The Student Site of Castilleja School


The Student Site of Castilleja School


The Student Site of Castilleja School


1989 (Taylor’s Version) showcases a new sound for Taylor Swift

Avery Neuner
Castilleja’s Swiftie population is overjoyed for the release of Swift’s latest re-recording: 1989 (Taylor’s Version).

1989 is my workout album. It is my energetic drive home from school on Friday nights album. It is danceable, singable, and all around a wonderful album that is special to me.

1989 was an album that rarely played it safe with the pop sound, since Swift was new to the genre in 2014 after her debut as a country artist. In the re-recording, she was able to take even more risks, and I’m into it.

Taylor Swift’s re-records are always slightly different from their original version, but 1989 (Taylor’s Version) differs the most.

In general, the sound is unique. The guitar line in “Style” and “I Wish You Would” sounds like it was played live rather than computer-generated. A more organic sound follows through the rest of the re-recorded tracks, reminiscent of the original release while including Swift’s developed pop sound, particularly with the vault tracks.

That being said, her vocals are not as impressive on 1989 (Taylor’s Version). It is rumored that she re-recorded this album during the US leg of her Eras Tour and it shows. While her voice is still strong, her higher notes are thinner and more strained. Given the three hour marathon of a show that she has performed for months, strain is understandable, and it doesn’t detract much from the overall sound.

The strongest re-recorded songs in terms of improved sound are “Welcome to New York,” “I Wish You Would,” “Bad Blood” and “I Know Places.”

Of course, the most anticipated part of any Taylor Swift re-record is the vault tracks, and if there is any word that describes these vault tracks it is bittersweet.

I always enjoy theorizing about why these 4 tracks were cut from this album. In the case of Red (Taylor’s Version), it seemed to me the vault tracks were left because they didn’t quite fit the sound of the album. In the case of 1989, it’s not that these songs don’t fit the tone or genre of the album 1989 because they do. They match the pop sound of the rest of the album and are just as catchy and well-written. I’d argue that these vault tracks were left on the cutting room floor because of their subject matter.

The original 1989 was characterized by Swift trying to work within the confines of the criticism of the media, a lesson she soon learned from and did a complete 180 with the album Reputation. The album featured depersonalized romantic songs like “You Are In Love” and quiet, roundabout criticisms of the media in “Blank Space.”

These vault tracks are all love songs, but they seem more personal than the other 1989 songs. At the time of the original 1989 album release, Swift had received criticism and a reputation for serial dating. These songs are all talking about her love life in a way that was likely a bit too close to home for this album in 2014.

Again, these tracks are a risk that Swift is now able to take, and again I’m into it.


“Slut!” was my most anticipated vault track due to the shocking title. This song wasn’t what I expected, but I’m glad to say it was better. It said what she tried to say more subtly with “Blank Space”: that the public eye will judge her for whatever she did, so she might as well do what she wants.

The catchy lyricism paints a romantic image of a fraught relationship, which makes me think that this song is likely anecdotal. The pre-chorus is particularly catchy and well done. In terms of sound, this song is slow for 1989, but a similar sound is also used in other love songs by Swift like “You Are In Love.” The slower tempo creates a bittersweet tone that works with this song.

Say Don’t Go

This song is the closest thing to an overt breakup song 1989 will ever get, and I love it. If Swift knows how to do anything, it’s sad breakup songs, and this one is about the process of losing love, particularly in the bridge, which feels even sadder than a breakup.

The chorus leans into the synthesized pop sound with a beat that picks up in the chorus, in contrast to the slower verses and pre-chorus. The song goes from slow and sad to upbeat, bittersweet pop.

Now That We Don’t Talk

A little petty, a little bitter, extremely relatable. Swift’s voice sounds like an eye roll as she sings the opening verse. The song is bittersweet, like the mixed feeling of being removed from someone you once loved. Swift shares the good and bad aspects of moving on.

This song is fun, short and snappy, with witty lyrics: “I call my mom, she said that it was for the best.” Relatable. I too call my mom whenever I have any kind of problem. The synth bass is reminiscent of the production on Midnights.

Suburban Legends

This song is a testament to Swift’s storytelling abilities. The imagery of a younger, more juvenile relationship is driven home with a comparison to high school media stereotypes: “When I ended up back at our class reunion/Walkin’ in with you… I am standing in a 1950s gymnasium/And I can still see you now.” Swift paints a picture of a picture-perfect high school couple that doesn’t quite pan out in the way everyone else in their hometown expects them to.

This allegory is particularly clever because it speaks to the prevalence of gossip and veiled judgment throughout high school, small towns, and beyond. However, the whole song isn’t allegorical, which lets Swift be more candid with the message. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the song is incredibly catchy.

Is It Over Now?

All the vault tracks remind me of the Midnights sound, but this one reminds me of Swift’s most recent album the most. It is very in line with the original 1989 sound while being the most similar to her new, evolved pop sound.

This is almost the culmination of the chaotic, star-crossed lovers’ story that each of these vault tracks tells an aspect of. This song is honest. She doesn’t pull any punches when saying exactly what she means which is refreshing.

In general, these vault tracks say all of the things that might have been divisive if Taylor Swift said them in 2014, but she can tell those stories now.

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About the Contributor
Avery Neuner
Avery Neuner, Editor of Opinions
Avery Neuner ‘24 is the Editor of Opinions for Counterpoint. She has been writing for Counterpoint for three  years and has been a writer her whole life. In addition to journalism, she is a published author in short story and poetry.

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