by Caroline McCarthy, Megan LaCreta, Jocelyn Visnov, Sports Editor, Asst. Features Editor, Asst. Production Editor
Blondie’s quick-witted hints and sly reveals have all led to the re-release of her fourth studio album, Red (Taylor’s Version), this Friday, Nov. 12. As any true Swiftie knows, Taylor Swift’s legal battle with her former record label Big Machine Records left her with the rights to her written music and lyrics, but without the rights to her 2012 recordings. Swift decided to re-record her first six studio records with the addition of never-before-heard “vault” tracks so that fans could continue listening to her music without supporting Big Machine. As Swift wrote in her Instagram post promoting the album, “Red is about to be mine again, but it’s always been ours.”
I’m not crying. You are.
State Of Grace (TV)
The “worthwhile fight” Taylor refers to in State Of Grace is actually no longer about anti-bathing Jake Gyllenhaal and is now her battle to own her music. Red (Taylor’s Version) takes on the pop-sound Swift fought for in the original album but was denied by Big Machine. State of Grace (TV) is a pop-hit that sets the tone for a new era of Red.
Hearing the familiar first few notes of Red for the first time again is an experience we didn’t know we needed. One of the more popular songs at the album’s original release, there aren’t many discernible changes to Taylor’s Version, but we can all be grateful for the chance to listen to this pop hit ethically, and maybe see it climb the charts once again.
Oh, “Treacherous.” The anthem for everyone who knows pursuing someone is a terrible idea, but does it anyway. The harmonies on the chorus in the re-recording add a whole new layer to the song, and somehow make it even more heartbreaking than before. It’s comforting to know that the lyrics are being sung by an older, wiser Taylor who seems to have found a relationship that doesn’t need to be treacherous to be exciting.
I Knew You Were Trouble (TV)
Back in 2013, Taylor confirmed that this song was written about ex-boyfriend Harry Styles. Despite staying cordial after their breakup, “And I heard you moved on from whispers on the street, a new notch in your belt is all I’ll ever be,” is quite the insult to Styles. Did you really know that he was trouble, Taylor? Did you?
All Too Well (TV)
Why are the Gyllenhaals holding her scarf hostage? Give it back. This whole album could’ve been avoided if he a.) gave the scarf back and b.) showed up to her birthday party.
Now age 31, Taylor reminisces on when she was feeling “happy, free, confused, and lonely” when she was, in fact, 22. For those who have been following Taylor since the original 2012 release, listening to this song 9 years later finds new meaning in the lyrics.
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together (TV)
The music video for this song was originally released in August of 2012. The quirky video made a bit of a stir, questioning some of Taylors filming choices. While the re-release of this song does not include the same antics, it is still among some of Taylor’s most iconic post-breakup anthems.
Stay Stay Stay (TV)
Almost a decade later, the final giggle and the quote “that’s so fun” that concludes “Stay Stay Stay” had a sense of maturity and contentment in Swift’s voice. Though she lacks her original country twang in the first verse, Taylor made the song feel new again, especially knowing how at ease she is with her current relationship as opposed to the emotional chaos surrounding her when she wrote the original record.
The Last Time (feat. Gary Lightbody) (TV)
“The Last Time” is a criminally underrated duet between Taylor and Gary Lightbody of the band Snow Patrol. The song was always one of the more lyrically mature tracks on the album, but hearing it re-recorded with Taylor’s more developed vocals really makes the ballad something special. Fans of Taylor’s recent collaborations with Bon Iver and The National will appreciate this throwback.
Holy Ground (TV)
Nothing much changed from the original version of “Holy Ground”… at least until the bridge hits. The change in Taylor’s tone since first recording Red is evident, displaying a richness and clarity not as present in the original. What has not changed, however, is the energy and addictive beat. I know I don’t want to dance if I’m not dancing to “Holy Ground.”
Sad Beautiful Tragic (TV)
Still sad, still beautiful, still tragic.
The Lucky One (TV)
Knowing how fame has affected Taylor in the years since Red first came out, especially in her experience with eating disorders and with her feud with Kanye West resulting in her being publicly “canceled” for a period of time, “The Lucky One” has so much more meaning. Her more private personal life, and her choice to write more music based on fiction in her albums “Folklore” and “Evermore” make a lot of sense in retrospect.
Everything Has Changed (feat. Ed Sheeran) (TV)
While everything in your life may have changed since the original release of this song, Taylor and Ed’s smooth harmonies remain the same. The only major change in this song in the re-release is the addition of a chorus of people doing background vocals in the singing of “Everything Has Changed” towards the end of the song.
“Oh my, what a marvelous tune,” indeed. This song includes both acoustic and electric guitar with a bit more of a pop-rock flare than the original release. Not her most popular song, but a good one nonetheless.
Begin Again (TV)
This version of “Begin Again” is toned down from the original, giving it a new bittersweet quality and an added complexity. It’s hard to move on, and 31-year-old Taylor, who is beginning again herself by re-recording her music, knows it. This new perspective changes the meaning of the song, and while I’m sad to see the old meaning go, I’m happy to begin again with Taylor’s Version.
The Moment I Knew (TV)
Have we said we hate Jake Gyllenhaal yet? Yes? Well, we can say it again. No matter how many years have passed since the original release, this track still hits just as hard.
“Ronan” is a charity single, which Taylor created by putting together quotes from a blog post by Maya Thompson, a woman who lost her young son to cancer and is credited as a songwriter for the song. This is one of those songs that are so filled with emotion that it’s almost hard to listen to, but it’s so wonderfully written you have no choice but to simply sniffle your way through it.
Better Man (TV) (From the Vault)
This song gives off a similar message to Ariana Grande’s “Thank u, next.” Another song clearly written about an ex-boyfriend, Taylor acknowledges that while she misses her past relationship, she knows she’s better off without him. If you’ve dealt with heartbreak recently, feel free to play this song on full blast alone in your room. We won’t judge.
Nothing New (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) (TV) (From the Vault)
The long-awaited collaboration between these two iconic songwriters did not disappoint. Bridgers is a star, and her voice pairs beautifully with Taylor’s. What makes “Nothing New” even better is how Taylor’s first collaboration heavily featuring a woman unpacks the unique experience faced by female artists of aging out of interest from the public (or maybe aging out of interest from predatory men… looking at you Jake Gyllenhaal).
Babe (TV) (From the Vault)
“Whaaat a shame!” that Taylor originally gave this song to Sugarland. It was meant for her. The new background vocals echoing “what about our promises, promises” turn this country masterpiece to a country-pop sensation.
Message In A Bottle (TV) (From the Vault)
“Message In A Bottle” is guaranteed to be a pop hit. The beat is infectious and reminiscent of “1989,” the album that followed Red and went on to become the most awarded pop album of all time. Until Taylor gets around to releasing more re-recordings, we’ll have “Message In A Bottle” to fill the “1989” shaped hole in our hearts.
I Bet You Think About Me (feat. Chris Stapleton) (TV) (From the Vault)
Keeping this track locked in the vault was a crime against anyone trying to get through a heartbreak over the past decade. Taylor’s harmonies with Stapleton, backed by a folksy harmonica, are the basis to this country break up anthem for everyone who knows their ex couldn’t possibly be over them. I bet we’ll be thinking about this one for a long time.
Forever Winter (TV) (From the Vault)
Wow. Many of the lyrics of this song are just as cold as the title would suggest. It tells the story of a messy heartbreak happening in real time. Taylor does an excellent job of explaining exactly how she was feeling in that moment.
Run (feat. Ed Sheeran) (TV) (From the Vault)
They don’t make duos like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran often. The singer-songwriters’ voices and songwriting styles mesh beautifully, and Run is the culmination of that perfect partnership. Also, did anyone else catch the motif of the locket in “Run” paralleling the same locket motif in Sheeran’s 2014 hit, “Photograph”?
The Very First Night (TV) (From the Vault)
The new pop-country crossover we didn’t know we needed. In my opinion, Taylor’s 31-year-old voice seems a bit too mature for this song. But, when you’re screaming the lyrics in the car you can barely hear it anyway!
All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (TV) (From the Vault)
“All Too Well” has been the reigning heartbreak anthem for over a decade. It encompassed everything from unrequited love to leaving a part of yourself (or your scarf) behind as a relationship ends. And in case you didn’t think it could get more sad, Taylor chose not to release the full length version… until now. With new lyrics including “Any time now he’s gonna say it’s love. You never called it what it was,” “All Too Well” (10 Minute Version) is even more heart wrenching than before.