The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

Taylor Swift channels synth-pop and nostalgia: a “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” review

Molly Parker
Molly’s illi for the 1989 album review

Heartbreak, polaroids and red lipstick: Taylor Swift brings 2014 to 2023 with her highly-anticipated fourth re-recording: “1989 (Taylor’s Version).  

Released on Oct. 27, the re-recorded “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” contains the original 16 tracks, along with five additional “vault tracks” and a surprise bonus track: “Bad Blood (Taylor’s Version) ft. Kendrick Lamar.” 

Swift began re-releasing her first six albums in April of 2021 with “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” following the sale of her masters in 2019 to Scooter Braun and Big Machine Records

On the album’s release day, Swift set the record for the biggest streaming day in Spotify history, breaking her own previous record set by her 10th studio album, “Midnights,” according to an Oct. 28 article from Billboard.  

After just several days, the album also claims the second-biggest sales week of 2023, only succeeded by her previous re-recording, “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), according to an Oct. 30 article from Billboard.  

Nearly 10 years after her iconic self-reinvention and catapult into pop stardom in 2014, Swift is reliving an era so quintessential to her career that even your grandmother can name the household hits “Shake it Off” or “Blank Space.” 

The album has grown to become a classic. Now reclaimed by Swift, it provides a reminder of its pop perfection. Many fans seem to agree that “the pop bible is back in the hands of the creator,” as stated by X user @fifteenswift in an Oct. 27 post. 

The re-recorded tracks, from the strut-worthy “Style” to the hopeless romance of “You Are in Love,” closely resemble their original versions. Still, they show a newfound element of maturity thanks to Swift’s older voice and smoother production. 

The vault tracks, the tracks that Swift previously chose to leave off of the original album, seem to act as footnotes to the other well-established tracks. They add a layer of deeper understanding to the album’s story that allows listeners to uncover Swift’s profound lyricism. 

The highly anticipated “Slut!” opens with breathy vocals and a soft, almost ethereal backing track. Softly muted synth matches Swift’s lyrical message of feeling fearful in the public eye. 

Swift describes a relationship in the spotlight, one that consequently subdues her to high criticism from the public. Yet, she is so in love that the negativity seems to fade away, as she sings, “And if they call me a slut / You know it might be worth it for once.” 

The story continues through the succeeding tracks, with the angsty synth of “Say Don’t Go” and “Now That We Don’t Talk.” These tracks, almost reminiscent of the sound of “Midnights,” have darker undertones but certainly fall within the iconic pop sound of the album. 

Swift reveals the end of a relationship in “Say Don’t Go,” desperately wishing the other person would save the relationship: “I would stay forever if you say, ‘Don’t Go’ / But you won’t.” 

A little bit more upbeat, “Now That We Don’t Talk” comes from the perspective of someone looking back on a relationship: no longer does she have to fake enjoyment of acid rock or mega-yachts. 

The track run takes a more wistful turn with “Suburban Legends.” With euphoric backing vocals and delicate beats, Swift imagines a relationship further evolved—one she hopes to show off at a high school reunion.

In her classic storytelling manner, however, Swift reveals in the final moments of the song that the relationship is long over: “You don’t knock anymore, and I always knew it / And my life had been ruined.” 

The final vault track, and arguably the standout of the five, shows that Swift’s astounding lyricism is certainly not lacking on this album. “Is it Over Now?” is no stranger to Swift’s recognizable lyric-heavy, heart-wrenching bridges like that heard in “Out of the Woods.” 

The track dawns on stunningly specific details and poignant words as Swift wonders where the relationship truly ended. With accusing lines and pointed words, she sings: “When you lost control / Red blood, white snow / Blue dress on a boat / Your new girl is my clone.” 

As arguably the biggest pop star in the world, Swift once again reminds the world what a talent she is. “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” proves her remarkable ability to keep soundtracking the lives of millions. 

With its range of dance-worthy to heartache-inducing songs, the album will continue to solidify itself as a pop classic, or if you’d prefer: the pop Bible. 


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About the Contributor
Molly Parker
Molly Parker, Illustrations Editor
(She/her) Molly Parker is a senior studio art and anthropology double major from Hopedale, Mass. She had been a member of the illustrations team since the spring of 2020 before becoming editor of the section in the spring of 2023. Molly also creates prints and zines that she displays in the Burlington area as well as her hometown. Apart from illustrating and creating art, she loves watching horror movies, cooking and crocheting. Email [email protected] to get in contact with Molly.