When I recall my first memory of listening to a Taylor Swift song, I already knew the lyrics. Every day on the way to kindergarten, I listened to “Picture to Burn” and screamed it at the top of my lungs for my mother’s entertainment. I must have been listening to Swift’s music before I memorized my mom’s phone number or knew what a phone was. However, it didn’t stop there, and I never knew that this love for Swift’s music would become all-consuming. Nine stellar albums and four incredible re-records later; I am as big of a fan as I’ve ever been. I thought that I knew how masterful Swift’s execution of the original 1989 album was, but 1989 (Taylor’s Version) blew the original out of the water.
1989 (Taylor’s Version) is a truly impressive feat. Swift recorded updated takes of her original sixteen tracks on the album, and they effortlessly showcase her musical growth. Classics like “Style” and “Blank Space” are still the tracks that Swift’s fans fell in love with years ago, with more smooth and mature vocals. The older versions of Swift’s songs simply pale in comparison when listening to the new takes.
Additionally, five new tracks have been added to the album, also known as vault tracks. These songs are tracks that did not make it onto the final cut of the original album. Vault tracks serve to open the door just a little further than Swift already has, to give the fans a better view into the era in which they were released. Some of Swift’s vault tracks, notably “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” are included among some of her best songs, leaving fans to wonder why they were ever scrapped. These might be some of the best tracks Swift has released.
The 1989 (Taylor’s Version) vault showcases Swift’s ability to experiment with different genres. According to the lyrics, the vault tracks follow the same storyline as the original 1989 album. However, with production being more reminiscent of her Midnights era, it feels as though Swift is reflecting heavily on her time during the original 1989 release.
The vault tracks open with “Slut!”. A slow song about the pressures of being in a romantic relationship while also being a famous figure scrutinized by the public eye, Swift writes the chorus and sings “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.” The lyrics are loaded with intertextual meaning and Swift’s own experience. On one hand, there is the fact that Swift was the subject of many tabloids and still is, most of which heavily criticize her romantic involvements. On the other hand, there is the use of the word “drunk” which is also used in “Blank Space” because these tabloids convey the satirical image of a love-crazed woman obsessed with ruining the lives of any man that encounters her. This song flips “Blank Space” on its head and reveals the person behind the performer to be someone who wants a genuine connection just as much as anyone else.
The vault tracks close with “Is It Over Now?” a more upbeat song contrasted by the storytelling of a couple’s prolonged fallout. With lyrics like “Was it over when she laid down on your couch? / Was it over when he unbuttoned my blouse?” The connection between Swift and the muse has grown cold with infidelity. However, the two very clearly still have feelings for one another as Swift writes “If she’s got blue eyes, I will surmise that you’ll probably date her.” The muse is looking for Swift in other people. Swift herself is simultaneously trying to get the muse’s attention back, as she sings “I think about jumpin’ off of very tall somethings just to see you come runnin’.” Swift is trying to hold onto someone that is trying to move on.
These tracks, new and old have something to offer to anyone willing to listen. While many disregard Swift’s tracks as mindless pop music, her tracks have a lot to say about love and the human condition. Unlock the vault and give 1989 (Taylor’s Version) a listen!
Written by: Danielle De Lucia