For over 15 years, essentially the entire living memory of any current St. Louis U. High student, the voice of Taylor Swift has graced the airwaves as possibly the biggest cross-genre star of all time. Her music catalog is incredibly diverse, ranging from country albums like 2008’s Fearless or 2010’s Speak Now, to recent indie-pop releases folklore and evermore, to arguably the greatest pop album of the new millenium, 1989.
However, only one of Swift’s albums exists as a direct hybrid of her country and pop spheres: 2012’s Red, which she remastered and re-released last Friday as Red (Taylor’s Version). The new take on some of Taylor’s biggest hits, as well as the addition of eight new bonus tracks, has taken the music world by storm for much of the last week. As such, two of the Prep News’s resident Swifties have wrapped up in their red scarves to offer their thoughts on the album.
Of the album’s 31 tracks, the one that has emanated into pop culture most over the last week has been “All Too Well (10 Minute Version),” which chronicles Swift’s ill-fated relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal and was released alongside an accompanying short film. Though the relationship met its demise over ten years ago, the release of the extended track provided more insight into the causes of their break-up. Musically, the song is reminiscent of songs off of Taylor’s recent indie-pop albums, featuring a slow blend of acoustic guitar, piano, violin, and drums that provides a perfect base for Taylor’s tell-all lyrics and iconic vocals.
This ten-minute masterpiece, which Gyllenhaal has yet to tear up, was turned into a short film written and directed by Taylor herself. It stars Sadie Sink as a girl, symbolizing a young Taylor, plus Dylan O’Brien as an unshowered, misogynistic heartbreaker. We do not recommend viewing this film until you have already purchased a pack of Red (Taylor’s Version) tissues from her online merch store. Otherwise, once equipped with this essential, you are morally obligated to enjoy the film with a group who will not judge you when your heart is broken like a promise, and your tears begin to ricochet.
The album is a roller coaster of emotions, making Swifties happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time. The album is a conflicting mix of heartbreaking, emotionally taxing ballads and the kinds of hits that make you want to dress up like hipsters and fall in love with strangers. The juxtaposition of her softer, tearful songs like “Treacherous” and “All Too Well” between the marvelous tunes of “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “22” make for a harrowing journey through the album.
While Swifties were ecstatic for the re-release of their favorites from 2012, a highlight for many was the new release of vault tracks that did not originally make the cut. The first vault track added was “Nothing New,” featuring indie rock singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers. This particular song surprised many fans because of the amount of time dedicated to Bridgers. In past collaborations, as with the features of artists like HAIM and Colbie Caillat, Swift has dominated the track, with her supporters simply providing background vocals. For “Nothing New,” however, Bridgers was given a verse and a chorus, which allowed her to show off her immense vocal talent.
Another shining star of the vault tracks rose to view this past Monday morning with the surprise release of a music video directed by Blake Lively: “I Bet You Think About Me.” This country ballad, with tinges of pop, had flown under the radar initially, but now it is being analyzed and admired from every angle by fans.
The Taylor Swift fandom is notorious for conspiracy theories, as Swift is known for subtly dropping easter eggs for future projects or deeper insight into her songs. While often many of the theories expressed on Twitter or Tiktok never come to fruition, Swifties have not been deterred, because every so often, they hit the mark. The “I Bet You Think About Me” music video had a plethora of symbols that point to what may be her next re-recording, or even an entirely new creative endeavor.
In short, Red (Taylor’s Version) has music that can be enjoyed by all, with music ranging from slow moving, tear-jerking ballads to remastered versions of some of the early 2010s’ biggest hits. Even if you typically don’t find yourself enjoying Swift’s music, give this album a shot. It’s good, we promise.
AP’s faves: 22, Stay Stay Stay, Starlight, The Moment I Knew, Nothing New, Message in a Bottle, Forever Winter, The Very First Night, All Too Well (10 Minute Version)
JC’s faves: Red, Treacherous, 22, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, Everything Has Changed, All Too Well (10 Minute Version)
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