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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’ proves Taylor Swift never goes out of ‘Style’

The superstar brings her 2014 pop album “Out of the Woods” in most recent re-recorded album.
Album cover of “1989 (Taylor’s Version).” (Photo courtesy of Republic Records)
Album cover of “1989 (Taylor’s Version).” (Photo courtesy of Republic Records)

There’s been an album-shaped “Blank Space” in my life ever since Taylor Swift announced “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” during her “Eras Tour” performance at Sofi Stadium; I needed this album to be blasted into my soul. Sure, it was a re-record; I’ve heard a lot of these songs before, some of them recently in the “Eras Tour” movie when I went to see it a few weeks ago. Still, there’s something magical about listening to a beloved album again with a fresh take. “I would wait forever and ever” to listen to “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” but luckily, the album is finally here for our listening pleasure and for Swift’s solidification as the owner of her own work.

The “Taylor’s Version” re-recordings are Swift’s way of claiming her past albums as her own. The project was brought about by a 2019 conflict with Swift and her record label at the time, Big Machine Records. Swift noted her disappointment in the sale of her masters to Scooter Braun, a long-time antagonist in Swift’s career, in a 2019 Tumblr post, stating that she was “sad and grossed out” by the change in ownership of her work.

Taylor Swift didn’t have to completely leave her past behind, however. Starting in 2021 with “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” Swift started the project of releasing re-recorded versions of her lost albums with herself as the owner.

“Artists should own their own work for so many reasons, but the most screamingly obvious one is that the artist is the only one who really *knows* that body of work,” Swift stated in her February 2021 Instagram announcement of “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).” “This process has been more fulfilling and emotional than I could’ve imagined and has made me even more determined to re-record all of my music.”

The “Taylor’s Version” project comes with some additions to the albums. Each re-released album includes “From the Vault” tracks; songs that were written during the same period with the intention of being on their respective albums but ended up cut for various reasons. “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” in addition to some minor updates to its original tracks, gives us five vault tracks for a fresh addition to the well-loved and highly-awarded album. 

“Slut!” is the first “From the Vault” track on the album. The song has soft-pop vibes with bittersweet lyrics that Swift creates so masterfully. She sings about how being called a “slut,” a label Swift endured during the “1989” era, might be worth it for this relationship. Still, Swift references having seemingly more on the line than the subject (Harry Styles, as many fans infer) does, singing “I’ll pay the price / you won’t.” 

The top spot on my vault track ranking belongs to “Say Don’t Go.” This emotional masterpiece brings strong vocals, jarring build-ups to explosions of expression and a dramatic chorus that makes you want to scream “I said ‘I love you’/ you say nothin’ back” along with Swift. It’s a relationship that is in its final moments, and Swift is begging him to ask her to stay. It mirrors “All You Had to Do Was Stay,” track five (which are the songs known for being Swift’s most vulnerable) from the album.

“Now That We Don’t Talk” is Swift’s shortest track to date, but in its two minutes and 26 seconds, it packs a punch with scathing lyrics and Jack Antonoff’s signature pop production style. The aftermath of a relationship is a tricky place to be in, and Swift portrays that all too well. Anyone who has been in the same situation knows how it feels to wonder about someone but know it’s for the better that they didn’t keep in touch. Still, when you happen to see someone who used to be a big part of your life in a lecture hall or at Rand, you’ll find yourself relating to the line “I cannot be your friend / so I pay the price of what I lost.”

“Suburban Legends” is about the relationship that you never truly get over. “You kiss me in a way that’s gonna screw me up forever” Swift sings, and it’s a familiar feeling to have someone who you’d wait forever for but they won’t do the same for you. Still, in your mind, you live on as “Suburban Legends” known for what you had in that moment. With beautifully layered harmonies and an outro full of underlying anger, this is a track that was worth the wait.

I never found myself asking “Is It Over Now?” while listening to “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” but this song serves as the perfect closing track for the album. The song’s sound feels similar to some of Swift’s “Midnights” production, creating a clear through-line from her full-pop debut to her most recent album. Swift asks the subject of the song if the relationship was truly “over” when they both moved on. With lyrics about specific moments of the “1989” era (Harry Styles in particular), this song ties songs together from earlier on the album with references to “Out of the Woods,” “Style” and “Wildest Dreams” in its lyrics, making it a perfect final bow on an album full of excellence.

When it comes to the iconic pop radio hits, the deeper cuts and everything in between from this album, “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” has an impact that you can’t shake off. While the double-album theory that many fans speculated about ended up just being another classic Swiftie delusion, a deluxe “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” dropped a few hours later with a collab with Kendrick Lamar on “Bad Blood (Taylor’s Version),” returning another part of Swift’s past to her ownership. 

The nostalgia of Swift’s full pop debut is still present in every track, and yet there’s a new freshness in the harmonies and mixing that makes it an even more enjoyable listening experience. “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” has made Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” of owning her work a reality, and we’re all enjoying that along with her.

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About the Contributor
Chloe Whalen
Chloe Whalen, Staff Writer
Chloe Whalen (‘27) is from Herscher, Ill., and is studying communication of science and technology in the College of Arts and Science. She previously served as Deputy Life Editor. In her spare time, she enjoys running, listening to multiple genres of music and podcasts and doing jigsaw puzzles. She can be reached at [email protected].
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