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47 Thoughts I Had on my Very First Listen to Red (TV)

Red (Taylor’s Version) has had the internet in an absolute chokehold since it dropped two weeks ago. Honestly, as it should. I’ve never been a huge Swiftie, but I’ve grown up hearing her songs on the radio, and I greatly appreciate her for the icon that she is. Also, her middle name is Alison, which I always thought was so cool. However, at the latest Her Campus UCSC chapter meeting, it soon became apparent that I was the only one in the entire group who had not, in fact, streamed Red (Taylor’s Version). Shock and horror ensued, and soon I decided—what better way to finally listen to it than to write a whole article detailing the process? Without further ado, here are my thoughts on the album.

  1. Okay, but the rock guitar in “State of Grace” is honestly such a good way to kick off the album!
  2. “Just twin fire signs / four blue eyes” oh, I love that.
  3. “Love is a ruthless game / unless you play it right” honestly hits different.
  4. The color lyricism in “Red,” hello?
  5. The lyrics of “Treacherous” remind me of “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus. The song feels new (which it technically is), but also nostalgic. 
  6. “I Knew You Were Trouble”! That song, I definitely know.
  7. I wasn’t looking at my phone while this next song started, and my first thought was that this suits Taylor’s present style so well despite not being a new song. And then I realized it was “All Too Well,” and then I was like “oh, of course.”
  8. “Break me like a promise” okay, but have you considered that YOUR lyrics are breaking ME like a promise right now? :(
  9. “22”! This was actually my favorite song for a hot minute when I was in middle school, let’s goooo!
  10. Listening to Taylor’s Version of “22” feels like seeing an old friend again.
  11. “Who’s Taylor Swift anyway? Ew” made me laugh.
  12. “I Almost Do” is such a tender song, wow.
  13. “We Are Never Getting Back Together” —wow, what an anthem.
  14. The lyricism of “Stay Stay Stay” struck me as way more simple than the other songs on the album, but that’s honestly part of why I think it’s good!
  15. Taylor and Gary’s voices together in “The Last Time” were so hauntingly gorgeous.
  16. Loving the guitar and string background.
  17. Ah yes, “Holy Ground,” another good lost love anthem.
  18. Old memories always seem so golden!
  19. “Sad Beautiful Tragic”: simply, well, sad, beautiful, and tragic. 😭😭😭
  20. After listening to “The Lucky One,” I queued up the original version of the song to compare the two, and Taylor’s description of show business takes on a different meaning in light of the nearly ten years that have passed since its release.
  21. Considering this, she seems more pensive and reflective after having spent so long in the public eye.
  22. “Everything Has Changed” was one of my favorite songs in middle school, so listening to the re-recorded version of the song was a nostalgic look back at my past, and how I’ve grown and changed since then.
  23. Also, I didn’t know that Ed Sheeran re-recorded his featured part, so that was a nice surprise!
  24. The imagery of “Starlight” is so beautiful.
  25. I want to make a moodboard for this song IMMEDIATELY.
  26. Wait, so in “Begin Again” the terrible boyfriend becomes better after the cafe date?
  27. Oh, no, it’s about a new and better relationship, hence the title. Duhh
  28. My reaction after reading the lyrics to “The Moment I Knew”: 😳
  29. What the heck, this is such a specific and heartbreaking scenario.
  30. Man, the amount of times! I have told myself “Don’t get attached”! Just like in “Come Back… Be Here”!
  31. Another specific and heartbreaking scenario in “Girl At Home.”
  32. That poor girl. :(
  33. But with that being said, I’m so glad Taylor breaks away from the narrative of trying to compete with another woman for a man’s love, which seems so prevalent in popular media. 
  34. No new thoughts on “State of Grace (Acoustic Version),” except that I love how the stripped-back version sounds.
  35. So, “Ronan” is about a young boy who died of neuroblastoma at four, and the lyrics were just as devastating as you would expect them to be.
  36. The way that Taylor’s lyricism encapsulates the different parts of love. 🥺
  37. Wow, “Better Man” is really the ultimate “I deserved better” anthem.
  38. Phoebe Bridgers my beloved! “Nothing New” is going to be awesome.
  39. “How can a person know everything at 18, but nothing at 22?” makes me feel some type of way. I’m in that weird place between those ages, and sometimes I feel like I know everything, but at other times, I’m just like, “what do I even know?”
  40. “Babe”: cheating. :(
  41. I really enjoy the juxtaposition between emotional lyrics and upbeat instrumentals in “Message in a Bottle.” 
  42. I don’t know much about Chris Stapleton other than that he’s a big country star, but I find it really interesting that she’s giving a nod to her country roots in their collab for “I Bet You Think About Me.”
  43. Another great and empowering “I deserve better” anthem, and I am so here for the fourth-wall-breaking in the last lyric: “Oh my God, she’s insane, she wrote a song about me.”
  44. The lyrics in “Forever Winter” hit HARD.. 
  45. Contrary to the really intense last few songs, “Run” had a lot of hopeful themes, which I really liked.
  46. Again, I loved the emotional lyrics paired with the upbeat tempo in “The Very First Night.”
  47. I capped this exercise off by watching the “All Too Well” short film, and it’s safe to say that I am a broken woman.

Final thoughts:

Overall, Red (Taylor’s Version) was such an amazing listen. It felt nostalgic, but still fit so well with Taylor’s current style—if I didn’t know better, I would expect this to be something she had written today. Though they were the same songs, I was struck by how mature the re-released songs sound, which really reflects her growth in the industry over the past years. I definitely recommend this album to anyone who wants to get torn apart by some absolutely top-tier lyrics! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be rewatching the “All Too Well” short film and internally bawling in the library.

Alison Sun (she/her/hers) is a second-year Computer Science major (for now) at UCSC who tries her best to be a bright and sunny presence to those around her every day. When she's not toiling over Python, you can find her bullet journaling, rereading her favorite romance novels, or dancing to Twice's "Fancy" at her desk. If you're reading this, she would like to remind you to go drink some water.
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