It’s time for another brand new edition of my Tay-Tay Top Five, and today I’m looking at the re-recording all Swifties had been waiting for – Red. Ever since June 2021 when Taylor Swift announced the album was to be released that November, we were all on the edge of our seats. Then, a few months later, she announced the release was being brought forward by a week, and we collectively lost our shit just that little bit more. Yes, the 12th November 2021 was a date that all Swifties will remember – the day we all cried our eyes out at All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault).
Red (Taylor’s Version)
Red (Taylor’s Version) features the complete 20 tracks from its first release in 2012 (including the tracks from the Deluxe Edition), along with an additional 10 From The Vault tracks, including Ronan and the widely fan-requested 10 minute version of All Too Well. The album broke several records on its release in November, becoming the most streamed album in a day on Spotify by a female artist, with over 90.8 million streams globally. She also earned the title of the first female to surpass 100 million streams per day on the platform. YAAAAS QUEEN.
Information correct at time of writing.
Release Date: 12th November 2021
Producers: Taylor Swift, Christopher Rowe, Shellback, Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff, Elvira Anderfjärd, Paul Mirkovich, Dan Wilson, Jeff Bhasker, Jacknife Lee, Butch Walker, Espionage, Tim Blacksmith, Danny D
Label: Republic Records
My Top Five
- All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)
- I Bet You Think About Me (feat. Chris Stapleton) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)
- Ronan (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)
- The Last Time (feat. Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol) (Taylor’s Version)
- Everything Has Changed (feat. Ed Sheeran) (Taylor’s Version)
Honourable Mentions: State of Grace (Acoustic Version) (Taylor’s Version), Message in a Bottle (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault), Better Man (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault).
All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)
I think we all knew this one was going to top the list. The re-release of Red was one thing, but for every Swiftie out there, the 10 minute version of All Too Well truly was the icing on the cake. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from it, but fuck me, it did not disappoint. The first thing that’s noticeable is the set-up of the song – initially, it feels much more stripped back, but it builds in intensity until you’re an emotional wreck, leaving you lying in a pool of your own tears (just like that crumpled up piece of paper – AM I RIGHT?). I wasn’t sure what to expect with the additional lyrics and when to expect them, but rest assured I learned them in full in less than 3 days. It’s almost like you’re in the car with someone who’s driving down a route you know incredibly well, but all of a sudden, they take a sudden turn you don’t know. It’s different, but bloody hell, it’s amazing. It’s almost as though the initial version of All Too Well tells the story of a past relationship that the female protagonist looks back on with a slight fondness, but this version goes even deeper, describing the sheer toxicity of that relationship and the complete turmoil she was put through.
Alongside the release of All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault) (sorry, I feel I need to give it the full title because this song deserves all the fucking respect in the world), Taylor also dropped All Too Well – The Short Film, which broke my heart even more than the opening 10 minutes of Up. As Swifties, we wouldn’t expect anything less, but oh my god, it matched the song BEAUTIFULLY. The acting, the Easter eggs, the cinematography, it was just perfection.
It’s hard to say exactly what my favourite lyrics are, but there’s this whole bonus bridge that comes after “You call me up again just to break me like a promise…” that just makes you want to cry and scream while gripping your steering wheel as you drive:
“They say all’s well that ends well
But I’m in a new hell every time
You double cross my mind
You said if we had been closer in age
Maybe it would have been fine
And that made me want to die
The idea you had of me – who was she?
A never-needy ever lovely jewel
Whose shine reflects on you
Not weeping in a party bathroom
Some actress asking me what happened
You – that’s what happened, you
You who charmed my dad with self-effacing jokes
Sipping coffee like you were on a late night show
But then he watched me watch the front door all night
Willing you to come
And he said “it’s supposed to be fun turning twenty-one”
Of course, it’s well known that the song is allegedly about Taylor’s three month relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal, although it’s never been confirmed. I’m not saying that’s definitely the case, and I doubt it will ever be confirmed. What I will say though, is this: FUCK YOU JAKE.
I Bet You Think About Me (feat. Chris Stapleton) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)
I Bet You Think About Me is just the classic post-break up sass we know and love from Taylor, and it very quickly became one of my favourite songs on the album. It’s a song for those that loved her original country-style music, and it almost feels like a more “grown-up” version of Picture to Burn. I love how you can instantly get this whole “fuck you” vibe from Taylor in her lyrics, and it’s plain to see that she has zero fucks left to give, poking fun at the ex-lover she refers to in the song. In fact, one of my favourite lines on the entire album is “In your house, with your organic shoes and your MILLION DOLLAR COUCH…” because of the extra emphasis she gives it. Plus, who can forget those iconic final lines: “When you say ‘oh my god, she’s insane, she wrote a song about me,’ I bet you think about me.” I remember listening to it for the first time and I remember stopping work in shock of such an absolute BURN.
Can we also take a moment to appreciate the music video? It’s one of the most visually satisfying music videos I’ve seen with its vibrant and highly apt red colour scheme, and, in classic Taylor style, it’s packed with Easter eggs.
Ronan (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)
Ronan is a song which I was well aware of previously, but had never actually heard. For those who don’t know, Ronan is a charity single that Taylor wrote based on the blog of Maya Thompson, who lost her three year old son, Ronan, to neuroblastoma when he was just three years old. Taylor wrote the song using quotes from Thompson’s blog, crediting her as co-writer, and all proceeds were donated to Stand Up To Cancer. Prior to re-recording Red, Taylor wrote to her, asking permission for Ronan to be featured on the album, which she granted. Of course, Ronan is an incredibly difficult listen, especially if you’ve lost someone to cancer yourself, and it’s the emotion from this heartbreaking soft rock ballad that has earned it a place in my top five. It’s so rare that a song literally has you in tears after the first few lines, and to have that power over someone who isn’t even a parent really says something about the writing. Listening to the song just had my heart completely breaking for any parent who has gone through such a loss.
The Last Time (feat. Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol) (Taylor’s Version)
If you’ve read my post on the 2012 version of Red, you’ll know how much I loved The Last Time, featuring Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody. While Swifties everywhere were all eagerly anticipating the 10 minute version of All Too Well, I was also anticipating the re-recording of The Last Time, and I wasn’t disappointed. The track begins with this melancholy, haunting piano production, but gradually builds in intensity with the help of brass and string instruments, bringing the song to an emotional crescendo. As I’ve mentioned before, the themes in the song – a darkly romantic ballad that illustrates a crumbling relationship – are very similar to that of Exile (feat. Bon Iver), which featured on 2020’s Folklore, so this updated version almost seems to bring things round in a full circle. You can hear the maturity in Taylor’s vocals throughout the song, and, I don’t know if it’s just me, or the re-recording itself, but it feels as though the track itself has this richer, more intense sound. For that reason, it immediately earned a place in my top five.
Everything Has Changed (feat. Ed Sheeran) (Taylor’s Version)
Everything Has Changed brings back memories of university friendships as our time together drew to a close, so hearing this brand new version nine years on felt far more emotional than it should have been. Ed and Taylor’s relationship is proper friendship goals, and of course, in 2012, his career was still fairly new (his debut album, +, being released just that year prior). Fast forward to 2021, and seeing him return to collaborate with Taylor on this song just brings with it all the feels. As with The Last Time, the maturity in both Taylor and Ed’s voices is instantly apparent, and it feels almost representative of how their careers and personal lives have changed over the years, giving it this extra layer of emotion. Long story short, it had me crying in my car.
Where do we start? Not only were the re-recorded songs from the 2012 release absolute perfection, but the From The Vault tracks were just next level. So much so that disc two of the album has been in my car CD player non-stop since I got it for Christmas. Not surprisingly, my honourable mentions all go to From The Vault tracks. Let’s start with the acoustic version of State of Grace. State of Grace was never really my favourite song on Red, but as soon as I heard this acoustic version, it instantly rose into my top five. When you think about it, the difference between this version and the original is a fairly simple one – the anthemic rock-style has been replaced with a slower, more stripped back set up – but it just takes the song to this whole new level. The slower pace really brings out the vocals, the lyrics and the meaning behind them, while the steady drum beat in the background adds this extra layer of intensity. We’ve also got the absolute bop that is Message in a Bottle, one of the more up-tempo numbers on the album, which I just love because it’s got this light and frothy pop feel to it, so it’s a really good song to listen to when you a bit of a pick me up. Finally, there’s Better Man, another song that feels as though it takes us back to Taylor’s country roots. Taylor originally wrote the song for American country band Little Big Town, and I must admit I’ve never heard this version, but to be honest, Taylor’s version is pretty much all you need in your life. It’s a great song to belt out while you’re driving and I love the musical arrangement of the track.
All in all, Red (Taylor’s Version) is an absolute bloody masterpiece. Not only is it packed with nostalgia from the original Red era, but each track feels fresher and you can hear the maturity in Taylor’s voice on so many of them. There’s a fantastic range of bonus tracks on the album, but there’s no denying that the one that stands out the most has to be the 10 minute version of All Too Well, which is the song we were all waiting for, and features some of Taylor’s most brilliant lyrics in her entire repertoire.
What are your thoughts on Red (Taylor’s Version)? Let me know your favourite tracks in the comments!
Catch Up with the Rest of My Tay-Tay Top Five Series
Fearless (Taylor’s Version) (2021)
Folklore – The Long Pond Studio Sessions (2020)
Speak Now (2010)
Taylor Swift (2006)