Taylor Swift Reclaims Iconic “1989” Album with Five New Songs “From the Vault”

Taylor Swift recently released her re-recorded version of the album “1989” on October 27, the same date as the original 2014 release. In 2019, Taylor decided to leave her record company, Big Machine Records, and switch to Universal Music Group. However, her original recordings were acquired by Scooter Braun for 300 million dollars. This was extremely unfair to Swift because she had been trying to buy back her own masters herself. In response, she has now re-released “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” “Red (Taylor’s Version),” “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version),” and “1989 (Taylor’s Version).”

As a treat to fans who have stayed loyal to her through the process, she released a few never-heard-before The Vault tracks alongside the 16 original songs in the album. She also featured “Bad Blood (feat. Kendrick Lamar)” in a subsequent deluxe version of the album.

Growing up with Taylor Swift, her relatable lyrics and music are intertwined with my childhood memories. The re-releases have rekindled the same joy I felt when I first heard these albums.  With age, Taylor’s voice has definitely matured, and this evolution is noticeable in the re-released songs, which feature minor production changes, a fuller vocal tone, and a slightly different acoustic quality. But to my knowledge, there haven’t been significant alterations to the lyrics, making it easier for listeners to adapt to this new version of the album.

The first Vault track, titled “‘Sl*t!’” initially struck me with its explicit title, creating a contrast with the otherwise upbeat feel of the album. My assumptions were mostly correct — it didn’t transition cohesively from the preceding track, “New Romantics,” and failed to match its energy. Although I don’t hate this song, it would have fit better in Taylor’s recent “Midnights” album. While I do appreciate the song’s message of reclaiming the derogatory term, it stands as my least favorite among The Vault songs.

The next Vault track, “Say Don’t Go” had quite the opposite effect and might be my favorite among Taylor’s Vault songs. It maintains the album’s typical tempo, featuring a slow build-up and multi-voice chorus, similar to “New Romantics,” “How You Get The Girl,” and “Wonderland.” What sets this song apart is the longer build-up and slightly less upbeat tone. It has a bit of a resemblance to the “Midnights” album initially, but it’s far more cohesive than “‘Sl*t!’.”

The following two The Vault songs, “Now That We Don’t Talk” and “Suburban Legends” provided an enjoyable listening experience. They were a bit calmer, which resembled one of the original songs, “Clean.” Though my opinion of them is similar to that of “‘Sl*t!,’” I found these to be lyrically stronger. They could easily fit on her “Midnights” album, however, the beat drops in the chorus aligned them more with the vibe of “1989.”

The final The Vault track, “Is It Over Now?” sounded like a somber take on “Out Of The Woods” with similarities in the intro, chorus, beat, and overall tone. What makes it unique is that it takes jabs at her past boyfriend in ways similar to many old songs. For example, in “All Too Well” on “Red (Taylor’s Version),” Taylor pokes fun at her ex-boyfriend, Jake Gyllenhall. In “Is It Over Now?” she playfully targets her ex, Harry Styles. These references make listeners feel like they are in on an inside joke with Taylor, so I applaud her ability to connect to her audience.

The final bonus song, featured on the deluxe version of “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” is “Bad Blood (feat. Kendrick Lamar).” Initially, I found the song repetitive and annoying, so Kendrick’s rapping verses and voiceovers added a new dimension to the song. It can be hard to adjust to an added artist to an already established song, and I was concerned that “Bad Blood (feat. Kendrick Lamar)” might end up like “Karma (feat. Ice Spice)”, a bonus track from “Midnights (The Til Dawn Edition).” Surprisingly, Kendrick and Taylor’s rhythms were much more synchronized in “Bad Blood,” exceeding my expectations. Kendrick’s immediate feature in the beginning, while slightly disappointing as I was fond of the original intro, offered an interesting drop into Kendrick’s verse.

In my opinion, “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” is my favorite among Taylor’s re-releases. The Vault songs were easy to enjoy and added to the overall experience. Taylor’s voice and style have undoubtedly matured over the years, and the re-release of “1989” bears a resemblance to her “Midnights” album and the broader music of this decade. Despite some changes, the impact of her 2014 “1989” album hasn’t lost its effect on me; it still provides that same boost of energy and adrenaline. The re-release of albums is bringing fans back through the story of her life told through these albums, and I am genuinely excited to see what she has in store for the future.