Do Taylor Swift’s ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’ Vault Tracks bridge the gap between eras?

paris hilton

It’s time to take a trip down memory lane to the year 2014, a year when Taylor Swift released her biggest and most transformative album, aptly titled ‘1989’. This album was a game-changer, solidifying Swift’s status as a global superstar and giving us unforgettable hits like “Shake It Off” and “Bad Blood”. Now, in 2022, we have the pleasure of experiencing ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’, complete with never-before-heard Vault tracks that transport us back to a time when Taylor was on the verge of shedding her romantic naivety and embracing a more mature sound.

Let’s dive into these five fresh tracks from the Vault and see how they bridge the gap between 2014 and the ‘Midnights’ era, which we all fell in love with last year. The production and arrangement of these tracks may have been written during the same time as the original album, but they have a contemporary Swift sound that resonates with the present day. It’s no surprise, considering her incredible collaboration with co-producer Jack Antonoff, that these tracks fit right in with the vibe of ‘Midnights’. They feel less like leftovers from ‘1989’ and more like bonus tracks from the ‘Midnights’ album that we didn’t know we needed.

Now, some cynics may argue that these songs are just new compositions that Taylor and Antonoff are passing off as discarded oldies. But fear not, my friends, for there is one dead giveaway that these tracks truly belong to the 2014 era: the lyrics. The Taylor Swift of 2014 was in a unique space, shedding her romantic innocence and embracing a wiser, more mature perspective on love and relationships. In these Vault tracks, you can hear a Swift who falls for a higher class of rogue and mourns them a little less when things don’t work out. Gone are the gut-wrenching heartbreaks of tracks like “All Too Well”, replaced with a sense of acceptance and self-growth.

Take “Now That We Don’t Talk”, for example, which is possibly the standout track among these five Vault gems. In this song, Taylor sings, “I call my mom / She says that it was for the best / Remind myself the more I gave, you’d want me less.” It’s a testament to her growth and realization that sometimes letting go is the best option. She even hints at the defensive retreat we would later see in the ‘Reputation’ era with the lines, “And the only way back to my dignity / Was to turn into a shrouded mystery / Just like I had been when you were chasing me.” The silent treatment never sounded so good.

While it may be tempting to analyze these songs for potential real-life connections, they remain elusive in their references. However, in the closing track, “Is It Over Now?”, the line “When you lost control / Red blood, white snow” bears a striking resemblance to “Out of the Woods” and its snowmobile accident imagery. As for the mysterious subject of these songs, Taylor has a few choice words: “You dream of my mouth before it called you ‘a lying traitor’ / You search in every model’s bed for something greater, baby.” She’s not holding back, poking fun at someone who sought solace elsewhere while acknowledging her own shortcomings.

The beauty of these tracks lies in the evolution of Taylor Swift’s perspective on love. While some of the lyrics may seem cutting or vituperative on paper, they actually showcase a Swift who has become more sanguine about love’s ups and downs. She’s embraced the practicality of the dating life and isn’t afraid to explore quick-thrill romances. In “Slut!”, with its provocative title and powerful chorus, she sings, “But if I’m all dressed up / They might as well be looking at us / If they call me a ‘slut!’ / You know it might be worth it for once.” It’s a bold statement that shows her indifference towards societal judgments.

So why weren’t these tracks included in the original ‘1989’ album? Well, aside from the fact that Swift already had 16 incredible songs on the album, there were likely thematic and lyrical overlaps that didn’t quite fit. For example, “Say Don’t Go” feels like a pure ballad and a heartfelt plea to stay, but she already had a definitive “stay” song with “All You Had to Do Was Stay”. In true Taylor fashion, she went with the weirder option. These bonus tracks may not be as tragic as some of her other work, but that’s because they capture a slightly tempered version of her lyrical style at the time. The music beds crafted by Swift and Antonoff have a mid-tempo throb that aims to bring pleasure rather than sadness.

In the end, these Vault tracks provide a glimpse into the artistic growth and evolution of Taylor Swift. They bridge the gap between 2014 and the ‘Midnights’ era, showcasing an artist who has matured in her songwriting and perspective on love. While they may not have made it onto the original album, they hold their own as a collection of songs that capture a specific moment in Taylor’s career. So sit back, press play, and let yourself be transported to a time when ‘1989’ ruled the charts and Taylor Swift became an unstoppable force in the music industry.