1989 (Taylor’s Version)
Updated: Oct 31
By Emma Friend, Editor in Chief
Over the course of the last two years, starting in April 2021, Taylor Swift has been rerecording her old music. These rerecordings have been dubbed “Taylor’s Version” as a way to indicate that she now owns the rights to her songs, not her old record label (for more on this, click here). Even without the rerecordings, Taylor has a huge discography, but these rerecordings have given her an opportunity not only to own her own music, but to release never before seen songs written at the time of the original album (“From the Vault”). The vault tracks are easily one of the biggest things fans look forward to. We now have “Taylor’s Version” of Fearless, Red, Speak Now and most recently, 1989.
On Thursday, 1989 (Taylor’s Version) was released and it blew us all away. The original tracks on the album are home to stronger and more mature vocals and elevated production quality to boot. To unexperienced listeners, these songs may sound the same as the originals. To fans, the songs may seem a little different – a tweak in production or change in tempo – but there is the added bonus of Taylor owning these songs that makes them. As I mentioned before, the vault tracks are the biggest change from the original album. 1989 (TV) has five vault tracks: “Slut!”, Say Don’t Go, Now That We Don’t Talk, Suburban Legends and Is It Over Now?.
Right off the bat, “Slut!” sounds a lot different than I expected. I thought this track was going to be upbeat and kind of a rage track, instead, it is slow and has some pretty heartbreaking lyrics: “But if I’m all dressed up; they might as well be lookin’ at us; and if they call me a slut!; you know it might be worth it for once.” Overall, this song seems to be about a very high-profile relationship she was in at the time (re: Harry Styles) and the backlash she got in the media.
Say Don’t Go features a lower register of Taylor’s voice with a rather catchy beat. The song itself sounds upbeat and fun, but once you listen to the lyrics you realize how depressing it actually is (this kind of production-lyrical opposite seems to be a specialty of Taylor’s). She’s writing about a relationship in which she would “stay forever if you say, ‘don’t go’”. Although it’s the title line, it is on the lower end of the devastating lyric scale. Some of the most devastating lyrics have to be: “I’m yours but you’re not mine” and “I said ‘I love you’, you said nothing back”. While I feel sorry for Taylor and whatever she went through that caused her to write these lyrics, I am thankful for yet another song that is Relatable AF.
If we are talking about catchy, we must touch on Now That We Don’t Talk. This song has been stuck in my head since the minute I heard it! Officially Taylor’s shortest song, Now That We Don’t Talk packs enough of a punch that I would almost fear a longer version. It was hard to pull out specific lyrics that emphasized this, as it’s the entire song as one that hits, but this lyric encapsulates the feeling the best: “I cannot be your friend, so I pay the price of what I lost… and what it cost.”
“You kiss me in a way that’s gonna screw me up forever” is part of the chorus of Suburban Legends, the 4th vault track. The song talks about a relationship and what they should’ve been, with various interludes of what they actually were, and the two didn’t line up. My favorite line in this song is “I broke my own heart ‘cause you were too polite to do it”; sometimes I feel like Taylor has a direct line to my life and writes about it because damn girl, you hit it on the nail!
Is It Over Now? was a song that I thought was going to be slow and sad. Again, I was wrong. This song had my jaw on the floor the entire 3 minutes 49 seconds. In the beginning, this song simply seems to be about a relationship that fizzled out with no clear ending. She’s asking if it was over when he cheated or when she cheated. It’s the second part of the song that really gets the jaw dropping. Taylor talks about losing control, with red blood on white snow and THEN she says something about a blue dress on a boat. When Taylor and Harry were dating, they got in a very serious snowmobile accident (losing control, blood on the snow) and there is a paparazzi photo of Taylor sitting alone on a yacht in a blue dress with Harry nowhere to be seen. She then goes on to sing:
“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,
You search in every model’s bed for something greater, baby…”
Harry Styles dated a few girls after he and Taylor split that looked alarmingly like her (the first line) and he also enjoyed the company of a few models (the third line). The strong emotions present in this song make it clear it was written back in 2014 and it is evident in past years that she and Harry have made amends, with Taylor being one of the only people to give him a standing ovation for winning album of the year for his third album, Harry’s House.
1989 (TV) makes it clear that whether she is making new music or old music, Taylor Swift has talent, passion and an attention to detail that makes her so beloved by her fans.