As The Argosy’s self-proclaimed “Swiftie-in-chief,” I—like many others worldwide—eagerly awaited the October 27 release of Taylor Swift’s highly-anticipated re-recorded album, 1989 (Taylor’s Version). Not only are her recent re-released albums a strong statement by Swift regarding artists’ rights to own their own creative work, but they are also a fantastic marketing move, as listeners get to relive albums that may have defined moments in their childhood or youth. The series of re-releases began in 2021 with Fearless and Red, and the recent re-record of 2010’s Speak Now was released in July 2023. Through these albums, Swift is yet again keeping her adoring fans satisfied, fresh off the heels of her record-breaking Eras Tour, and the tour’s corresponding film. With streaming numbers of her music increasing to over 100 million monthly Spotify listeners, there is no doubt that 2023 is definitely the year of Taylor Swift.
This newest release has been awaited since the idea of Swift re-recording her “stolen” masters came into play. This arose out of Swift leaving her original record deal with Big Machine Records, who gave her little-to-no ownership over her own written work. Since leaving this label—and handling all of her management, PR, and marketing herself—Swift has been re-recording her first six albums to devalue the masters she does not own. The original album, 2014’s 1989, is regarded by many as one of the most monumental albums of not only pop music, but of Swift’s career as well. The 1989 era, named after Swift’s birth year, represented a dramatic shift in sound, style, and songwriting, and brought about levels of success previously never seen in Swift’s career. With hits such as “Blank Space,” “Shake it Off,” “Wildest Dreams,” and “Style,” there is no doubt that this album contains many of the songs that come to people’s minds when they think of Taylor Swift. But for many of us die-hard Swifties, the 1989 album has even more unforgettable songs than those that topped the charts, which completely validates the hype with this re-record. I consider “I Wish You Would,” “I Know Places,” and “Clean” to be among Swift’s best songs of her entire catalogue, and—despite not receiving the chart performance of some of the album’s singles—these songs have achieved success among fans, and on social media platforms like TikTok. Even more exciting about the re-records is the addition of what Swift calls “from the vault” tracks. These are songs that were written for the original album but were cut for some logistical or creative reasons. With these new releases, we can finally hear this album in the way Swift originally intended.
Fast-forward now to last Friday, October 27, when the album was finally released, two months after Swift announced it at the final show of the United States leg of the Eras Tour. As I eagerly counted down the minutes until 1 a.m. Sackville time, there was a sense of excitement and nerves that came with me every time I waited for a Swift release. To my shock and surprise, once the clock had hit one, both Apple Music and Spotify crashed with the amount of online traffic, and it took me almost ten minutes to get the album to play! Once the album was on, however, I knew immediately it was worth the wait. The original tracks from 2014 have a deeper, more evolved sound thanks to the maturing of Swift’s vocals and the reworking of the production by the original producers of the album. With Apple Music’s addition of Dolby Atmos sound, the album is immersive and draws you further and further into every lyric. It is still the 1989 we know and love, but it is much more refined. Many of us have grown in our lives as Swift has grown as a musician, and it is evident that this is 1989 for our generation. In addition to the regular tracks, we were given one of the strongest sets of “vault tracks” Swift has ever given. Of these, the highlight for me was definitely “Say Don’t Go,” which was written alongside award-winning songwriter Diane Warren. It is definitely worth a listen.
1989 (Taylor’s Version) is an incredible release, proving that Swift showcases herself as an artist who can not only revitalize herself but bring her own music to a new light. The success of not only this album, but all of Swift’s re-recorded albums shows that the value of artists owning their art is higher than ever before. Just this week, Billboard reported new record label contracts barring artists from re-recording their music for 10-30 years after the original masters, due to the success of Swift reclaiming her own words. This is an album that stands up to the systematic industry in which Swift finds herself. It is a new soundtrack, and I think I could definitely dance to this sick beat.