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Album Review: Red (Taylor’s Version)

Before I get into this album review, I would first like to explain why Taylor Swift has decided to re-record her first 5 albums. Taylor Swift owns the composition rights to all of her songs, meaning she owns the lyrics and instrumental notes to her songs (she writes her own songs like the queen she is). However, she does not own the master recordings of her first 5 albums at Big Machine Records, meaning the final music recordings that play on the radio and on streaming services. These albums include: Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now, Red, and 1989. Her album, Reputation, which is also from Big Machine Records will likely be re-recorded at a later date as it is still relatively new. In 2019, Scooter Braun, a famous entrepreneur in the music industry, bought Big Machine Records, giving him the ownership of her first 5  albums and their master recordings. He then sold these rights to an investment group, Shamrock Holdings, for his own profit on someone else’s hard work. In response to this selfish and money hungry move by Braun, Taylor has decided to re-record her first 5 albums on her own, since she owns the composition rights to her songs. This smart, independent, and powerful move by Swift will hopefully lead to her new 5 re-recorded albums to receive more popularity than the originals. This will reduce the amount of streams, purchases, and overall worth of her original recordings at Big Machine Records, taking money away from the new owners, Shamrock Holdings. 

We Swifties, (and any decent human being), want Taylor to have all of the rights to her songs, since they are 100%, authentically hers. These re-recordings allow her to take back what is hers, in a very smart and unique way. In addition to the re-recordings of her original songs, she has been releasing new songs “from the vault”, meaning the songs that never made the original album (MORE SONGS FOR US!). In April of 2021, she released her first re-recorded album, Fearless (Taylor’s Version), adding her own signature on her work. She wrote on her Instagram caption, “It was the night things changed. Fearless (Taylor’s Version) is out now”, quoting a lyric from her song “Change” and relating it to this new powerful change for her music. On Friday November 12, she released her second re-recorded album, “Red (Taylor’s Version)”. She wrote on her Instagram, “Red is about to be mine again, but it has always been ours. Tonight we begin again”, cleverly reclaiming the ownership of her songs while also including 3 song titles in her message. 

Here is a review and tracklist of her re-recorded album:

  1. “State of Grace” (Taylor’s Version)- “State of Grace” focuses on the power of a new love. It stresses the influence someone can have on your life and how one can be forever changed by a relationship. 

Favorite lyrics: We fall in love til it hurts or bleeds, or fades in time

  1. “Red” (Taylor’s Version)- “Red” covers the different emotions and experiences Taylor witnessed while in and out of a relationship. Her moods change from blue, to grey, and to red, symbolizing emotions of sadness, sorrow, and pure intensity. This song proves that someone you love can have such an impact on you, your feelings, and your mindspace. 

Favorite lyrics: 

Loving him is like trying to change your mind

Once you’re already flying through the free fall,

Like the colors in autumn, so bright, just before they lose it all

  1. “Treacherous” (Taylor’s Version)- This song describes a relationship as “treacherous”, meaning dangerous or risky. Taylor understands that she shouldn’t continue to love this person, but continues to. She is drawn to the uncertainty and lack of dependency this relationship has to offer. 

Favorite lyrics:

And I just think you should, think you should know

That nothing safe is worth the drive

And I will follow you, follow you home

  1. “I Knew You Were Trouble” (Taylor’s Version)- This song expresses the regret someone experiences after getting involved with someone, when they knew they shouldn’t have in the first place. Throughout the song, she blames herself for being manipulated and used in the relationship. However, we all make mistakes and act naive in certain situations. 

Favorite lyrics: When your saddest fear comes creeping in, that you never loved me or her or anyone or anything

  1. “All Too Well” (Taylor’s Version)- Let’s dive into “All Too Well”, the most anticipated re-recording on the album. Many people believe that it follows the journey of Swift and then boyfriend, Jake Gyllenhaal, and the eventual downfall of their relationship. Throughout the song, Swift flashes back to numerous memories that she and Gyllenhaul had together, and how she remembers them “all too well”, emphasizing the impact this relationship has had on her. She expresses her true heartbreak from this relationship and how she will never be the same. This is truly one of her most beautiful and powerful songs. 

Favorite lyrics: 

But maybe this thing was a masterpiece til you tore it all up”

“And you call me up again just to break me like a promise

So casually cruel in the name of being honest”

  1. “22” (Taylor’s Version)- This song captures the excitement of turning the age of 22 or experiencing the age of 22. When describing this song, Swift said, “For me, being 22 has been my favorite year of my life. I like all the possibilities of how you’re still learning, but you know enough. You still know nothing, but you know that you know nothing. You’re old enough to start planning your life, but you’re young enough to know there are so many unanswered questions”. The age of 22 has now become known as someone’s “Taylor Swift year”.

Favorite lyrics: 

“It seems like one of those nights we ditch the whole scene

And end up dreaming instead of sleeping”

  1. “I Almost Do” (Taylor’s Version)- This song focuses on Swift missing someone in her life. She writes that she is always very close to calling the person, and constantly thinks about them. I think this song can resonate with a lot of her listeners, whether they are missing a former partner, a friend, or anyone really. 

Favorite lyrics: 

In my dreams you’re touching my face,

And asking me if I wanna try again with you,

And I almost do”

  1. “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (Taylor’s Version)- This song focuses on someone not getting back together with their ex, even though it’s something that they usually do. It stresses the idea of independence and moving on from someone who isn’t good for you. 

Favorite lyrics: 

“So he calls me up and he’s like, “I still love you”

And I’m like, I’m just, I mean this is exhausting, you know?

Like we are never getting back together, like ever” (this better be everyone’s favorite part)

  1. “Stay Stay Stay” (Taylor’s Version)- “Stay Stay Stay” is such a happy and fun song, appreciating the relationship you’re in. It promotes having a healthy relationship that both people are happy in. 

Favorite lyrics: 

“And I love you, because you have given me no choice but to”

“You took the time to memorize me

My fears, my hopes and dreams”

  1. “The Last Time”  (Taylor’s Version) feat. Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol- This song covers both sides of a broken relationship. The male part, by Gary Lightbody, describes how he regrets hurting the girl he loved. The female part, Taylor Swift, describes how he constantly leaves her and then comes back to her. They both stress that this is the last time they’ll do this together, whether it be taking the person back or hurting the other person. 

Favorite lyrics: “And you open your eyes into mine and everything feels better”

  1. “Holy Ground” (Taylor’s Version)- “Holy Ground” covers a past relationship of Swift’s and how it was good while it lasted. She compares their time together as “holy ground”, appreciating the time spent together and how special it was. She frequently thinks about this relationship and how she misses her past partner. 

Favorite lyrics: 

“We blocked the noise with the sound of, ‘I need you’”

“Tonight, I’m gonna dance

For all that we’ve been through

But I don’t wanna dance

If I’m not dancing with you”

  1. “Sad Beautiful Tragic” (Taylor’s Version)- This song describes a broken down relationship. Although it has ended, Taylot  still acknowledges its beauty and value that it once had. 

Favorite lyrics: “In dreams I meet you in warm conversation”

  1. “The Lucky One” (Taylor’s Version)- Unlike her other songs, this song doesn’t cover love or a relationship. The Lucky One focuses on fame and luxury, and how it’s not always how it seems. Taylor Swift can easily relate her own life to this song, as a lot of her life has been exposed and twisted by the media for society’s own benefit. 

Favorite lyrics: 

“But you’re so confused,

Cause you don’t feel pretty, you just feel used.

And all the young things line up to take your place”

“Chose the Rose Garden over Madison Square”

  1. “Everything Has Changed” feat. Ed Sheeran (Taylor’s Version) ft. Ed Sheeran- I absolutely love this song. Having two amazing artists like Taylor and Ed on 1  track is a privilege. It focuses on falling for someone, and then they ultimately  change your entire world. The music video of this song is extremely adorable. 

Favorite lyrics: “Cause all I know is we said “hello” and your eyes look like coming home”

  1. “Starlight” (Taylor’s Version)- “Starlight” describes an extraordinary experience with another person. Taylor describes them as being  made of starlight, giving the couple a magical connotation and describing a type of relationship that people dream of. 

Favorite lyrics: 

“He said, ‘Look at you, worrying so much about things you can’t change

You’ll spend your whole life singing the blues

If you keep thinking that way’”

  1. “Begin Again” (Taylor’s Version)- This is one of my favorite songs on the album. It focuses on finding a new relationship and watching the journey of love start all over again. Throughout the song, Swift compares this new person with someone in her past, making note that the new man is such a better fit for her. 

Favorite Lyrics:

“I’ve been spending the last eight months

Thinking all love ever does

Is break and burn, and end”

“What’s past is past”

  1. “The Moment I Knew” (Taylor’s Version)- ‘The Moment I Knew” describes being humiliated and betrayed by the person you love. In this specific circumstance, Taylor was stood up at her own birthday by someone she loved (cough, Jake Gyllenhaul?). This song contains so much emotion and heartbreak. 

Favorite lyrics: 

“What do you say, when tears are streaming down your face

In front of everyone you know?

And what do you do when the one who means the most to you

Is the one who didn’t show?”

  1. “Come Back… Be Here” (Taylor’s Version)- This is one of my favorite songs by Taylor. This song covers someone missing their significant other. The lyrics describe the person dealing with a long distance relationship/separation, however it can be applied to people just missing someone in general regardless of the distance. 

Favorite lyrics:

“Taxi cabs and busy streets

That never bring you back to me

I can’t help but wish you took me with you”

  1. “Girl At Home” (Taylor’s Version)- “Girl At Home” portrays the idea of “girl code” and how you don’t get involved with a guy if he already has a girlfriend. This song is for the girls, and how we have to support each other. We shouldn’t fall for immature and unfaithful boys. 

Favorite lyrics: “You chase down the newest thing and take for granted what you have” 

  1. “State of Grace” (Taylor’s Version) (Acoustic Version)- see original SOG review. 
  2. “Ronan” (Taylor’s Version)- This song is actually a charity single released by Swift. It was inspired by a mother who lost her son to cancer, and all of the proceeds of this song’s sales were donated to cancer charities. Although it has specific lyrics that relate to the mother losing her child, anyone who has lost someone can still relate to this meaningful song. 

Favorite lyrics: 

“And what if I really thought some miracle would see us through?

What if the miracle was even getting one moment with you?”

  1. “Better Man” (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)- Better Man was originally given to the band Little Big Town by Swift after it didn’t make the original studio album. It describes how a girl wishes her ex-boyfriend was a “better man”, since he never realized or appreciated her value. He lost something so good but will never get it back. 

Favorite lyrics: 

“I’m standing in the mirror saying to myself

You know you had to do it, I know,

The bravest thing I ever did was run”

“You push my love away like it’s some kind of loaded gun

Boy, you’d never thought I’d run”

  1. “Nothing New” (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)-  This song focuses on a girl’s youth and how society tends to stop valuing girls as they get older. Taylor has said, “I wrote a song on it called ‘Nothing New’ and it’s about being scared of aging and things changing and losing what you have” , revealing that with age comes change. This song features the talented Phoebe Bridgers who brings a nice twist to this song. 

Favorite lyrics:

“They tell you while you’re young

‘Girls, go out and have your fun’

Then they hunt and slay the ones

Who actually do it”

“And will you still want me when I’m nothin’ new?”

  1. “Babe” (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)- This song covers the break up and betrayal in a relationship. Throughout the song, Swift uses the term of endearment, “babe”, leading to the title of the song. 

Favorite lyrics:

 “Big mistake, you broke the sweetest promise

That you never should have made”

  1. “Message In A Bottle” (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)- This song describes how a close relationship has turned into very distant, either literally or figuratively. However, she believes they are meant for each other and they should fight for their relationship. 

Favorite lyrics: 

“Cause you could be the one that I love,

I could be the one that you dream of”

  1. “I Bet You Think About Me” (feat. Chris Stapleton) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)- I really love this song because Taylor sounds like her original country self, along with including country singer Chris Stapleton’s vocals in the background. This song covers how her past boyfriend will find himself thinking about her a lot, because he will associate so many little things to her. He may move on, but he will never entirely forget her. Swift recently came out with a music video for this song that was directed by her actress bestie Blake Lively and it was nothing short of iconic. 

Favorite lyrics:

“I bet you couldn’t believe

When you realized I’m harder to forget than I was to leave”

“Does it make you feel sad

That the love that you’re looking for

Is the love that you had”

  1. “Forever Winter” (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)- This song focuses on how you’ll stick with the person you love, even in their darkest times. It describes the mental state of a person during a serious relationship. This is an important aspect of relationships that is rarely talked about, but now Taylor has shed light on it. 

Favorite lyrics: 

“I’ll be summer sun for you forever, forever winter if you go”

“I’d take that bomb in your head and disarm it, I’d say I love you even at your darkest”

  1. “Run” (feat. Ed Sheeran) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)- What’s better than one track featuring Ed Sheeran? TWO. This song describes running away with the person you love to wherever you want to be, free of negativity, judgements, and other toxic things. 

Favorite lyrics: 

“Darling, let’s run,

Run from it all,

We can go where our eyes can take us

Go where no one else is”

  1. “The Very First Night” (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)- This song describes missing the person you love. Swift reflects back on memories with this person, and how she will always want to be with them again. 

Favorite lyrics: 

“I drive down different roads but they all lead back to you”

“Back then we didn’t know we were built to fall apart,

We broke the status quo, then we broke each other’s hearts”

  1. “All Too Well” (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)- The “All Too Well” (10 minute version), is actually the original version of All Too Well. Swift was forced to cut the song down to a shorter length, but always kept the original lyrics. This re-recording is obviously personal and meaningful to Swift, as she sat down and wrote a 10 minute song about someone who hurt her. Her new lyrics have revealed new aspects of the relationship that weren’t included in the original song. Not only did Swift release this iconic song, she released this song with a short film starring Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien. “All Too Well” has become one of the Swifties’ most appreciated and special songs to have. 

Favorite (NEW) lyrics:

“You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath”

“The idea you had of me, who was she?

A never-needy, ever-lovely jewel whose shine reflects on you”

“And I was never good at telling jokes, but the punch line goes

‘I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age’” Now, we must all patiently wait for her next re-recorded album. I personally think she will release Speak Now next, but stay tuned!

Isabel O'Neill

St. John's '22

I am a senior Adolescent Education major with a concentration in Spanish. I enjoy writing about pop culture, current events, important topics, and things that make me happy. You can find me shopping, at Chipotle or listening to Harry Styles :)
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