Wildest Dreams is now a reality, the highly anticipated, self-owned version of the defining album ‘1989’ from Taylor Swift has finally made it out of the woods!
One of the top-selling albums of this year, behind only herself for ‘Speak Now (Taylor’s Version),’ and Travis Scott’s ‘Utopia’ in opening weeks sales, Swift broke Spotify’s records for most streams in a single day and 2023’s most streamed album in one day.
It’s fitting that for her fifth album Swift has released five brand new vault tracks, so here’s a review of the new songs!
Knowing Swift, this title was a sign that would either lead to me screaming it in my car or crying to it. It proved to be the first but in a sweet way.
She sings about how different the person she sings about is, how “In a world of boys, he’s a gentleman.” It is enough to make her want to be drunk on love and willing to pay the price by being “slutshamed.” She uses vivid colors to paint different love scenes, such as a flamingo pink Sunset Boulevard, an aquamarine swimming pool and tangerine neon lighting.
Say Don’t Go
This lived up to the supposed angst of the name, as it’s about a one-sided love from Taylor’s perspective. Even though she knew it would be “a shot in the darkest dark,” she still tried holding on to whatever tightrope there was, despite the intense emotional turmoil.
The subject of the song does enough to make her want them to stay, but it only leads to her staying, not the other way around. It ends with an outro of her accepting the love interest’s actions, but not necessarily the lack of relationship as a whole as she knows they won’t say don’t go.
Now That We Don’t Talk
This track is about Taylor’s feelings of watching her ex change into someone she didn’t recognize, from a distance, while she slowly accepts the end of the relationship as a whole.
The ex still has a massive impact on her and the people around them, hence the Red Sea simile line, but wants to live life differently than when they were together.
Swift sings about talks with her mother helping her accept that to move on for her own sake, she should let go of the ex completely, rather than keep them in her life with that distance.
Swift sings about the downfall of a powerful, star-crossed love, as it is perhaps the very idea of defying the stars that makes such a relationship that much more magnifying.
Even when the attraction began dying out, neither had the courage or desire to end this love, so Taylor had to break her heart herself to finally let it go. It takes time for her to do it, but eventually, she knows this wonderland she lived in can no longer be dragged out.
Is It Over Now?
Swift really tore into the track’s alleged muse Harry Styles, accusing him of trying to find something better in many maiden’s and models’ beds during their relationship, while also acknowledging her own actions during it with some other person.
Swift also accuses him of trying to replace her with her clone, as seen in “If she’s got blue eyes, I will surmise that you’ll probably date her.”
There is enough emotion that she contemplates darker actions to see if he does have some semblance of feelings for her due to the alleged clone of a new girl, but ultimately chooses to stay clean and retain her self-dignity, which is all she’s ever done despite the countless rumors surrounding her body and her relationship.
There has been a lot of discussion online over how well the vault tracks fit in with the rest of ‘1989,’ primarily that the songs sound too much like Swift’s tenth album ‘Midnights’ and the themes don’t match.
However, the vault tracks are usually songs that were cut as they didn’t fit in perfectly with the original albums, but still are somewhat connected. In the ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ vault tracks, songs like ‘Message in a Bottle’ have a much more pop sound compared to the mix of pop and country of the album’s other songs, but still fit into the theme of a sweet romance.
As for sound, I do agree some have similar instrumentals to songs on ‘Midnights,’ such as the beginning of ‘“Slut!”’ sounding a bit like ‘Bejeweled.’ I see this as a connection between two songs that both face the idea of living for yourself despite what others think. Many songs have similar instrumentals yet stay unique to themselves, such as the end instrumentals of ‘Getaway Car’ from ‘Reputation’ and the beginning instrumentals of ‘Cruel Summer’ from the album ‘Lover’ sounding similar, yet both work perfectly well within their songs.
As for themes, the majority of the vault tracks follow a theme of the downfall of romance which pairs perfectly with the main album’s songs like ‘All You Had To Do Was Stay’ and ‘I Wish You Would.’ The upbeat production takes focus away from the message of the songs at first listen, but when you pay attention to the lyrics, they are quite sad, which is consistent throughout the album.
‘“Slut!”’ takes on the more acceptance-of-love theme that ‘You Are In Love’ and ‘This Love’ have, with slightly more whimsical instrumentals and softer vocals. Swift not only sings of the acceptance of falling in love but also paints vivid pictures in each song of how each romance plays out, such as the colors of the settings in ‘”Slut!”’ and the imagery like burnt toast and midnight coffee in ‘You Are In Love.’
The vault tracks solidify ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’ is just that album. Despite the bad blood and the love that battles it out in them, it will never go out of style.