1989 (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift

When Taylor Swift announced that 1989 (Taylor’s Version) was finally seeing release, she mentioned that, of all the albums she’s faithfully re-recorded in her quest to retake her master tapes, this one was special. “The 1989 album changed my life in countless ways,” she wrote on Instagram. “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.” From “Now That We Don’t Talk” (on which, wowee zowee, she sings, “I don’t have to pretend I like acid rock/Or that I’d like to be on a mega-yacht/With important men who think important thoughts”) to “Say Don’t Go” to “Is It Over Now?”, one gets a real feel for the ferocity and focus with which she was writing at the time, a new audience in sight. It’s not just that any one of the newly uncovered songs here is more than strong enough to have been included (or strong enough to have launched the career of a less prolific artist); it’s that, even on material previously deemed inessential, Swift sounds comfortable bordering on imperious—like she’d been making lush, montage-ready pop music all along. Nearly a decade later—and at the tail end of a 2023 in which her every move seems to have determined pop-cultural weather—it’s weirdly easy to forget that in 2014, she was still approaching (nah, engineering) an inflection point in her life and career, reintroducing herself (at just 24) as the all-conquering, planet-like presence we

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