Album Review

Taylor Swift gives the “Taylor’s Version” treatment to 1989

You might have heard of Taylor Swift if you’ve tuned into the Chiefs. Okay, maybe you’ve seen her more than that since she is currently the most streamed female artist on Spotify with over 100 million monthly listeners. She’s arguably the most famous singer in the world. While Swift has had a consistently strong discography commercially and critically, it has come with a high cost financially. In 2019, Swift left her record label, Big Machine Records, after it was sold to mega-manager Scooter Braun. Swift was very against the deal because it left her with no direct royalties on her music. When Swift shifted to her new record label, Republic Records, she gained complete ownership of the master recording of her new albums. But what about the records from Big Machine? Swift made the bold decision to re-record all her albums that Braun now owned, and last Friday, she released the re-recording of her fifth album, titled 1989 (Taylor’s Version), exactly nine years after the release of her original album.

I haven’t heard a Taylor Swift song since the original 1989, so my perception may differ from that of an up-to-date Swiftie. That said, I won’t compare the two versions, as I believe this one sounds superior to the original. Overall, 1989 (Taylor’s Version) sounds masterful, and Swift continues to build an eloquent discography that resonates with her fans. “Welcome to New York (Taylor’s Version)” opens the album with poppy synthesizers I liked and now I wish Google Maps would automatically play it the next time I drive into the state. The next song, “Blank Space (Taylor’s Version),” is one of this album’s most catchy and open-sounding tracks, despite having one of the most misheard lyrics in all of modern music with “Got a long list of ex-lovers” heard as “Gotta love these Starbucks lovers.”

“Shake It Off (Taylor’s Version)” was the anthem of 2015. Nothing more needs to be said. “Bad Blood (Taylor’s Version)” is one the most poignant tracks on this record, with better drums and more vocals than the original recording. The highlight of this new album’s deluxe edition is the sole bonus track: the remix of “Bad Blood (Taylor’s Version),” with a tremendous feature from Kendrick Lamar, one of my favorite rappers. Both of them sound mellifluously on this track. The album as a whole has a perfect harmony, blending different kinds of songs from the progressive-pop style of “Style (Taylor’s Version)” to the unforgettable dream-pop energy of “Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version).”

With this re-recording, Swift also included five previously unreleased tracks recorded during the original 1989 era. While I think the original tracklist is excellent, I wasn’t fond of the tracks from the Vault, although I did enjoy “Say Don’t Go (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault).” I feel the unreleased songs are reserved for the deep fans, as I didn’t take much away from them myself.

Will I ever listen to this album again? Time will tell. Did I enjoy listening to it? Absolutely. Swift knew Braun was trouble when he walked in, and rather than just shaking it off, she continued her unwavering commitment to re-recording her albums in her own way. Despite the challenges, it’s a testament to her remarkable dedication and integrity, and it’s no wonder that her multifaceted music has swiftly appealed to so many fans.