Here's Every Candid Thought I Had While Listening to Red (Taylor's Version)
Happy Red (Taylor's Version) release to all who celebrate! I didn't think it was possible to top an already classic heartbreak album, but Taylor Swift has certainly done just with her second re-recorded album, Red (Taylor's Version), released Friday, Nov. 12. Between "All Too Well (10-minute version) (Taylor's Version)," All Too Well: The Short Film, and previously unheard vault songs that feature incredible artists such as Phoebe Bridgers, Chris Stapleton, and Ed Sheeran, my nostalgia-consumed brain cells are not doing all too well.
Teleported back to my 16-year-old self, I'm currently running through a gamut of emotions. Flutters of first true love, vulnerability, frustration, anger, hope, regret, sadness — you name it, and I felt it while listening to all 131 minutes (just Taylor Swift things!) of Red (Taylor's Version). Let's just say I'm currently curled up into a ball, sobbing hysterically, needing three-to-five business months to recover from the proxy heartache that I felt on this first full-length listen.
We had five months to prepare for the Red (Taylor's Version) release, but as it turns out, nothing could've prepared any Taylor Swift fan for this album! So, hydrate (you're gonna need it, trust me), grab a box of tissue, and tag along for the ride as I listen to Red (Taylor's Version) for the first time!
"State of Grace (Taylor's Version)"
- POV: You hear the opening drum beats, crisp electric guitars, her fuller vocals, and enunciation, and your soul leaves your body and levitates. You're in heaven.
- Tay finally owns more than half of her life's work: Yes, we're at the golden age of something right and good.
- I remember when Swift would open her world tours with the opening tracks off her latest album? RIP, LoverFest. You would've been something special. Just imagining her kicking things off with "I Forgot That You Existed," "The 1," or "Willow" is enough serotonin boost at this point.
"Red (Taylor's Version)"
- "Red" hits differently after hearing Taylor sing, "I once believed love would be burning red, but it's golden" in "Daylight" off Lover.
- Ooh, her inflection singing "I still see it all in my head"? I see you!
- I don't know whether it was the production technique or her somewhat teenaged voice, but her music before 1989 sounds somewhat muffled. Here, her vocals are heavenly and crystal clear without upstaging the production. *chef's kiss*
"Treacherous (Taylor's Version)"
- I was most excited to hear this song from the standard edition because of its visceral lyrics. I can confirm I have literal chills.
- It's the extended "Cruel Summer"-esque bridge that flows into a climactic outro for me.
- Do you hear those cymbals crashing? Ethereal.
- "Forever going with the flow, but you're friction." AHHH.
- Note how this song smartly prefaces "I Knew You Were Trouble," her taking responsibility for her part in ignoring those red flags. What must it be like to grow up this wise?
"I Knew You Were Trouble (Taylor's Version)"
- This song found me, you found me, you found me-e-ee-ee-eee!
- Raise your hand if you can't block out the goat meme that went viral when the song first came out in 2012 from invading your headspace while listening to this song? *raises hand*
- Taylor's signature high-note pose lives rent-free in my head every time I hear this bridge after watching her iconic 2019 AMAs performance.
- Taylor stunning everyone by leaping from country to dubstep with this song in 2012 is still legendary to me.
- Now I'm lying on the cold hard ground.
"All Too Well (Taylor's Version)"
- Nothing — and I mean absolutely nothing — holds a candle to Taylor's evocative storytelling genius.
- She somehow sounds angrier in the rerecording? There's nothing like a "Mad Woman"!
- Witnessing Taylor's journey from her 2014 "All Too Well" Grammys performance up to her recent 10-minute SNL performance makes my heart burst with pride. I remember it ALL, ALL, ALL TOO WELL. *sobs hysterically*
- Her signature headbanging that has become synonymous with her live performances of "All Too Well" over the years is an accurate representation of me whenever I hit play on this song.
- Great, now I'm a crumpled-up piece of paper lying here!
"22 (Taylor's Version)"
- How did we get from "All Too Well" to "22," Taylor? Emotional rollercoaster, much?
- Me, a 25-year-old, as I strenuously straighten my aching back: "I don't know about you, but I'm feeling twenty-twoooo!"
- The 31-year-old Taylor singing, "Who's Taylor Swift, anyway? Ew!" gave me the biggest adrenaline rush I've experienced in months.
- Petition for Taylor to release a song about turning 30 so I can have something to look forward to.
"I Almost Do (Taylor's Version)"
- In a nutshell, this song documents how the entire Red album came to pass. She poured her heart out in these songs instead of giving in to her urge to run back to her ex. *fights back tears*
- The way my dramatic 16-year-old self related with the "I bet it never ever occurred to you that I can't say, 'Hello' to you and risk another goodbye" on a spiritual level after fighting with my best friend.
- I feel the newly-added resigned cadence as Taylor sings "It's probably better off this way" in my bones.
"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together (Taylor's Version)"
- I'm living for the extra snide "Trust me!" in this version.
- The way my mind automatically goes: "WeeeEEEE." Honestly, I don't even mind.
- Taylor sang, "You'll hide away and find your peace of mind with some indie record that's much cooler than mine," in 2012 and then went on to deliver the best-selling, critically acclaimed indie records Folklore and Evermore eight years later in 2020. I aspire to live up to that level of manifestation.
- Also, what does a girl gotta do to get a "WANEGBT" and "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things" Reputation world tour remix?!
"Stay Stay Stay (Taylor's Version)"
- Taylor reeled in her country twang in this version as it doesn't necessarily scream 2021, and I'm not mad at her.
- It's beyond satisfying to see Taylor sing the bridge in a whole new light now.
- Real talk: the production of this song always resembles the free copyright music available on social media in my mind. Do you feel it, too?
- I can visualize Taylor's child-like laughter in the studio when she sings, "That's so fun."
"The Last Time (Taylor's Version)"
- "The Last Time" walked so "Exile" could run. If you know, you know.
- Cut to me singing a dramatic rendition of both parts of this duet in the shower. Though, not going to lie, it's unsettling how my voice resembles Gary Lightbody's frequency more than Taylor's.
- The glow-up this production has had with its ramped-up drumbeats and twiddling electric guitars is enviable!
- I've always loved "The Last Time" bridge (something I say for every Taylor song ever made, TBH) — Taylor and Gary's voices playing off of each other's parts is the cherry on top of the sundae that is Red (Taylor's Version).
"Holy Ground (Taylor's Version)"
- In my mind, "Holy Ground" has always been the antithesis of "Delicate" off Swift's Reputation. This song is a cautionary tale of what happens when you rush through a relationship, which is the exact opposite of anxiously treading lightly during the "delicate beginning rush." (See what I did there?)
- "And I guess we fell apart in the usual way / And the story's got dust on every page." Yep, glad to report that the second verse still hits me like a truck.
"Sad Beautiful Tragic (Taylor's Version)"
- I've got three words for you — sad, beautiful, and tragic.
- I don't know how this is even possible, but the rerecorded "Sad, Beautiful, Tragic" sounds even more devastating as Swift's tangible frustration peaks in the bridge singing: "Kiss me, try to fix it / Could you just try to listen?"
"The Lucky One (Taylor's Version)"
- Listening to "The Lucky One" in 2021 was a bittersweet experience. It's the song that reflected Taylor's biggest fears about being in the public eye, and those fears came true not long after Red's release with all of the Kimye drama of 2016 that forced her into isolation, much like the subject of this song.
- Rumored to be about the veteran singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell (one of Swift's musical inspirations), this is one of the earlier songs that foreshadowed her impressive third-person storytelling at the forefront in her Folklore and Evermore albums.
- I swear I heard her spit out the words "splashed" and "young thing" in verse two. Whew! I can only imagine a slack-jawed Taylor punctuating the song with fury while recording it.
- BRB, currently processing the lyric, "'Cause you don't feel pretty, you just feel used" all over again.
"Everything Has Changed (Taylor's Version)"
- "All I know is you held the door / You'll be mine, and I'll be yours" — Do you think of your innocent childhood crush whenever you listen to "Everything Has Changed," or is that just me?
- It's clear how much Ed Sheeran's vocals have matured over the years, especially when you put on the 2012 version right before listening to this one.
"Starlight (Taylor's Version)"
- Ah, "The Last Great American Dynasty" of Red!
- Of course, the use of the word "marvelous" is Taylor winking at her fans.
- Not to be the loudest women this town has ever seen, but when Taylor sang, "He said, "Look at you, worrying so much about things you can't change," I felt that.
- I literally blurted out, "Oh my, what a marvelous tune!" How did Taylor know?
"Begin Again (Taylor's Version)"
- Staring out the car window, singing this song, and pretending to be in its Parisian music video is hands down among my favorite pastimes.
- "He always said he didn't get this song, but I do" — me spilling the tea to my friends on why I broke up with the guy who didn't like Taylor.
- *always tries to go to cute cafes on Wednesdays*
"The Moment I Knew (Taylor's Version)"
- Damn, her adult voice cuts deep.
- This song is the origin story of Taylor's classic "red lipstick" lyric. I'm looking at you "Wildest Dreams," "Style," "Blank Space," "End Game," and "I Did Something Bad."
- The addition of the cello in this version slaps!
- Normalize saying, "And it was like slow motion" whenever you want to unleash the inner drama queen inside of you.
- I'm now positive that the midnight dress the female protagonist wore in Evermore's "Happiness" is none other than the "party dress" mentioned in "The Moment I Knew."
"Come Back...Be Here (Taylor's Version)"
- "I don't wanna need you this way / Come back, be here" — every Swiftie pleading with Taylor to be more active on social media. Yes, she wrote it for us. Case closed.
- A personal fan of pacing the room at 2 a.m., Swift sets the scene at 4 a.m. here instead. The collapse!
- This song also got a shiny makeover in the rerecording. We keep winning!
"Girl at Home (Taylor's Version)"
- The old "Girl at Home" can't come to the album right now. Why? Oh, 'cause she's dead!
- Produced by Elvira Anderfjärd, who worked on the "Willow" remix, "Girl at Home" gets a hyper pop treatment now suitable for nightclubs. Who would've thought?
- "Girl at Home" and "Closure" are now vibing on the same level. And honestly? Good for them!
- The universality of this track speaks to me, though. Haven't we all seen guys hitting on other people despite being in an exclusive relationship? Ugh, men.
"State Of Grace (Acoustic Version) (Taylor's Version)"
- Talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show-stopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique, completely not ever been done before.
- "State of Grace (Acoustic Version)" is here to do me in on the off chance that I survived it before.
- The acoustic arrangement of "State of Grace" is more autumnal than the album opener. No, I won't be expanding.
- The slow vocalization of "So you were never a saint / And I've loved in shades of wrong / We learn to live with the pain / Mosaic broken hearts" gets me every time!
"Ronan (Taylor's Version)"
- "Ronan" was the first song where tears started trickling down my cheeks unannounced. Based on a bereaved mother Maya Thompson's blog about her 4-year-old son Ronan's death from cancer, Taylor released "Ronan" as a benefit for cancer research in 2012.
- I couldn't hear anything past the lyric, "And what if I kept the hand-me-downs you won't grow into?" as I was inundated with a flood of emotions.
- Taylor's shaky breath in "Ronan" hits a little too close to home after hearing her struggle to sing her 2019 Lover track "Soon You'll Get Better."
"Better Man (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)"
- I'm ecstatic that Taylor is *finally* giving us her original version of "Better Man," which found a home with the country group Little Big Town in 2017.
- "I know the bravest thing I ever did was run." Hello, "It's Time to Go" reference.
- "I hold onto this pride because these days it's all I've / And I gave to you my best, and we both know you can't say the same." OUCH.
"Nothing New (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)"
- Phoebe Bridgers, Taylor Swift, and Aaron Dessner — this song is the dream collaboration for every alternative music lover. I'm them.
- From its emotional lyrics to its perfect rhythm, this beautiful creation is a masterpiece. A hard-hitting feminist rage anthem of the likes of "Mad Woman" and "The Man."
- The way its accompanying music video shows an hourglass highlighting the palpable anxiety of time running out. I'm not crying, you're crying!
"Babe (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)"
- I'm LIVING for these harmonies that Taylor craftily ad-libbed and sprinkled throughout this rerecorded version of "Babe."
- Me, all day, every day: "What about your promises, promises, babe?"
- I believe in Red-headed Taylor supremacy, WBU?
"Message in a Bottle (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)"
- Ms. Taylor Alison Swift, are you telling me that this God-tier bop was just sitting around, gathering dust all this time? And baby, now we got bad blood!
- The title suggested that it would be a somber ballad, but, whoa, it's pop perfection.
- Very "Teenage Dream." I'm into it.
"I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)"
- Who's gonna tell Tay that she's all that I ever think about?
- Yee-haw fans, assemble!
- The harmonica? Say hello to "Betty 2.0," the snarkier version.
- You know how when you've moved on from the mourning period following a breakup, the rose-colored glasses are off, and you begin to see your ex for who they truly were? That's when you call your friends, pop open a wine bottle and blast this song while swapping trash stories about your ex. Very therapeutic. Highly recommend it.
- Now we have Mr. Perfectly Fine, Mr. Superiority, but the most pressing question is will we get a "Mister" trilogy in the upcoming vault songs? I NEED ANSWERS.
- "Oh my god, she's insane, she wrote a song about me." LOL. More like an entire album and a movie script, but okay.
- Extra points go to Taylor for singing "Beverly Hill" in a Southern accent.
"Forever Winter (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)"
- Though enveloped in upbeat production, the song's theme about how Swift lost someone she didn't know was struggling with mental illness behind closed doors is heartbreaking.
- "Forever Winter," "Champagne Problems," and "Renegade" are sisters. I don't make the rules.
"Run (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)"
- Two Ed Sheeran collabs in one album? What did we do to be this blessed?
- Is that a trampoline that I hear?
- Mesmerizing. Spellbinding. I'm a stan; you don't have to ask twice.
"The Very First Night (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)"
- If a relationship was a coin, "The Very First Night" is the good, happy side, with its flip side detailed in "All Too Well."
- It's a classic Taylor bop that makes you want to get down until you take in the emotional lyrics that make tears well up.
- I dare you to dare me not to say fly-yaayyy, sky-yayyyy. It's so catchy-yayyy. Oh, darn it.
"All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version)"
- The show-stopper of all show-stoppers. The 10-minute version utterly maimed me.
- It's not just a song. It's a lifestyle, it's a religion. It's a roadmap to my soul.
- Forget the scarf; what happened to that keychain?!
- There are deep cuts after deep cuts as the song flawlessly flows into verse 3, which feels like Taylor unlocking the portal to another dimension.
- It lives up to its 9-year long hype, delivering everything I wanted and so much more.
- Added transitions, vivid lyricism, and incredible production enhance its emotional intensity. Just take me now.
- "And I was never good at telling jokes, but the punchline goes: 'I'll get older, but your lovers stay my age.'" He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, who's laughing now?
- Those harmonies? 13/10 *chef's kiss*
- THIS OUTRO IS EVERYTHING! It ties the entire song together so well. I need it as a separate track, so it can lull me to sleep every night.
Red - Taylor's Version ($15) is now available on all major streaming platforms and anywhere albums are sold.