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‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ is even more magical than the first time around

First released in 2012, “Red” was noteworthy for some of Taylor’s most beautiful lyrics and sounds, and it marked the beginning of her transition from the country to pop genre. Now the hottest album of the moment, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is nothing short of the magical experience that first captured the hearts of so many loyal fans when it first came out. 


The first song that we have to talk about is “All Too Well,” but specifically the 10-minute version. Coming in as the last track of the album and being so long, it’s a little insane how this song has become one of the most streamed tracks on Spotify. However, that should just give you an idea of the power that is Taylor Swift’s mastery of songwriting.  We thought “All Too Well” was already poignant, and yet Taylor made an already beautifully written song even more significant by adding killer lines like “you kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath” and “just between us, did the love affair maim you too?” This song is so unreasonably good, it’s truly unfair to even compare it to the rest of the album. It deserves to be in a league of its own. 


Taylor collaborates with many artists on this album, including, most excitingly, Phoebe Bridgers. We were stoked to find that Bridgers had an entire verse to herself and was featured throughout the entirety of the song. Bridgers’ voice is beautifully heartbreaking, delivering a gut wrenching track about the fear of growing older and what that can mean for a relationship. The chorus features the line, “How can a person know everything at 18, but nothing at 22?” As college seniors, that line hits particularly hard. We came into college so confident, and now we are ready to leave terrified and unsure what to expect. The entire rest of the song is absolutely devastating though, featuring imagery about constantly crying and falling apart. 


Now, while the new tracks like “All Too Well” and “Nothing New” are nothing short of gut-wrenching and beautifully painful, there were also new songs that really captured the original happy, free, confused, lonely atmosphere of the album. Caroline’s personal favorite of the happier-sounding tracks is “The Very First Night”; while still ultimately about a break-up, it captures the wistful rush of missing someone you felt you understood better than anyone else. In that sense, “The Very First Night” feels like a reverse of “All Too Well”—with vivid, intimate images like “danced in the kitchen, chased me down the hallway” and “the note on the Polaroid picture,” this song touches on so many happy memories that it makes Taylor’s missing someone “like the very first night” a particularly heartrending experience, even with the incredibly cheerful guitar and the upbeat pace of the drums. There’s nostalgia here for sure, nostalgia and the longing for the rush that comes with falling in love with someone and still wishing you were in love with that someone, even long after they’re gone. Truly, this is a piece that folks will be listening to whenever they miss their ex but don’t necessarily want to be depressed about it. 


These rerecordings have given Emma a new appreciation for the album. The vault tracks are all so strong and pull the entire album together, placing the finishing touches on what was already such a fantastic album. Everything fits together so seamlessly, this time with the full story. Taylor was always concerned about the variety of genres on this album—the phrase “sonically cohesive” will forever be in Emma’s vocabulary—but, with the vault tracks, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” exceeds any sort of genre expectations. Taylor’s more mature voice adds depth to the sadder tracks that Emma had previously questioned. 


“Red (Taylor’s Version)” adds more depth to an album that we thought we knew. With its new tracks adding so much more to its original heartbreak stories, the album that invented fall in 2012 is now re-inventing it in 2021. With the help of “Red (Taylor’s Version),” we are embracing “sad girl fall” instead of fighting it.


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