The Music Moment: 1989 TV (DonnaBella and Kate’s Version)

4 mins read

On October 27th, Taylor Swift released the highly anticipated re-release of her album 1989, flush with five new “From the Vault” tracks. 

For the past three years, Swift has been in the process of re-recording her old albums since music executive Scooter Braun sold the rights to her first six albums in 2019. Releasing her re-recorded music to regain possession of her masters, Swift has captivated the world, one Machiavellian easter egg at a time. After re-releasing albums Fearless, Red, and Speak Now, Swift announced 1989 (Taylor’s Version) as her next re-record drop on August 9th, the last night of her six-show Los Angeles residency for the Eras Tour. 

All songs originally released in 2014 have been kept and re-recorded, with little changes to the content of the songs we have all come to know and love. Though Swift’s voice has matured and instrumentation has slightly changed, the original songs on 1989 have retained their 80’s-reminiscent pop style. While such minor adjustments go unnoticed to most, Swifties feel these changes have drastically altered some songs. Particularly, the guitar tone in “Style,” the staccato phrasing of the “New Romantics” screams, and the “Welcome to New York” claps. Most notable about Swift’s re-records, though, are her vault tracks. 

Tracks “From the Vault” are songs Swift never released with her original albums. With vault tracks becoming fan favorites from Swift’s other re-recorded albums, Swifties across the world were eagerly awaiting to see what was up Swift’s sleeve for 1989 (Taylor’s Version). After fans worked tirelessly to solve 33 million Google word puzzles in less than 24 hours to open the 1989 Vault, they successfully revealed the titles to four of the five upcoming Vault tracks.

Suffice it to say, 1989 (Taylor’s Version) did not disappoint.

1. “‘Slut!’”

Review: A-

The album’s first vault track, “‘Slut!,’” was not what fans expected. From its provocative title, Swifties anticipated a wild and powerful reclamation of slut-shaming but were shocked to receive a dreamy, nuanced love song. Its shimmery melody and tender lyrics add a romantic twist to Swift’s somber embrace of the vicious criticism she received for her early dating life. Swift says she “cheekily” plays on the cruel discussions surrounding her dating life back in 2015, similar to 1989’s second track, “Blank Space.” Despite being one of her favorites, Swift recalls this track was left behind because it felt too “California” on an album that embodies New York. Though “‘Slut!’” is not the empowerment anthem fans envisioned, its ballad-like nature entangling love and reckoning with one’s self image in the face of scrutiny elevates the album’s complexity and shows us that 1989 could have been a much sadder album.

2. “Say Don’t Go”

Review: A-

“Say Don’t Go” was co-written alongside veteran songwriter Diane Warren, and is the only song on 1989 (Taylor’s Version) that Swift’s longtime producer, Jack Antonoff, did not coauthor. Although written in 2013, Warren and Swift kept the same lyrics. Warren said, “[The song] still stands. It’s timeless. I’m glad to see it finally have its time.” The track revolves around a painful “situationship” that is doomed to end in hurt, though Swift still hopes it never ends. “Say Don’t Go” is a heart-wrenching tale of Swift begging for her love to be reciprocated. With a catchy, upbeat tune, the song quickly took over social media, starting trends on TikTok immediately after release.

3. “Now That We Don’t Talk”

Review: A

The third Vault track on 1989 (Taylor’s Version), “Now That We Don’t Talk,” is her shortest song to date, at two minutes and 26 seconds. Despite its brevity, “Now That We Don’t Talk” is the most sharp of the five Vault tracks and “packs a punch,” as Swift herself describes. With a magical pre-chorus and light pop-synth feel reminiscent of Swift’s tenth studio album, Midnights, Swift highlights the good and bad of no longer talking to someone. “Now That We Don’t Talk” is one of Swift’s “favorite vault track[s] left behind” on the album, which she is thrilled to have finally released to the world. Swifties agree, seeing as it has quickly become a fan favorite.

4. “Suburban Legends”

Review: B+

Similar in sound to “Mastermind” on Midnights and in story to “‘tis the damn season” on evermore, Swift’s fourth Vault track, “Suburban Legends,” narrates an ill-fated schooldays romance. The bittersweet lyrics and electropop background help Swift tell the story of two high school lovers who reconnect years later while both making it big, and try to stay together despite their odds. As the synth fades out, revealing a tragic ending of the star-crossed lovers torn apart by fate, Swift stresses that they were meant to be great separately, not together; they were meant to be Suburban Legends. Despite the complex storyline, this song doesn’t quite sonically measure up to the other tracks, “Suburban Legends” receives a B+ review.

5. “Is It Over Now?”

Review: A+

“Is It Over Now?” is the final Vault Track for 1989 (Taylor’s Version), and arguably the most brutal breakup song on the re-released album. With captivating vocals and echoing drums, Swift tells a bitter tale of a turbulent fallout with an unfaithful ex, thought by speculators to be Harry Styles. Specifically, Swifties noticed the lyrics “red blood, white snow” reference the pair’s previous snowmobile accident and “blue dress on a boat” matches a picture of Taylor sitting on a boat in a blue dress. As the sister-song to “Out of the Woods” and “I Wish You Would,” this track provides a true ending to the relationship that unfolds on the original album. Also serving as a clever play on words–is the album over now?– “Is It Over Now?” creates a perfect, Taylor Swift-esque resolution to close 1989 (Taylor’s Version). Presenting Swift’s strongest work lyrically and sonically out of the Vault tracks, “Is It Over Now?” receives the highest review of the five: A+.

DonnaBella is a senior in her first year of journalism. She is excited about designing and illustrating for The Mark and the M-A Chronicle. In her free time, she enjoys art, listening to music, going on walks, and spending time with friends and family.

Kate is a senior at M-A. She enjoys talking to people and hopes to write stories in which she can represent multiple groups and perspectives around campus. In her free time, she likes to read, play volleyball, run track, and spend time with friends.

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