“Red” came out when I was 11 years old. The original album was a staple on my iPod; my mom and I both have distinct memories belting “I Knew You Were Trouble” driving in the car on the way to my dance classes.
Back in 2012, the album gave me feelings of empowerment as a young girl, with the subtle pop rock tones as an undercurrent to her well known country roots. My understanding of the feelings Taylor Swift conveyed in the music was very surface level as I hadn’t experienced the deep heartbreak seeping through her lyrics, now the album strikes a feeling of nostalgia. “Taylor’s Version” of Red features 30 tracks featuring ten songs “From the Vault” which include features from artists Phoebe Bridgers, Chris Stapleton and Ed Sheeran.
Unlike “Taylor’s Version” of “Fearless”, which was released in April of 2021, this album differs from the original artistically. When it was first produced, Swift pushed for a pop sound for the album, which was a new direction for her at the time. Her previous albums all had a heavy pop country vibe so her record label thought it was better to stay in that pre-established lane.
The songs “Message in a Bottle,” “Babe,” and “The Very First Night” introduce the pop sound she was originally wanting, and I know I totally would have been dancing around my bedroom to “The Very First Night” or at some middle school mixer with all my friends. Personally, I hope it’s on the prom playlist this year.
“Girl at Home,” a track featured on the first “Red”, also gets a revamp as a song that personally was not a favorite for me has been transformed into a very Charlie XCX or Selena Gomez revamp. A song that would have originally been on a chill playlist has been moved to my getting ready playlist. The poppy underscore gives this song exactly what it needed, turning it into a song about turning down a guy instead of its original sudo-melancholy feeling of losing a guy.
The album now as a whole shows Swift’s range as an artist, which does not fit into a singular genre. Even with the album leaning toward being Pop, we still get the country Taylor we know and love. A song from the vault, “I Bet You Think About Me,” which features Chris Stapleton feels like an homage to her debut album.
When “Red” was first released, speculation on the album was that the majority of the songs were written about her recent relationship with actor Jake Gylenhall. Most famously, the song “All Too Well.” When Swift announced the re-release of the song she mentioned that when the song was first written it was 10 minutes long. She wrote it to release all her feelings about a “sad time” during a rehearsal for her Speak Now Tour as told on The Late Late Show with Jimmy Fallon.
The “10 Minute Version” of “All Too Well” contains an entirely new level of insight to Swift’s feelings about the relationship that caused the heartbreak. I feel like I felt it too. With the song being 10 minutes, it tells the whole story of a relationship, beginning to end.
The beautiful, almost too good to be true parts and the intense heartbreak and loss. The slow decline from one to the other gives you a sinking feeling, which is visually represented in a short film written by Swift featuring Sadie Sink and Dylan O Brian. Sink and O Brian capture the entire story beautifully and heart wrenchingly. Viewers can see themselves in Sink while they think of their personal experiences in relationships similar to what is portrayed.
Fans have speculated many parallels between Sink and O Brian’s characters in the film to Swift’s relationship with Gylenhall, furthering the theory that their breakup influenced the original album. The story of “the scarf” in the film/song follows the same picture evidence of Gylenhall wearing Swift’s scarf after the pair had broken up
I think every “Swifty” (fans self-given label) can find an anthem on this new “Red,” with the country folk heartbreak her long time fans crave and the new direction of pop her newer fans appreciate. I personally love it all because whatever mood I am in this album can provide me with a soundtrack. The album is available for purchase on iTunes and taylorswift.com for 14.99 and available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music.
This will be Ava Musgraves’ first year on ECHO staff, but she made several contributions while taking journalism class her sophomore year.