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Red (Taylor’s Version): Happy, Free, Confusing and Lonely in the Best Way

Red is Taylor’s again, but it has always been ours.

On Friday November 12th, Taylor released Red (Taylor’s Version) with 30 songs including some that were cut from the original album. It was everything we wanted and more, surpassing the original.

In case you don’t know why she is re-recording her albums, let me explain. When Taylor Swift was only 15 years old, she signed a 13-year record deal which gave Big Machine Records ownership of the master recordings of her first six albums. This highlights one of many issues in the music industry as music producers can trick young, impressionable artists into signing legally binding and harsh contracts.

After she released her sixth album Reputation and left the record label, Scott Borchetta sold her masters to Scooter Braun, who Taylor had repeatedly accused of bullying. She has said that Scooter would only consider letting her buy her masters if she signed an NDA to only talk about him positively, basically silencing her. So, she has started to re-record her old albums, starting with Fearless, to lower the value of the old recordings and to finally own her music.

When I first listened to Red, I was only 11 years old. I could only appreciate the upbeat singles like ’22’ and ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’, the autumn aesthetic and her iconic red lipstick. I was a pre-teen, with no real concept of love and heartbreak.

Now I’m going on 20, able to relate in ways I wish I didn’t and am also glad I do. Red is probably Taylor at her most wounded love-wise. It’s chaotic, confusing, and beautiful, with Taylor calling it “a fractured mosaic of feelings that somehow all fit together in the end.” The perfect album to listen to as the leaves turn from green to red.

Red (Taylor’s Version) has become my second favourite album by her (Folklore being number one). It still has the powerful and heart-wrenching emotion of the original but with more of a nostalgic tone. Her more mature voice brings the slower songs like ‘The Last Time’, ‘Treacherous’ and ‘Sad, Beautiful, Tragic’ to new heights and the vault tracks are worth the album being 2 hours and 10 minutes.

‘State of Grace’ is the perfect opener, perfectly illustrating how conflicting and unforgettable an intense love can be. ‘I Bet You Think About Me’ is country Taylor at her best and walked so ‘Blank Space’ could run. ‘The Very First Night’ is pop perfection and feels like it is sung by a younger Taylor, wearing her heart on her sleeve.

However, the best song on the album is without a doubt ‘All Too Well’ (10 Minute Version). ‘All Too Well’ is seen by many as the best song in her discography, and this version is even more devastating than the original. With new lyrics like “You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath” and “Did the twin flame bruise paint you blue? Just between us, did the love affair main you, too?”, Taylor is truly one of the best songwriters of her generation.

When I found out that All Too Well: The Short Film would be released, (Oscar winner Taylor Swift anyone?) I was so excited. When I found out Dylan O’Brien (who I have loved since Teen Wolf) and Sadie Sink (who plays my favourite character on Stranger Things) were starring in it, I screamed. The short film depicts a tumultuous relationship from start to finish, where you slowly see a clear power imbalance. Despite the minimal dialogue, their chemistry and emotion were so visible through their expressions that I couldn’t look away.

The kitchen scene where they argue is the beginning of the end, as Sadie’s character is emotionally manipulated. It was all improv and shot in one take because the scene was so electric, they couldn’t stop filming. The film was so raw and felt so real, portraying the intense relationship’s highs and lows. It was also thought-provoking as ‘All Too Well’ is rumoured to be inspired by Taylor’s relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal with the iconic line, “I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age”. Instead of people questioning the power dynamics in a relationship between a 20- and 29-year-old, she was the one villainised by the media and called a “serial dater”.

Breaking records after the first day of streaming, Red (Taylor’s Version) now holds the record for the most-streamed album debut in a day by a female, with over 90.8 million streams, previously held by her other album folklore. She also broke the record for the most-streamed female in a day in Spotify history with over 122.9 million streams. If you are shocked by these numbers, just wait till 1989 (Taylor’s Version) comes out.

I’ll be listening to this album on repeat for the next month before I can even begin to get over how much I love it. With autumn and Red (Taylor’s Version) so perfectly intertwined, is there anything better to listen to anyway?

Words by: Saffron Mubika

Edited by: Lydia Duval

Hey! I am a second year medical student at Leeds who enjoys writing about music and cultural issues.
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