By: Samson Bajakian, Student Contributor (‘24)

What would an elementary school-era suburban lifestyle look like without the presence of the cheesiest – and best – of Taylor Swift’s “Red” album? Originally released in 2012, many of Swift’s titles made the cut for second graders’ CD collections and iPod music libraries alike, and with the popularity of the iPod rising rapidly, being capable of essentially carrying Taylor in your pocket enabled the formation of a generation chock-full of the “Red” album’s endlessly melodic lyrics. 

Over the next nine years, millions of copies of her albums flew off shelves and to the top of the radio charts. “Red” marks Taylor Swift’s crafty comingling of her country and pop music phases – two genres she appears to have long-time domination over – in a cohesive and nearly addicting way. Reportedly, the artist’s only issue with this album was her lack of ownership of it. American music executive Scooter Braun obtained full rights to Red when he acquired Swift’s old record label. Although Braun has sold ownership of the original recordings to a Disney investment firm, he continues to gain royalties from the master recordings owns the first five of her studio albums. After unsuccessful negotiations, Swift commenced with rerecording and rereleasing her first 5 studio albums to regain control of her music library. To distinguish rereleased albums with their original, Swift has included “Taylor’s Verison” in the album title in addition to the original title. Previously released fan-admired songs such as “Love Story” and “You Belong with Me” both from the Fearless (Taylor’s Verison) released in April 2021, have received (or again received as the rerecordings are identical to the originals) immense praise in their relaunched versions. 

Nearly nine years after its original release, Red, Swift’s 4th studio album, was rereleased on all platforms. November 12, 2021, marked the revival of an iconic musical era where a country-pop hybrid album reigned over other uninteresting, bland radio hits. As if that wasn’t riveting enough, songs that never made it onto the 2012 release of Red were included in Red (Taylor’s Version), such as “I Bet You Think About Me (feat. Chris Stapleton)”, “Forever Winter”, and “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)”. Red (Taylor’s Version) is two hours and ten minutes of pure nostalgia. 

According to many Swifties, the fan-favorite song has been the extended version of “All Too Well”. Taylor Swift performed this version live for the first time on Saturday Night Live. Only she would be able to take a song already so emotional and chillingly vulnerable and recreate it; not only in a way that sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard before but also in a way that reminds you of the original form of this classic. Swift can relate her life’s roadblocks to those of her fans through her thoughtful songwriting in this composition, making the song easy to listen to, cry to, and relate to. On top of all of that, Swift released a new music video for the new version of “All Too Well” featuring her directing and incredibly talented actors Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien who portrayed the toxicity of Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal’s relationship (ending in early 2011), which “All Too Well” rumored to be about.

However, some songs simply didn’t impress as others did. “The Very First Night (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)” sounded more like it was written for the movie “Frozen”, and lacked a cohesive, general thematic message. The vagueness of the lyrics suggests that the relatability factor was the selling point. I would love to understand what Swift meant by “I wish I could fly / I’d pick you up and we’d go back in time” (0:48). The lyrics are so cliche that I can feel my heart rate increase in annoyance when “The Very First Night (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)” comes on shuffle. Purchase of this song should also come with a complimentary EKG machine.

Not every minute of any album can be perfect, though, and it’s important to consider that every individual interpretation of the album’s songs is subjective. However, Taylor Swift is one of few pop artists who can consistently create albums with minor flaws. Overall, there are more upsides to this rendition than there are downfalls. Regardless of the few fumbles new songs included on the rerelease, dubbed “From The Vault” by Swift, Red (Taylor’s Version) is still one hundred percent worth the listen; whether from a hard-core Swiftie or a relatively new fan.