Taylor Swift releases ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’

Iris Breckenridge, Editor-In-Chief

Taylor Swift is big in the music industry right now, but honestly she always has been. After the whole ordeal with Scott Borchetta, the CEO of her old label Big Machine Records, and Scooter Braun, a record executive and investor, Taylor has been reclaiming her music and her future by recreating each of her nine albums. She has already successfully started this process by releasing “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” in April and just a couple of weeks ago we got her version of “Red,” which is what I’m are here to talk about today. 

“Red (Taylor’s Version)” was officially announced by Taylor over social media to be coming out in June and Swifties were ecstatic and couldn’t wait for Nov. 12. Four and a half months later, the album runs for a total of two hours and 10 minutes consisting of 30 songs, eight of which are “From the Vault,” an acoustic version of “State of Grace” and of course the 10 minute version of “All Too Well” that if you haven’t been living under a rock, you must’ve heard about.

I, like any sane person, was sure to listen to the album the night it came out and have already established my top three favorite songs. In no particular order they are: “The Very First Night,” “Message in a Bottle” and “All Too Well (10 Minute Version).” But like the thoughtful person she is, Taylor left the original “All Too Well” in the album so we can still listen to that, though after hearing the 10 minute version the five minute one feels incomplete. Of course, my favorites are all new ones because I’ve already heard the other 22 songs and as good as they are and always have been, I just want some new songs.  

One reason I love these songs is because a lot of the lines rhyme. And not in a cheesy way; it actually sounds good and makes the song flow. The best example of this is in “The Very First Night.” The verse goes: “And so it was, we never saw it comin’ / Not tryin’ to fall in love, but we did like children runnin’ / Back then we didn’t know we were built to fall apart / We broke the status quo,  / then we broke each other’s hearts.” It is kind of hard to tell when you don’t have the tune in your head, but the end of every other line in this verse rhymes, or at least comes close. “Comin’” and “runnin’” rhyme, and then “apart” rhymes closely enough with “hearts.” It’s not a perfect match, but in the song the words seem to rhyme and that’s enough to make the song catchy. 

Next, “Message In A Bottle.” Like “The Very First Night,” it has a fast tempo and is also so upbeat and happy, unlike some of the other songs (cough, cough* “All Too Well”). It’s the kind of love song I would actually want to be singing instead of a breakup song that you’d cry to for weeks. It’s optimistic and hopeful about a new, positive relationship. In contrast, “Begin Again” is a sweet song about starting over with someone new, but it’s so slow it seems depressing (but still a good song of course!). With “Message In A Bottle,” she keeps the happy vibes going from start to finish with the upbeat melody and optimistic lyrics. Additionally, to make the song flow, the last word of most lines in the chorus are one syllable but she sings it breaking it up into two or three syllables. In the verses most lines end with words that are all the same number of syllables, which is probably just a song writing technique, but one she definitely nailed. Not every line is like that obviously, so in the parts that aren’t like that she draws out words and does that rhyming thing again, and somehow it all fits together perfectly. 

A popular songwriting technique that Taylor employs is putting her life experiences and relationships into her songs. Not only does that show her talent, but it also leaves fans wondering who each song is about. “All Too Well” is a great example of this. It did so well when it came out and rightfully so. It was number one in multiple places, and with a 10 minute song that’s incredible. She broke a record for that. Even if you don’t like Taylor Swift or her music, you have to admit that’s impressive. The added verses pull the whole song together, filling in missing pieces in the original. Additionally, these lyrics are logical. Sometimes lyrics are catchy though honestly don’t make a lot of sense. But hers do. And in “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” they’re so heartfelt and maybe not all that relatable, but so real you can feel her experience and emotions through her words. Her lyrics speak for themselves, and any of these are a good example: “But then he watched me watch the front door all night, willing you to come,” “And you call me up again just to break me like a promise / So casually cruel in the name of being honest / I’m a crumpled up piece of paper lying here,” and “Time won’t fly, it’s like I’m paralyzed by you.” Not only are her here lyrics spectacular, but so is her singing ability – specifically her ability to hold long notes is amazing. Singing along, I usually run out of breath before she’s done with the word. 

Now that we’ve covered my favorites, I have some other observations and critiques to give as well. Starting with all the TikTok drama and conspiracy theories of “All Too Well (10 Minute Version).” There are so many theories and analogies about each one of her songs, and no one will ever really know how close or far from right they are, but they can be a fun distracting thing to listen to. I’ve heard a lot of interesting theories on TikTok about various songs on her album, but they are mostly about this song, analyzing the new verses or hating on Jake Gyllenhaal, the person who “All Too Well” is allegedly about. There’s definitely a lot to unpack here, but this is her personal life, and theories should only go to a certain extent. Trying to analyze lyrics and figure out who a song is about can be fun and harmless. However, speculating about super personal events in her life crosses the line. You might say that because she chose to put that in her song then she should be prepared for this and it doesn’t matter because she’s a celebrity. But she’s still a person and we should respect her choice to be vulnerable and put such personal things in her songs. Being so real is part of what makes her songs so great, and putting her emotions and experiences into her songs is a major part of what she does. So to just say she shouldn’t put those things in there would probably diminish the quality of her songs which is exactly what she did with “Red” the first time she produced it when she had to cut half of “All Too Well” to make it fit on the album the way her label wanted it to. 

Getting into the actual songs, I’m not a music expert, but in “I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version)” featuring Chris Stapleton, she is definitely singing with an extreme country/hillbilly accent that she doesn’t usually sing with (in the nicest way possible). And she was originally country, so I guess that fits. This does show off her singing abilities and the voice control, but I am not a fan of that style of singing.

Additionally, I don’t like “Girl At Home (Taylor’s Version).” Most of the songs remain almost the exact same as they were, which was her plan, but “Girl At Home” drastically changed. The intro to is a lot softer and overall the music in the song is more electronic. Throughout, her voice is softer and harder to hear, which is similar to the kind of quiet that there is in a song right before the build up and the beat drop, but this time those things aren’t there. Overall, the song just gives off a different vibe than before. 

Some quick additions: I don’t like “State of Grace (Acoustic Version)” because it’s very slow and “State of Grace” sounds better as a fast paced song. In “Nothing New” featuring Phoebe Bridgers, I think I would enjoy it more if it was just Taylor’s voice. I don’t really like Bridgers’ voice, and I don’t think it goes too well with Taylor’s. The song is good, very catchy, but I don’t like the combo of the two voices. 

Once again, Taylor Swift has awed the world with her incredible ability to make a great album even better. Breaking more charts than she did with the original “Red,” she has successfully accomplished rerecording number two and is well on her way to start the next, which we all can’t wait for.