It’s difficult to avoid Taylor Swift’s name in the news these days. The songstress’ expansion into Hollywood and sports (by association) has made her one of the most popular people in the world at this time, even though to her loyal fanbase — the Swifties — she has held that title since the early days of her musical career.
Now with the release of “1989” (Taylor’s Version), a heavily spotlighted public relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce ongoing and the international leg of her Eras Tour on deck, Swift has almost guaranteed screentime for the foreseeable future. Her “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” concert documentary dominated at the box office in its opening weekend, and don’t even get the Swifties or Marvel stans started on those “Deadpool 3” rumors.
The release of Swift’s tenth studio album “Midnights” came as a surprise to many at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards because Swift had already embarked on the extensive process of re-recording six of her then nine albums — how could she find the time to also record a brand new album?
With “1989” (TV) out now, what’s next? How many other albums does she intend to re-record? When will they come out? And why is she re-recording her iconic albums in the first place? Consider this your one-stop shop — here’s everything you need to know.
The recipe for a re-recorded Taylor Swift album includes about just all mentioned above, the album re-mastered with (Taylor’s Version) at the end of the title in addition to updated photos of Swift as cover art to differentiate the ones she owns from the ones she initially put out. Swift also releases several songs “From the Vault” on each newly re-recorded album like the bonus tracks she originally put out when the first releases happened. Read on for any questions about this undertaking:
Why Did Taylor Swift Decide to Re-Record Her Albums?
Scooter Braun purchased Swift’s entire music catalog — which included her first six albums — in 2019 when his Ithaca Holdings LLC acquired Big Machine Records, the Scott Borchetta-led label Swift worked with at the beginning of her career.
Swift vocally fought against the acquisition as she wanted the opportunity to purchase and own her music herself. She took to Tumblr to explain that she had begged for the chance to own her work long before the sale was made. Braun spoke about the decision on NPR’s “The Limit” podcast, where he expressed some regrets about how the deal went down as well as reflection on why it went the way it did.
“The regret I have there is that I made the assumption that everyone, once the deal was done, was going to have a conversation with me, see my intent, see my character and say, great, let’s be in business together,” Braun said at the time.
Braun later sold the master rights to Swift’s recordings in 2020 to private equity company Shamrock Holdings, for upwards of $300 million. Swift described a failed negotiation for her first six albums, which ran into an “ironclad NDA stating I would never say another word about Scooter Braun unless it was positive.”
This kerfuffle ultimately led to Swift re-recording her first six albums with re-imagined cover artwork and extra songs marked “From the Vault” for each album, thanks in part to a suggestion from Kelly Clarkson. The singer began officially owning the rights to her own music with the launch of the 2019 album “Lover,” her seventh studio album. She has since recorded three more albums — “folklore,” “evermore” and “Midnights.”
Which Albums Does Taylor Swift Have to Re-record to Own?
Braun and then Shamrock Holdings purchased “Taylor Swift,” “Fearless,” “Speak Now,” “Red,” “1989” and “reputation.” Thus, Swift has to re-record those six albums to fully own the rights to them.
How Many Albums Has Taylor Swift Re-recorded So Far?
The first album Swift re-recorded was “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” which she released in April 2021.
Next came “Red (Taylor’s Version)” in the fall of 2021. Swift then paused to put out “Midnights,” which many see as a response to revisiting her old work.
In May during her Nashville stop on the Eras Tour, Swift announced that “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)’ would be released July 7, just two days before July 9, which is a day mentioned in the track “Last Kiss” from “Speak Now.”
On the last night of the 2023 U.S. leg of the Eras Tour, Swift donned bright blue outfits to build up to the announcement of “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” at the end of the night. The re-recorded version of Swift’s fifth album, which marked her solid shift to the pop genre, launched on Oct. 27.
Which Albums Are Left to Re-Record?
Swift has two albums left to re-record – her debut, eponymous album and her sixth — “reputation.” A common saying among the Swiftie community and beyond is that all she has left to reclaim are her name and her reputation.
Swifties are full-on theorists and Easter egg hunters, and many are convinced that she will announce the release date for “reputation” in November when she kicks off the European leg of the Eras Tour. There is a theory that she plans to release re-recordings every 112 calendar days, which has held so far, which would place “reputation” on Jan. 1, or New Year’s Day, which also happens to be the title of a track on that album.
What’s Different on the Re-Recorded Albums?
For the most part, Swift isn’t reinventing her past music. The re-recorded albums largely sound like the originals, with a few notable differences.
More subtle changes include vocal inflection on certain parts of songs like “Romeo” in “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” and a lyrical change in “Better Than Revenge (Taylor’s Version)”. In the original “Speak Now” track, the lyrics read “She’s better known for the things that she does on the mattress,” but Swift changed it to “He was a moth to the flame, she was holding the matches.”
Swift also moved “If This Was a Movie (Taylor’s Version)” to her re-recording of “Fearless” so that she could say that she wrote all the songs re-recorded on her “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” album. Her “Hunger Games” songs “Eyes Open” and “Safe and Sound (feat. Joy Williams and John Paul White)” were also regrouped to singles with the “Red (Taylor’s Version)” album cover.
Various artists have participated in Swift’s re-records, such as Ed Sheeran (who returned to help re-record “Everything Has Changed” in addition to vault song “Run”), Kendrick Lamar on the “Bad Blood” remix and even the former members of The Civil Wars who featured on the initial recording of “Safe and Sound.”
As already mentioned, the songs “From the Vault” add context and an extra layer of newness to Swift’s re-recorded albums. Each set of songs was written for the original album release respective to their Era, but they didn’t make it on the initial records. Now they’re being heard for the first time as part of the re-records.
Are the Taylor’s Version Vault Tracks Different from Bonus Songs?
“Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” came with six vault songs — “You All Over Me (feat. Maren Morris), “Mr. Perfectly Fine,” “We Were Happy,” “That’s When (feat. Keith Urban),” “Don’t You” and “Bye Bye Baby.”
“Red (Taylor’s Version” came with nine vault songs (two of which Swift had previously written for other bands, but which she sang herself on the re-record): “Better Man (originally sung by Little Big Town),” “Babe (originally sung by Sugarland and featuring Swift),” “Nothing New (feat. Phoebe Bridgers),” “Message in a Bottle,” “I Bet You Think About Me (feat. Chris Stapleton),” “Forever Winter,” “Run (feat. Ed Sheeran),” “The Very First Night” and of course, the infamous ten-minute version of “All Too Well,” one of Swift’s most, if not the most, popular ballad. The original version of the song was cut to five minutes.
Vault songs on “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” include “Electric Touch (feat. Fall Out Boy),” “When Emma Falls in Love,” “I Can See You,” “Castles Crumbling (feat. Haley Williams),” “Foolish One” and “Timeless.
“1989 (Taylor’s Version) is the first re-recorded album to not feature any artist collaborations in singing the vault songs. All five — “Slut!,” “Say Don’t Go,” “Now That We Don’t Talk,” “Suburban Legends” and “Is It Over Now?” are all Taylor.
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