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“1989 (Taylor’s Version)”: review from a non-Swiftie

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Anna Maxwell shares her thoughts on “1989 (Taylor’s Version” from an outside perspective.

On Oct. 26, Swifties awaited the highly anticipated Taylor’s Version of “1989,” which was originally released in 2014. After nine years, I wondered how much these albums could have changed with the development of her style. With the five incoming vault tracks most notably, could Swift have altered much of her album for the new release?

Since I do not listen to Swift very often, I first went through the original 1989 album and carefully rated the songs, then waited until Taylor’s Version came out so I could see the difference. Spoiler alert: there was not much of a change. 

The original album, ranging from top hits like “Shake It Off” and “Bad Blood” to less popular songs such as “Wonderland” and “You Are In Love,” was fairly well done. My top three songs from the original album were “Wonderland,” “I Know Places” and “This Love.” 

The original “Wonderland” had good instrumentation with Swift’s vocals fitting in well to the sound of the song. The buildup over the course of the song was rewarding, however, the repetitive sound “eh” in the background was frustrating and could be taken out to be less distraction. Taylor’s Version of “Wonderland” sounded almost identical to the original with only a positive change in her vocal technique and the clearness of the instrumentation. 

The original “I Know Places” gave the vibes of a fun summer love story, which Swift is known for writing many of her songs about. The song also has a strong bridge towards the end which I could see fitting in with a lot of her “Reputation” songs as well. But once again, the song did not change on her new album dramatically. Swift’s vocals improved but that was the only noticeable difference. 

Finally, the original “This Love” scored highly because it stood out from the others on the album. It is touching without being overly cheesy and the bridge is also strong. The song is quaint and an easy listen. However, the song did not change in “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” yet again. 

As I listened to the new album, I was fairly disappointed in the lack of change overall. I understand the reasoning behind the re-release, however, I cannot help but think that the album is lackluster.

Swift has made a huge name for herself and has been releasing “Taylor’s Versions” of her older albums that she lost the rights to. Instead of her old label reaping the benefits of her songs, Swift can have full control over what she releases, as well as how and when that will happen. With this release of “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” Swift has placed the ball back in her own court and intends to keep it there. 

Although this is important for Swift as an artist, the new album could have been modified and made better than it was before. Rather than doing that, Swift decided to keep her songs how they were, which could be just as disappointing to a Swiftie as it was to me. Since Swift was given this second chance, maybe Swifties (and definitely myself) are questioning why she did not attempt to improve her original songs when rerecording. 

In all fairness, Swift has only yet changed the lyrics to one song in “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version),” but as someone who does not follow Swift, it was confusing to hear a lot of hype surrounding the new album to just be met with essentially the same songs. To that end, her new tracks that came “From The Vault” were fairly good and gave the album an added edge, however, they did not make the album that much more enticing. 

Overall, I understand Swift’s desire to make her music hers, but “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” left me expecting more. The album was nearly identical to the original, which made it difficult as an outsider to feel intrigued with the re-release excitement and evaluate the changes made. The new album’s similarities made me think “Is It Over Now?” while streaming, instead of the feeling that the album “keeps you guessing.”

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About the Contributor
Anna Maxwell
Anna Maxwell, Arts and Life Editor
Anna Maxwell is the Arts and Life Editor for the Carroll News from Ashtabula, Ohio. She is a Freshman at John Carroll University who is an Undecided major. Anna has been writing for the Carroll News since the fall of 2023! In addition to writing for the Carroll News, she is also an Honors student here at John Carroll, and she is excited to continue writing in the years to come! When not writing, Anna can be found reading a new book, or binge-watching her favorite Netflix shows! She can also be found spending time with her friends and participating in events around campus! In the future, Anna aspires to become a writer of fiction novels, and also an editor for a well-known publishing company! To contact Anna, email her at [email protected].

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