In 2014, Taylor Swift shocked the music industry with the release of “1989,” signaling her transition from country music sweetheart to city-girl pop star. This year, fans are returning to iconic hits like “Style” and “Blank Space” with “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” released Oct. 27 — precisely nine years after the original. The re-release is a wonderful blend of nostalgia and novelty, preserving the original’s whimsical energy and debuting five new songs “From the Vault.”
Unlike Swift’s previous re-recorded albums, which added featured artists like Hayley Williams, Phoebe Bridgers and Keith Urban, “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” has no collaborations on the vault tracks. Except for Kendrick Lamar, who agreed to re-record his verse in “Bad Blood (feat. Kendrick Lamar)” — only included on the deluxe edition of the re-release — Swift is the only voice present. While guest artists can often heighten fans’ excitement, the absence of other voices solidifies “1989” as Swift’s era of independence.
As with the other re-releases, the “vault tracks” — songs that did not make it to the original album — were the most anticipated element of “1989 (Taylor’s Version).” Swift teased the titles of the new tracks with puzzles on Google in September, causing the site to crash as fans flocked online to guess the names of the songs. On Sept. 20, Swift revealed the new titles: “Slut!,” “Say Don’t Go,” “Now That We Don’t Talk,” “Is It Over Now?” and “Suburban Legends.”
The first vault song, “Slut!,” is one of the best on the album. The song’s crude title contrasts with the track’s beautifully dreamy vocals and ethereal production. Swift sings, “And if they call me a slut / You know it might be worth it for once,” bringing listeners into the honeymoon period of a relationship, where love is so intense that the rest of the world seemingly melts away.
But the romantic euphoria does not last long, as the rest of the vault tracks detail a crumbling relationship. In “Say Don’t Go,” with a beat and overall aura reminiscent of the original “1989,” Swift begs her lover to ask her to stay. Like a relationship, the musicality of the song is a powerful swell of ups and downs and Swift’s vocals find room to shine.
“Now That We Don’t Talk” comes next in the track listing. While the song itself does not particularly stand out from the rest of Swift’s discography, its upbeat tempo and emotionally charged lyrics make for a fun listen. The same can be said about the following track, “Suburban Legends,” in which Swift expresses hope about the legacy of her relationship.
The lack of variation in the sound and pace of the new songs is somewhat unsatisfying for listeners who have been excitedly awaiting the album’s release. The tracks’ productions and melodies also notably match the style of her 2022 album “Midnights,” making them seem less like uncovered artifacts from the “1989” era and more like a collection of 2023 pop songs.
The final track “Is It Over Now?” also sounds like some of the other “Midnights'' songs. Its intro rings especially similar to “Labyrinth.” Still, the song is an explosive and memorable way to end “1989 (Taylor’s Version).” Swift bursts into the pre-chorus with a dramatic instrumental accompaniment before moving into an impassioned chorus. The track wholly captures the essence of “1989” and offers a cinematic conclusion to the exemplary album.
Daphne is an Arts & Culture writer from Austin, Texas. She is planning on studying International and Public Affairs. Her passions include cats, running and Phoebe Bridgers.