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Cougar Critique: “1989” never goes out of style

Taylor Swift announced “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” on Aug. 9, 2023 on stage at Sofi Stadium during the last of her six Los Angeles shows during her Eras Tour. Swift followed up the on-stage announcement with one on her official Instagram account, @taylorswift. Swift said, “The 1989 album changed my life in countless ways, and it fills me with such excitement to announce that my version of it will be out [Oct. 27]. To be perfectly honest, this is my most FAVORITE re-record I’ve ever done because the [five] From The Vault tracks are so insane.” Graphic by: Isabella Fierros

Almost a decade later, Taylor Swift reclaims her album, “1989”

On Oct. 27, 2023, Taylor Swift released her highly anticipated album, “1989 (Taylor’s Version).” Following the sale of her masters to the investment company, Ithaca Holdings, Swift decided to re-record and re-release her first six studio albums in order to own the music. The original version of “1989”  was released Oct. 27, 2014. It is her fifth studio album and fourth “Taylor’s Version” album. “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” includes 16 previously released tracks and five “From the Vault” tracks. “From the Vault” tracks are songs Swift wrote for the original version of the album, but were not released.

“Welcome To New York (Taylor’s Version)”: 9/10

“Welcome To New York” is a pop classic that is immediately associated with the feeling of a big city. While Swift did stray away from the city vibe for the re-release of this album, instead opting for a more beach, coastal feel with the album cover and photos, “Welcome To New York” still matches the other songs on the album and remains the perfect opening song for the album.

“Blank Space (Taylor’s Version)”: 9/10

In “Blank Space” you can begin to hear the differences between the original and Taylor’s Version. In the new version, you can focus more on Swift’s improved vocals. It is more evident in this re-recording that her voice has matured since 2014. Her singing stands out more from the music and is very similar to the performance she does of “Blank Space” on her tour, The Eras Tour. 

“Style (Taylor’s Version)”: 9/10

“Style” is the definition of pop perfection. It’s a Taylor Swift classic that has been played everywhere over the past nine years. At first listen, the synthesizer during the intro of the song sounded slightly different, but after a few listens you hear the changes less and less.

“Out Of The Woods (Taylor’s Version)”: 10/10

“Out Of The Woods” has arguably one of the best bridges on “1989.” It is one of the most satisfying songs to scream-sing to. The song doesn’t have many obvious changes to it, except for the backing vocals. The intro of the song has a background vocal that repeats “are we out of the woods” and feels much more vibrant and distinguished from the music. This is an example of the small production changes that Swift and her co-producer, Jack Antonoff, made to the album to give it a cleaner feel.

“All You Had To Do Was Stay (Taylor’s Version)”: 8/10

“All You Had To Do Was Stay” is a heartbreak song disguised with an upbeat tempo and easy to dance-along-to music. The intro builds you up to a slower beginning before the beat drops. It leaves you with a surge of excitement and a need to sing along.

“Shake It Off (Taylor’s Version)”: 10/10

“Shake It Off” is one of Swift’s most popular songs and is in the top five of her most streamed songs. According to Spotify, the original version has 1.2 billion streams and in just two weeks, the re-recorded version has 28.7 million streams. “Shake It Off” was the lead single on the original “1989” album and came with a music video. It is one of those songs that is timeless and continues to be present in pop culture. 

“I Wish You Would (Taylor’s Version)”: 8/10

In “I Wish You Would,” Swift perfectly conveys the feeling of all the regrets you have after a relationship has ended. She also talks about everything she wishes her partner had done to keep their relationship alive. It is such a relatable love/heartbreak song with catchy lyrics to sing along to.

“Bad Blood (Feat. Kendrick Lamar) (Taylor’s Version)”: 9.5/10

This song was one that fans were looking forward to the most. They turned Lamar’s line, “You forgive, you forget but you never let it go,” into a chant during The Eras Tour. The original version of “Bad Blood ft. Kendrick Lamar” came with a star-studded music video and is one of her most popular singles. It is one of the best featured songs in her discography and is very catchy.

On Oct. 27, Swift also announced the release of the Deluxe version of “1989 Taylor’s Version”. The deluxe included an extra track, the re-recorded version of her song “Bad Blood” featuring Kendrick Lamar. Photo by: Isabella Fierros

“Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version)”: 6/10

“Wildest Dreams” was one of the singles on the original version of the album. It’s a really good song but has been overplayed throughout the past nine years. It does have a very strong and well-known bridge. 

“How You Get The Girl (Taylor’s Version)”: 7.5/10

“How You Get The Girl” is one that often shines when up against such a strong lineup. Many other songs on the “1989” tracklist tend to take away from how great “HYGTG” is. It is a song about being so in love with someone, but they aren’t putting in the effort that you need. Swift shows off her strong vocals and lyricism with this track.

“This Love (Taylor’s Version)”: 8.5/10

“This Love” is another love song on “1989.” Swift wrote the song about her producer and friend, Jack Antanoff and his relationship with actress Lena Dunham. The two broke up in 2018 after about five years of dating, so while the inspiration for the song may not be real anymore, the song is still a beautiful story of love. 

“I Know Places (Taylor’s Version)”:: 10/10

“I Know Places” has seen the best upgrade from the original release. Swift’s strong vocals are much more obvious in this re-recording. The way she sing-screams “run” during the second round of the pre-chorus is so satisfying and shows how much control she has gained over her voice. This new way of singing the line is also popular among fans because of the nostalgia it brings from the “1989” World Tour. During her live performance of “I Know Places” during the tour, Swift would sing the line, “They are the hunters, we are the foxes and we run,” in the same manner she does in “1989 (Taylor’s Version)”.

“Clean (Taylor’s Version)”: 10/10

What once started out as another breakup song for Swift, “Clean” has been transformed into an anthem for sexual assault victims. Following Swift’s own sexual assault case against former DJ David Mueller, fans gave a new meaning to the song. In this re-recording, Swift’s vocals come through stronger than ever and with power and elegance. Listening to “Clean” as it has been reclaimed by Swift as her own is an especially sweet and gratifying feeling. 

“Wonderland (Taylor’s Version)”: 8/10

“Wonderland” is a perfect example of Swift’s incredible storytelling abilities. She uses references to “Alice in Wonderland” to describe the roller coaster that is relationships. The song is about the exploration of love during a whirlwind romance. Swift perfectly encaptures her own experiences combined with the famous fantasy tale to bring this song to life.

“You Are In Love (Taylor’s Version)”: 10/10

“You Are In Love” is one of the most amazing love songs ever written. You are compelled to sing along to the beautifully composed bridge that showcases Swift’s talented songwriting.

“New Romantics (Taylor’s Version)”: 10/10

“New Romantics” fills you with energy the second it starts playing. It is so fun and beautifully composed that you can’t help but just sing and dance along to it. Do you know how during a concert the last song on the setlist is usually the most upbeat, easy-to-scream-along-to song? The song that perfectly encapsulates all the excitement of the night for one last song before it’s over? “New Romantics” is that song. On the original version “1989 Deluxe,” “New Romantics” was the closing track for this reason.

“Slut! (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”: 8/10

The first of the five “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” vault tracks was one that had fans on the edge of their seats. They were theorizing if the song would be a fun upbeat song like the exclamation point suggests, or if it would be a sadder song. As a woman in the music industry, Swift has faced a lot of criticism about her romantic life. The song ended up being a love song about not caring about the insults she receives over her relationship because being with that person is worth it.

“Say Don’t Go (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”: 7/10

“Say Don’t Go” is one where you can hear Swift’s vocals very clearly and she shows off her vocal range. This track starts with her singing in a deeper voice, which is not something you don’t hear from her often, making this song a bit more interesting.

“Now That We Don’t Talk (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”: 10/10

“Now That We Don’t Talk” reflects on a relationship that has now ended. The song perfectly matches with the feeling of “1989.” Swift’s delivery of the line, “I call my mom, she said that it was for the best” is amazing and brings so much personality to this track. 

“Suburban Legends (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”: 6.5/10

“Suburban Legends” was a good song, but it is understandable why it didn’t make the cut when the original version of “1989” was released. The vibe of this song is less “1989” and resembles Swift’s tenth album, “Midnights.” More specifically, the intro of this song is very similar to the music on “Mastermind,” the 13th track on “Midnights.” The lyric, “Tick-tock on the clock” fits the clock and time theme of “Midnights.”

“Is It Over Now? (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”: 10/10

Swift’s fifth and final vault track on the album is the perfect closing song. After 22 songs, you begin to ask yourself if the album is almost over. This is also one of the more interesting tracks to dissect and look for the meaning of the song. The lyric “red blood, white snow” could be a nod to the “Out Of The Woods” line, “Remember when you hit the brakes too soon? Twenty stitches in a hospital room.” Fans theorize that both songs are about the rumored incident in which Swift and British singer Harry Styles were in a snowmobile crash. The catchy bridge and interesting theories definitely make this the best vault track on “1989 (Taylor’s Version)”.

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About the Contributor
Isabella Fierros
Isabella Fierros, Online/Media Editor-in-Chief
Isabella Fierros is a junior at VHS in her third year at The Cougar Press. Her favorite singers are Taylor Swift and Harry Styles (it’s an obsession). She is also a big Los Angeles Dodgers fan and being a reporter for them is her dream job. 
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