Credit: Pitchfork

Albums of the Year 2021: Red (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift

By Collaborative

Last but by no means least, Taylor Swift’s singular vision is made crystal clear on our final album of the year: Red (Taylor’s Version).

Marking an epochal moment in the most recent leg her career, Taylor’s return to 2012’s Red highlights her musical and emotional maturation. Bringing to light both previously unreleased tracks, as well as fresh interpretations of her classic anthems, Red (Taylor’s Version) is a two-hour masterclass in pop songwriting. 

Rachel Campbell, Books Editor: Taylor Swift’s cultural impact has been undeniable this year. With Red (Taylor’s Version) she changes the game, both in how she fights the corrupt music industry by rerecording the songs which were taken from her, and how she pushes the limits of what an album can be. By rerecording her albums, Taylor gains back the rights to her music, and simultaneously sheds light on how young musicians are taken advantage of. Red (Taylor’s Version) is not only full of the old songs many of us have adored for years, improved by Swift’s matured vocals; but tracks which at the time were cut due to archaic views held by her previous record label. Taylor breaks free of convention, saying an album can be as long as you want so long as it holds the listeners attention, which Red (Taylor’s Version) does with ease thanks to its sonic variety and heartfelt lyrics. She extends this theory to songs as well, with the addition of the 10-minute version of All Too Well, a track which quickly became the longest song ever to reach number one in the Billboard Hot 100. Its success highlights Taylor’s unmatched ability to tell compelling narratives in her songs, showing she has never lost touch of her country roots. With the creation of a short film to accompany the track, Taylor again pushes boundaries, creates beautiful art, and constructs a Red era every bit as iconic as the first time round.

Sampurna Roy, Writer: Red (Taylor’s version) became one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year following its announcement back in March. Adding fuel to the fire was Swift’s announcement that she would be adding on ten new songs onto the classic heartbreak album which were cut from the original, including, of course, the heavily requested ten-minute version of All Too Well. This album was quickly noted as a fan favourite back in 2012, as this was the project that cemented Swift’s identity and talent as a songwriter and storyteller. I was only ten years old when I ran to buy Red when it first came out and, even though I could barely understand the meticulous imagery and metaphors back then, now at 19 I scream the words a little louder having fully appreciated the way that Swift manages to sum up complex feelings in such little words. 

“Adding fuel to the fire was Swift’s announcement that she would be adding on ten new songs onto the classic heartbreak album which were cut from the original…”

For most Taylor Swift fans, this album and it’s “spill over”– as she once described it – of genres is a masterpiece that the world never quite understood the first time. It holds a type of nostalgia that the re-recordings let us enjoy guilt-free. It also means that we get to watch the previously hidden gem of the album All Too Well becomes not so hidden, and fans fill in more pieces of the story she elaborates on in the ten-minute version. Not only do the re-recordings mean that Swift can rightfully own her own art, but it also gives fans a chance to relive this album through an older lens and fall in love with it all over again.

Jordan Hunter, Investigations Editor: Red (Taylor’s version) is uniquely 2021. While time seemingly flies in the pandemic era, remembering that Red was released nearly 10 years ago reminds us all how far we’ve come. While the initial album felt like an awkward transition for Taylor from the queen of Nashville to global pop stardom, it has nevertheless been well remembered by her fans. While many criticise the new re-records, they show how she’s changed and give fans much more of what they want. All Too Well for me has traditionally been a deep cut that has gone under-appreciated, however, the new 10 minute version gives the fans everything they want and more. In these trying times we all need to remember how much we’ve grown, what it means to feel, and what Red is all about.


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