By: MELISSA FISHMAN / EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
On Friday, Nov. 12, the world was yet again taken by storm by the lyrical stylings of Taylor Swift who re-released her album “Red” under the title “Red (Taylor’s Version)” much to the excitement of fans globally.
Swift, whose talent has catapulted her to fame since the young age of 16 has also caused her to be compared to the likes of the Beatles. She is highly regarded as a music legend with a storied career filled with controversy, romance, and new-age feminism.
The album was originally released in 2012 and contained a set of 16 songs filled with passion and defiance, however, Red (Taylor’s Version) contains 30 songs; the newest of which are emboldened with the titled (From the Vault), meaning they are previously unheard tracks.
The reason for the re-release as well as the addition of the (Taylor’s Version) title is the result of a years-long legal battle between Swift and her previous record label, Big Machine Records.
Big Machine Records, which previously held a recording contract with Swift since 2005, faulted the young artist in 2019 after they sold the master recordings of her first 6 albums to the company Shamrock Holdings.
Swift, who publicly voiced her disdain for the $300 million sale of her work, then vowed to re-record her original songs to negate the profits earned by Shamrock Holdings and return the autonomy of her work back to herself.
The Story of “All To Well” and the Context of Red (Taylor’s Version)
Leading up to the album’s re-release, one of the most anticipated tracks was a 10-minute version of her song “All Too Well” which is highly regarded as one of Swift’s best.
The album features ongoing motifs of love turned sour with the track “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)” providing insight into the relationship that likely served as inspiration for the gut-wrenching and heart-breaking tale likely rooted in Swift’s own experiences.
It is within this track that Swift walks the fine line between self depreciation and empowerment and inspires a sort of introspection that leaves you wanting to dedicate yet another ten minutes of listening to the song at least one more time.
It creates an atmosphere that mystifies the senses, fully enveloping you in a relationship that you were never a part of but also find oddly familiar. This is perhaps the most desirable quality of Swift’s work because it dares you to be honest with yourself about your past experiences.
She does this as she delves into your psyche and plucks from it memories of your own failed romances, thus initiating an intimate mutual understanding of what love truly is.
It is certainly no secret that Swift uses her own life as inspiration in her songs and it is likely that “All Too Well” is derived from her brief relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal.
What confirms the relationship as the song’s source material are the lyrics alluding to a relationship between two individuals with a significant age gap. The lyric, “you said maybe if we had been closer in age it would have been fine” strongly suggests this point along with the evidence that Swift and Gyllenhaal have a near 10-year age gap.
Taylor Swift: Record Smashing Success
It would seem that every album Swift produces smashes the record of the one before, creating a snowball effect that increase her popularity and showering her with accolades thus making her one of the youngest success stories in the music industry.
The release of Red (Taylor’s Version) has quickly become an overnight sensation, setting a precedent for young music artists for generations to come. The phenomenon of her sales is remarkable, and virtually unheard of, because most of the songs on the album have already been released.
This is shocking for the mere fact that, although some of the material is not in its first form, it is still beloved by fans as if it were brand new. In Swift’s case, it is actually more likely that "Red (Taylor’s Version)" actually overshadows and outweighs the love for the original album because this one is entirely her own.
Since its release, the New York Times reported that “Red (Taylor’s Version)” has garnered 303 million streams, 605,000 sales, and 369,000 sales as a “complete package.”
Swift is also no stranger to breaking barriers, with this album having the second-largest opening for any album in 2021 and “All Too Well” being her eighth No. 1 track on the Billboard Hot 100 list.
In the recent Grammy nominations, Swift was nominated for Best Album for her album “evermore” which is the sister album to “folklore,” both of which were released in the midst of the pandemic.
The Album’s Top Tracks and Where it Slacks
Red (Taylor’s Version) is so multi-faceted that it sparkles even in the darkest places, with Swift’s re-recordings helping breathe new life into her old tracks, thus giving them a loving polish that ensures yet another lifetime of audience enjoyment.
Aside from the major success of “All Too Well 10 Minute Version (Taylor’s Version),” many of the other new tracks and re-recordings have won the affection of Swifities everywhere.
Among the most popular tracks is “Message in a Bottle” which is perhaps one of the best songs on the album. It has such an incredible intro that lies somewhere between 80’s pop and new-age techno and gives off a sense of joy that feels like sunshine. “Message in a Bottle” is vastly different from “All Too Well'' in the sense that it has more of an up-beat, dance-like quality to it whereas the latter has a still, somber melody.
Yet another popular track is “Come Back...Be Here” which is a song best suited for hopeless romantics since it dances around the topic of new love found with the right person, but at the wrong it.
“Come Back...Be Here is so incredible. I listen to it and I feel like I’m experiencing (Taylor’s) heartbreak through her eyes,” said Phoebe Dros.
This song is not your typical ballad, and instead conveys the sensation of longing as if you are watching it through a window but experiencing the pain and loss in a first-person perspective.
“Taylor Swift is a master at what she does,” said Dros, “Come Back...Be Here just proves that. You don’t convey raw emotion like that without being extremely talented.”
Yet another popular track is “State of Grace” which is the first song on the album.
“I love this song because Taylor Swift shows vulnerability through letting her guard down for her lover and she speaks with passion. It isn’t an average song because it reflects both pain and love.” said Gianna Cowell.
State of Grace tells the story of finding love where you least expect it and with a person you never saw coming. It is light and airy, making it feel like a playful daydream fit for all types of romantics.
Even some of the more lackluster tracks such as “I Knew You Were Trouble (Taylor’s Version)” or “22 (Taylor’s Version)” still have a magical quality to them, even if they do not pack as powerful a punch as some of the album’s other offerings.
In the end, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is an undeniable success as Briel Freeman puts it, “Most of us have been through some experience that (Taylor has) written about and you can always find a lyric or verse in her songs to sing your heart out to. She’s a voice for a lot of people’s emotions and I think she’s really beautiful.”