Taylor Swift reclaims Red
On November 12 this year, almost nine years after the release of Red, Taylor Swift unveiled Red (Taylor's Version) to the world, this time with nine unreleased songs, including a 10-minute version of "All Too Well," and a short film of the same name.
The short film, also directed by Swift, opens with a Pablo Neruda quote, "Love is so short, forgetting is so long," thus making way for the assumption that Swift knew her version of Red is a lesson in remembrance.
When Swift announced the re-recording of Red, she wryly wrote that the album resembles a heartbroken person, musically and lyrically. This is why it makes sense that revisiting such an album would make for such an immersive introspection on past heartbreaks, both for Swift and her fans. After all, Swift is not a devastated 23 year old anymore. She is happily 31 this year with almost an additional decade of perspective, and it is that perspective that soars in her retelling of Red.
If Red was heartbreak-incarnated before, it is not much else this time around. It is still a harrowing album that only gets better both with Swift's now matured vocals and the production team which ranges from returning producers of the original album, as well as Taylor Swift music staples Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner.
With these powerhouse producers behind, Swift does not shy away from inviting collaborators for this round, with Phoebe Bridgers, Ed Sheeran and Chris Stapleton all joining for her in-vault tracks. The result is an auditory and lyrical masterpiece, even for the original songs that by now have been imprinted in popular memory.
Unlike her near identical recording of Fearless (Taylor's Version) excluding the vault songs, Red saw many creative and production changes that have elevated the already lovely source material. Examples of this include the jovial "weeeee" in "We are Never Ever Getting Back Together" to the more subdued lower register vocals in "Everything has Changed." Where these changes might seem jarring to long-time fans, Swift more than makes up for it in her re-imagination of songs like "Treacherous" or "Ronan", where the emotions are only amplified by her rich vocals.
As said before, it's not just her vocals that have gotten richer, but her outlook on the matters of love and loss. This sorrow of bruised perspective works within the songs and even within the short film accompanying her song "All Too Well." The film sees Sadie Sink coupled with Dylan O'Brien, whose age gap is identical to Swift's own age gap with her ex-boyfriend.
Red ultimately succeeds in recreating the magic of the original version, because if Red originally resembled a heartbroken person, Red (Taylor's Version) now resembles another hardened person being heartbroken for her former self.
Raya Mehnaz likes to critically analyse anything regarding pop culture, and when she's not doing that, she likes to live life dangerously — one House MD episode at a time. Send help at fb.com/raya.mehnaz