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Red (Taylor’s Version Review)

Updated: Feb 13, 2022

by Tana Coulon

We remembered it “all too well” when American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift released her 4th studio album, Red back in October 2012. Swift’s experimentation of different sounds, allowed Red (Taylor’s Version) to become the bridge between her consistent country origins and her new pop aspiration. With hit singles including, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” “I Knew You Were Trouble,” and “Begin Again,” the album thrived and managed to spend seven consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard 200. This led to Swift achieving the title of being the first female artist to have three albums spend at least six weeks at number one. The country-pop album received astronomical amounts of success by being certified platinum seven times and acquiring nominations for numerous awards including Album of the Year at the 2013 Country Music Awards, Album of the Year, and the Best Country Album during the 2014 Grammys. On top of this, the Red Tour which occurred during 2013-2014, was deemed the most successful country music tour of all time.

Red is the second album yet to be re-recorded by Swift after her second studio album, Fearless. Many may be puzzled as to why she is re-recording her old tracks. Back in 2005, Swift signed with music label Big Machine Records. When her deal was over with Big Machine Records, she had changed labels to Universal’s Republic Records in 2018. The downfall to this is that Big Machine still owned the masters to her first six albums. With the masters to her songs being in their hands, the investor and record executive Scooter Braun had sold Swift’s masters back in 2019 to a company known as Shamrock Holdings for an amount of $300 million. Unfortunately for Swift, when a person listens to any of her first six albums, they drop money right into Braun’s bank account. Swift is determined to go down the “treacherous” road of re-recording her previous work with newer versions in hopes that she is able to take back all of the precious art that she had created throughout many years of her life. In a post on Tumblr, Swift ferociously stated, “Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy. Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it. For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work. Instead, I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and ‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in.”

Overall, Red (Taylor’s Version) stays primarily loyal to the original version. When contrasting the original Red (2012) to Red (T.V.), we are introduced to a 30 song tracklist with nine brand new songs “from the vault.” Songs “from the vault” are songs that Swift had written during the time of the original Red release, but did not make the final cut for the album. We “begin again” with Taylor when she introduces new tracks including groundbreaking collaborations between Swift and other talented artists including Phoebe Bridgers, Chris Stapleton, and Ed Sheeran. Fans were especially astonished with the announcement of the ten minute version of the heavily adored song, “All Too Well,” which included a 15 minute long short film directed and produced by Swift, who even played a role in it herself. The film starred the idolized actors, Sadie Sink, is well known for her astounding role in hit show Stranger Things and Dylan O'Brien,best known for his work in the show Teen Wolf.

Red is profoundly influenced by experiences that Swift has embraced throughout her life. It is apparent in her lyrics that she puts her heart and soul in her work by utilizing the raw emotions that she has encountered. In an Instagram post from June 18 2021, Swift stated, “Musically and lyrically, Red resembled a heartbroken person. It was all over the place, a fractured mosaic of feelings that somehow all fit together in the end. Happy, free, confused, lonely, devastated, euphoric, wild, and tortured by memories past.” This statement is demonstrated to us in the title track of the album ‘Red.’ In this song we see how Swift expresses her emotions through the different colors that she mentions throughout the song. She decided on ‘Red’ being the album track due to its ability to convey her vulnerability and rollercoaster of emotions caused by a devastatingly disoriented romance. She felt very exposed and open when sharing these personal songs of heartbreak with millions of people, which is why this album is exceedingly treasured by many listeners who are able to relate to her words and have a sense of vulnerability alongside of her.

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