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‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’ brings timeless updates to Swift’s 1st pop album

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Collegian | Trin Bonner

Taylor Swift released “1989” in 2014. A magical shift into the world of pop after being almost exclusively a country artist, “1989” remains Swift’s most acclaimed, beloved, recognized and timeless album.

When “1989” was released, it was met with critical acclaim. The New York Times praised Swift’s timeless songwriting. That now-famous review seems indicative of the power of Swift’s near-perfect pop album. “1989” went on to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year and a slew of other awards in 2014.

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When “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” was announced at the singer’s Aug. 9 Eras Tour stop in Los Angeles (a playful announcement date, as the numerical month and day formed 8/9), demand and enthusiasm for the album hit an almost fever pitch among fans.

The “1989” era is traditionally symbolized by Swift living in New York City as a young woman in her 20s — more focused on female friendships than dating after a slew of media attention on her romantic life — a free-spirited girl soaking up the adventure of the big city with short hair, cherry-red lipstick and sunglasses.

The rebrand for Taylor’s Version includes reshaping the aesthetic to focus more on a beach vibe than a city one. The album cover features Swift grinning in the distance, the seagulls that had been on her sweatshirt in the original cover flying free behind her.

While the original Polaroid cover almost felt trapped and highly structured, the Taylor’s Version cover flies free.

Three other vinyl and CD variants arrived, all with the same tracks: 16 songs and five songs from her vault. A digital deluxe version with “Bad Blood feat. Kendrick Lamar” was announced Oct. 27, and a Target exclusive features “Sweeter Than Fiction,” a song Swift recorded for the film “One Chance.”

Produced almost exclusively by longtime musical partner Jack Antonoff, the updated production of “1989” is similar to that of Swift’s “Midnights.”

“Welcome to New York” takes on a more electro-pop production, synth and layered vocals blending in harmony. “Blank Space” immediately echos the exact production and vocals played at the Eras Tour, which seems like a deliberate choice by Swift, who is adamant about owning her own music.

“Style” adapts a new electric guitar riff, enhanced by the electric sound and synth. “Out of the Woods” is elevated to an ethereal space, with echoing instrumentals and a nice key change for Swift’s high note after the bridge.

“All You Had to Do Was Stay” and “I Wish You Would” remain almost identical, with subtle vocal overlapping differences.

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“Shake It Off,” the biggest hit off of “1989,” retains its message about self-positivity with gentler vocals and an enhanced bridge. It feels like a new version of the song for the next generation.

“Bad Blood” has the most tonal shift: Instead of being singularly angry, it takes on a haunting swirl of emotions and a blurred background production that feels like a cousin to Swift’s other revenge tracks, layered with other emotions than simple anger.

“I Know Places,” “How You Get the Girl” and “Wonderland” are just as fun as ever, with richer music and more of Swift’s comfortable vocals. On “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” the vocals all feel comfortable, the natural extensions of Swift’s range.

“You Are in Love” and “Clean” remain the emotional standouts of the album, bringing the same passion and emotion to their respective tracks as in the original album. Except this time, it feels like Swift really is clean and has learned how to put love into words. Like all the other rerecords, the maturity benefits these songs.

The only rerecording that seems to not be on par with the others is closing track “New Romantics,” where the production just seems to overwhelm the song.

When Swift announced the rerecording on her social media, she said that this rerecording was her favorite because “the five vault songs are insane.” Little did fans know, “insane” would refer to the amount of jaw-dropping lyrical prowess they possess.

Out of the five vault songs, “Slut!” was possibly the most anticipated. Tonally, “Slut!” takes a completely different path than most fans expected. Instead of being about societal norms, Swift crafted a gorgeous love song about falling in love quickly with someone desirable and rejecting people’s opinions for love.

“Say Don’t Go” is possibly the most emotional vault song, with lyrics about betrayal, regret and confusion hidden beneath the catchy backing track. “Now That We Don’t Talk,” Swift’s shortest-ever track, doesn’t feel too short and instead disguises heartbreak in a synth pop track.

“Suburban Legends” calls back to Swift’s days as a teenager in rural Pennsylvania, hoping to both make it big and make it with someone. It’s another example of her storytelling lyrics — fun and bright.

Closing track “Is It Over Now?” features some of the most impressive lyrical phrases and quick witty turns on Swift’s discography. Like the other vault tracks, it hides deep messages and a story of dual infidelity in a catchy pop tune.

There is no standout track from the vault because they are all different and at such a high level lyrically.

The entirety of “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” is the perfect remake of the pop classic, revisiting some of Swift’s biggest career hits while still bringing a modern spin. With a hint of Swift’s signature sass and timeless appeal, “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” proves to be possibly the most seamless rerecording yet.

Reach Allie Seibel at arts@collegian.com or on Twitter @allie_seibel_.

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About the Contributors
Allie Seibel
Allie Seibel, Editor in Chief
Allie Seibel is the editor in chief of The Rocky Mountain Collegian, a role she loves more and more with each day. Previously the news editor and news director of The Collegian, Seibel has a background in news, but she’s excited to branch out and experience every facet of content this and following years. Seibel is a sophomore journalism and media communications major minoring in business administration and legal studies. She is a student in the Honors Program and is also an honors ambassador and honors peer mentor. She also is a satellite imagery writer for the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere at Colorado State University. Seibel is from Colorado Springs, Colorado, and loves how The Collegian has gotten her acquainted with Fort Collins and CSU. When she’s not writing, reporting or in class, you can always find her with a book, cross-stitching, planning where to travel to next, trying out a new recipe or listening to Taylor Swift. Seibel is incredibly proud of The Collegian’s past and understands the task of safeguarding its future. She’s committed to The Collegian’s brand as an alt-weekly newspaper and will continue to advance its status as a strong online publication while preserving the integrity and tradition of the print paper. Seibel is excited to begin a multi-year relationship with readers at the helm of the paper and cannot wait to see how the paper continues to grow. Through initiatives like the new science desk and letting each individual desk shine, Seibel is committed to furthering The Collegian and Rocky Mountain Student Media over the next few years.
Trin Bonner
Trin Bonner, Illustration Director
Trin Bonner is the illustration director for The Collegian newspaper. This will be her third year in this position, and she loves being a part of the creative and amazing design team at The Collegian. As the illustration director, Bonner provides creative insight and ideas that bring the newspaper the best graphics and illustrations possible. She loves working with artists to develop fun and unique illustrations every week for the readers. Bonner is a fourth-year at Colorado State University studying electronic arts. She loves illustrating and comic making and has recently found enjoyment in experimental video, pottery and graphic design. Outside of illustration and electronic art, Bonner spends her free time crocheting and bead making. She is usually working on a blanket or making jewelry when she is not drawing, illustrating or brainstorming.

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