In honour of 1989 (Taylor’s Version), we spoke to Leeds Uni’s Taylor Swift Soc
It’s a love story between the pop icon’s fans and her new music
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, by now you should know that Friday 27th October 2023 marked a very special day: Namely, the re-release of 1989, Taylor Swift’s iconic studio album.
1989 (Taylor’s Version) is the fourth collection to be re-recorded by the pop singer following her highly publicised spat with music manager, Scooter Braun, who, in 2019, she criticised for purchasing the rights to her back catalogue after years of alleged mistreatment.
With Swift’s first three albums, Fearless – Speak Now and Red – already back under her ownership, 1989, and its smash hit singles such as Shake It Off, Style and Blank Space, is the latest to be added to the series known as Taylor’s Version.
Aside from the tracks from the original record, the new album includes five exclusive From the Vault songs: Slut!, Say Don’t Go, Now That We Don’t Talk, Suburban Legends and Is It Over Now?.
So, what do Taylor’s fans think about her latest release? To find out, we spoke to the president of Leeds Uni’s Taylor Swift Society, Jess Simpson.
When asked how she felt about 1989 (Taylor’s Version), the response was a combination of nostalgia towards the old songs and excitement at the new From the Vault tracks: “The new music is amazing and feels very nostalgic. Knowing that the Vault songs were cut from the original albums, it is interesting seeing where they would’ve fitted on the albums and whether it was the right choice to cut them.
Jess said: “When listening to the new versions, I just feel so much joy knowing that these are owned by Taylor and that we can hear her old music be recorded in her matured voice, especially on albums such as Fearless and Speak Now, because she was just a teenager/turning 20 when they were released.
“I’m also loving the new songs as well – some are quickly entering my top 10 Taylor Swift songs of all time and are getting me even more excited about the possibility if hearing them live on her tour next year.”
The big question, what her favourite song is from the 1989 (Taylor’s Version), didn’t have a definitive answer: “Out of From the Vault, it would have to be Is It Over Now? or Now That We Don’t Talk,” Jess said. “But from the original, it would be You Are In Love.”
I then asked Jess what she thought was different about the new album compared to the original, and how the nine year gap, between the two, had affected the former’s sound and style. Her verdict was that whilst 1989 (Taylor’s Version) still has a very distinctive 2014 pop sound, there are nuances in the production and the song delivery that set it apart from its predecessor.
“I think this album is just as good as the original and maybe even better. Some of the songs sound so much better than they used to, I think due to the development of Taylor’s voice and how much music production has developed from 2014. Her more mature tone definitely suits some of the songs better and the addition of certain vocal choices, such as the growl in I Know Places, has 100 per cent improved the songs for the better.
“The style is very much 2014 pop music but I think this album is a classic pop album that doesn’t age. She has worked with different producers on this version compared to 2014, which I think has affected songs such as Style and New Romantics – many fans aren’t vibing with the new versions as much, due to the production, but I personally don’t see the difference. Certain songs it will take some getting used to the sound, as her voice obviously sounds different and she is also not in the same headspace that she was nine years ago, when she first wrote these songs.”
Aside from a shared love for the singer-songwriter’s music, I asked Jess what had inspired the creation of a dedicated Taylor Swift Society on campus. She replied that making a safe space for Taylor Swift fans to express themselves had been an important factor, as had enabling people to meet others with similar interests.
“I have always loved Taylor Swift and wanted to offer a safe space for other people to express their love and be their best Swiftie selves.
“Many of my friends aren’t massive Taylor fans, which I think most people in Leeds can probably relate to, so knowing that I have a group of people I can go to Taylor Swift club nights with, and have people to talk about all the new releases is something that makes me, and hopefully others, very happy.
“This society gives Swifties the chance to be themselves and not feel like they have to hide how much they love Taylor and her music, just because other people in the lives might not feel the same or not understand the obsession. No one is judged – whether you’ve only gotten in to Taylor’s music recently, due to the re-recordings, or, if like me, you’ve been here since the release of Love Story, the society is for all Swifties.
“It is also great to meet other people who love the same artists as you, as there are a lot of crossovers with other singers that Taylor has expressed her love for in the past.”
Perhaps the most relevant question to readers, I finished our chat by asking Jess what advice she thought Taylor would give Leeds students this year: “I think it would be to take back the narrative of what people may think or say about you, and to know that, just because someone may have something bad to say about you, this doesn’t define you as a person and you should live the life you want to live and not the one that you think would make other people happy.
“At the end of the day, you’re never going to be able to be the perfect person or live up to everyone’s expectations, so as long as you are happy with your own decisions and your own life this is all that matters.
“I think Taylor has really shown this by writing songs that take back the narrative or standing her ground when people have made comments about the amount of relationships or the amount of break up songs she writes for example.”
To find out more about Leeds University’s Taylor Swift Society, you can visit their Instagram (@luuswiftsoc).
Featured image via @taylorswift