Album Review: Taylor Swift’s ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’

Taylor Swift captures the hearts of many with her new rerecorded album “Red (Taylor’s Version)”.

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Taylor Swift captures the hearts of many with her new rerecorded album “Red (Taylor’s Version)”.

Jeanelle Wu, Photojournalist

November 12, 2021 was a big day for Taylor Swift and all of her fans, sending Swifties everywhere in a craze with the release of her newest album “Red (Taylor’s Version)”. The 31-year-old, eleven-time Grammy-winning singer continues to take her fans on a journey of rerecording her first five albums, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” being the second album she has rerecorded after releasing her first rerecorded album “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” on April 9, 2021. Swift continues to keep her fans on the edge of their seats and clinging onto their headphones with never heard before songs not included in the original “Red” album, along with her familiar classics. “Red (Taylor’s Version)”, released one week before the projected date, has already captured the hearts of the listeners and risen to new heights. Is this due to her angelic voice, relatable lyrics, catchy melodies, synchronized harmonies, or the nostalgia of it all? Honestly, the album’s deserved hype is because it contains all of the above.

“Red (Taylor’s Version)” is actually part of a bigger picture and longer journey. Those who are new to the Swifiverse or who have recently fallen in love with “Red (Taylor’s Version)” may not know the reasoning behind Swift’s rerecording of her first five albums. Not only is Swift taking her fans on a trip down memory lane, she is also doing it for herself as an artist. All of the albums that Swift recorded at her previous record label, up until her album “Lover”, are not fully owned by her (ksat.com). So, in an attempt to own her own work and have her music live on, such as in movies and commercials, Swift is rerecording her first five albums. 

The album consists of 30 songs, which includes the original 16 songs from “Red”, songs from the deluxe edition, and 9 songs “From the Vault” (a collection of songs that nearly, but didn’t make it onto the album). In total, the album runs a shocking 131 minutes (2 hours and 11 minutes), while the original “Red” album runs 65 minutes (1 hour and 5 minutes). This is quite the difference, though a portion of that time is dedicated to a semi-new fan-favorite song “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”. Other more well-known songs of Swift’s that have also been rerecorded for this album include “I Knew You Were Trouble (Taylor’s Version)”, “22 (Taylor’s Version)”, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together (Taylor’s Version)”, and more.  

The release of the 10-minute version of Swift’s “All Too Well” has received major attention and seems to be the biggest hit on the album. Back in 2012, Swift released her song “All Too Well” in her original “Red” album, which was 5 minutes and 28 seconds long. However, Swift clarifies that the 10-minute version of “All Too Well” is how she originally wrote it back in 2012, but then cut out some parts when she released it in the original “Red” album (nme.com). In addition to releasing the full 10-minute version in all its glory, with never heard before parts, Swift directed a short film to go with the song. “All Too Well: The Short Film” stars Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien, and currently, as of November 28, 2021, is Youtube’s #1 on trending for music. In only 2 weeks, “All Too Well: The Short Film” has already received 49 million views on Youtube. It is fair to say that Swift has struck her listeners in the heart with this 10-minute version, and the pain she experienced at the time from her heartbreak is felt by her fans all too well. With all deep and touching music comes a backstory, and Swifties were not hesitant in connecting the dots of “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” to Swift’s 3-month relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal. 

Its vulnerable lyrics and various musical styles allow the listener to experience the wide range of emotions following heartbreak.”

— Sarah Doblibennani

When looking at the album as a whole, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” truly reflects Swift as an artist and showcases her talented voice and songwriting skills. For the OG Swifties, this album takes them down memory lane reminiscing on Swift’s old flames and giving them a feeling of nostalgia. From a musical standpoint, Swift’s light, sweet, yet powerful voice is heard in every track, and the music accompanying her does not diminish her voice but enhances it with textures and layers. It is because of pure talent that Swift is able to convey different messages in each of her songs. Throughout the album, Swift takes the listener on a rollercoaster of emotions. There will be songs in the album where Swift enables the listener to feel the gut-wrenching pain of heartbreak yet is able to leave them feeling 22 in another. Likewise, many Swifties on campus agree that Swift is a musical genius. Sarah Doblibennani (10) claims that the album “is the best musical creation by a human being. Its vulnerable lyrics and various musical styles allow the listener to experience the wide range of emotions following heartbreak.”

So, is there really a difference between the original album “Red” and “Red (Taylor’s Version)”? There are not many major changes, especially not in the lyrics of the songs that were already on the original album. However, there may be subtle differences in the background music or instrument that can be heard if compared closely. This shows Swift’s desire for her songs to stay true to the original. Of course, the major difference between the two albums is the addition of “new” songs, technically songs that didn’t make it onto the original album, that are now on “Red (Taylor’s Version)”. For example, 9 songs are “From The Vault”, including “Babe (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” which was cut from the original “Red” album and given to the country music duo, Sugarland (taylorswiftswitzerland.com). The new album also features artists on her “From The Vault” songs, such as Phoebe Bridgers on the song “Nothing New (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”, Chris Stapleton on “I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version)”, and Ed Sheeran on “Run (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”. Not only is it exciting to see Swift working with artists on her new songs, but it is also nostalgic to see that she was able to rerecord the songs that had features with the original artist. Once again but about 9 years later, Gary Lightbody is featured on “The Last Time (Taylor’s Version)” and Ed Sheeran on “Everything Has Changed (Taylor’s Version)”.

Overall, this album is like a potion that makes people fall in love with Taylor Swift all over again. Taylor Swift has already blessed everyone’s ears with her music, and there is no doubt that she will continue to do so in her future albums.