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"Red (Taylor's Version)" album review

The cover art for "Red (Taylor's Version)," released on Nov. 12, 2021.

Released Oct. 22, 2012, "Red" by Taylor Swift was the singer’s 4th studio album and her first album to be entirely within the pop genre. This album came with criticism, as many do, but in particular, targeted her sense of direction. Many said that pop was not the way for her to move forward or that she should stick with her country roots. However, nine years later, Swift has not only produced three other pop albums but an additional two within the indie genre as well, with "Folklore" breaking the record of most day-one streams of any Spotify album by a female creator.

Swift revealed in 2020 that she was going to re-record all of her albums produced under Scooter Braun in order to have the songs under her own name, including additional vault tracks that were never released to the public. "Fearless (Taylor’s Version)" was the first of these re-recordings released on April 9, 2021, and on Nov. 12, 2021, Swift released "Red (Taylor’s Version)," the perfect album for fall including nine new songs from the vault, one being a 10-minute version of "All Too Well."

It is safe to say this album broke the internet, as she once again broke the record of most one-day streams of any Spotify album by a female creator. Accompanied by its own Starbucks drink, SNL episode and countless advertisements and billboards from various companies, "Red (Taylor’s Version)" is truly an album with great success.

The album follows the same studio track order as the original in 2012, beginning with "State of Grace (Taylor’s Version)," a song warning of the dangers and safeties of love. Next, the song "Red (Taylor’s Version)" takes listeners through a relationship that is so hard to forget. "Treacherous (Taylor’s Version)" reminds everyone of the one person they fell hard for, knowing it was going to be bad news.

The classic "I Knew You Were Trouble (Taylor’s Version)" is everyone’s favorite heartbreak anthem for their toxic breakup with their ex. Everyone knows the pain and heartbreak within the song "All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)," targeted at the singer’s messy breakup with actor Jake Gyllenhaal. "22 (Taylor’s Version)" is the perfect song for your carefree young adulthood where you don’t really know where your life is going, but you sure are along for the ride. "I Almost Do (Taylor’s Version)" has everyone listening questioning whether or not they should get back together with their ex. Everyone decided the answer to that question is most certainly no after the anthem "We Are Never Getting Back Together (Taylor’s Version)" begins to play.

"Stay Stay Stay (Taylor’s Version)" gives everyone an idea of the most picture-perfect partner in their head, and the laugh from older Swift at the end of the song is to die for. "The Last Time (Taylor’s Version)," featuring Gary Lightbody, is a song written about the cycle of heartbreak and forgiveness in a relationship that is toxic for both parties. "Holy Ground (Taylor’s Version)" gives fans a look into her breakup with singer Joe Jonas. The relationship that wasn’t meant to work out, but had to happen is alluded to in the song "Sad Beautiful Tragic (Taylor’s Version)."

"The Lucky One (Taylor’s Version)" tells the story of a star who has her whole life in the spotlight, including her secrets. In the end, the star disappears to have a better life, one without fame. "Everything Has Changed (Taylor’s Version)," featuring Ed Sheeran, is about meeting someone and that person changing your life. "Starlight (Taylor’s Version)" is a song inspired by Ethel and Bobby Kennedy’s romantic adventures. "Begin Again (Taylor’s Version)" is a song about the first date since a big breakup. Another stab at Jake Gynellhaal, "The Moment I Knew (Taylor’s Version)" is about the actor missing her 21st birthday. "Come Back... Be Here (Taylor’s Version)" is about a relationship falling apart due to long-distance difficulties. And the last of the original tracks, "Girl at Home (Taylor’s Version)," is about a girl being approached by a guy even though he has a girlfriend. Each and every one of these tracks showcases the original meaning of the song but is accompanied by a sense of maturity that Swift has gained through writing songs and performing for years.

The re-recorded album also includes an acoustic version of "State of Grace" and "Ronan (Taylor’s Version)," a song about the death of a young boy named Ronan who passed of neuroblastoma. New songs from the vault are "Better Man (Taylor’s Version)," "Nothing New (Taylor’s Version)" featuring Phoebe Bridgers, "Babe (Taylor’s Version)," "Message In A Bottle (Taylor’s Version)," "I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version)" featuring Chris Stapleton, "Forever Winter (Taylor’s Version)," "Run (Taylor’s Version)" featuring Ed Sheeran, "The Very First Night (Taylor’s Version)," and the long-awaited 10-minute version of "All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)."

"Better Man (Taylor’s Version)" is Swift's version of the song she wrote for Little Big Town, a song about a woman who wishes the man she loved was better so she could stay together with him. The song was revised from the country genre it was written for to a pop version to fit the vibes of "Red."

"Nothing New (Taylor’s Version)" featured indie singer Phoebe Bridgers. The song contains somber acoustic guitar notes, accompanied by a soft orchestra within the background. The lyrics describe the fear one experiences when one begins to age and realize they are not changing drastically anymore. Bridgers, known for sadder lyrics and quieter tones, is the perfect feature for this song, adding the somber element perfectly.

"Babe (Taylor’s Version)" is Swift's version of the song she wrote for Sugarland. Her version contains a revived pop beat rather than the original country sounds. "Message in a Bottle (Taylor’s Version)" is similar to "Come Back... Be Here." The song describes a relationship that ended because of distance. The speaker can only reach their lover through the song, alluded to as a message in a bottle. The beat is very upbeat and lively, alluding to hopefulness that they will receive the message.

"I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version)" is the ultimate careless breakup song. Meant to represent when you finally are over your ex and don’t care about them whatsoever, but you know they still think about you. The funny, upbeat lyrics pair so well with the high-pitched violin within the background. Chris Stapleton is a perfect bass accompanist for this song. Adding a male voice adds the perfect allusion to the ex that the song is about.

"Forever Winter (Taylor’s Version)" is a passionate song with an acoustic guitar. The song alludes to mental health and suicide in many lyrics, which have fans thinking that the song is about her brother’s struggle with mental health. No matter who the song is about, the song is a great pairing with the breakup struggles in the other songs on the album.

"Run (Taylor’s Version)" features Ed Sheeran. This soft-spoken song perfectly captures the rebellious love where you just want to run away with your significant other, to never be seen again. The love and carefree feelings are captured within the beat.

"The Very First Night (Taylor’s Version)" is a song about a lover longing for the feelings and memories from the first date with their significant other. The song is very high-spirited, alluding to how fun the relationship used to be.

And finally, the 10-minute version of "All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)" contains additional verses and an additional bridge. New powerful lyrics show other faults made by Gyllenhaal during the relationship, including, “You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath,” and, “You said if we had been closer in age maybe it would have been fine, And that made me want to die.” The song about Gyllenhaal now shadows on true heartbreak, one where you can’t change anything to make your partner want to stay.

Swift has said in countless interviews that "Red" is her one true heartbreak album. This was true for the 2012 album, and it remains true for "Red (Taylor’s Version)." However, being sung by a Swift that has survived the heartbreak, the re-recorded version gives fans an album to scream after their breakup, but also hope. They know because of new tracks, such as "I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version)," that new love—especially self-love—is right around the corner. A new sense of self will grow back like the leaves that change colors and fall off the trees. This truly makes "Red (Taylor’s Version)" the ultimate fall album.


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