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Rant and Rave: Taylor Swift was ‘Red’-y to break our hearts

The long-awaited re-recording of Taylor Swift’s decade-old album Red (Taylor’s Version) is finally here. Released last November 12, Swift’s latest musical work historically broke Spotify’s record for the most streamed album by a female artist, making her the most streamed female artist in a day during its release week. Along with this, Swift continues to break her own records, as she wins Favorite Female Pop Artist and Favorite Pop Album in the American Music Awards (AMAs) 2021, raising her award tally to 34 and keeping her title as the most awarded artist in AMA history.

Initially released in 2012, Red was noted as having a mix-and-match of genres. As she slowly drifted away from her country roots, her fans were introduced to Swift’s versatility in creating music for, quite literally, everyone. Today, Red (Taylor’s Version) gives us the same romantic and heartbreaking quips. The album delivers on its promise to give a nostalgic and warm feeling while being sonically better at the same time.

A masterpiece renewed

The album speaks of reminiscence and nostalgia as if it’s suddenly the 2010s and we’re back to the autumn of 2012. People are again singing along to the lyrics of Red, 22, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, and I Knew You Were Trouble

From the album’s name, as well as its lead single, Swift managed to define what young, passionate love means to her: burning red. The album brings bittersweet memories of first love, heartbreak, anger, and regrets. Vivid flashbacks of old pain and buried pieces of emotional baggage also resurface, and each song perfectly encapsulates the complexity of heartbreak, with each line tugging at people’s hearts. 

Most of the songs had already been heard before, but fans were still eager to listen, which contributed to the album’s numerous streams. What most have noticed, however, were Swift’s changes to her tunes. One such example is Girl At Home’s musical makeover; instead of keeping the song’s original country tune, Girl At Home (Taylor’s Version) sounded more pop and upbeat. 

The Grammy-winning songstress also added unreleased songs “From The Vault”, featuring Phoebe Bridgers, Chris Stapleton, and Ed Sheeran, which shows Swift’s masterful songwriting prowess. While other artists are straightforward in the message they want to convey, Swift likes to play with words and metaphors. Her impeccable storytelling and attention to detail, in effect, draw listeners to appreciate the melody, the lyrics, and her artistry. 

One such example is when she describes a man as a rich spoiled brat, where she says, “You grew up in a silver-spoon gated community,” in I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault). Meanwhile, she describes a special relationship kept hidden through the lyrics, “You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath,” in the 10-minute version of everyone’s heartbreak anthem, All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)

Are you real?

Speaking of All Too Well, one of the biggest surprises to fans, otherwise known as Swifties, was the All Too Well: The Short Film, which features lovers unbound by time—with Sadie Sink and Dylan O’ Brien playing Her and Him, respectively. 

The short film explores a relationship that began with two people loving one another unconditionally, even wondering if it were actually real and not made up by their minds. With the song, the story finds a young girl in a rather imbalanced and manipulative love affair, which was perfectly interpreted by Sink and O’Brien.

Just like any short-lived romance, a rollercoaster of emotions ensues: the love that was supposed to last, the endless fights, and the end that everyone saw coming but chose to ignore. 

Although it’s unknown if the story is her own, Swift’s direction of the film makes the audience feel, remember, and understand every emotion almost all too well. She brings audiences to tears at the end of the film with her directorial debut. Shedding light onto situations that many around the world have gone and continue to go through, Swift chose the perfect time to release both masterpieces. 

As always, she knew exactly how to place the audience in a hurricane of emotions. Frankly speaking, we all loved it.

Glimmering white, burning red

Being the master of tricks she’s always been, the singer-songwriter made one more surprise announcement: a music video for one of her From The Vault songs, I Bet You Think About Me. Collaborating with Blake Lively and Miles Teller, Swift managed to create yet another entrancing tale infused with the distinct love-and-loss theme.

At the song’s peak, Swift showcases the beauty of growing and healing from heartbreak through impactful lines such as “But it turned out I’m harder to forget than I was to leave.” The wedding is drowned with the sudden change of the setting’s dominant color from white to red.

With just two colors and six minutes of runtime, the music video conveys a multitude of symbolisms and emotions which leave the audience in awe. Thanks to the wonderful directorial skills and the collaborative dynamic between Lively and Swift, the music video is successful in making the newly released song even more magical.

Worth the wait

With two re-recorded albums down and three more to go, Swifties are left wondering what the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter would re-record next. Swift’s decision of twisting some of her greatest hits, as well as adding songs that weren’t able to make the cut in the 2012 version, has made it clear that she is determined to make the most out of the freedom she now has over her music. This newfound freedom has opened many doors for Swift as Red (Taylor’s Version) becomes her 10th number one album on the Billboard 200 chart. This album also broke the record for the fastest accumulation of four number one albums on the chart for a solo artist—and it only took her 68 weeks.

The surprises that she had generously prepared for Red (Taylor’s Version) might even be just the beginning of many more; if these remastered albums are anything to go by, then the strong anticipation for what’s to come will certainly not leave anyone disappointed. 

The album effectively captured the hearts of many fans, both old and new. Whether or not one has gone through a similar type of heartbreak, listening to the album is an emotional experience unlike any other. Thus, Red (Taylor’s Version) is, without a doubt, a heartbreakingly beautiful masterpiece. 

Rating: 4.0/4.0

By Alessandra Pauleen Gomez

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