It’s a new soundtrack, and it’s been waitin’ for you: “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” proved that it’s more than Taylor Swift’s red lip that’s classic.
The re-recorded album represented not only a reclamation of Swift’s masters, but a new twist on the lightning-in-a-bottle pop record that redefined her career. Most UB students found themselves to be a total “Slut!” for her triumphant return.
The original record was a last-minute haircut, a move to New York City and a shot in the darkest dark at reinventing herself as a global popstar. With the original “1989,” there was nothing to lose. Now that she’s reached the top, there’s a long fall from the tightrope if she slips.
It can be daunting to recreate iconic No. 1 hits like “Shake It Off,” “Bad Blood” and “Wildest Dreams.” It’s even harder to remake cult classics like “Style” or “I Know Places.”
Many fans found themselves adjusting to the re-recorded original tracks.
“Some of them are the same and some are different. Not necessarily bad or good. Just different,” Lily Hinchcliffe, a sophomore pre-nursing major who grew up with “1989” and even attended the Speak Now World Tour, said.
Hinchcliffe wasn’t the only one who heard a difference. But for some fans, the changes didn’t matter as much as the message did.
“I’d definitely stream it just because it’s her, and I want to support her getting all her masters back,” Venska Caburao, a junior undecided major, said. “I do feel like the OG version of ‘Style’ hits a little more, but I definitely do like all of them.”
Others like Nina Vanvolkenburg, a junior communications major, didn’t pay attention to any alterations. She had one word for the re-recordings: “ate.”
“I really like [both versions of] ‘Style,’” Vanvolkenburg said. “I’m glad that she’s getting her money.”
Sarah Glashauser — a senior psychology major who saw Swift’s Eras Tour and has been a fan since the original “Fearless” album — discovered newfound beauty in old tracks that have had her hitting replay for years.
“‘I Know Places’ was my favorite. I remember dancing to that with my sister. And just the rest of the songs. I was a huge fan when it came out,” Glashauser, who already had the album open on Spotify prior to and during her interview, said. “‘I Know Places (Taylor’s Version)’ was even better, in my opinion.”
Even if there were mixed opinions on whether Swift’s re-records of the original “1989” tracklist soared like paper planes flying or came crashing down, her five new vault tracks fulfilled fans’ “wildest dreams.”
The scandalously titled first track from the vault, “Slut!” drew in listeners with its sultry sweet lyrics about being “drunk in love” and getting “lovesick” all over the bed. Swift clarified that this song was a contender for the original record, being a potential substitute for “Blank Space.” Although Glashauser seconds Swift’s original decision, she sees “Slut!” as a misunderstood diamond in the rough from an earlier era.
“‘Blank Space’ was super popular. I don’t think people really realized it was satire. It was definitely good for the time,” Glashauser said. “If she released ‘Slut!’ before, people wouldn’t have understood it as much.”
Other tracks like “Is It Over Now?” drew attention with ex lore (Harry Styles) and catchy tunes.
“‘Now That We Don’t Talk’ has been stuck in my head for days,” Glashauser admitted.
For Caburao, the stakes were even higher. “1989” is one of her “favorite albums” despite being dismissed as “white girl pop.” Caburao said the re-release marked “one of the happiest days of my life” because of its association with New York City and her own emotional attachment to it.
“Her 1989 era was a really great time for her to explore the city and just basically live a normal girl’s life,” Caburao said. “At some point in time, that’s all girls should do: just hang out with your friends and take pictures and not be boy crazy.”
Caburao, originally from the Philippines and then Hawai’i, remembered her first time flying to the continental U.S. and seeing New York City from the plane.
“I’d never seen tall buildings like that,” Caburao said. “So they really fascinated me. And I cried because I was like, ‘I really need to go see that.’”
“1989” and its ‘(Taylor’s Version)’ equivalent bring Caburao back to that awestruck sensation and remind her of a city she’s still drawn to.
Caburao’s favorite vault track, “Suburban Legends,” also brings back memories, but this time of high school. Swift’s song narrates a mismatched love that surprises the whole school at a class reunion, the type of romance that could “ruin me forever.”
“I feel like nobody really cares about ‘Suburban Legends,’” Caburao said. “There’s just one line in the song [that really resonates]. I used to have a really big crush on one of my friends, and we graduated from the same high school. That just hit me. I really love it, it’s just something about it.”
With only five vault tracks — the fewest of Swift’s re-recorded albums so far — and a suspicious deluxe album drop featuring only one additional song, fans find themselves asking, “Is It Over Now?” Or Does Taylor have more in store for her reborn Bible of Pop?
“I hope so but I also don’t want to get my hopes up and just be disappointed,” Glashauser said. “But I’d be really excited if there was more and there might be music videos coming.”
Alex Novak is the senior arts editor and can be reached at email@example.com
Alex Novak is a senior arts editor at The Spectrum.