Music in Review: “Red”

Artist Taylor Swift

Artist Taylor Swift

Heidi Hanson, Features Editor

Taylor Swift has taken the music industry by storm since 2006 and she continues to make herself known and remembered 15 years later. Originally managed by Scooter Braun and his team, Swift started taking back the rights to her originally self-written music in April 2021 with her rerelease of “Fearless” after being told she could not sing her older music at the 2019 American Music Awards. 

With her first six albums being owned by her old management, Swift re-released the second of six albums two weeks ago on Nov. 12, 2021. “Red (Taylor’s Version)” features 30 tracks and nine “from the vault”, meaning new additions to the album.

The lead single of the original album in 2012 was “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”, which coincidentally happens to be my least favorite track on the re-released version. In 2021, however, the track gaining the most traction is Swift’s ten-minute version of her song “All Too Well.” 

The previously five-minute long ballad is a new take on a traditional break-up song, reflecting the ups and downs of a relationship with contrasting tones, paces and a double bridge which breaks your heart and then stomps on it for good measure.

“All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” features additional verses and bridges in comparison to the original version released in 2012. The song was released with a 15-minute short film starring actors Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brian. The film presents scenes similar to what fans presume to be Swift’s previous relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal in 2011. 

“All Too Well” itself didn’t change materialistically much other than the additional verses and Swift’s more mature tone. The mood of the song, however, seems even sadder than the 2012 version despite the fact that it’s been ten years since then. Swift’s vocal range makes this song, along with the rest of the album, the perfect music to scream to while driving down the highway (I highly recommend it). 

Swift’s vault tracks on “Red (Taylor’s Version)” also hold more opportunity for listeners to relate, and in my opinion, is where most of the magic is held in this 30-song album. My personal favorite vault song is “Nothing New” which features indie-rock musician Phoebe Bridgers. 

“Nothing New” embodies the feeling many women face when getting older, and questions the societal pressure for women to stay and look as young as possible in order to maintain youthful beauty and curiosity. The song simultaneously alludes to earlier themes in “Red” and introduces a new, larger-picture worry of growing older; this adds an additional layer of heartache to the album as a whole.

At two hours and ten minutes, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” provides a large amount of emotional whiplash for its listeners. Songs range from “Stay Stay Stay”, a happy, upbeat country-pop song about staying in a relationship despite its hardships, to “Sad Beautiful Tragic”, an acoustic dedication to a beautiful love that is lost. 

The contrasting songs in “Red (Taylor’s Version)” mirror the rollercoaster of a relationship, including the fights, romance, euphoria and heartbreaking end. Although Taylor Swift may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I believe everyone would be able to relate to at least one song on this winding album.

Being a casual listener of Swift before diving into the emotional rollercoaster that is “Red (Taylor’s Version)”, I was not expecting the easily-relatable content accompanied with beautiful and extensive lyricism that Swift brings to the table. I am continuously impressed with Swift’s ability to put unexplainable feelings into words while simultaneously maintaining the catchiness and rhythm in her music.

“Red (Taylor’s Version)” is a heartbreaking and eye-opening album about love, loss and finding yourself; its coming-of-age style and improved vocal tone from the original 2012 release provides a foundation for anyone of any age or status to listen and relate to at least one piece. This, along with the lyricism, ranges and overall cohesiveness of sounds in the album as a whole has led me to rate “Red (Taylor’s Version)” 5 out of 5 stars.