Review: Taylor Swift Brings Back the Glittery Optimism of ‘1989’

Taylor Swift
1989 (Taylor’s Version)
4 out of 5 stars

Listening to 1989 (Taylor’s Version) in a room full of people who wouldn’t tout themselves as die-hard Swifties reveals one thing: Taylor Swift outdid herself in the hit department with this record. You’ll near the end of the record before the sing-a-long and knowing head bops fizzle out.

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A large contributing factor to that is the sheer amount of singles she shared back in 2014. She had a whopping seven singles across the original album’s release cycle, many of which went on to be the quick draw response for any non-Swifties to pull out when asked “What’s your favorite Swift song?”

Swift seemed to have one goal in mind while making 1989 and that was to make the biggest record she possibly could. She succeeded.

This was an album for the entire world to enjoy and, with the re-recorded version arriving, we are reminded of what made this album so widely applicable.

1989 is undoubtedly Swift’s shiniest record. While her latest original album, Midnights, has similar pop tones, it’s more shrouded in misery than its predecessor. Swift had clearly signed a new lease on life while creating this project.

Take “Welcome to New York” for example. This album opener feels taken straight out of a mid-2000s rom-com. It’s blissfully optimistic and seasoned with ’80s pop influences by way of the ’00s. She punctuates her headfirst dive into the pop world with an accompanying move away from the Nashville scene to a chic New York one. The new version of the song has a similar optimistic effect.

The first four songs of the record read more like a greatest hits track list from Swift rather than a singular album. “Blank Space,” “Style,” and “Out of the Woods” have long been some of Swift’s most energetic and alluring tracks. The addition of her matured vocals makes these tracks hit even harder.

As with all the Taylor’s Version re-recordings, most of the new version of the album treks on exactly as one would expect. We’ve known these songs for almost a decade, but we have to say, they haven’t aged a day. They feel as fresh as they did back in 2014. Despite being heavily steeped in retro musicality, 1989 is surprisingly timeless.

The truly enticing part of the re-recordings is the “Vault Songs.” The previously unreleased tracks add even more color to the stories Swift told us years ago. However, we have to admit that with the past re-recordings, the vault songs have been icing on the cake to already powerful albums. Save maybe “All Too Well (10 Minute Version),” they rarely exceed our love for the songs that appeared on the original track list. That is not necessarily the case with 1989.

The five songs new songs she has shared on 1989 (Taylor’s Version) are soon-to-be fan favorites. “Slut!” is deliciously hedonistic and playful. “Say Don’t Go” is as fun as “How You Get the Girl” or “I Wish You Would.” “Is It Over Now?” is sure to spark some fan discourse about a certain ex-boybander. It’s a wonder how Swift ever narrowed down the track list given how many stunners she had at her disposal.

The only letdown from 1989 (Taylor’s Version) is the fact that we did not (or at least haven’t yet) gotten a double album release. The fans were so sure that a collaborative sister record to this release was on the way. Having woken up this morning with only one duet–”Bad Blood” featuring Kendrick Lamar–some fans are feeling the loss of that dream. Though we suppose we can’t dock her for something never confirmed in the first place.

Save some production switch-ups, 1989 (Taylor’s Version) doesn’t provide too many revelations, but that is the point. Moreover, we will have the Vault Songs on repeat until we are gifted even more new music from Swift.

Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images

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