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The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

Review: Just like ‘Wonderland,’ it’s easy to get lost in ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’

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Ali Caudle

A leading player in the pop music industry, Taylor Swift is back with a new release — one that is an hour and 17 minutes of gorgeous production, lyricism and raw emotions.

“1989 (Taylor’s Version)” was released Oct. 27, marking her fourth rerecord of her masters. Swift chose to release her first six albums a second time due to Scooter Braun, a talent agent who maintains possession of the original variants.

The production differs slightly from the initial version — most songs feature more of a techno, rhythmic beat — which allows fans to savor their favorite songs from the past while still experiencing something new.

Opening with “Welcome To New York (Taylor’s Version),” this difference is evident almost immediately, and it’s quite symbolic of the pop stars current fame and this new release: Swift sings, “It’s a new soundtrack,” and “The lights are so bright but, they never blind me.”

“Blank Space (Taylor’s Version)” and “Style (Taylor’s Version)” are other fan favorites with refreshed vocals that mimic their original versions very closely. Other songs, though, faltered — “All You Had To Do Was Stay (Taylor’s Version)” and “New Romantics (Taylor’s Version)” suffer from overproduction that makes her vocals, and the background riffs, sound more robotic.

An unexpected standout is “I Know Places (Taylor’s Version)” where Swift sings, “They are the hunters, we are the foxes / And we run,” with an aggressive tone and growl absent from the original, remaining raspy and passionate throughout. It matches the energy of the track, which centers around a hidden romance, perfectly. Her love affair stays in the present, rather than looking at the future and its consequences.

Listening to “Clean (Taylor’s Version)” is another full circle moment; as she reclaims an album very dear to her, she is finally “clean” of her stolen masters and can happily showcase her work as exactly that: her’s. It is another song with evident production changes that uplift the track, such as a more tonal and noticeable beginning melody and recurring backing line, allowing fans to take in her writing and emotions.

“Wonderland (Taylor’s Version)” is another high-energy hit as Swift alludes to a storybook tale, saying that she and her lover “fell down the rabbit hole,” in their affair, but “In the end, in Wonderland / We both went mad,” because of just how immersed they were in their romance. The bass is amplified much more, allowing the listener to feel that same rush of the thrilling adventure.

Swift turned to her unreleased vault for the final five songs of the album. In the album announcement, she explained that these vault tracks were “insane” and just short of making the original album.

It starts with “’Slut!’ (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault),” an enchanting, laid-back song that expresses Swift’s thoughts on how she is perceived by the public. She sings, “And if they call me a slut / You know it might be worth it for once / And if I’m gonna be drunk / Might as well be drunk in love,” revealing how her love for her partner goes beyond the paparazzi’s watchful eye. She continues, “Everyone wants him, that was my crime / The wrong place at the right time / And I break down, then he’s pullin’ me in / In a world of boys, he’s a gentleman.” She does not care for the public’s thoughts because of her love for him, emphasizing that she’s the lucky one who caught his attention.

Her next vault track, “Say Don’t Go (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault),” describes a vulnerable and uncertain heartbreak, expressing that it would take minimal effort for her to stay in a broken relationship. “’Cause you kiss mе and it stops time / And I’m yours, but you’re not mine,” she sings, telling her lover that she would stay if they told her to.

The only flaw with “Now That We Don’t Talk (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” is its duration, making it one of the shortest songs in her discography. Swift struggles to close out her relationship, reminiscing “I cannot be your friend, so I pay the price of what I lost,” as she loses not only her lover, but also a friend. She realizes all the joys that come with the breakup and not having to fake any emotions. “And the only way back to my dignity / Was to turn into a shrouded mystery / Just like I had been when you were chasing me,” Swift sings, likely referring to the period of time she spent away from the public eye after her breakup during the “1989” era, from early 2016 up until the release of “Reputation” in 2017. 

“Suburban Legends (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” is an upbeat track with vivid imagery that portrays a thrilling relationship. In the bridge, she writes, “I broke my own heart ’cause you were too polite to do it / Waves crash on the shore, I dash to the door / You don’t knock anymore and my whole life’s ruined.” She uses the motif of a ticking clock that ran out of time to symbolize the relationship’s expiration, causing everything to finally crash down. Even after believing they were bound for massive success — “We were born to be national treasures” — she knows that destiny brought them together for a reason that was not romantic in nature.

Last but certainly not least, the closer, “Is It Over Now? (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault),” is rumored to be about Harry Styles, her beau at the time of the original album’s release. It flashes back to her relationship, questioning what was truly the end as she reminisces on the memories. She sings, “Let’s fast forward to three hundred awkward blind dates later / If she’s got blue eyes, I will surmise that you’ll probably date her.” The song highlights Swift’s writing abilities and is one that seems to give her emotional closure. She also included references to the snowmobile accident she got into with Styles, writing “When you lost control / Red blood, white snow.” It also connects to “Out Of The Woods (Taylor’s Version)” in which the subject is the same incident, singing “Remember when you hit the brakes too soon? / 20 stitches in a hospital room.”

While “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” provides a refresh on her old hits, the true standouts are the vault songs that have been tucked away for a decade. Swift continues to outdo herself as a lyrical mastermind, and this album is no different.

About the Contributor
Ali Caudle, Projects Editor
Ali Caudle is a second-year journalism major with minors in law and public policy and women's, gender, and sexuality studies. She's projects editor in her second semester serving on The News' e-board. She spends her free time working with babies and wandering through Boston's various neighborhoods. Follow her on Instagram @attributedtoali or on Twitter @alicaudle for updates.
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