Red (Taylor’s Version) – Nearly One Decade Later


Beth Garrabrant

Red (Taylor’s Version) broke the Spotify record for most-streamed album in a day by a female, with 90.8 million streams.

Mia Hua, Culture Editor

Taylor Swift’s rerecorded album “Red (Taylor’s Version)” smashes records and breaks hearts with both rerecordings of the original songs and new recordings of never heard before songs (also known as “From The Vault”). 

Back in 2019, Swift announced her plan to rerecord her old albums under the Big Machine Label Group after Scooter Braun, her old producer, bought the masters to all six of her albums without Swift’s permission. Since Braun now owned those masters, he would retain most of the profits made from fans streaming or purchasing copies. However, Braun’s actions hurt Swift more because he essentially stole her art. She wrote in a Tumblr post on June 30th, 2019 giving her own perspective: “For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work. … I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past. Music I wrote on my bedroom floor and videos I dreamed up and paid for from the money I earned playing in bars, then clubs, then arenas, then stadiums.” 

With her rerecordings, she hopes to not only protect young artists from falling into the same traps but also revisit her old albums and rerelease them the way she wanted to, so many years ago. Swift assigns incredible importance to the presence of “(Taylor’s Version)” behind every rerecorded song because it signals that she owns that song. 

On June 18th, 2021, Swift baffled fans with her announcement of “Red (Taylor’s Version)” in this Twitter post: 

For some background, the original album contains 22 songs, whereas the rerecording has a total of 30 songs. The 30 songs contain 20 of the original songs (she didn’t include the two demo recordings included in the original) and 10 new tracks. She intended for the 10 tracks to be on the original record, but they didn’t make the cut the first time because the album would’ve been too long. But, with the rerelease, Swift can take more liberties with what she wants to include; the 10 new songs, called tracks “From The Vault,” bring more depth to the album. 

Swift changed the release date from November 19th to November 12th. On the new release date, she tweeted about the power of rerecordings alongside a link to listen to “Red (Taylor’s Version).”

The first 20 songs follow a very similar style to the original songs because her goal was to prevent people from listening to the original, stolen version. But, despite her attempt to mimic the original version, the rerecordings inevitably differ from the original. 

To start, I noticed almost immediately the increased production quality. Not only does the audio sound much fuller, but Swift’s voice is much clearer as well. For example, well-loved songs like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together (Taylor’s Version)” and “22 (Taylor’s Version)” notably have fewer backing vocals than the original version, showcasing her voice. 

Furthermore, Swift’s voice changed significantly over the 10 years between the original release and the rerecordings. She underwent significant vocal training a few years ago and her voice has matured with age, which both contribute to her singing quality. Songs like “State of Grace (Acoustic Version) (Taylor’s Version)” and “Sad Beautiful Tragic (Taylor’s Version)” demonstrate a new control over her voice that isn’t present in the original. While the youthfulness of her voice in the original album adds to the emotional impact of each song, I actually find that her matured voice only improves the song. Swift’s confidence in her singing ability may have something to do with the prominence of her voice over the music in this album. 

Most songs have a similar sound with an updated audio production with clearer instrumentals, which I appreciated. “Girl At Home (Taylor’s Version)” marks one shocking difference. The original song was a guitar-filled, country-esque song, whereas the rerecording has more of a pop beat. I personally liked the original version better, but I also appreciate the rerecorded version, too. 

The vault tracks showcase a deeper version of what emotions Swift felt during the creation of the album. While the original songs formed a mostly cohesive album transitioning Swift from a country singer to a pop star, the vault songs arguably stray away from that hybrid sound, either skewing more towards country or more towards pop. For example, “Babe (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” and “Better Man (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault),” both songs that she handed off to other singers originally, have a country feel to them, whereas “Message In a Bottle (From The Vault) (Taylor’s Version)” sounds like a proto-1989 track. “Nothing New (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” pulls at heartstrings when Swift and Bridgers harmonize, “How can a person know everything at eighteen/But nothing at twenty-two? And will you still want me when I’m nothing new?”

The shining jewel of “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (From The Vault) (Taylor’s Version).” Yes, it’s a mouthful. But, it’s a long-awaited masterpiece ever since fans connected with the original All Too Well. A heartbreaking song about a relationship gone wrong, Swift released a normal length (five minute) version, cut to the bare bones. Originally, she had written a 10 minute version but feared that no one would listen to a 10 minute long heartbreak ballad. Now, after fans changed the song for Swift from a song chronicaling the lowest point in her life to the song that brings so much love for her fans, we finally get access to the full song, including new, even more tragic verses. They feature complicated, loaded lyrics: “They say all’s well that ends well but I’m in a new hell/Every time you double-cross my mind” and “Did the twin flame bruise paint you blue?/Just between us, did the love affair maim you, too?” come to mind. Swift proves, yet again, her talent as a songwriter. Additionally, Swift released “All Too Well: The Short Film,” starring Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien, which she directed. The film depicts the tumultuous relationship that Swift herself had with her boyfriend at the time. 

As a long-time Swiftie, I absolutely love how the vault songs bring the original album to the next level. “All Too Well” was my favorite song on the original album, and the new 10 minute version is everything I could ask for. I personally love Swift’s music because of the lyrics she writes, and “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (From The Vault) (Taylor’s Version)” delivers.  

I thoroughly enjoyed the rerecording, from the improved vocals to the new vault songs. I admire Swift’s endeavor to rerecord her albums, showing the music industry that artists should own their work, and I listen to “Red (Taylor’s Version)” on repeat! 

Finally, it wouldn’t be a proper article about Taylor Swift without mentioning the leadup to the release of “Red (Taylor’s Version),” which proved both heart racing and anticlimactic for fans. Swift is known for hiding secret Easter Eggs in her social media posts, everything from posting on a certain day to the number of holes in a fence. One key feature of her Easter Eggs include numbers adding up to 13 (Swift’s favorite number). Swifties, the name for Taylor Swift fans, are known for cleverly figuring these Easter Eggs out. 

The inclusion of her fans in her upcoming releases makes being a Swiftie rewarding. Swift didn’t release any lead singles, so fans had to patiently wait until the release date. That doesn’t mean Swifties didn’t go crazy searching for possible Easter Eggs… But, the anticipation was well worth it. On November 12th, alongside the release of album, she did interviews on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” and she performed as the musical guest on “Saturday Night Live.” Plus, she released an official music video for “I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version).” This influx of content kept dedicated fans like me glued to their computers for hours and hours. 

Ultimately, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is a resounding success. As a Swiftie, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to an album that Swift herself owns, and the vault tracks add an extra cherry (or 10) on top.