Deemed Swift’s signature record, Euronews Culture looks at how fans are reacting to its re-release and how it’s making some feel young all over again.
“Welcome to New York, welcome to New York / It’s a new soundtrack, I could dance to this beat.” With this triumphant announcement, sung over slinky synths, Taylor Swift opened her 2014 hit album, 1989, and bid farewell to her Nashville country roots, introducing the world to her brand new, pop-oriented sound. It propelled her into the global pop pantheon with lucrative results, but dramatic repercussions on her reputation too.
Like countless other Millennial-Generation Z cuspers, 1989 was an album that defined my youth, a source of escapism at a time of teenage angst which promised hopes of big city lights and an exciting adult life.
I eventually drifted away from Swift’s music - influenced, perhaps, by the media storm that surrounded her - until I rediscovered her mid-pandemic, by which point she had returned to the public’s good graces.
Now that 1989 (Taylor’s Version) has been re-released - part of Swift’s ongoing effort to re-record her early catalogue to reclaim her Masters - I am re-listening to the record with a certain poignancy. It evokes memories of both the challenges I’d been facing at the time and the music that had helped me get through it all. It’s a full-circle moment of realisation that I am only just getting to embody the album’s carefree spirit — not entirely unlike Swift herself, following her admission to having experienced struggles of her own at the time of 1989's release.
And my experience is far from an isolated one among my peers. Euronews Culture looks at how 1989 defined a generation - and how, nine years later, the album’s re-release is making countless Swifties feel like teenagers all over again.
‘It’s a trippy feeling of nostalgia’ — Alex, 33
Taylor Swift has a legion of fans so big that one Republican staffer even quipped that she could defeat Donald Trump in the race to becoming US President next year.
But few are as devoted to the pop titan as 33-year-old English teacher Alex.
LA-raised and currently living in Milan, Italy, Alex has been a fan for over a decade, and has turned his love for Swift into a full social media passion project.
Alex’s Tik Tok has accrued more than 60,000 followers, with some videos racking up millions of views and even catching his idol’s own attention.
As expected, he has not been shy in expressing his excitement over _1989_’s re-release. But back when the original album came out, Alex - who had initially fallen in love with Swift in her pre-pop days - wasn’t hooked on the album’s synth hooks quite so swiftly. Err, excuse the pun.
“The first time I listened to it, I finished it and felt confused, because I was so used to [country] Taylor. I wasn’t sure I liked it, not sure it was the Taylor I loved, and I thought ‘what happened to the guitars?’” he told Euronews Culture.
But his perspective quickly changed as soon as he realised the album tapped into the pulse of his life at the time.
“Slowly, after a few weeks, it crept up on me. The freedom her new sound incorporated started to make sense — I was in my early 20s, going out with friends, living in a big city. It definitely left a mark on me.”
1989 may have represented a major musical evolution for Swift, but even more crucially, it saw the singer-songwriter take her first public (and musical) stand on LGBT+ rights, with the album’s opening track, “Welcome to New York”, nodding to same-sex couples.
For Alex, who identifies as gay and now lives with his long-term partner, the importance of hearing his idol profess queer allyship was not lost on him.
“For the longest time I wondered how supportive [Swift] was of it all… hearing that song for the first time, as a Swiftie, was really validating — and the fact that she left it on record, in a song, was even more special.”
Now, nine years after _1989_’s original release, Alex has found himself taking a trip down memory lane.
“The feeling is 100% one of nostalgia,” he noted. “I remember what I went through five, 10 years ago.”
His opinions on the re-recordings themselves is mixed - he feels that some tracks, like “Style”, don’t quite capture the emotions of the original - but he has found himself engrossed in the album all over again.
“It’s a cool feeling to listen to these old songs, as they’re even making sense in the present. It’s a trippy feeling, like a weird time machine.”
‘This re-release is important for women’ — Samantha, 38
For 38-year-old Peruvian environmental lawyer and Swiftie, Samantha, 1989 remains her favourite Taylor Swift album. But it also possesses, alongside its re-release, a particularly important significance to the cause she supports, especially in how it relates to women’s and intellectual property rights.
“[Upon 1989’s release], I was so happy for her, that she was owning this different, amazing sound,” she told Euronews Culture. “The song Blank Space was a huge statement at the time, thinking of how women were treated.”
But it’s the album’s re-release, and especially how it relates to Swift’s ongoing effort to reclaim her Masters after her former label sold her catalogue to agent Scooter Braun, that has particularly interested her.
“I think [the re-release] is important for women in particular,” she stated “As a woman and a lawyer, I am very invested in her creative ownership.”
“Women are made to feel we aren’t made to deserve [things],” she added.
Samantha concluded by asserting her full commitment to supporting Swift’s re-recording efforts, taking a shot at Braun.
“I was waiting for a long time for this re-release,” she said. “I just needed to stop giving money to Scooter Braun — never again!”
‘It’s a reminder that we can reclaim our narratives’
For 27-year-old Indian-born globe-trotter, Varun, the original 1989 represented a musical coming-of-age moment.
Then a fresh-faced university student in Tokyo, he recounted the vivid memories associated with the album’s original release — and how the re-recorded version is bringing them all back.
“Nearly a decade ago when I was at university, the original 1989 album was as timeless as 'Style,' setting the mood for walks to class, karaoke sessions in Japan, and endless dance nights with friends,” he told Euronews Culture. “Now, its re-release is a time capsule, whisking me back to that era while spotlighting how much both Taylor and her fans, such as myself, have evolved.”
Varun is now living in Amsterdam, where he recently started a career as a consultant. _1989_’s re-release has made him reflect on the his life thus far, and the power of gaining control over its trajectory.
“As Taylor is reclaiming her creative agency, this re-release resonates as a call-to-action for us all from that generation,” he stated. “It’s a timely reminder that as we grow older—just like Taylor—we too can reclaim the narrative of our pasts while being architects of our future.”
‘It taught me that I could be anyone I wanted to be’ — Antonio, 22
Not all diehard Swifties were fans of 1989 upon its release.
Recent graduate and Rome-based tour guide, Antonio, was only 13 years old when the record came out, and didn’t connect to its mature themes at the time.
But now that his love for the singer-songwriter is consolidated, his excitement for the re-release is palpable — and deeply personal.
“I became a [Swift] fan in 2019, when I moved to Rome from southern Italy,” he told Euronews Culture. “At that point, I could relate to what she was living, moving to a new city.”
“I would listen to 1989 on a bus trying to live my best city life,” he added.
For the 22-year-old Antonio, 1989 is no longer just a major part of his life — it’s now a part of his body, too.
Upon the album’s re-release, Antonio got a tattoo of the lyrics of one of the album’s bonus tracks — “New Romantics” — on his forearm, which he posted to his 5,000 Instagram followers.
“It’s very personal thing to me,” he stated. “I couldn’t be myself in the place I was born, I wasn’t happy with what my childhood was.”
“That quote [from ‘New Romantics’] always stuck with me — I now was the person I could be without anyone telling me otherwise.”
Despite not having been one of the album’s original fans, re-listening to 1989 has not been devoid of nostalgia for Antonio.
“The album brings back memories, it reminds me of summer,” he remarked. “Some songs, however, feel a little bit different, so it’s a new experience as well.”
Antonio feels deeply connected to Swift and her work, and given that she publicly remarked on the personal challenges she was facing at the time of the original album’s release, he now feels that they are both concomitantly living the true spirit of the 1989 “era” for the first time.
“This re-release is the better version of what she was living back then,” he concluded. “In a sense, this is the true 1989 ‘era’”.