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The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

1989 (Taylor’s Version): A disappointing remake


 Each new re-recorded album from Taylor Swift garners more hype than the last. Unfortunately, their quality seems to be declining.

I wouldn’t consider myself a Swiftie, but growing up as a little girl whose uncles didn’t know how to connect with her, I received a lot of her albums as birthday gifts as a kid. I remember receiving “1989” —her most recent re-recording, released Oct. 27—when I was ten, and since then it’s been my favorite Taylor Swift album. I love its pounding, shiny sounds and the polished, clean coolness the album’s aesthetic evokes. So I was looking forward to revisiting my childhood memories in the re-recorded “Taylor’s version.”

“1989 (Taylor’s Version)” has a much airier soundscape than the original. It uses more voice effects, warping Swift’s tone to evoke a more heightened response in the listener, but these flashy additions don’t necessarily work to the album’s advantage.

Despite my opening line, I didn’t entirely hate this album. Individual songs stand out: for example, “Blank Space” has more personality than the original. Swift’s tone is bouncier, sassier, and the line actually sounds like “long list of ex-lovers” instead of “gotta love these Starbucks lovers,” which I thought the lyric was until literally last week. The new instrumental of “Out of the Woods,” sounds three-dimensional, shimmering around the listener and pulling them in. Swift’s vocals in “Clean” sound like she’s vaguely underwater, a fitting update to the song. “This Love (Taylor’s Version)” is a masterpiece—it is probably my favorite re-recorded song on this album. It’s smooth and wistful and dreamy, slow-moving in the greatest way.

The vault tracks that Swift included, which didn’t make the cut of the original “1989,” are all excellent, too. My favorites are “Say Don’t Go” and “Now That We Don’t Talk,” to which I spent all release-day walking around campus listening and pretending I can relate. All five vault tracks outshined in quality all of the re-recorded songs, to the point that after my first listen I wish that there were a few more vault tracks, so I didn’t have to go back and listen to the disappointing renditions of the original songs.

A running theme in “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” is the strange quality of the songs’ instrumentals. “Welcome to New York” and “I Wish You Would” sound downright screechy — nails-on-a-chalkboard-type music that one wouldn’t expect from one of the biggest artists in the world. “Style,” one of the most immersive, day-dreamy songs on the original, is downright flat. And the re-recording of “Shake it Off,” the overplayed bane of people everywhere but undeniably one of Swift’s biggest hits, sounds like it was made for $2. If Swift is going to re-release what is objectively her most annoying yet catchy song, she ought to put a little effort into it. Multiple songs’ choruses sound stilted and cut-off, including “All You Had to Do Was Stay,” “Bad Blood,” and “How You Get the Girl.”

Only four of the original sixteen songs on “1989” were improved upon in Taylor’s Version, and seven are actively worse. That means that only nine songs, including the vault tracks, garnered a better listening experience than the original, up against the thirteen that ranged from “okay” to “terrible.” Ironic, since that’s Swift’s lucky number.

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  • I

    ibhidgojojgdjofgMar 10, 2024 at 10:19 pm


  • M

    mjNov 2, 2023 at 10:22 am

    as a swifty i agreed