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Criticism ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’

Following+the+re-release+of+Taylor+Swifts+Red%2C+opinion+writer+Abbie+Beckley+comments+on+both+the+accusations+and+the+accomplishments+surrounding+the+album.%26%23160%3B
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Following the re-release of Taylor Swift’s “Red,” opinion writer Abbie Beckley comments on both the accusations and the accomplishments surrounding the album. 

Rating: 9.5/10

 

On Oct. 27, 2014, Taylor Swift released “1989,” an album that would increase her fanbase tenfold and solidify her transition from Tennessee country sweetheart to Miss Americana: pop princess. This past Friday, Oct. 27 —  nine years later on the dot  — Swift released “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” the newest installment of the pop star’s re-recorded albums. 

Following the release of “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” (2023) and the American leg of Swift’s infamous Eras Tour, “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” is the 2014 pop masterpiece fans have been waiting for, simultaneously acting as a love letter to romance in the big city and a scathing exposé of everyone’s favorite James Dean daydream. 

While many fans hoped that Swift and Harry Styles — the subject and effective muse of the original “1989” album — might collaborate on this project (particularly on an earth-shattering rendition of “Style (Feat. Harry Styles),” this album’s vault tracks told listeners the only place for Styles on this album would be under Swift’s red-hot pen. 

The new production of “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” is, overall, an asset to Swift’s works, adding just the right amount of crisp ornamentation and over-the-top 1980s synth to accentuate the original album. Swift’s vocals on the re-recording showcases nine years of growth and maturity, with “I Know Places,” “Clean” and “Wonderland” coming in as clear-cut standouts for their subtle — yet fresh — take on three fan favorites. 

While there are a few slight falters, including “Style (Taylor’s Version),” whose intro sounds more like a stiff AI-generated guitar riff than Swift’s original strutting anthem, these 16 tracks are a beautiful blend of the past and the present, prompting many fans to revisit the reason they fell in love with the pop star in the first place. 

Alongside the release of the “1989” re-record, Swift gifted fans with five never-before-heard vault tracks, described by the artist herself as “so insane … [she] can’t believe they were ever left behind.” After listening to each , I can, in fact, confirm that none of these songs deserved to be left in 2014, and they might be the most vulnerable vault tracks that Swift has released to date.

While each of these tracks is catchy, lyrically complex and “Midnights”-esque in terms of production (we see you Jack Antonoff),  “Say Don’t Go,” “Now That We Don’t Talk” and “Is It Over Now” are indisputable highlights of not only these vault tracks — but the entire album. 

“Say Don’t Go,” which is soul-crushing in the best and most upbeat possible way, shows the numbing pain of complete and utter indifference. With lyrics such as, “And I’m yours but you’re not mine” and “Why’d you whisper in the dark just to whisper in the night, now your silence has me screaming,” Swift uses this track to communicate the exhausting devastation of constant disappointment. 

“Now That We Don’t Talk” produces a similar punch, reminding us once again of Swift’s excruciating knack for putting the worst, most gut-wrenching range of human emotions into words. This track, which is by far the most sardonic of the five, expresses the internal roller-coaster that is going “no contact” with an ex.

“I called my mom she said that it was for the best,” Swift sings hopelessly in the first verse. “Remind myself the more I gave you’d want me less.” Ultimately, “Now That We Don’t Talk” is another piece of pure pop gold under Swift’s belt, with its only flaws being that the track is just too short — coming in at just under 2 minutes and 30 seconds — and just too relatable. 

Finishing off “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” with a bang is a new fan favorite, “Is It Over Now.” The track, which is filled with not-so-hidden references to Swift’s 2012-13 relationship with Harry Styles, is the most that she has revealed about the two’s relationship up until now, with references to the power-couple’s infamous snowmobile accident and tumultuous breakup that left Swift alone on a boat in St. John

While recent public appearances have communicated that Swift and Styles are now on good terms, “Is It Over Now” is an admittedly hard listen for the self-proclaimed “children of divorce” (super-fans of both artists), producing biting lyricism such as “You dream of my mouth before it called you a lying traitor” and “If she’s got blue eyes, I will surmise that you’ll probably date her.” 

Despite one or two minuscule oversights in the album’s production, I am of the firm belief that “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” is the best re-record Swift has yet to release. The vault tracks — which can sometimes be a toss-up in terms of fan reception — stand on their own as independently strong yet cohesive pieces of work, melding the experiences and sound of Swift’s youth with her more recent “Midnights” style. With four out of six of Swift’s planned re-recordings done and excitement for “Reputation (Taylor’s Version)” already building, it is unlikely Swift will rest on her beachy, summer love laurels for long. I do, however, hope this album is given its appropriate time in the spotlight as it is both inspired and incredibly deserving. 

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