Since 2021, the pop artist has treated fans to re-recorded versions of some of her earlier work, following the sale of her master recordings in 2019.
1989 (Taylor’s Version) marks the fourth of six albums that Swift, 33, will revisit as a way of taking back control of her creative output, after music manager Scooter Braun purchased Swift’s former record label, Big Machine Records.
Previous re-recorded projects include 2021’s Fearless (Taylor’s Version)and Red (Taylor’s Version), fresh renditions of her second and fourth albums, as well as a new version of her third album, Speak Now, in July.
Each new release is accompanied by previously unheard tracks that didn’t make it on to the original record, taken from Swift’s “vault”. The “Taylor’s Version” records are also rife with easter eggs – hints and nods towards her inspirations and her future plans.
Ahead of the release of 1989 (Taylor’s Version) on Friday (27 October), fans speculated over what they’d find in a revamped version of her much-loved fifth album. Since its initial 2014 release, it has been considered a “break-up album” inspired by Swift’s brief relationship with Harry Styles.
The two pop stars dated between 2012 and early 2013. When 1989 was first released, fans quickly made links to the One Direction star through Swift’s song titles and specific themes.
The track “Style” is considered to be a clear reference to Styles, due to the similarity to his surname. Other links include the song “Out of the Woods”, in which her reference to a paper plane is thought to be a nod to a necklace with a paper plane pendant that the star wore at the time.
Now, the “From the Vault” tracks included at the end of 1989 (Taylor’s Version) have fuelled more questions more connections to the “Watermelon Sugar” vocalist.
On “Is it Over Now?”, Swift sings: “You search in every model’s bed for something greater.” After his relationship with Swift, Styles was romantically linked with several models, including Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski.
Another verse goes: “When you lost control (Uh-huh)/ Red blood, white snow (Uh-huh)/ Blue dress on a boat (Uh-huh)/ Your new girl is my clone.”
The “red blood, white snow” line seems to link to a lyric in “Out of the Woods”, where Swift sings: “Remember when you hit the brakes too soon?/ Twenty stitches in a hospital room.” Both appear to reference an injury Styles sustained during a ski holiday with Swift in 2012, when he reportedly crashed a snow mobile he was driving. He was later photographed with a bandaged chin.
Meanwhile, the “blue dress on a boat” nods to a notorious 2013 paparrazi shot of Swift sitting alone on a boat leaving the island of Virgin Gorda, reportedly after a row with Styles.
“I love Harry Styles so dearly but she really gagged him with this one I won’t lie,” one fan wrote in response on X/Twitter.
In the days ahead of 1989 (Taylor’s Version)’s release, Swift posted handwritten lyrics on her Instagram stories which read: “Aquamarine / Moonlit swimming pool / What if / All I need is you.”
The words are taken from the newly released “From the Vault” track “‘Slut!’”, and are written using two different pens.
According to Swift’s fans, however, her penmanship choices aren’t just down to stylistic preference or coincidence. In 2021, she described how she used different pens when writing songs to represent their sound and feelings. Swift explained that she sorts her pens into quill (using “ivy” as an example), fountain pen (“All Too Well”) and glitter gel (“Shake It Off”).
“I came up with these categories based on what writing tool I imagine having in my hand when I scribbled it down, figuratively,” the “Anti-Hero” singer explained while giving an acceptance speech at the Nashville Songwriter Awards in September 2022.
In her handwritten lyrics for “‘Slut!’”, Swift uses a combination of glitter gel style and fountain pen. This indicated to fans ahead of time that the song would combine a “modern storyline or references, with a poetic twist” with the fountain pen, with a touch of frivolity from the glitter pen.
Some fans are also convinced the lyrics in “Slut” reference Styles, who was at the height of his One Direction fame when he was romantically linked to Swift.
“Everyone wants him, that was my crime / The wrong place at the right time / And I break down, then he's pullin' me in / In a world of boys, he's a gentleman,” she sings.