“Red (Taylor’s Version),” the outstanding rendition of the 2012 breakup album, puts the initial album to shame.
Taylor Swift is famously re-recording her first six albums as a way to win back her masters, which were sold to Scooter Braun without her knowledge in 2019, the Associated Press reported. In April 2021, she released her version of the Grammy Award winning album “Fearless” — now “Red” gets its turn.
The album features the original 20 songs including the top hit “I Knew You Were Trouble” as well as an acoustic version of “State of Grace.” Swift also added 10 “From the Vault” songs that didn’t make the initial cut.
Nine years later, Swift’s heart is no longer filled with grief or ache, but power. Her vocals knock it out of the park as she forcefully belts the songs, but behind it all you can hear a smile not tears — which makes this version of the album all the better.
“All Too Well” enthusiasts were ecstatic to find Swift had recorded a 10-minute version, which fans have been desperately waiting nearly a decade for, complete with a gripping short film starring Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien. Also giving the song the recognition it deserves, Swift performed the 10 minute version on Saturday Night Live, Nov. 13.
The original album had the hit “Everything Has Changed” with Ed Sheeran and “The Last Time” featuring Gary Lightbody. Three more features were added with Ed Sheeran’s “Run,” a classic Taylor Swift country song “I Bet You Think About Me” featuring Chris Stapleton and the tear jerker “Nothing New” with sad music expert Phoebe Bridgers.
“Nothing New” is a stand out of the new tracks. Swift and Bridger’s vocals blend perfectly together with the melancholy theme of growing up. The empathetic lyrics “How can a person know everything at 18 but nothing at 22? / And will you still want me when I’m nothing new?” grace the chorus with the universal grieving of youth shining through. It’s a reasonable estimate that this song will take swifties days to emotionally recover from.
Accomplished pop producer, Jack Antonoff, works with Swift once more on the vault song “Forever Winter.” With a Grammy award winning — and Swiftie favorite — producer — the song was expected to be an immediate favorite. But it shyly sneaks its way into the album with no memorable qualities.
Swift — known for her songwriting abilities — wrote songs “Better Man” and “Babe” but previously opted to give them to other country artists, Little Big Town and Sugarland. “Better Man” is already getting its five seconds of fame on TikTok as users lip sync to lyrics like “Sometimes in the middle of the night I can feel you again / I just miss you and I just wish you were a better man.”
The production on the tracks remains true to the original, but some songs have an interesting spin. The hit “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” included a strange child-like “weee” in the middle of the chorus where it once was clearly Swift singing it. “The Last Time” featuring Gary Lightbody also disappointed some nit-picky fans with a lack of emotion, but instead it’s inspiring that over the course of nine years her emotions towards the message of the song changed.
She gives the biggest twist to “Girl At Home,” turning the once guitar-centric song into a pop anthem. With lyrics like “Don’t look at me you got a girl at home/ And everyone knows that, everyone knows that,” it’s hard not scream along.
The mournful song “Ronan” is also new to the album. This song was written for the family of a young boy who died from cancer — she held its debut performance at the “Stand Up To Cancer” fundraiser and recorded only on ITunes for charity. Have a box of tissues ready for this song with the recurring lyric, “You were my best four years.”
The album — which should’ve won a Grammy in 2013 — not only encapsulates the heartbreak experience but also the empowerment of moving on. “I Bet You Think About Me” featuring Chris Stapleton includes the lively lyrics “I bet you think about me when you say / ‘Oh my God she’s insane / She wrote a song about me’” which pokes fun at the crazy ex-girlfriend stereotype Swift sadly knows all too well.
For many fans, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” brings back waves of nostalgia from 2012. After nine years, her fans have grown up and get to experience the raw lyrics for the first time again.
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“Red (Taylor’s Version)” is available on all major streaming services.