Photo Courtesy of RTT News
By Angela Hickey
Taylor Swift proves once again that she is the best in the music industry, breaking records with the recent release of her re-recorded album Red (Taylor’s Version).
“I’ve always said that the world is a different place for the heartbroken,” Taylor Swift wrote in a statement earlier this year, in which she revealed that the next album she would be releasing would be Red (Taylor’s Version). “It moves forward on a different axis, at a different speed.”
Originally released in October 2012, Red was Swift’s fourth studio album. An honest portrayal of young heartbreak, showcasing every painful aspect of fracturing romance, Swift’s typical country sound became imbued with everything from dubstep to rock, laying the groundwork for the run of fully-fledged pop albums that would follow. She has since said that the album resembles that of a “heartbroken person” trying to piece together the “mosaic of feelings” those moments create.
Swift began this journey of re-recording her albums in response to a dispute between her and her old record label, Big Machine, who sold off her master recordings to famous talent manager Scooter Braun for $300 million. This sale included the recorded masters and ownership of Swift’s first six albums, everything from her 2006 self-titled record up to Reputation (2017). Sharing a statement on social media back in 2020, the artist explained that she had been unsuccessfully trying to regain ownership of her master recordings, but her music had been sold off without her knowledge.
“For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work,” she wrote of her experiences with Big Machine. “Instead I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and ‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in. I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future. I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past. Music I wrote on my bedroom floor and videos I dreamed up and paid for from the money I earned playing in bars, then clubs, then arenas, then stadiums.”
The announcement that Swift was re-recording her albums came in August 2019, followed soon thereafter by the announcement and release of Fearless (Taylor’s Version) earlier this year.
Red (Taylor’s Version) largely follows in the footsteps of Fearless (Taylor’s Version), celebrating the music of Swift’s past without making any major changes. It is not an effort of rethinking and tweaking old songs, but an action to take back ownership of her own music. Swift even had a chance to add previously unreleased vault tracks to the album, including the 10 minute version of her popular track “All Too Well,” which was originally teased in an interview back in 2012.
The original version of “All Too Well” was considered an inside look into every intimacy of a failed relationship, live in excruciating detail. In the 10 minute version, however, Swift goes into painstaking detail of every piece of the relationship, leaving no stone unturned as she reflects on her past love and how it shaped her into the person she became. And fans are absolutely living for it, considering it has already reached over 12 million streams on Spotify alone.
Accompanied with the album came a 14-minute short film for “All Too Well” starring Stranger Thing’s Sadie Sink and notable Teen Wolf actor Dylan O’Brien. The film, which Swift wrote and directed, was shot on 35mm film by cinematographer Rina Yang and set to the 10-minute song.
Swift took a much more emotional route this time around with her vault tracks, featuring artists such as Ed Sheeran, who was originally featured on the album in “Everything Has Changed” and was now newly featured in Swift’s vault track “Run,” and Phoebe Bridgers, who performed a verse on Swift’s vault track “Nothing New”.
The re-recorded Red (Taylor’s Version) made Spotify history on its first day of release, becoming the most-streamed album in a day by a female, with more than 90.8 million global streams, numbers that Spotify confirmed with Billboard. With this success, Swift topped her previously held record with 2020’s Folklore, which in its first day saw 80.6 million streams.
Red (Taylor’s Version) is a masterpiece, and Swift is undertaking a feat unlike any other. Her matured yet timeless vocals add a new life to the songs she spent her youth singing, and her life experience makes these pieces all the more powerful to listen to. Whether you’re listening to the re-records or the unheard vault tracks, the entire album is a long-awaited masterpiece that was completely worth the wait.
Red (Taylor’s Version) is available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music, and there are physical copies available in stores nationwide.