Settle in Swifties, it’s time to break down the newest vault tracks from Taylor Swift! Taylor’s Version of hit pop record ‘1989’ dropped on October 27, 2023. Swifities old and new are getting to live or relive the era all over again! With the rerecord, we get 5 brand new songs to obsess over. I know, crazy right? Never fear, your guide to all things 1989 vault is here to help. So drop your bags on apartment floors, put your broken hearts in a drawer, and take a journey into the vault with me!
First up is probably the most anticipated of the 5 tracks, the one with a name I probably cannot say! The original 1989 era ran from approximately 2014 through 2016. It marked the beginning of so many key parts of Taylor Lore! We saw her chop the iconic blonde locks, move to New York, and shift from country cutie to pop princess. This was also the era in which Taylor experienced an incredible amount of slut-shaming by the media. She was often referred to as a serial dater for simply dating like every other woman in her 20s. When the tracks were announced, fans speculated what the track would sound like. Would we get the synth banger of the century, or a heart-breaking ballad? What we did receive from the mastermind herself was unexpected but much needed! She comments on how the media’s portrayal in saying that the relationship would be would be worth the scrutiny. The ‘him’ everyone wants is more than likely one Mr. Harry Styles. Hold onto that thought, he will certainly make many more appearances in these tracks. The pre-chorus remarks that “I’ll pay the price, you won’t”, implying that she’ll bear the weight of the backlash while he leaves unscathed. One Direction had just released their sophomore album ‘Take Me Home’ and Harry was one of the guys ever girl and their mother pined after. It was typical, ‘if I can’t have him, no one should’ behavior. As Taylor puts it, “that was my crime. The wrong place at the right time.” We can and will continue to break down the infamous Haylor relationship, but “Sl*t!” refers to it as a time where “sticks and stone froze mid-air.” Compared to the upcoming songs on the list, this is one of the tamest in terms of her speaking on past relationships; buckle in!
Say Don’t Go
In a whirlwind juxtaposition to its predecessor, “Say Don’t Go” tells a story of longing and heartbreak. With opening notes similar to that of personal favorite “Clean,” you’re truly thrown with that killer chorus! She compares the relationship to a shot in the dark, which we will see again in Reputation’s “Getaway Car”. There are also parallels to Wonderland with talks of fading into madness. This pre-chorus shows Taylor begging for her lover to say ‘don’t go’, a potential callback to “All you Had to do was Stay.” Taylor’s track fives usually are her more gut-wrenching pieces, see All too Well, My Tears Ricochet, and Dear John for examples. “All you had to do was stay” is certainly the most upbeat of this group, but “Say Don’t Go” twists this on its head! Had her lover said the word, she would have stayed forever. Instead, he walked away and left her bleeding. Ouch! The bridge, which Taylor is a genius at crafting, provides the most heart wrenching lyric: “I said I love you, you say nothing back.” Unlike in “You’re in Love” where the feeling can be felt in the silence, this silence has her screaming for answers. The sheer amount of callbacks to other tracks is insane!
Now that We Don’t Talk
This one’s for the girls learning to let go of toxic relationships that no longer serve us! It is also another track full of references to Mr. Styles. Unfortunately, it’s looking much worse for us children of Haylor divorce. This song gives our first nod to the yacht incident. The accepted consensus is that the couple split on a trip to the British Virgin Islands. Taylor left as she was unhappy with things, in a blue dress on a boat mind you. If you have listened to all of the vault tracks, then this will sound very familiar, but more on that to come. Harry, on the other hand, stayed behind with billionaire Richard Branson and a few other young women. Taylor wonders if the smile he wears in the photos from this trip was all a front in asking “did you get anxious though on the way home?” Fellow Harry Styles fans will definitely catch the references to how his appearance changed drastically post relationship in verse 2:
Perhaps Taylor preferred the Harry she fell in love with? Given that the song was written in 2013, these sentiments may have changed; they were certainly seen speaking at the 2022 Grammy awards earlier this year! Unlike the others on this list, this track does not include a bridge, rather an iconic outro! She mentions all the things she does not have to pretend enjoying now that they have split such as acid rock. She also notes that “the only way back to [her] dignity was to become a shrouded mystery.” Anyone who has had to take a step back to evaluate a past relationship will know that this can be a dire step. Losing and refinding yourself is one of the charming necessary evils of life. Key takeaway, call your mom, get it off your chest, and realize that you are indeed better off now that you don’t talk.
Say it with me now; thank you Jack Antonoff! The dynamic duo is back and they certainly didn’t come to make friends this time! Fun fact, the original 1989 was Taylor’s first time working with Jack. Hints at her partner’s infidelity come in the form of “people who called you on unmarked numbers.” She chooses to ignore them though, too captivated by his magnetic charm. Taylor notes that their relationship was born to be a suburban legend, or the talk of the town. My fellow suburbia girlies will get this! She fantasizes that their mismatched star signs will surprise everyone. Could this be another reference to Mr. Styles? Perhaps. However, Sagittarius and Aquarius are said to make great matches, so maybe not. Nods to the 1950s gymnasium may remind you of Midnights track “Lavender Haze.” The entire song provides gorgeous imagery of typical suburban life like slip-n-slides, class reunions, and pacing down neighborhood blocks. Her sentiment about breaking her own heart because the person in question was too polite to do it themselves leads to so many questions! Will we ever truly know exactly what happened in this relationship, probably not, but it’s fun to wonder!
Is it Over Now?
The one you’ve all been waiting for! This one has so many references to unpack; you may wanna grab a snack. The intro gives off major “Question?” vibes. Both songs are rumored to be about the Taylor-Harry relationship and involve her asking questions looking back on the time. With the “wilt of a rose” line, we see that “Sl*t!” marks the beginning of the relationship while “Is it Over Now?” is the end. They are also the only vault songs to include punctuation in their titles. This could also be a nod to the “flowers that [they’ve] grown together [dying] of thirst” found in “Clean.” The three hundred takeout coffees point to the rather large amount of Starbucks dates the two were photographed on. What can I say, she does get along with Starbucks lovers. This lying traitor is searching in maidens and models’ beds for something greater. We have a double with this one! Harry was rumored to have dated several models following his relationship with Taylor. Some include Kendall Jenner, Erin Foster, and Nadine Leopold. Let it also be known that the second and third model listed have blue eyes. I will let you listen to the song and decipher this one for yourself. As for the something greater of it all, it may be a reference to the One Direction song “Something Great,” which Harry has writing credit on. It appears that there may have been some cheating on either end as Taylor references someone unbuttoning her blouse. And we thought “I Can See You” was juicy! The second verse mentions losing control and “red blood, white snow.” Harry and Taylor infamously got in a snowmobile accident that led to “20 stitches in a hospital room.” And the blue dress on the boat is back! The blue dress is also seen in the “Out of the Woods” music video. Taylor notes that she has the decency to keep her nights out of sight. These two were in one of the highest moments of their careers, it would be impossible to avoid the flashing lights of the paparazzi! It does however seem that Taylor was not as big of a fan of the publicness of the relationships following theirs.
It will probably take some much deeper digging to understand every reference in these songs. A great source is Ally Sheehan, an Australian youtuber and expert on all things Taylor! She also has deep dives on all things Speak Now if you are looking to expand your knowledge. The 1989 rerecord was the one I was waiting for with the most anticipation as it is my favorite Taylor Swift album, and these vault songs did not disappoint! The only thing that could have possibly made it better would have been a collaboration with a certain aforementioned British pop star; but could we ever get one after those songs? More than likely, no. We do know, however, that Harry is open to her writing songs about him, and he thinks these songs are good! He has definitely done the same himself with songs like “Two Ghosts,” “Perfect,” and the unreleased “Him.” The argument could also be made for “Little Freak” and “From the Dining Table.” Hopefully this offers some more context for the fantastic vault tracks we received! Which is your favorite and did you pick up on any other references?