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1989

A remake made too ‘swiftly’
1989

Singer Taylor Swift has seemingly taken over the world within the past year. Re-recordings, a new studio album, a smash-hit box office movie, a world tour, and a football star boyfriend make for everyone’s favorite billionaire. But is it all too much – too fast?

Swift started re-recording her old albums back in 2021 – after the rights to her own music was sold out from under her – starting with the nostalgic favorite Fearless, but this time around, it was (Taylor’s Version). In short, in order for her to gain profit from her own music, she had to re-record the music — a legal “sidestep” of sorts. Since then, she has re-released a slew of (Taylor’s Version)s: Red, Speak Now, and most recently, 1989.

When 1989 was initially released in 2014, it marked the beginning of something new for Swift. The popularization of the album brought with it super-star levels of fame. With hits like “Style”, “Blank Space”, “Shake it Off”, and many impressive deep-cuts, the album was an instant classic. Almost 10 years later, On October 27th, 2023, Swift re-released the album, and it was met with critical acclaim from Rolling Stone magazine, The Guardian, and The Telegraph.

Parts of the album make it clear that Swift has matured since 2014. Songs like “This Love” and “I Wish You Would” have only improved over time. Her vocals have gotten stronger, and so too, has her moxie. It can’t be easy to so often revisit work that no longer belongs to you. But she has, and at a rapid pace. Swift has crafted a relationship with her fans (perhaps unintentionally) where they are never left satisfied. Constantly searching for clues of when the next album will drop, “Swifties” have set impossible standards for the singer, expecting new music in rotation every few months or so. This however, has larger implications on the music itself. A lot of 1989 (TV) feels rushed. Swift sounds farther away, and less passionate, on many tracks. But in all honesty, shouldn’t this be expected? When you have an artist who is never not in the studio, it’s not exactly realistic to expect perfect cohesion.

With each re-release, Swift released songs “from the vault.” In an Instagram post, she had this to say about the extra tracks on Fearless (TV), “I’ve decided I want you to have the whole story, see the entire vivid picture, and let you into the entire dreamscape…” However, the “vault” songs on 1989 (TV) are more reminiscent of Swift’s current musical style, abruptly undoing the synthful 80’s atmosphere that the original album tracks create. Vault tracks “Now That We Don’t Talk”, and “Suburban Legends”- while good – sound like scrapped songs from Swift’s 10th studio album, Midnights. Essentially, the album would have been better off without them.

This isn’t to condemn Swift for the rerecordings of her old music. In fact, she is setting an example for artists that won’t soon be forgotten. It is important to own your work, and she is leading by example. I do hope, however, that the vulnerability of the original works can be more closely imitated in the future.

1989 (Taylor’s Version) is out now and can be found on all music streaming services.

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