Nine years to the day since the release of Taylor Swift’s “1989,” the singer’s rerecorded version of her blockbuster 2014 album is here: “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” hit streaming services at 9 p.m. PT Thursday, the fourth installment in her elaborate and enormously successful campaign to remake her first six studio LPs.
Described by the singer at the time as her first “official pop album,” “1989” extended the experimentation with gleaming synth textures and razor-sharp hooks that Swift had shown off in a handful of singles from her previous album, 2012’s “Red.” Max Martin and Shellback, Swedish pop wizards who’d helped her expand her sound in hits such as “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” returned for “1989” as part of a crew that also included writer-producer Jack Antonoff, who’s gone on to become perhaps Swift’s closest studio collaborator.
The album was an instant smash that ended up 2014’s biggest seller and won a Grammy Award for album of the year, Swift’s second in that category after “Fearless” took the prize in 2010. Three of the LP’s singles — “Shake It Off,” “Blank Space” and “Bad Blood” — topped Billboard’s Hot 100, while “Style” and “Wildest Dreams” both peaked inside the Top 10. And her world tour behind the album was a juggernaut known for surprise appearances by a wide array of celebrities including the Weeknd, Mick Jagger, Justin Timberlake, Selena Gomez, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Miranda Lambert, Ricky Martin and the late Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who presented Swift with a banner at Staples Center marking her 16 sold-out shows at the downtown arena.
Nearly a decade later, though, Swift’s pop-cultural dominance has only grown: First revealed near the end of her sold-out six-show run at Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium, “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” follows the first leg of her record-breaking Eras tour and an accompanying concert film currently in its second week as the biggest movie in America. It also arrives amid her endlessly scrutinized relationship with Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs and just as her song “Cruel Summer” reached No. 1 four long years after it came out on 2019’s “Lover.”
Given that each of Swift’s rerecorded albums — “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” “Red (Taylor’s Version)” and “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” — has debuted with successively higher sales-and-streaming numbers, it’s reasonable to wonder whether “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” will make the biggest splash yet — and just before the Nov. 10 announcement of Grammy nominations in which her latest set of new songs, last year’s “Midnights,” is widely expected to prevail.
Like the earlier Taylor’s Versions, the new “1989” comes with freshly recorded tracks from Swift’s so-called vault meant to entice consumers and bolster the singer’s ever-expanding lore. Here are the five vault tracks from “1989,” ranked in order from worst to best:
This month, live music’s other champion of 2023, Beyoncé, helped Swift drum up attention for the “Eras Tour” movie when she showed up for a pair-of-queens photo opp at the film’s premiere at the Grove. But if Tay and Bey have yet to formally collaborate on a song, this bleary synth-pop track about a risky romance suggests that Swift has been paying close attention to Beyoncé for years: “If I’m gonna be drunk, might as well be drunk in love,” Swift sings, quoting the lead single from Beyoncé’s self-titled 2013 LP. Strong concept, so-so execution.
4. “Is It Over Now?”
“I think of jumping off of very tall somethings,” Swift sings in this vivid account of a relationship doomed to failure — one for which she takes some blame but without enough of the self-flagellating wit that distinguishes “Anti-Hero,” her big hit from “Midnights.” Most quotable lyric: “Your new girl is my clone.”
3. “Say Don’t Go”
One of Swift’s opening acts on the 1989 tour was Haim, the L.A. sister trio who’ve continued to turn up on her albums and at her shows (and on her Instagram). With its booming retro-’80s drums and its shouted backing vocals, this throbbing pop-rock jam — which Swift co-wrote with the great Diane Warren — sounds like an outtake from Haim’s 2013 debut, “Days Are Gone.”
2. “Now That We Don’t Talk”
Widespread speculation about Swift’s star-studded dating life kicked into high gear with 2010’s “Speak Now,” which contains what might be the finest breakup song in her catalog in the lacerating (and precisely John Mayer-approximating) “Dear John.” But the people need to know whom she’s referring to in this hilarious take-down of a dude she’s elated to have kicked to the curb: “I don’t have to pretend I like acid rock / Or that I like to be on a mega-yacht / With important men who think important thoughts.”
1. “Suburban Legends”
With the possible exception of Drake, Taylor Swift is pop’s most effective nurser of past grievances, and here — over a surging arena-disco groove that keeps accumulating emotional weight — she examines a fraught high-school reunion in one indelible image after another. Come for the guy “flush with the currency of cool”; stay for the kiss “that’s gonna screw me up forever.”
This story originally Appeared on LATimes