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Ranking the Songs on Taylor Swift’s Red in Anticipation of Red (Taylor’s Version)

Pumpkin spice, sweaters, breezy weather, scarves, orange, and red leaves falling from trees: for most people, the arrival of these things is a signal that fall has begun, but for me, and Taylor Swift fans across the country, they mean it’s Red season.

Red is Taylor Swift’s 2012 studio album that details the rollercoaster of emotions she experienced during a difficult breakup. Mostly due to the album’s fall release and references to scarves, cold air, and autumn leaves in the album’s most powerful song “All Too Well,” Red has come to represent the season of fall. Swift’s deeply personal songwriting about the heartbreak and healing of someone who feels so lonely and free at the same time invites the listener to put on their most comfy sweater and curl up with a warm pumpkin spice latte while watching the leaves fall outside.

This fall marks an incredibly important Red season because Swift will be releasing Red (Taylor’s Version) on November 12th. If you haven’t been keeping up with Swift’s re-recordings, she is in the process of re-recording her first six studio albums so that she has full ownership over her songs. On her re-recorded albums, Swift includes every original song as well as several unreleased songs that never made the final album.

So, in honor of this very special season for Swifties and in anticipation of getting to hear the soundtrack to fall fully owned by Swift, I thought I’d have one last listen to the original album and do a ranking of the original songs on Red.

  1. All Too Well Easily one of Swift’s best songs, if not the best, “All Too Well” is her songwriting at its absolute finest. This song exudes emotion and the pain of heartbreak through personal details Swift divulges about her past relationship. The song paints a perfect picture of the struggle to try to forget someone you once loved so much.
  2. Begin Again One of the few full country songs on the album, “Begin Again” is the perfect end piece for Red . Swift sings about the beauty of coming out on the other side of a breakup and starting over with someone completely new.
  3. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together The lead single off of Red and Swift’s first real pop release, this sassy and lively song is impossible not to sing along to and is the perfect song for celebrating a break-up from a toxic ex.
  1. 22 “22” is lighthearted and celebratory, always making it a joy to listen to. It serves as Swift’s homage to her friends for being by her side through her breakup and making life more fun.
  2. Treacherous This underrated country pop song is about knowing that someone could be bad for you but going for it anyway. Here, Swift crones about the possibility of something beautiful and builds to one of my all time favorite bridges of hers.
  3. State of Grace Lyrically, this song is one of my favorites on Red because of its complexity and honesty about the highs and lows of love, “State of Grace” is the perfect opener to the themes of the album. It’s also really fun to hear Swift sing in a rock genre.
  4. Everything Has Changed (feat. Ed Sheeran) I love Ed and Taylor’s voices together. They blend so beautifully in this really sweet song about the exciting experience of meeting someone and feeling everything change.
  5. The Last Time (feat. Gary Lightbody) Another one song I would consider largely underrated, “The Last Time” features Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody who has a unique voice that helps to add raw emotion to this powerful duet. Not to mention, the song features an alternative rock musical build up and a guitar solo.
  6. Red This title track is perfect because, lyrically, it encapsulates the many whirlwind emotions present in a relationship by analogizing them to colors. Sonically, it features the many different sounds on the album–country and rock with pop potential all mixed in one.
  7. I Knew You Were Trouble The exciting part of this song is how out of Swift’s comfort zone it is with the inclusion of dubstep. It certainly paved the way for her future transition into pop and electronic.
  8. The Lucky One My favorite songs are ones that tell a specific story, and Swift does a phenomenal job of this on this track relaying a tale about fame and wealth in Hollywood. Swift suggests that this acclaim may not be so lucky after all.
  9. Holy Ground I love the mature concept of this peppy song. It reminisces on a past relationship that didn’t work out and appreciates it for what it was.
  10. Sad Beautiful Tragic This song is beautifully haunting, and it captures the regret of losing something truly magical that ends so incredibly well. Slow songs don’t frequently catch my attention, but I do particularly like this one because I think that Swift really speaks to the low points of reflecting on a relationship while trying to get over it.
  11. Come Back…Be Here One of the three bonus tracks on the deluxe album of Red, it’s always a joy to hear Swift in her classic country element. It’s very fitting that she mentions wanting the subject to come back from New York and London, as those are both places she ends up living later in life and getting inspiration from in her music.
  12. Stay Stay Stay I initially didn’t love this song because of its happy go lucky, young, country Taylor feel, but I’ve grown to appreciate it for how fun it is and how it represents Swift’s wishes for a relationship that feels more like how this song sounds.
  13. The Moment I Knew “The Moment I Knew” is so heartbreaking in its descriptive details of Swift’s 21st birthday in which the one person she wanted most to be there didn’t show up. As another bonus track, it was a great storytelling addition.
  14. I Almost Do While the slower pace of this song makes it fall lower on my list, I think that the feeling that the song describes of wanting to call an ex but knowing that it’s not the right decision is so relatable for all listeners.
  15. Starlight Swift wrote this upbeat and sparkly song about Ethel and Bobby Kennedy’s romance. Personally, it feels slightly out of place on this breakup album, but it gives a nod to Swift’s future albums Folklore and Evermore in which she turns to other people’s lives for musical inspiration.
  16. Girl At Home This final bonus track has Swift telling a man in a relationship off for making advances toward her. Clearly, Swift felt passionate enough about this situation to want to include this track on the album, but I don’t think lyrically or sonically it is as interesting or impressive as some of her other songs.

I can’t wait to see how these rankings hold up after the release of Red (Taylor’s Version)!

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Olivia Ward

Wake Forest '24

Olivia Ward is a sophomore at Wake Forest from Los Altos, California. She plans on majoring in Communications with a concentration in Media Studies and minoring in Psychology and Journalism. In her free time she loves to travel, write, bake chocolate chip cookies, play piano, spend quality time with her friends and family, and listen to Taylor Swift.
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