With the highly anticipated release of 1989 Taylor’s Version only a little over a month away, countless theories about potential featured artists have been circulating. Unlike previous albums, 1989 TV has an air of mystery surrounding the featured singers. For Red TV, Ed Sheeran and Gary Lightbody were obvious choices (although Phoebe Bridgers and Chris Stapleton were also included), and even for Speak Now TV, many fans were able to predict Hayley Williams and Fallout Boy. However, Taylor has recently been seen interacting with so many prominent artists that it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell the signal from the noise. For a while, fans speculated that Swift’s most recent ex, Matty Healey, would be featured, but Swift’s representatives have since shut this theory down, much to the relief of most of her following. This leaves all potential spots on the album up for grabs.
In an age where Taylor Swift has interacted with almost every big name in pop, the key to accurately predicting the featured artists on her latest rerecord may lie in the past. In 2014, when 1989 was originally released, Swift had a very different social scene than she does currently. One of her most public friends is Selena Gomez, who was notably featured in the “Bad Blood” music video. While this is a popular theory, it is also a probable one, especially given the recent drama surrounding Selena Gomez and Hailey Beiber. Swift makes a point in her career to stand up for other women, and including Gomez on 1989 TV would not only be a nod to their long standing friendship, but also a public show of support on an album that very openly discusses grudges between women in the industry.
The next top pick is another fan favorite. Many people have guessed that Harry Styles, one of Swift’s most famous exes, as well as her current friend, will be featured in the song “Style,” which is allegedly named after him. Styles just concluded his world tour, and has publicly stated that he will be taking a break from the industry, but for Taylor Swift, just about anyone would head back into the recording studio. The public also doesn’t know how far in advance the tracks are rerecorded, so it’s plausible that Styles recorded “Style” before announcing his break.
In the vein of nostalgia, artists whose careers hit a peak around the time 1989 was released are also a likely choice. For anyone who grew up listening to 1989, memories of that time period are probably also linked to Halsey’s Badlands and Lorde’s Pure Heroine. Both of these albums were huge radio hits in the years immediately before and after the release of 1989, and Swift may be hoping to recapture some of that mid 2010’s sentimentality by featuring either Halsey or Lorde. Swift is also publicly friends with both of these artists, making their collaboration even more possible.
Perhaps, though, it will be more productive to look at up and coming artists, rather than established ones. Gracie Abrams has recently gained popularity, and was the opening act of several nights on The Eras Tour, both accompanying Swift throughout the set list and performing her own original songs beforehand. Featuring a slightly smaller artist to balance the bigger names would also be a move in line with what we’ve seen Swift do on her previous rerecords. Abrams’ new contemporary pop style may be just what is needed to bring new freshness to a classic album.
Whichever artists do appear on 1989 TV, both on the vault tracks and the already established songs, fans are more excited than ever for a new release from pop’s biggest name. From nostalgic artists to ones just making a name for themselves, whoever Swift chooses to feature will surely elevate a fan favorite album to a whole new status, and reignite the love for an album released almost a decade ago. Through Swift’s rerecords, we can see how truly enduring her art really is, and how impactful it is on the music industry and her demographic.
Sarah Gimbel is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]