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Sophie Stratfull

Red (Taylor’s Version): Taylor Swift’s Emotional Turmoil Is Just as Relevant 9 Years Later

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Music can transport you through time and space. It can reconstruct old memories and help you build new ones. Taylor Swift’s latest re-release, Red (Taylor’s Version), came out last Friday, November 12. With one listen, I was immediately transported back to the past.

Taylor Swift’s fourth album, Red, came out in 2012. I was but an 11-year-old kid, with no heartbreak to speak of, but it instantly resonated with me. The theme of “Sad Girl Autumn” had yet to even be thought up, much less be a part of everyday vernacular, but I felt just as torn up as Swift herself.

As a recap to those who aren’t immersed in Taylor Swift news, she has been re-recording her first six albums in an effort to own the rights to the master recordings of her music. When the master recordings of her first 6 albums were sold by her old label, Big Machine Records, to Ithaca Holdings, Ithaca manager Scooter Braun reaped the monetary benefits of Swift’s popularity. Taylor then publicly disapproved of the sale to Braun and promised to re-release the 6 disputed albums, keeping the masters under her own control. Red (Taylor’s Version), is her latest in the re-recording series.

Nine years after its original release, Red (Taylor’s Version) has kept the same energy. The opening notes of State of Grace (Taylor’s Version) recall feelings of waking up to the song via my CD player/radio/alarm clock. She changed a little of her original work to reflect her changes as an artist, but almost all the original lyrics and melodies remain intact. Red (Taylor’s Version) is the epitome of “Sad Girl Autumn,” augmented by the recent chilly weather and upcoming end-of-semester holiday that has most college students (me) in a whirlwind of emotions.

Every single Swiftie I know was eagerly awaiting the ten-minute version of All Too Well, which delivered devastating lyrics about her romance with ex-boyfriend J*ke G*llenhaal. Swift’s new lines, hidden from fans for years, brought a fresh wave of turmoil. Despite keeping the original verses, which she wrote almost a decade ago, Taylor’s voice had the delivery and tone and someone who has grown from their heartache.

All Too Well wasn’t the only song off the re-recording to tear my heart apart. The bridge of Sad Beautiful Tragic, a song that appeared on the 2012 release, does not get enough love for how strong and well-written it is. I’ll fight for greater recognition of that track until I die.

Speaking of turmoil, the album rounded out with a heartbreaking series of “vault” tracks – previously unreleased songs that Taylor wrote at the same time she was working on the original version of Red. One of these was the highly awaited duet with artist Phoebe Bridgers, Nothing New. Bridgers’s last album, Punisher, was up for multiple Grammys, including Best Rock Song, Best Alternative Music Album, and Best New Artist.

After listening to Nothing New for the first time, the pairing feels like a no-brainer. Phoebe’s voice, and Taylor’s lyrics, mesh so well together that, for a moment, I forgot they weren’t a girl group. The lyrics, which include “how could a person know everything at 18, and nothing at 22”, flow with self-reflecting literary magic that only Taylor Swift could conjure up.

I don’t know about you but listening to Red (Taylor’s Version) made me feel 22. There’s a reason that this album broke Spotify’s one-day streaming records last Friday, shutting down the platform for 30 minutes. Even after 9 years, Taylor Swift has managed to recreate the same feelings of love and loss present on the original album. If you need to find me, I’ll be streaming Red (Taylor’s Version) for the next week straight.

Edited by Annie Stibora

Sam Lacey is a current third-year student at the University of Vermont majoring in Public Communications with a concentration in Strategic Writing. Sam loves all things music and film-related, and is also the manager of UVM's alternative radio station, WRUV. She's super excited to write for HerCampus (which she's been dreaming of since she was 16).
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