Review: “Red (Taylor’s Version)” ignites as masterpiece


Caitlyn Richey

In a digitally constructed image created by senior graphic designer Caitlyn Richey, a photo of Swift from 2012 stands next to the words “Red (Taylor’s Version).” “Red (Taylor’s Version) released on Friday, Nov. 12, nine years after the original “Red” album was released. “It never would have been possible to go back and remake my previous work, uncovering lost art and forgotten gems along the way if you hadn’t emboldened me,” Swift posted on social media. “‘Red’ is about to be mine again, but it has always been ours. Now we begin again.”

To put it simply, “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” is a masterpiece. While it’s extremely long, you can’t even tell. It goes by so fast but you feel like you’ve gone through so much. The new lyrics add more depth and details to the song and make it even more devastating. I would definitely call it the best on the whole album, and even some of Swift’s best work overall.

A 10-minute long song should not be good.

No one should have to listen to a song for 10 minutes long. So, when I first heard that Taylor Swift was releasing the 10-minute-version of “All Too Well,” I was skeptical. Sure, I love “All Too Well” as much as the next Swiftie, but I just couldn’t imagine sitting through such a long song without getting bored.

To my absolute surprise, though, I loved the song. It shot up to best song on the album – even one of Swift’s best of all time.

Swift released “Red (Taylor’s Version)” Friday, Nov. 12 – nine years after she released the original “Red” album. The album is two hours long featuring nine new “From the Vault” tracks, including the 10-minute version of “All Too Well.” With the album, Swift also released a short film to accompany “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” starring Dylan O’Brien and Sadie Sink, and a music video for “I Bet You Think About Me.

Like “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” there isn’t a difference between the original “Red” songs and the re-recorded ones. However, the “Red” vault songs were absolutely amazing. I was blown away by them. I wasn’t a huge fan of all the “Fearless” vault songs, but I loved the “Red” ones.

While all the songs on the album sounded amazing – her voice sounded much more mature and clear – I’ll specifically discuss the newer songs on the album below.

All Too Well (10 Minute Version): To put it simply, this song is a masterpiece. While it’s extremely long, you can’t even tell. It goes by so fast, but you feel like you’ve gone through so much. The new lyrics add more depth and details to the song and make it even more devastating. As I said above, I would definitely call it the best on the whole album, and even some of Swift’s best work overall.

I love the new verses and lyrics, and could talk about them forever. But, what really surprised me was the outro. It’s about two minutes long and it features Swift chanting “I was there, I was there” with variations of, “Wind in my hair,” “Sacred prayer” and a few other lyrics. Something about it is subtly haunting. The combination of her soft voice and the piano are amazing, and make me think of reminiscing on a past relationship – the perfect end to the song.

All Too Well Short Film: This was just as amazing as the song. The film told a whole story of a relationship in only 13 minutes. Not only was it incredibly well-done, but the acting was phenomenal. Sink and O’Brien were perfect for the roles, and it felt incredibly authentic. I’m a fan of O’Brien, but I absolutely hated him in the film. The way he gaslighted his girlfriend made me so angry. On the other hand, it was so easy to feel a connection with Sink’s character. She didn’t say anything until halfway into the movie, yet I felt I understood her immediately.

“I wanted to tell a story of a coming of age moment that I feel like I, and a lot of my friends and people that I know have had, when you’re about 19 or 20,” Swift said as she described the story behind the short film. “You’ve got this very unique moment in life where you’ve got one foot in childhood and one foot in adulthood, and you don’t quite know where to stand. That moment is so fragile and so formative. It was really important to me to tell that story.”

Ronan“Ronan” isn’t exactly a “vault” song since it was released as a single in 2012. However, it wasn’t included in the original album. The song isn’t really memorable, but Swift did write it about a three year old boy, Ronan Thompson, who died of cancer, which adds a whole new meaning to the song. It just makes the song so much more sadder as you listen to the lyrics with this in mind.

When Swift decided she wanted to include this song on the re-released album, she contacted Maya Thompson – Ronan’s mom – via email saying, “Red was an album of heartbreak and healing, of rage and rawness, of tragedy and trauma, and of the loss of an imagined future alongside someone. I wrote Ronan while I was making Red and discovered your story as you so honestly and devastatingly told it. My genuine hope is that you’ll agree with me that this song should be included on this album. As my co-writer and the rightful owner of this story in its entirety, your opinion and approval of this idea really matters to me, and I’ll honor your wishes here.”

After the release, Thompson tweeted, “I am sobbing. It is so painstakingly perfect.”

Better Man: This song is really calming to me, and I really like it. It’s sad in a very understated way, as the production is simple, so the lyrics really set the tone of the song. In the song, Swift sings about reminiscing on a past relationship, as she wishes he were a “better man” so that they could be together.

Nothing New (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)This song is also sad, but honestly kind of boring. I don’t really care about Phoebe Bridgers, so the collaboration didn’t really excite me. Bridgers voice sounded a bit odd to me at first, but it did grow on me slightly. It’s not a bad song at all, just something I’d probably skip, since all the other songs are way better. I can definitely understand why this one wasn’t included on the original album.

BabeI’m going to be completely honest and say that I also don’t really care about this one. It wasn’t bad or good to me, I just don’t really have any thoughts on it. I would skip this one as well.

Message in a Bottle: I was absolutely in love with this song from the opening beats alone. It’s so unique and fun, and is one that I think so many people can relate to.

“Songs for me are like a message in a bottle,” Swift said in an interview during the original album’s release. “You send them out to the world and maybe the person who you feel that way about will hear about it someday.”

Could she have said it any more perfectly?

I Bet You Think About MeThis song sounds much more country than her others, reminding me of her debut album. I’m not a fan of country, so I’m also not a huge fan of this song. It also features a male backup singer, which was pretty trippy to hear. I’m not sure if I like it or not.

Forever WinterI absolutely adore this song. It sounds like a classic Taylor Swift song, almost like it came off of her “Fearless” album. It’s really catchy, and the lyrics are, as per usual, great. The song comes from the point of view of someone who loves someone else, who is going through severe mental health struggles.

Run (feat. Ed Sheeran)As someone who isn’t an Ed Sheeran fan, hearing Sheeran start the song off by saying, “One, two, three, go” did not make me want to listen to the song. However, Sheeran had a somewhat small role in the song, singing only a short verse and acting more as a backup singer for the rest of the song. I wouldn’t say this was anywhere near the best of the “vault” songs, however, I did enjoy it.

The Very First Night: This song is incredibly fun, and just has great vibes. My only criticism is that it’s placed right before “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” and gives me a bit of emotional whiplash. I absolutely love it, though, and wish it had been on the original album.

Overall, the vault songs were amazing, with the 10-minute version of “All Too Well” being the highlight. It’s the best by far, and a song I’ve had on repeat since the album’s release.

Right now, I don’t know what Swift will release next, but I can only hope that it can live up to the masterpiece that “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is.

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