Taylor Swift has finally released her second album re-recording, Red (Taylor’s Version), after releasing Fearless (Taylor’s Version) back in April of this year. It’s been a year of empowerment and nostalgia for Swift and her fans, and Red has come at the perfect time, in all its new glory.
Fearless is the album that many people think of when they hear the name Taylor Swift. Songs like “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me” stand as some of her flagship songs, even over a decade later. Red, on the other hand, was an album that boasted multiple popular songs but also was a divisive album among Taylor Swift fans and critics alike since its initial release in 2012.
It was Swift’s first attempt at switching genres, and to many, the album seemed all over the place. There were poppy hit songs, slow ballads and country tracks all in a single album. To some, the album lacked cohesion. To others, it was a perfect representation of Swift’s life at the moment. She was a young woman going through heartbreak and identity changes. Red is the album that gets you through severe changes in your life.
But what makes Red (Taylor’s Version) so special? Many wonder if it’s just the same album as before, and if so, why is everyone so excited? When Fearless (Taylor’s Version) came out, fans were excited and proud of Swift, but the hype that came along both before and after the release was half of what Red (Taylor’s Version) has garnered. That being said, Red (Taylor’s Version) is the original album reworked to perfection, along with 10 original and exceptional new releases.
The difference between Fearless and Red was that the lack of cohesion and genre-fitting of the latter allowed Swift to experiment in her re-recording. Fearless had to stick to the script, as it was Taylor’s first defining album, and to change songs like “Love Story” would’ve received critical backlash. On the other hand, Red frequently straddles the line between country and pop, allowing Swift to be more creative on Red (Taylor’s Version). The old songs sound new and improved, making for a new listening experience.
The most flagrant example of this is the track “Girl at Home,” a song many Swift fans disliked off the original album. In the re-recording, Swift genre-switches, turning the simple country tune into a 1989-esque pop song, completely changing the feel of the track. The new version sounds mature, fresh and exciting, whereas the original sounded like a song we had heard a million times before. Taylor didn’t just re-record these tracks to legally own her music; she re-recorded them so they sounded the way she always wanted them to. With that, Swift has truly taken ownership of Red, and she has done it flawlessly.
Daily Arts Writer Gigi Ciulla can be reached at email@example.com.
Unlocking the vault: Unreleased tracks and a new take on ‘All Too Well’
Taylor Swift’s mission to re-record her masters is more than simply reclaiming the rights to her music — the process also entails revisiting unreleased music that never made it onto the original record. In addition to the 20 re-recordings from her 2012 Red release, Swift also included nine additional tracks “from the vault,” songs she wrote for the initial project that never made it to the album’s final cut. From melancholy ballads like “Forever Winter” to pop-infused anthems like “Message In A Bottle,” the vault tracks embody the soaring highs and the deep lows that define Red.
With features from Phoebe Bridgers, Ed Sheeran and Chris Stapleton, these never-before-heard songs not only fill in holes from her 2012 release but also demonstrate the rich relationships she has with fellow artists in the industry. She even included a recording of “Better Man,” a song she had written for the Red album but ultimately sold to country group Little Big Town, who won Song of the Year for it at the 2017 Country Music Awards.
Perhaps the most striking track from the vault is Swift’s highly-anticipated “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version),” an extended version of the 2012 track “All Too Well.” Clocking in at just over 10 minutes, the latest version of “All Too Well” is the original draft of the song that was ultimately cut down when the 2012 album was released.
In an interview with Jimmy Fallon, Swift explained how the bulk of the song was ad-libbed during band practice for her “Speak Now” tour, but several verses and choruses never made it onto her final record because “ten minutes is an … absurd length of time for a song.” The additional verses on the new track provide more context for the tragic breakup story of “All Too Well,” recounting Swift’s experience in a toxic relationship during what should have been one of the most exciting periods of her life — turning 21.
“All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” is accompanied by a short film written and directed by Swift herself. Starring Sadie Sink (“Stranger Things”) and Dylan O’Brien (“Teen Wolf”), the short film is allegedly a loose portrayal of the events leading up to Swift’s breakup with Jake Gyllenhaal in 2010. Swift, who was nine years younger than Gyllenhaal, chose Sink and O’Brien for the roles of “Her” and “Him,” who also share a significant age gap.
After the short film premiered Friday, Swift shared a video on her TikTok from a fan that showed hundreds of fans in an L.A. club gathering to watch the film and sing along to the timeless, heart-wrenching ballad. Swift wrote in her post, “THIS is what it’s all about, why I live to make music. The hope that maybe people might want to come together and feel things.”
Swift’s compelling storytelling has the power to draw millions of people to her music. Who else can articulate the distinct gut-wrenching feeling when the person you love tosses you the car keys to drive home after dropping your hand at a party? Or how about being in a room full of people celebrating your 21st birthday but still feeling isolated because the one person you hoped would be there never showed up?
Red (Taylor’s Version) narrates some of the most authentic human experiences in a way that feels deeply personal. Love her or hate her, there’s no denying that Taylor Swift knows how to connect with people and tell the stories that we’ve lived through but have never had the words to articulate.
Music Beat Editor Kaitlyn Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.