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'Red (Taylor's Version)' triumphantly reclaims Swift's music in style

Taylor Swift’s beautiful lyrics and improved vocals prove that "Red (Taylor’s Version)" is one of the best albums of the year, even as a rerelease. – Photo by Taylor Swift / Instagram

The recent longing looks fastened on starry-eyed passersby on strolls down College Avenue aren't just an inevitable side effect of impending finals-season-scaries, but almost a sure sign of being enveloped in the autumnal universe of one of the greatest releases in all of music history: "Red (Taylor’s Version)." 

"And I’ll never/Be the same," Taylor Swift emotionally sings in the first track of the album, "State of Grace (Taylor’s Version)" — and with the release of the heart-wrenching 30 songs, totaling 2 hours and 10 minutes of love, loss and redemption, anyone who dares to listen won’t ever be the same either. 

"Red (Taylor’s Version)" is the rerelease of her 2012 album "Red" as part of Swift's mission to regain ownership of the six records she released under the label Big Machine Records — records later sold to Scooter Braun, who has public beef with Swift. 

In an interview on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" before the months-anticipated drop, Swift explained that she had always wanted to own the rights to her music, which is why she's unconventionally rerecording her albums, including songs that didn’t make their original track lists. "I just figured I was the one who made this music first, I can just make it again," she said.

Her latest rerelease received a five-star rating in a Rolling Stone magazine review and an 8.5 on Pitchfork, and has been topping charts since its debut.

It’s no secret that most of the songs on "Red" are allegedly about Swift’s relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal. A very small faction of people argue that perhaps Swift should stop rehashing years-old heartache by readily referencing Gyllenhaal in her newer work. Others refute this, saying that artists are often fueled by intense feelings like heartbreak, even years after the fact. 

And besides, Swift’s burns thrown at Gyllenhaal are funny, and can make any listener chuckle in admiration of Swift’s revenge — or cringe in second-hand embarrassment for him. Swifties have also made jokes that range from light-hearted teasing to downright bullying Gyllenhaal.

Meyers cheekily asked if Swift thinks that the rerecording might bring up some hard feelings for those who the songs might be about. Swift replies, without missing a beat, "I haven’t thought about (their experience), to be honest."

Swift herself has said the album explores a lot of genres, but the rerelease took the opportunity to streamline some of the original version's genre-bending by focusing on more acoustic vibes and less synth-like sounds.  

Older songs on the album like "Begin Again (Taylor's Version)" and "The Lucky One (Taylor's Version)" gain a new level of richness by being rerecorded. Swift’s naivety and raw pain are powerfully portrayed with both her improved vocal performance, and the hindsight that the years since have offered.

Pop hits like "22 (Taylor's Version)" and "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together (Taylor’s Version)" feel more mature with the updates, but still hold onto the fun, carefree energy that balances out the heartbreak of songs like "Sad Beautiful Tragic (Taylor's Version)," "The Moment I Knew (Taylor's Version)" and the infamous "All Too Well (Taylor's Version)."

New songs added — or tracks "from the vault" as Swift calls them — include newer artists like Phoebe Bridgers. "Nothing New (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)" is one of the most lyrically intense songs Swift has ever created, and Bridgers’ morose tone is the perfect complement to Swift's lyrical depth. The song explores girlhood, and what it’s like to grow up under the intense criticism so many young women face.

"How can a person know everything at 18/But nothing at 22?" Bridgers and Swift lament. How indeed? This question hit dangerously close to home for many, especially because it’s the same one that most college seniors find themselves wondering as they prepare for their lives outside of university.

But the most important and noteworthy rerecording is indisputably "All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version) (From the Vault)," which is one of Swift’s most popular songs. The 30th and final song on "Red (Taylor’s Version)" was a long-awaited 10-minute version of the hit.

But the 10-minute version of "All Too Well" is not just a song — even calling it a poem would fall short. It’s a journey, a transcendental music experience and a way of being. The lyrics are simply divine. The imagery is perfect. The feelings are entirely relatable. The song makes one feel the familiar emotions of loss, pain, love and bitterness along with Swift through her gorgeous prose. 

An article about "Red (Taylor’s Version)" without mention of the short film released 7 hours after the initial album drop would be incomplete. "All Too Well: The Short Film" is a 14-minute-and-55-second masterpiece that stars "Stranger Things" actress Sadie Sink and "Teen Wolf" actor Dylan O’Brien.

The short film paints a beautifully heartbreaking picture of a relationship’s deterioration, and adds a new level of perfection to the original song. 

Many have noted the similarities between the characters in the film and the real-life Swift and Gyllenhaal, and it’s hard to not see it that way. O'Brien dons the familiar Gyllenhaal beanie and flannel, and Sink has Swift's signature light face of makeup with a bold red lip.

"All Too Well: The Short Film" is a gorgeous piece of media that viewers will surely watch and rewatch alone in their room with a bottle of wine and enough fallen tears to fill up the glass again.

Some may mistake that the rerecorded album’s brilliance is solely gained through maturity and Swift's hindsight, byproducts of a project being touched again almost 10 years later. Although these factors have certainly played some part in the album’s genius, the most obvious reason for the popularity of something that’s already been released is Swift’s undisputed position atop the charts and intense fanbase.

A woman scorned is releasing her art the way that she intended, and the way it's pissing men off (namely Gyllenhaal and Braun) with its success is nothing short of delicious. Old Swifties and new ones alike are enjoying the album itself and Swift's reclamation of her music — no matter who it upsets.

Swift is finally gaining ownership of the music that she worked hard to create. What makes "Red (Taylor’s Version)" so incredible isn’t just its relatability or raw quality, but rather, the fact that it’s truly Taylor’s version – her art, her vulnerability, her vision.

So, don your berets and turtlenecks, put on your ankle boots and knee socks and grab that latte to romanticize your life on the next LX while you revel in the beautiful intensities and never-ending fall allure of "Red (Taylor’s Version)."


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