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A Complete Review of Red (Taylor's Version)

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The much anticipated Red (Taylor’s Version) came out on November 12, 2021. Fans had been looking forward to this day for months with high expectations in mind. Did it live up to the hype? Why yes, it did. With the release of Folklore, Evermore, and Fearless (Taylor's Version) all in two years, it is hard to believe that Taylor Swift continues to top her records as well as world records, but what the release of Red (TV) has shown us is that old and new fans alike keep coming back to hear more and will continue to do so as Taylor continues to release re-recordings.

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Why The Re-Release of Red is Significant

As most Swifties probably know, Taylor Swift has been wronged multiple times. One such instance is when her old label, Big Machine Records, sold the masters to Taylor’s music behind her back when she was switching to her new label, Universal's Republic Records.

According to Raisa Bruner in a 2021 article for Time Magazine, "Big Machine sold to private-equity group Ithaca Holdings, an entity owned by powerhouse music manager Scooter Braun."

Scooter Braun is an infamous name in the world of all things, Taylor Swift. Alongside the likes of John Mayor, Karlie Kloss, and Jake Gyllenhaal, he is one of Taylor's most despised enemies. With the decision to re-record her music and therefore own the rights to her masters, Taylor takes the power of controlling her career away from Braun and the company he sold her masters to, Shamrock Holdings.

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Red (TV) is the second of the six albums Taylor has re-released, and much like its predecessor, Fearless (Taylor's Version), it is stacked with nine From the Vault songs. From the Vault songs are songs Taylor wrote and recorded for the original albums but never actually released. These days we are being blessed with being able to hear them for the first time as if it's 2012 all over again.

A Review of the From The Vault Red (TV) Songs

On August 6, 2021, when the tracklist for the new Red album came out in a Taylor Instagram post, fans went crazy, particularly for one song listed: The 10-minute version of "All Too Well." Rumors of a longer, more explicit version of this legendary Taylor Swift song about a heart-wrenching breakup with her boyfriend of three-months Jake Gyllenhaal had been around for a while, but when it was confirmed for release this somewhat of a mythical entity was given life.

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I heard it for the first time in a hotel room with three other girls, none of whom were Swifties. It was 6 a.m., and I had purposefully gotten up earlier to listen to the song. Let's just say that when the other girls got up shortly after, they thought I was having a panic attack, for when those opening chords reached my ears, it was like hearing victory: a victory for Taylor and a victory for Swifties all around the world. The tears in my eyes might have seemed like a reaction to some terrible mishap, but they were truly tears of pure joy.

The song begins much the same as its original version, but once listeners get to the second verse, a whole new depth is given to the story with never before heard lyrics added to the original second verse. In addition, the bridge of the song gets more lyrics, and a whole outro is added at the end.

“And I was never good at telling jokes,” as the outro begins, might be one of the most revolutionary sets of lyrics I have ever heard. This extension of the loved song is like the ending scenes of a battle where the hero has gone through their sum of conflict and is finally nearing their storyline’s resolution. In the outro of "All Too Well" (10 Minute Version), Taylor is nearing her resolution as she makes peace with the past, knowing that she has grown from it and is better off after it despite the catastrophic relationship. As an artist millions of people look up to, I think this final ending, and in turn, the message of the new version of "All Too Well" not only resonates with many but teaches that we can always find the light at the end of the tunnel after difficult times.

The "All Too Well" 10-minute version topped charts. According to the Guinness World Records, it was the longest song ever to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

But we shouldn’t let that masterpiece cloud the perfection of the other vault songs, especially the second fan favorite: "Nothing New" (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)(From the Vault).

Anyone who has ever been afraid of growing up could probably relate to this soft acoustic ballad. With the combined silky voices of Taylor and Phoebe, these two titans in the indie music realm bring us a song worthy of 2 a.m. cry sessions. Lyrics like “I wake up in the middle of the night, and I can feel time moving” have the power to make anyone’s thoughts turn existential. That is the beauty of this track. Listeners want songs that make them feel something. "Nothing New" does just that.

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On a brighter note, some other never-before-seen tracks take us away from that sorrow with their upbeat tunes and lyrics. "Message in a Bottle," "The Very First Night," and "I Bet You Think About Me" are sure to get you up on your feet, forgetting the pain caused by songs like "Nothing New," "All Too Well," and "Better Man". These tracks are the perfect intermission to clear the mind and raise the spirit because pain is only temporary, right? That is why attention must now be brought to the fun re-recorded classics such as "22" and "We Are Never Getting Back Together."

A Review of the Originals

The tracklist is in the same order, with the notorious track five preserved as "All Too Well," original length. "22" (Taylor’s Version) follows it, which takes on a new depth considering Taylor is now 32. After ten years of its original release, this song about the beauty of our rollercoaster lives continues to brighten moods as if it's the first time hearing the song.

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Speaking of first and last times, featured artist Gary Lightbody returns for the duet "The Last Time" (Taylor’s Version), and long-time Taylor friend Ed Sheehan returns for their duet "Everything Has Changed" (Taylor’s Version). Even with years apart from the original recording, both pairs preserved their chemistry for new versions undistinguishable, if not better, than their originals.

Every song Taylor re-recorded kept its charm, its original appeal, and its place in our hearts. Today we just replace those masterpieces with their new versions, made extra special by the fact that Taylor owns them.

Final Thoughts

That day, when Red (Taylor’s Version) came out, was one to remember. I woke up that morning a Swiftie ready to be taken back to when I was eight years old, dreaming of the day I would turn 22 or be able to sing "Stay Stay Stay" about a boy. Unfortunately, neither of those things have happened yet, but when they do, I know Taylor’s songs will still be there ready for me to treat them like my second religion.

In the meantime, her re-recordings allow others and I to live vicariously through her masterful lyricism, in a world where heartbreak happens and healing follows…and maybe, in good Taylor fashion, just a little touch of revenge.

Lucia Moglia
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Lucia is a high schooler passionate about all things reading and writing. She is currently an intern at New Voters and on the Polyphony Lit editing team. During her free time Lucia enjoys reading, writing, running, hanging out with friends, and binge watching a good period piece.