Swift strikes emotional chord in fans with ‘Red’

30-song rerelease of hit pop album captivates music industry with its artistry


Lia Eberlein, Staff Writer

“Red is about to be mine again, but it has always been ours,” American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift posted to her social media accounts Thursday night.

“Red (Taylor’s Version)” was released Friday at midnight, allowing Swift to now own more than half of her masters following the feud involving the artist, Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun.

The second of her rereleased albums is heart-wrenchingly beautiful throughout all 30 songs, 21 of which had been originally released in 2012.

The maturity and freshness in Swift’s version of the album makes it feel even more personal than before.

In addition, 10 songs “from the vault” merge sounds of both Swift’s past and future.

If Swift were to be submitting her rerecordings for Grammy considerations, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” would without a doubt win Album of the Year.

The album and previous tour opener “State of Grace” feels rejuvenated with the strong percussion elements and Swift’s powerful, yet graceful, vocals.

Next comes title track “Red,” where Swift compares the elements of loving someone to colors and simple, reminiscent memories.

This song serves as one of Swift’s parallels to later releases — the lyric “loving him was red,” to 2019’s “Lover” album’s song “Daylight”: “I once believed love would be burning red / But it’s golden / Like daylight.”

“Treacherous” is the first of many intimate songs on this album, describing love for someone who, you realize, is not the healthiest for you. “Nothing safe is worth the drive,” Swift sings in the song’s bridge.

One of Swift’s first pop hits, “I Knew You Were Trouble,” falls fifth on the track listing. Anyone who is familiar with the 2012 version will be able to notice the distinct growth in Swift’s vocals.

“22,” another popular single from “Red,” is just as lively as its original counterpart. Hearing now-31-year-old Swift say “who’s Taylor Swift anyway?” in this song made me smile, considering all of her achievements in the nine-year span.

Seventh, “I Almost Do,” captures Swift singing about the longing for someone you no longer have access to and knowing you cannot reach out no matter how great the urge is. This song grounds the album’s tempo for a few minutes, until “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” starts.

Much of “Red (Taylor’s Version)” focuses heavily on heartbreak — but “Stay Stay Stay” is the polar opposite. The lively tune is outwardly lighthearted in its instrumentals, lyrics and vocals.

“Holy Ground” that follows is similar to its preceding song — lamenting on all that is seemingly unbreakable in a relationship. Swift sings “we block the noise with the sound of ‘I need you’ / And for the first time I had something to lose.”

The 10th track, “Sad Beautiful Tragic,” describes its own nature within its title. The song features only Swift’s vocals and acoustic elements, making it one of the most intimate songs on the album.

“The Lucky One” follows: a song about the definition of being lucky in the terms of fame. Swift sings in the second verse “they tell you that you’re lucky but you’re so confused / ‘Cause you don’t feel pretty, you just feel used.”

Despite its context, this lyric is something most can relate to.

The first of two songs featuring Ed Sheeran, “Everything Has Changed,” has the duo circling back to the simplicity of the beginning of love. Then “Starlight” follows, describing the romantic adventures of Bobby and Ethel Kennedy.

The original standard edition closer, “Begin Again,” closes out this trio of romanticism. Swift relays the feeling of releasing toxicity to something true and pure, which is captured in this song.

“The Moment I Knew” exhibits the feeling of being frozen in time by betrayal. “Come Back… Be Here” follows the breaking of love by distance, both physical and emotional. Swift sings “this is falling in love in the cruelest way / This is falling for you and you are worlds away.”

The last of previously released songs, “Girl At Home,” gets revived on “Red (Taylor’s Version)” with the addition of background vocals and beats that bring the song back to life.

The vault tracks open with “Ronan,” a song written by Swift about a 4-year-old boy who passed away due to cancer. The lyrics consist of words taken from his mother Maya’s blog posts. This has always been a hard listen for me, no matter how big of a fan of Swift I may be. It proves that no life so young and so innocent should be taken so soon, reflecting on all the years the young fan will be unable to experience.

Have you been in a relationship where your counterpart always made you feel that you were always the source of the problem? “Better Man” is the perfect fit for that kind of situation, as Swift sings about what could have been if her partner was appreciative rather than condescending.

Phoebe Bridgers joins Swift on “Nothing New,” describing the sinking feeling that stems from societal standards set for young girls. The acoustic duet provides relatability to this specific demographic.

Its lyrics prove to the listener how difficult these times in a woman’s life can truly be and the emotional wounds that are left to scar from them.

“Babe” holds a special place in anyone who attended the Reputation Stadium Tour in Cleveland in 2018 — being the show’s surprise song played by Swift — and can now be appreciated by anyone listening to “Red (Taylor’s Version).”

The country acoustics do not take away from the pleas sent throughout “Babe’s” lyrics, where Swift sings of betrayal and being “the one that got away.”

Swift’s full pop sound of 2014’s “1989” is showcased early in “Message In A Bottle.” The sound may be deceiving, but the song’s lyrics describe the longing for someone and second chances.

A late sneak peek at Swift’s sound evolution is offset by the song that follows, “I Bet You Think About Me,” featuring Chris Stapleton, who provides backup vocals. Anyone who swears by the “old Taylor” would greatly enjoy this song, which provides instrumentals jarringly similar to Swift’s debut album, with lyrics reminiscent of “Speak Now’s” “Better Than Revenge.”

It’s no secret that Swift has fun playing around with what critics say about her and her dating-turned-songwriting habits, where she playfully ends the song with, “I bet you think about me when you say ‘oh my god / She’s insane, she wrote a song about me.’”

Producing music pertaining to mental illness is not something widely present in the music industry, yet on the track “Forever Winter,” Swift reaches out a hand to those struggling. “Too young to know it gets better,” the songwriter sings in the chorus, expressing the feeling of hopelessness experienced by many.

No matter how dark the future may seem, Swift is convincing that you will find your “summer sun.”

“Run” beautifully and simply describes young love, and once again, Swift and Sheeran’s voices mesh wonderfully, bringing about a sense of calmness when listening.

Pop and acoustic musical elements allow “The Very First Night,” to achieve the same playful vibes as its predecessor on the track listing of the album. No matter the age, there is always some sort of childish element to love — bashfulness, purity, butterflies — all perfectly incorporated into this song.

The album closer for “Red (Taylor’s Version),” “All Too Well,” is extended to 10 minutes — all of which is jaw-droppingly vulnerable. It’s safe to say the hype for this song had many playing it first out of all 30 songs.

The original version gets the addition of new verses and a double bridge leaving emotions on a rollercoaster ride going straight up. The rawness throughout this song proves Swift’s mastery of songwriting.

If I could copy and paste the entirety of the lyrics, I would.

Instead, here are the most rememberable lyrics from Swift’s 10-minute recreation of “All Too Well”:

“As I reached for you but all I felt was shame / And you held my lifeless frame,”

“You kept me like a secret / But I kept you like an oath,”

“And you call me up again / Just to break me like a promise / So casually cruel in the name of being honest,”

“And I was never good at telling jokes / But the punchline goes: / ‘I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age,’”

Swift relays such distinct emotion, all with control; the powerful parts of the songs are truly felt deeply, same with the ethereal, repetition-filled closing.

“Red” was a standout album in 2012, and perhaps even more so now with its rerelease flooding social media timelines and news headlines.

Such an impact proves Swift’s worthiness as a musical icon in our time, and without a doubt will be a name that goes down in history not just for breaking records and sales, but impact on listeners as well.

This album has a particular sound and situation for almost anyone.

My love and dedication to Swift over the years may suggest a level of bias — but there is truly a magical aura to this entire album. The singer-songwriter continues to make strong impacts in the realm of music ownership with “Red (Taylor’s Version).”

Swift’s latest album is now available for streaming and purchase on most platforms.