Unless you spend little to no time on the internet, you probably already know that Taylor Swift is re-recording her first six albums because she doesn’t currently own her masters. On November 12th, Swift released the long-awaited re-recording of 2012 album Red (Taylor’s Version). Red has always been a fan-favorite, so it’s no surprise that the release of Taylor’s Version has been met with so much excitement online. Red (T.V.) consists of 30 songs: re-records of the original 20 tracks found on the 2012 deluxe version, a song Swift wrote and recorded for charity, and 9 “From the Vault” tracks — including a 10-minute version of the song many Swifties consider her best: “All Too Well.”
With over two hours of music, Red (T.V.) leaves so much to talk about. The first thing that stands out when listening to the album straight through is the fact that Swift’s vocals are much stronger on the 2021 versions. Not only does she have more control of her register after another decade of experience, but the power and maturity of her voice work extremely well on this album. In album-opener “State of Grace (T.V.),” Swift’s vocals come through with a punch that isn’t nearly as present in the original 2012 recording. Swift’s mature voice also complements slower and lower-toned tracks such as “Treacherous (T.V.),” as she has mastered this vocal style with her newest releases, folklore and evermore.
In addition to Swift’s improved vocals, Red (T.V.) is also more sonically complex when compared to the 2012 original. Although the goal of the re-records is to recreate these songs as close to the original tracks as possible, the production of Red (T.V.) is much more crisp and detailed and stands out as one of the strongest features of the new album. This is especially true in aforementioned tracks “State of Grace (T.V.)” and “Treacherous (T.V.),” as well as “Holy Ground (T.V.)” and “The Lucky One (T.V.).” The instrumentation of these tracks draws more attention than their 2012 counterparts, but in a way that actually strengthens them rather than taking away from the tracks’ vocals or other details. For the most part, Red (T.V.) stays extremely close to the original, aside from these minor changes in vocals and production. The only original track that has been completely changed is “Girl at Home (T.V.),” which had previously been a 2012 bonus track. This song has a completely different production style than before, but many fans consider it to be better than the original.
Although Swifties have been excited for the re-recordings of all of these classic tracks, what most of us have been most excited about are the nine vault tracks from Red (T.V.). Swift herself has also said that these unreleased songs are the most exciting component of her current re-recording process. “Better Man” and “Babe” are two tracks which Swift had previously written and given to other artists, Little Big Town and Sugarland, who featured her in their “Babe” recording. Red (T.V.) provided Swift with the opportunity to release her own versions of these songs with the original body of work they were written for.
Along with her versions of these two tracks, Swift released three collaboration vault tracks: country diss-track “I Bet You Think About Me” with Chris Stapleton, introspective indie song “Nothing New” with Phoebe Bridgers, and carefree love song “Run” with Ed Sheeran. Each of these tracks is different from the rest, in both content and style, which is something that has always set Red apart from the rest of Swift’s discography. It’s a truly diverse album, which she’s said is because it was a time in her career when she was experimenting with genres.
The four remaining vault songs are all solo tracks. “Forever Winter” is lyrically one of Swift’s darkest songs to date, with the track revolving around struggles with mental health and reflecting upon similar themes to those explored in Taylor’s newest feature, “Renegade” with Big Red Machine. “Message In A Bottle” and “The Very First Night” are upbeat pop songs, both of which are 1989-esque. They’re getting fans excited about 1989’s re-record, which some fans speculate could be the next release. Finally, the album ends with the 10-minute version of “All Too Well,” which is ultimately Swift’s biggest gift to her fans. After knowing that they have been asking for this version since the moment she first admitted it existed, she even made a 15 minute short-film starring Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien to accompany it.
This version of “All Too Well” subverts all listener expectations – the original 2012 version, although a song about heartbreak, is overwhelmingly sentimental, while the 10-minute version is bitter with sharp lyrics that reveal Swift’s true feelings towards the events that unfolded in this past relationship. Although many people believed this song couldn’t get any better, it did. The new verses break up the melody in interesting ways, and the added lyrical details bring out even more emotions than ever before.
In total, Red (T.V.) is a musical feat worth celebrating. Luckily, if you’re a Swiftie who’s going to be in Philly on November 26th, there’s a chance to do just that! Underground Arts is hosting a 21+ Taylor Swift Dance Party, with themed drinks, free goodies, and more. The first two hours are dedicated to Red (T.V.), and I couldn’t be more excited to spend a Friday night surrounded by people screaming along to Taylor Swift lyrics.