One doesn’t have to be a Swiftie to know that 1989 is one of her most iconic albums. It features hits with music videos like “Style,” “Blank Space,” “Out of The Woods,” “Bad Blood,” “Wildest Dreams,” and “Shake It Off,” and represents her transition from an American country pop star to a global pop icon. Released exactly nine years ago on October 27, 2014, 1989 is a coming-of-age pop album with fun synth dance beats combined with Taylor’s signature lyrical talent.
I was a 20-year-old college student when 1989 came out, and it was a formative period of my life. I still believe that the 1989 World Tour was the greatest concert that I’ve ever attended. This album brings me back to the days when I thought that there was nothing cooler than drinking flavored vodka from plastic bottles or chugging cheap and sugary wine at a pregame before heading off to frat parties and dingy college bars. It was the perfect time in my life for the 1989 era, and the re-recordings brought back so many memories and emotions from this chaotic yet fun period of my life.
Aside from the re-recordings, the album also features five “From The Vault” tracks that didn’t make it on the original 1989 album. While it’s hard to rank them because they’re all phenomenal, someone had to do it.
Grab a glass of wine and a box of tissues (you’ll need both, trust me) and revisit the 1989 era with five new tracks.
1. Is It Over Now?
This song is so good that I’m salty it wasn’t on the original album. The lyrics are deep (“I think of jumping off of very tall somethings, just to see you come running”), sad, and kind of savage as they tell the story of Taylor looking back on a broken relationship and wondering when it was truly over. While I don’t know when she recorded this, it’s impossible not to think of her breakup with Joe Alwyn while listening to this song. It was a formative relationship, and fans don’t know much about the breakup other than rumors, leading many of us to wonder if this song feels so emotional due to the end of their relationship.
Joe Alwyn aside, this song is obviously about someone she dated around the 1989 era, and with a song this emotional, it’s only normal for fans to speculate who it was originally about. The line “blue dress on a boat” had led fans to think that the song was written about Harry Styles. This is because Taylor was photographed looking sad on a boat while wearing a blue dress shortly after fans believe they broke up, and the blue dress in the “Out Of The Woods” music video (a song that is widely believed to be about Harry Styles) is another dead giveaway. All in all though, this song is a masterpiece.
2. Say Don’t Go
Similar to “Is It Over Now,” this song is incredibly sad, which is rare for the peppy and bright 1989 era (and likely why she didn’t put it on the original album; it almost feels like it belongs in the Red era). The lyrics are beautifully written and capture how much she’d grown as a songwriter from her debut album to 1989 while retaining the brutal honesty and clever metaphors in her songwriting that made her famous at the beginning of her career. It brings me back to the days of drunkenly crying over toxic guys at college bars, which perfectly encapsulates the 1989 era for me.
As a heartbreak song, this is a song that many fans will be able to relate to, which is one of the many things that makes her music so good. 1989 has fewer heartbreak songs than the average Taylor album, often leaving fans who crave her sad songs wanting more. Her more mature voice is fitting for the heartbreaking lyrics and listeners can hear every emotion as they ride the roller coaster that is this beautiful song.
3. Suburban Legends
This song includes the line “I broke my own heart ‘cause you were too polite to do it,” which was my favorite lyric (side note: how does she know so many details of my life?) that she posted to her Instagram story as a teaser to the vault tracks in the days leading up to the 1989 (Taylor’s Version) release. This song tells the story of a girl trying to get over a guy from her hometown, and she does a great job of portraying the frustrating emotions of a romance that one wants so desperately to work out but won’t. It feels like a romantic movie with a sad (but realistic) ending.
While I think this song is a masterpiece, I think that fans who relate to it will appreciate it more than others. Several of my friends put this song at the bottom of their list simply because they couldn’t relate to it, which only goes to show that there’s a Taylor song for everyone’s life experience.
I expected this song to essentially be a giant middle finger to anyone who has ever called Taylor a slut, but the song was more sweet than savage, and I love it. The lyrics are beautiful and poetic, essentially giving Folklore and Evermore vibes with the optimistic emotions of 1989. The song tells the story of a young woman who is called a slut simply for falling for a guy that several others want, which is a sad reality that many teenage girls and young women face while dealing with catty mean girls.
This song clearly has a deeper meaning due to critics who constantly berate Taylor for writing songs about the guys she dates. This was at an all-time high during the 1989 era, and she tackled and satirized this part of her persona in hit singles like “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space.” It only makes sense that this song is rumored to be her next single, and I can’t wait to see the music video if she decides to make one.
5. Now That We Don’t Talk
Don’t get me wrong, I love this song; it’s just my least favorite out of five absolute bops. The sad lyrics alongside the fun and peppy pop beat are the perfect fit for the 1989 era, and I just know this would have been a hit if it had come out on the original album. The lines about no longer having to pretend to like things that he likes since the relationship is over made me crack up simply because it’s as funny as it’s true. Breakups suck, but the bright side is that you no longer have to pretend to think his Borat impression is funny anymore.
It feels very mature as it reflects on a past relationship (once again, I’m convinced this song is about Harry Styles), which reminds me of the deep and emotional tracks of the Midnights era. Despite being an older song, the emotions from frustration to sadness are present in Taylor’s voice, making this the perfect song to scream at the top of your lungs after one too many vodka sodas.
All in all, the vault tracks are undeniably good, leaving me strong in my conviction that she’s a once-in-a-generation (or possibly a once-in-a-lifetime) talent.