Review: Taylor Swift takes us back to 2012 with ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’

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Photo credit: Taylor Swift Promotional Posters

“Red (Taylor’s Version)” was released on Nov. 12. This album is Swift’s second re-recorded album released so far and is composed of 30 songs. Some of these songs are brand new, and others, are from her first “Red” album.

By Lizette Gonzalez, Senior Reporter

Who hasn’t already heard Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” or “I Knew You Were Trouble”? On Nov. 12, these songs and more were released in Swift’s new-old album: “Red (Taylor’s Version).” Let’s time travel back to 2012.

First off, you may be wondering why Swift is releasing this album again.

When Swift was 15, she signed a contract with Big Machine, a record label company. In 2019, Big Machine was sold to Ithaca Holdings, another record label, which is owned by Scooter Braun. Braun then sold Swift’s first six recordings to Shamrock Holdings, a private equity firm, for $300 million dollars. Swift had zero control of her masters nor did she have legal ownership of these original six albums.

This led to a huge commotion in the media and propelled Swift to announce that she will re-record her previous six albums. Not only is Swift trying to gain ownership of her art and music but she is also spreading a powerful message. She is showing her fans, and ultimately everyone, that it’s possible to fight back for what is theirs.

“Red (Taylor’s Version)” is the second album she has released in this tedious but exciting re-recording process. This one came six months after her first one, “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).” Previously, it only consisted of 19 songs, but this version includes 30. Who would’ve thought an artist would spend so much of their time to re-record work from decades ago and still add new music to it?

The exciting and surprising aspect of this album is that there are 10 never before heard songs. These were created back in 2012, when the first version of this album was released; however, they didn’t make it onto the album. How exciting, right? 

One of the new songs that excited me the most was the collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers. In their song “Nothing New” both of their voices matched up perfectly. Swift and Bridgers are known for their emotion-filled songs and here, they did not disappoint.

Bridgers and Swift sing about the worry of becoming old and losing their youth and if it will damage how they are perceived. In the beginning, Swift sings, “Lord what will become of me / Once I’ve lost my novelty.” Not only are these lyrics heart-wrenching in the most beautiful way, but their harmonies and the slow beat compliment the song. From Bridger’s whisper tone to Swift’s sweet tone, this song lends itself to the feeling of heartbreak. The epitome of this album.

Now, back to a classic. Swift’s “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” was a huge success when it first came out. This time around, the song serves as a prime example of one of the biggest differences that is noticeable with this new version: the maturity of Swift’s vocals. In this song, when Swift sings the iconic line, “With some indie record that’s much cooler than mine,” listeners can hear how much her voice has changed. Her lyric pronunciation and vocals have a stronger sarcastic tone and show how Swift has grown musically. This is one of the exciting details that were fun to catch, because, just as Swift, we aren’t the same person from 2012.

Another new song that caught my attention was, “I Bet You Think of Me (featuring Chris Stapelton).” The instrumental section is filled with the sounds of harmonicas and is reminiscent of Swift’s country roots. The song speaks about difference in social classes between two people and how that affected their romantic relationship. In typical Swift fashion, this song is the perfect to both sing, and scream.

At the end of this song, Swift sings, “Oh my god / She’s insane, she wrote a song about me.” Here, Swift owned the way the media and the world has painted her, as a crazy ex-girlfriend that writes songs about her ex lovers as revenge. Leave it to Swift to create beautiful art and simultaneously make powerful points.

If I had to pick one song that wasn’t my favorite, it would be “Message in a Bottle.” This song was the only one that seemed out of place. It stood out from the rest, since it was filled with upbeat production and lyrics that didn’t really match the overall feeling. If this song was in another of Swift’s albums, like “1989,” there would be more appeal because Swift used a larger variety of melodies and lyric styles. Although one can argue that songs like “Stay, Stay, Stay” or “Girl at Home” have the same cheerful beats, lyrics and themes of those connect more to the entire album, this one doesn’t.

Now, the best for last. Swift’s popular ballad “All Too Well” has proven itself to be a favorite among fans, including me. Previously, the song was five minutes, but in this new release, the length is doubled.

This 10 minute version is somehow an even more heartbreaking rendition than the original. Swift’s genius songwriting shines through this song as she painfully sings, “And you call me up again / Just to break me like a promise / So casually cruel in the name of being honest.” The song is all about heartbreak, but here it takes a different turn. It’s natural and vulnerable, and Swift’s descriptive lyrics makes the listener feel as if they are experiencing the same heartbreak.

Towards the end of the track, the production simmer down and allows Swift’s vocals to be the forefront, and the poignant lyrics fade away as the song comes to a close. The repetition of Swift’s ending lyrics, “Sacred prayer, I was there / It was rare, you remember it / All too well,” serve as an example of how Swift replayed this relationship that came to an end, over and over again. This song simply stole the show.

The 10 minute version of “All Too Well” served as Swift’s debut as a director since the song is accompanied by a short film. Sadie Sink, Dylan O’Brien and Swift herself star in the film and take us on a rollercoaster of emotions. As we hear the song in the background, the video shows us the high and lows of a romantic relationship. The acting and directing were quite astonishing, as the emotions radiated through the screen as Swift’s descriptive lyrics play. It even felt wrong to watch such intimate moments between two people.

At the end of the track list, Swift incorporated a message from her to her fans to explain the album further. The message added even more emotion and showed how much this album represents for her.

“I went into the studio and experimented with different sounds and collaborators. And I’m not sure if it was pouring my thoughts into this album, hearing thousands of your voices sing the lyrics back to me in passionate solidarity,” Swift said. “Or if it was simply time, but something was healed along the way.”

Swift not only took us back to 2012, but she made us connect to each song in a new way. The new songs added more depth and a greater insight into this album. Swift carefully recreated her songs, added small changes into the production that were fun to find, allowed us to actually feel these experiences through her impeccable songwriting and served as an inspiration to all. “Red (Taylor’s Version)” proves that this album has always been hers.

  • Lyrics
  • Technical Quality
  • Enjoyment
  • Impact
4.8

Summary

Taylor Swift released “Red (Taylor’s Version) on Nov. 12. This album consists of 30 songs and is the second album Swift releases in her rerecording process.