Homecoming wasn’t the only musical event that happened on Oct. 27: Taylor Swift’s award winning album “1989” was re-released as well, complete with five never before heard vault tracks. “1989” first came out Oct. 27, 2014, when Swift was 24. Truly a mastermind, the re-release was announced Aug. 9 (8/9), which is eight years, nine months, and 13 days after Swift first released the album. This is equal to 3,208 days, which when you add the numbers together, totals to 13 (Swift’s lucky number), as well as being 13 weeks after her announcement of “Speak Now (Taylors Version).”
The “1989 (Taylors Version)” announcement came after much speculation from fans as to when the news would drop, fueled by Swift’s numerous easter eggs. Even so, the color coded instagram photos and music video hints pale in comparison to the google vault puzzles. After the announcement, fans were able to search Swift’s name in google to solve a mini puzzle. Once 33 million were solved (Swift is 33), the names of four new vault tracks were unlocked. This was achieved in under a day, and fans were given “Now That We Don’t Talk,” “Say Don’t Go,” “Is It Over Now?” and “Suburban Legends.” The fifth track was soon after revealed to be called “Slut!”.
Swift singled out the vault song “Slut!”, revealing it separately and leaving fans intrigued. “Out of the new songs, I’m most excited for “Slut!” for two reasons,” co-founder of the Taylor Swift Club, Davis Finney, says. “It’s a very provocative title, and Taylor’s [usually] known for being very safe when it comes to [her] public persona. Another reason is because of the emphasis she put on that song in particular.”
Without the five vault tracks, “1989” has 16 original songs: “Welcome To New York,” “Blank Space,” “Style,” “Out of the Woods,” “All You Had To Do Was Stay,” “Shake It Off,” “I Wish You Would,” “Bad Blood,” “Wildest Dreams,” “How You Get The Girl,” “This Love,” “I Know Places,” “Clean,” “Wonderland,” “You Are in Love,” and “New Romantics.” The contents of the songs vary, but genre-wise it was her first fully pop album, and it’s arguably what launched her into super-stardom. Harry Styles is widely considered to be the inspiration for most of the album’s relationship songs, most especially “Style” and “Out of the Woods.” Other topics explored include the now resolved grudge with Katy Perry in “Bad Blood,” and an exaggerated portrayal of the serial dater label attached to Swift in “Blank Space.” “1989” won A LOT of awards, including three Grammys and an Emmy. This made her the first female solo artist to win album of the year twice, the first win being for “Fearless” in 2010. “1989” is certified diamond, along with two of the album’s singles, “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space.”
Some may find it surprising that, like the original, no song collaborations were announced for “1989 (TV).” “The point of [“1989”] really seemed to be [for Swift] to make a name for herself, and cement herself as a pop superstar. Any artist collaborations would take the spotlight away from what she was doing, and undermine the intent of these songs,” Finney explains. “I do [however] see a possibility where she’ll release a remix with a feature to push a song forward in the charts.”
Along with the collabs remaining consistent, “1989’s” summer aesthetic remains intact. The new album cover pictures a smiling Swift in front of a blue sky, seagulls flying around her head. It references the original album cover with the seagulls, which appear on her sweater in the first cover, as well as by featuring Swift’s classic red lips. There are several colors of “1989 (TV)” vinyls floating around, and each features its own unique album cover. The tangerine edition, sold by Target, is the only one to include the bonus song “Sweeter Than Fiction,” which Swift wrote and recorded for the 2013 movie “One Chance.”
“1989’s” re-release, as well as her other re-recorded albums, come about because of a 13-year contract Swift entered into with Big Machine Records in 2005 that made her lose the masters to her songs. This is fairly common for starting contracts in the music industry, and it means that Swift doesn’t have control over how her original songs are used. When her contract with Big Machine Records was up, she offered a substantial amount of money to buy the masters back from them, but they said to acquire them she would instead have to enter into a contract to do several more albums under their label. This was unacceptable to Swift, and she declined the offer. Swift’s masters were then sold to Scooter Braun, who manages the careers of a number of music artists, including Kanye West. The combination of West and Swift’s notoriously bad blood and Scooter Braun’s reputation in the industry for being a bully led to Swift finally deciding to re-record her six original albums.
Many believe this endeavor is not primarily about the money. “I think it’s a really smart way to fight against an unfair situation. Musicians should be able to own their music, and Taylor has found a way to reclaim her songs by re-recording them,” Julia Dixon, another co-founder of the Taylor Swift Club, says. “The money is probably part of the reason, but I think a lot of it is just for her to regain control over her artwork.” Finney agrees, saying, “This re-recording project hadn’t ever really been done to this level of success before, and there was nothing that suggested this would be profitable … That doesn’t come from greed, but from artistic pride and a desire for professional control.”
Like the other re-releases, “1989 (TV)” is nearly identical to its original counterpart. It has only slight differences, such as Swift’s matured voice and the new vault songs. How her emotions come through compared to the original album is up to the listener, with Dixon saying she feels like “[a loss of emotion] happens a lot with re-records because the circumstances behind the songs aren’t as fresh, and so the emotion feels less authentic.” Whether you are an avid devotee of Taylor Swift or a casual radio fan, anyone who hasn’t listened to the album yet is highly encouraged to. Chalk full of pop bangers and nostalgia, it’s definitely worthwhile.