You Would (Taylor’s Version)” help the album stand out. A more mature Taylor looks back on her heartbreak with new rage and more resentful complacency for her past mistakes. The vocals showcase Taylor’s wide range and allow for harmonies to come in on the choruses. In “Wonderland (Taylor’s Version),” the rage now associated with “reputation” is pulling through.

Above all, she’s tired of justifying herself to society. In “How You Get The Girl (Taylor’s Version),” she sounds uninterested in teaching grown men how to be decent human beings. It’s vengeful. She’s matured, she’s aged, and she’s been through too much to put up with failures to meet the already-low bar for being a good boyfriend — which is very low. She even pokes fun at the song during The Eras Tour, saying “It’s a manual, right? … This is how you make somebody happy. This is how you fix it if you made a mistake. This is how you get her back!”

“Bad Blood (Taylor’s Version)” — originally directed at Katy Perry — is now a delightfully personalized piece of hate mail to Scooter Braun with irate rage pouring out of the vocals. Taylor even rereleased the remix featuring Kendrick Lamar that fans turned into a chant at the Eras tour — “You forgive, you forget, but you never let it go” — featuring a heavy bass line and explosive backing track.

The vault tracks were the most highly anticipated of the album. For “‘Slut!’ (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault),” I thought I was going to be shaking my ass. Instead, I cried. It’s a heartbreaking piece that’s sprinkled with strings and harmonies. Taylor is the older sister to an entire generation, making a lesson out of her heartbreak and angst. “‘Slut!’ (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” captures the juvenile fetishization she battled during the album’s original release, with lyrics like “being this young is art.” There’s an internal battle with her perception in the media, and she comes to the realization that she is okay with being called a slut, because “it might be worth it for once.” To balance the line between needing male validation and being disgusted by vulgar ridicule is a difficult one, and Taylor walks it gracefully.

Above all, Taylor’s vault tracks for “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” are familiar lyrical masterpieces. I noticed this the most with the vault tracks. It’s that fury and complacency in the tracks that kills her now. They belong half on “1989” and half on “reputation.” She mirrors “You Are In Love (Taylor’s Version)” in “Say Don’t Go (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault).” The former features angelic echoes where she convinces herself of love: “One night, he wakes, strange look on his face / Pauses, then says, ‘You’re my best friend’ / And you knew what it was, he is in love.” Then now, with the new vault track, she gives us the other side: “Why’d you have to (Why’d you have to) / Make me love you (Make me love you)? / I said, ‘I love you’ (I said, ‘I love you’) / You say nothin’ back.” There’s the sense of clinging onto the love that’s slowly fading. She’s warm between the sheets, but the alarm is going off. No matter how comfortable she is now, it’s time to go.

“Is It Over Now? (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)” is allegedly about her and Styles’ relationship — “When you lost control (Uh-huh) / Red blood, white snow (Uh-huh) / Blue dress on a boat (Uh-huh) / Your new girl is my clone.” It’s a merging of “You’re Losing Me” and “illicit affairs” to emulate the heartbreaking pain of betrayal. She’s lost, she’s hurt — from the aforementioned crash, perhaps — and above all, she’s emphasized her self-respect.

When the rerecord was announced, my best friend since second grade — who knew that I was a “1989” girl, through and through — sent me a video from her old iPod touch. It was us, ten years old, clad in Justice apparel with crooked teeth, dancing horrifically to “Shake It Off.” I’m 19 now, and my teeth are straighter after three years of braces, but I still love “1989.” I’ve fulfilled my childhood dream of living in New York City, listened to “Welcome To New York” on my first-year move-in day but still know nothing in the grand scheme of things. It’s a comforting fact to know that Taylor’s still there proudly, with her rage and angst and dreamy lovestruck lyrics.

Contact Julia Diorio at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Julia Diorio
Julia Diorio, Music Editor
Julia Diorio is a sophomore studying journalism at CAS. When not reminiscing about 2000s pop-punk music, she can normally be found drinking copious amounts of Dunkin' iced coffee, curating hyper-specific Spotify playlists or struggling with the NYT crossword. Find her variations of all-black outfits and dog pictures on Instagram @juliadiorio_. Send song suggestions to [email protected].

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