If you’ve ever met me, you know I have no shortage of opinions on Taylor Swift. But ranking this particular set of songs from her latest release, Red (Taylor’s Version), was more complicated than when I ranked the vault songs from Fearless (Taylor’s Version).
For one thing, I’d already heard two of the songs, as both “Better Man” and “Babe” were given by Swift to other artists years ago. Additionally, the ten minute version of “All Too Well” is technically a vault song, but it makes the rankings unfair, because it essentially automatically gets first place. Fans have been waiting to hear the ten minute version of this song for years, and it still managed to blow our impossibly high expectations out of the water.
Nevertheless, I’m including all nine of the vault songs from Red (Taylor’s Version) below. From worst to best, here’s my ranking of the newest additions to Red.
- I Bet You Think About Me (ft. Chris Stapleton)
Honestly, the music video for this song makes it really hard for me to rank it in last place because it’s phenomenal. But without the video, I just vibe with this song the least compared to the others.
Best lyrics: “But you know what they say, you can’t help who you fall for / And you and I fell like an early spring snow / But reality crept in, you said we’re too different / You laughed at my dreams, rolled your eyes at my jokes.”
- Message in a Bottle
I really do like this song, but it sounds like it belongs in 2012, when it was written, rather than in 2021. It’s still a bop, but there are too many other vault songs I like more.
Best lyrics: “’Cause you could be the one that I love / I could be the one that you dream of / A message in a bottle is all I can do / Standin’ here, hopin’ it gets to you.”
Here’s the list where we reach the impossible part of the ranking. “Babe,” followed by “Better Man,” are the two songs I’ve already heard, when they were sung by Sugarland and Little Big Town, respectively. I’ve put them both in the middle of the list next to each other because it didn’t seem right to put them anywhere else having already heard them.
Best lyrics: “What a waste / Takin’ down the pictures and the plans we made, yeah / And it’s strange how your face doesn’t look so innocent / Your secret has its consequence and that’s on you, babe.”
- Better man
I think I like “Better Man” just a tiny bit more than “Babe,” but again, having already heard it, it was hard to rank. However, I do love Taylor’s version of both of these previously released songs.
Best lyrics: “I wish it wasn’t 4am, standing in the mirror / Saying to myself, ‘You know you had to do it’ / I know the bravest thing I ever did was run.”
- Forever winter
Taylor Swift is well known at this point for writing songs with an upbeat melody and sad lyrics, and “Forever Winter” fully fits that description. Written about a friend struggling with mental health issues, this song’s mismatched melody and lyrics showcase that the surface level doesn’t always show the full picture.
Best lyrics: “All this time I didn’t know / You were breaking down / I’d fall to pieces on the floor / If you weren’t around / Too young to know it gets better.”
- run (ft. ed sheeran)
I can’t imagine how hard a decision it must have been to pick “Everything Has Changed,” the other song featuring Ed Sheeran, over “Run” on the original version of Red. “Run” is beautifully written, and it tells the story of finding solace in a relationship when the rest of the world isn’t as bright as you’d like it to be.
Best lyrics: “And my so-called friends, they don’t know / I’d drive away before I let you go / So give me a reason and don’t say no.”
- the very first night
This song is addictive. I love the upbeat melody and lyrics that perfectly describe having an overwhelming crush on someone, even after the relationship had to end. “The Very First Night” is an absolute bop, and I can’t imagine a world in which this song was never released.
Best lyrics: “I drive down different roads / But they all lead back to you / ‘Cause they don’t know about the night in the hotel / They weren’t riding in the car when we both fell.”
- nothing new (ft. phoebe bridgers)
If this song didn’t have lyrics directly mentioning being 22, I’d have a hard time believing this wasn’t a song that Swift wrote more recently. It easily sounds like it could fit right into the tracklist for either folklore or evermore, and it hits me right in the feels every time I hear it. I also love hearing Phoebe Bridgers’ vocals on this song.
Best lyrics: “How can a person know everything at eighteen / But nothing at twenty-two? / And will you still want me when I’m nothing new?”
- all too well (10 minute version)
The moment we’ve all been waiting for: the inevitable first place on my list because I’m not sure anything could top this ten minute masterpiece Swifties have been waiting years for. To make matters even better, the short film that Taylor Swift directed to go with this song is also incredible. I haven’t been able to stop listening to this powerful song since its release. (I listened to it three times in a row before I even started on the rest of the album when it first came out).
Best lyrics: “And I was never good at tellin’ jokes, but the punch line goes / ‘I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age’ / From when your Brooklyn broke my skin and bones / I’m a soldier who’s returning half her weight / And did the twin flame bruise paint you blue? / Just between us, did the love affair maim you too?”