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The Scarlet

The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

A Completely Neutral and Necessary Ranking of the “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” “(From the Vault)” Tracks

On October 27th, 2014, Taylor Swift released her fifth studio album, “1989,” and completely changed the face of pop music. Swift took a big risk with “1989” – it was her official transition from being a country artist to a pop artist, and it paid off. Garnering an astounding ten Grammys, “1989” cemented Swift’s place as an icon in pop music. The album was a joyful and devastating celebration of the ups and downs of young adulthood. Its songs are now 2010s classics and remain some of her most popular to date. And, on October 27th, 2023, we got to listen to it for the first time, again. 

For those who do not know, Swift is in the process of re-recording her first six albums. The master recordings of these albums were sold to a private equity firm in 2020, meaning Swift does not own the rights to her own music. Now, Swift is re-recording and releasing these albums under the moniker “Taylor’s Version” to take back control of her work. As a bonus for fans, she has also included previously unreleased “From the Vault” songs that were not originally included on the albums. “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” included five “From the Vault” tracks: here is my ranking.

  1. “Slut!”

Please do not hate me Swifties – I had high hopes for this song too. Despite the dreamy vocals and lyrical imagery on this song, it is just kind of boring. I was hoping for something angrier and more explicit from this track (maybe I have just been spoiled by Olivia Rodrigo lately), but “Slut!” is just a watered-down version of “Blank Space” without any of the fun and irony. Its message boils down to “the media makes sexist assumptions about my love life,” and while this might have been compelling for Swift in 2014, it now just feels overdone and redundant. For an album like “1989” which is full of zest and optimism, “Slut!” is way too slow, melodramatic and self-indulgent. Like many of the “From the Vault” tracks, it is clear why this one did not make the cut on the first release. 

  1. “Suburban Legends”

With this song, Swift reflects on a long-lost love, musing on old dreams and what ifs. The synth-pop influence of producer Jack Antonoff is very obvious, but with its Americana imagery, it feels like classic Taylor. Yet, “1989” is an album all about living and reveling in the moment. It is an album about your mid-20s in the big city, not your high school boyfriend in a small town. “Suburban Legends,” while a fine song on its own, does not fit well into the bigger picture of the album.

  1. “Say Don’t Go”

Again, we can not seem to escape those synths. Despite being a break-up song, “Say Don’t Go” is full of energy and life. In theme and tone, it is very similar to the original “1989” song, “All You Had to Do Was Stay.” However, I honestly enjoyed “Say Don’t Go” more. Maybe it is Swift’s now more developed vocals or the great drum beat, but this song feels more mature and powerful. As always, Swift’s emotion is felt in her voice. This song is poignantly sad, but not so sad that it interrupts the vibe of the album. It remains fast-paced enough to enjoy despite the mildly depressing lyrics. 

  1. “Now That We Don’t Talk”

“I don’t have to pretend I like acid rock. Or that I like to be on a mega-yacht.” We are so back. In this song, Swift demonstrates one of her most overlooked but best songwriting tropes: the joyful breakup song. Swift delightfully psycho-analyzes her ex, needling into them so specifically and excellently. It is a top-tier revenge song, but not one that feels mean-spirited. “Now That We Don’t Talk” acknowledges the pain and regret of a breakup but looks ahead to greener pastures. It is wonderfully hopeful and fun. 

  1. “Is It Over Now?”

Now this song, this song is mean (in a good way). “Is It Over Now?” is almost an antithesis to “Now That We Don’t Talk.” The humor and irony are cast away in favor of fury and bitterness. Swift admits to behaviors she may not be proud of, but revels in them all the same. “Is It Over Now?” is intense and angry. The track takes a much darker direction than the rest of the album but manages to fit in cohesively with its upbeat synth instrumentals. As the now-last song in “1989,” it forces you to reconsider everything you have just listened to. Were the joy, the optimism, and the shake-it-off attitude of the album genuine? Or was it all a band-aid to cover up the pain and resentment exhibited in this song? “Is It Over Now?” like its title suggests, leaves so much unanswered. It rounds out the story created in “1989” beautifully, leaving the listener with many mixed emotions. It can even be interpreted as foreshadowing for her next canonical album, “reputation.” Overall, “Is It Over Now?” is Swift at her best and most genius. 

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