Taylor Swift’s RED still resonates with fans, almost a decade after its release
On Friday, Taylor Swift made Spotify history.
In line with her pursuit to regain ownership of old albums, the 11-time Grammy award-winner unveiled Red (Taylor’s Version); a re-recording of her 2012 album Red. Within one day, the re-recorded version got 90.8 million Spotify streams and topped the U.S. iTunes album chart.
Although it contains songs that weren’t on the original, most are tracks listeners already know. After all, the album’s record-breaking success is not entirely due to new content. The impressive storytelling also initially drew fans to Red, along with a newfound mature tone. This combination creates the appeal of Red (Taylor’s Version).
Swift described Red as an album about “pure, absolute, to the core, heartbreak.” Tracks like “The Last Time” explore romantic loss, while “Ronan” tells the true story of a child’s battle with cancer.
It’s not uncommon for artists to write about heartbreak, but no artist does it quite like Swift. While most artists might sing about an ex calling by simply stating the fact, Swift belts that he “calls [her] up again just to break [her] like a promise”.
As an experience, listening to the re-recorded Red album is not unlike reading Swift’s diary. Her lyrics contain details that, while mostly about her own life, make listeners feel seen. Whether it’s “singing in the car, getting lost upstate” with an ex or “standing there in [her] party dress in red lipstick, with no one to impress,” she understands it’s the small details that make memories notable.
Some lyrics are too flowery — the 10 minute version of “All Too Well” describes the idea that Swift’s ex had of her as “a never-needy, ever-lovely jewel whose shine reflects on [him]” — a line that’s equally confusing to hear as it is to read.
Most often though, the album is a spot-on depiction of the mixed emotions that come with heartbreak.
It makes it all the more satisfying to know that Swift, now 31, is in a loving relationship. Instead of the hurt young woman who recorded Red, the tracks on Red (Taylor’s Version) are sung by a woman who’s recovered from her past. For those of us going through similar pain, this detail is profoundly hopeful.
This new perspective is haunting in songs like “The Lucky One,” which Swift wrote about an unnamed star who chose a private life following media scrutiny. The song now mirrors Swift’s own story, after receiving overwhelmingly negative press coverage in late 2016, leading to her well-known disappearance and sixth album reputation.
Throughout Red (Taylor’s Version), there are happy songs reminding us of the joy that can still occur during heartbreak. The upbeat “22” and “Starlight,” as well as the gentle “Everything Has Changed” with Ed Sheeran are among the album’s dance breaks.
Red is more than an album. It’s a journey in itself — one that listeners are more than willing to keep taking — and for good reason, with the re-recorded version.