Taylor Swift releases her “1989” pop album’s re-recording titled “1989 (Taylor’s Version)”

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Illustration by Kayla Roberts.

Taylor Swift released her fourth re-recorded album titled “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” on Oct. 27 under her current music record label Republic Records. 

“1989 (Taylor’s Version)” is a re-recording of “1989,” Swift’s fifth studio album, which came out on Oct. 27, 2014, making the release date of the newly re-recorded album to be exactly nine years after. As she was born on Dec. 13, 1989, the album’s title alludes to Swift’s birth year. “1989” is widely credited to have been the album that officially launched Swift’s music career to transition from country to pop music. The album allowed Swift to go on and achieve a wide number of successes including selling 1.3 million copies of “1989” in the first week, spending 11 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and winning the Grammy award for Album of the Year in 2015 alongside 10 Grammy nominations. With “1989,” Swift was able to be named the first woman in history to win the Grammy award for Album of the Year twice, having first won the award for her second studio album “Fearless” back in 2009. As Time puts it, “‘1989’ cemented Swift’s place as not only an artist with longevity, but a star who would make music on her own terms.” 

Swift first made the announcement of the re-release on Aug. 9 during one of her concerts for her tour, the Eras Tour. There are a total of twenty-one songs included in “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” with five of those songs not ever being released before. In an Instagram post she made on Aug. 9 announcing the release online, Swift expresses, “To be perfectly honest, this is my most [favorite] re-record I’ve ever done because the 5 From The Vault tracks are so insane. I can’t believe they were ever left behind.” The titles of the newly released songs that Swift refers to as being “From The Vault” were revealed to the public soon after fans had succeeded in collectively solving 33 million individual Google puzzles that would appear upon searching for “Taylor Swift” on the Google search engine. These unreleased tracks were revealed to include “Say Don’t Go,” “Now That We Don’t Talk,” “Suburban Legends” and “Is It Over Now?” 

Swift is currently in the process of re-recording her first six studio albums that were previously released through her former record label, Big Machine Records. She had initially signed with Big Machine Records back in 2005, with the contract expiring in 2018 and led her to move to Republic Records, owned by Universal Music Group, soon after. Upon her departure, Big Machine Records was sold to Ithaca Holdings, a private-equity group owned by music manager Scooter Braun. This sale included the ownership of the master recordings of Swift’s first six studio albums, as it was a part of her original contract with the label that Big Machine Records would take ownership of them. Braun would then proceed to sell her albums’ master recordings later on to Shamrock Holdings in 2019 for $300 million. In an attempt to reclaim ownership of her music, Swift had decided to re-record her first six studio albums, which she refers to as her “life’s work.”

“1989’s” re-release would be the fourth re-recorded album that Swift released out of the six studio albums she plans to re-record. Swift has previously released the album re-recordings for her second, third and fourth studio albums. Her re-recording of “Fearless,” her second studio album, came out on April 9, 2021, with the release of the re-recording for her fourth studio album “Red” following later that year on Nov. 12. The re-recording of Swift’s third studio album, “Speak Now,” was released earlier this year on July 7. 

Swift is known to have fans, generally referred to as Swifties, all over the world, including in the UNLV community, who have been looking forward to supporting her in her endeavors such as through her process of reclaiming her music. In a written interview with Dr. Kaitlin Clinnin, an associate professor of English and Director of English Composition at UNLV, she shares her perspective on being a Taylor Swift fan. She became a fan around the time that Swift’s “Red” album came out, and when asked about being a Swiftie, she responds, “I don’t consider myself a Swiftie because true Swifties are incredibly dedicated. They learn everything about Taylor Swift’s personal life, closely analyze her music and social media posts, and develop some very complex fan theories. I take a more casual approach to being a Taylor Swift fan.” She continues to share, “One of the aspects that I appreciate about being a Taylor Swift fan is the evolution of her music. Each of her eras has a different sound and content, so I can always find a Taylor Swift album that fits my mood at the moment. If I’m feeling contemplative, ‘Folklore’ or ‘Evermore’ are it. If I’m feeling upbeat, it’s time for ‘1989.’ And ‘Reputation’ is my favorite for days that I need a confidence boost to feel strong.” 

In response to Swift’s re-records, Dr. Clinnin expresses, “I’m excited that Taylor Swift is re-recording her albums. As a fan, I love hearing these familiar songs with a new, more mature sound, and I also love getting unreleased songs from the same era. I also appreciate that Taylor Swift is taking a stand to reclaim her work. The recording industry can be exploitative for artists, and it’s unbelievable that someone as successful as Taylor Swift had relatively little control over the rights to her music.” She recommends for people to support “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” and Swift’s other re-records, saying, “I would encourage folks to support the new recordings as a way to demonstrate to the record companies that artist agency and freedom is important. And even if the larger mission doesn’t appeal to you, the music sounds amazing!” 

In an Instagram post Swift made following the release of the re-record, she posted pictures that were taken during a photoshoot she had for the “1989” re-release along with a picture including written text in which Swift expresses, “This moment is a reflection of the woods we’ve wandered through and all this love between us still glowing in the darkest dark. I present to you, with gratitude and wild wonder, my version of 1989. It’s been waiting for you.”Physical copies of “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” are currently available for purchase on Taylor Swift’s official website as well as at Target, Barnes & Noble and record stores. “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” is available for streaming on both Apple Music and Spotify.

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