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REVIEW: Loving Taylor’s Red is a Full-Time Job

By Brianna Collora | November 22, 2021

Find a reason to be mad at your significant other or think about the ex that did you wrong, then get cozy with a hot drink and press play on “Red (Taylor’s Version).”

With 30 tracks and a run time of 130 minutes, you’ll need to dedicate over two hours to learn all of the lyrics in the newly-released “vault” tracks- songs that were intended for the album but cut out the first time around. Listen for slight differences in the re-recorded songs originally released on the 2012 version of “Red.”

Swift may be one of the only singers who could pull off releasing a 10-minute track and have fans and casual listeners listen to it in its entirety. The heartfelt lyrics, including “you kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath,” and “just between us, did the love affair maim you too,” encourages listeners to pay close attention throughout the entirety of the song and album.

Instead of merely re-recording the original songs, Swift has listened to fans’ suggestions, complaints, and compliments, including creating a short film based on the popular song, “All Too Well.” The album’s promotion and the release of additional content made the re-release an experience that was nostalgic but new and exciting for fans that ran out to buy the album on its first release day all those years ago.

In terms of the original version of “Red,” Taylor’s version is exceedingly better in terms of vocals and in general. The addition of each vault song feels natural, and it is obvious that each truly belonged on the album since they blended well with the original 20 tracks. It’s a shame that such beautiful poetic lyrics and fun songs were kept from the world for nearly a decade.

The album is versatile in terms of mood and style. Some songs will make you want to lay in bed and cry, such as “All Too Well,” “Ronan,” and “The Moment I Knew.” On the other hand, some will make you want to dance while screaming all the lyrics. If you’re in a good mood, turn on “The Very First Night,” “Starlight,” or “Stay Stay Stay.” The album’s display of a range of emotions speaks to the various phases and experiences that Swift had gone through as a 22-year-old in the years and months before its original release.

The song that has everyone talking was originally released with a run time of about five and a half minutes. The vault version of “All Too Well” is about double that length and is even more emotional and personal than the original. A fan favorite during the original “Red era,” this has long since been considered one of her best, most heartbreaking songs. Once Swift mentioned an extended version of the song, fans persistently begged to hear it. Swift answered fans’ prayers and more. In addition to the extended version, she released a short film based on the song, which has received over 43 million views.

Another one of Swift’s most emotional songs, which has been well respected among fans since its release as a single in 2012, “Ronan,” was included as a vault track. Originally, the song was not included on an album but has found its new home on “Red (Taylor’s Version).” “Ronan” was co-written by Maya Thompson, the mother of a young boy who passed away after fighting childhood cancer. The song shares memories of Ronan and the time after he passed. The re-released version is somehow even more touching than the original. The deep breath at 3:27 ties the song together and adds to the mood. Swift’s matured vocals have elevated the tear-jerkingly beautiful song from its original form.

While this was true of the original album, the vault song “I Bet You Think About Me” reminds listeners that Swift was once a sassy 22-year-old with country music roots, as Swift laughs at the beginning of the song and sings, “turns out I’m harder to forget than I was to leave and, yeah, I bet you think about me,” in the chorus.

“The Very First Night”--about a former relationship that was looked back on fondly--may be the most fun song Swift has ever released. The song is upbeat, with lyrics sung in a way that is fun to sing along to.

Both “Babe” and “Better Man” were written by Swift but recorded and released by other artists although she was originally featured on “Babe” when Sugarland recorded it. On “Red (Taylor’s Version),” Swift released them as her own, and the tracks sound like completely different songs.

Overall, the album is an enhanced version of the original and is well worth the listen (if you’re willing to be an emotional wreck for a few hours).


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