Ram Jams: Taylor Swift Comes Full Circle With ‘Red’

Swift rereleases her 2012 classic album “Red” and transforms it into a pop manifesto



“Red (Taylor’s Version)” is Taylor Swift’s re-release of her 2012 album, and the songs have aged well.


Genre: Pop, Country 

On a Playlist With: Phoebe Bridgers, Adele, Carrie Underwood 

The season of fall is upon us — and so is the power of Taylor Swift. On a mission to own all her albums again, she is re-recording her first six albums, with “Fearless” released earlier this year. 

“Red” began Taylor’s transition from country to pop, and the re-release takes me back to my elementary-school solo singing iconic hits like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “22,” as if I was in a relationship and not 8 years old. With an album full of bitterness, love, loss and an alleged vendetta against Jake Gyllenhaal, Swift made us feel miserable and magical all at the same time.

In an Instagram post announcing the album re-release earlier this year, Taylor Swift said that “the world is a different place for the heartbroken.” The unreleased tracks from the vault and the new lyrics in “All Too Well” perfectly depict the mosaic of feelings that Taylor Swift was experiencing in her early 20s, and she does an excellent job at digging up forgotten emotions from her past relationship. 

The most anticipated song on the album, the 10-minute version of “All Too Well,” is an incredibly vulnerable, cinematic piece of art — surpassing the heartbreak fans felt in the original version of the song. The new lyrics walk us through Swift’s relationship (fans assume with Jake Gyllenhaal) with someone who is much older than her. 

There are no discretions between Swift and her fans this time. She doesn’t filter her emotions in this poetic song, and it surpasses any expectations fans had when she originally mentioned the 10-minute version of “All Too Well” back in 2012. 

She flashbacks to her 21st birthday party, where her boyfriend failed to show up. She sings, “It’s supposed to be fun turning 21,” making her hit song “22” a more significant part of the storyline of “Red” — a celebration of a new age and healing from old wounds. 

Now, “All Too Well” is a piece of art that she is happily celebrating with her fans.

Listening to this new version of “All Too Well” feels like watching a film; accordingly, Swift released a short film for the song starring Dylan O’Brien, Sadie Sink and herself. The film actually premiered in New York City’s AMC Lincoln Center. 

The film follows O’Brien’s character breaking young Sink’s heart — Sink being a stand-in for Swift — and Sink’s progression through the breakup. Fans see shots of the couple fighting, kissing, having fun together and ultimately breaking up. The film ends with the protagonist’s older self (played by Swift herself) presenting her book “All Too Well,” which is implied to detail the experiences of her relationship. 

The ending signified how the meaning of the song changed for Swift. When “All Too Well” was first released, Swift was unable to perform it without crying; now, it is a piece of art that she is happily celebrating with her fans, just like the reading at the end of the short film where Swift as an author presents her story to readers. 

Fans get to hear how much Swift’s voice has progressed over the years.

The way Swift beautifully conveys her feelings resonates with her fans in such a magical way. “Nothing New” with singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers perfectly encapsulates being a college student entering adulthood. As they sing together, “How can a person know everything at 18 / But nothing at 22,” they encompass how it feels to grow older and not have the slightest clue what you’re doing. 

Although it’s now recognized as a pop album, the songs from the vault in “Red” feature Swift’s signature country style. “I Bet You Think About Me” is a duet with Chris Stapleton where Swift mocks her ex’s “cool indie music concerts” and “organic shoes.” We finally get her own versions of “Babe” and “Better Man,” which were country hits that Swift gave to other artists (Sugarland and Little Big Town) to record. “Girl At Home,” which was originally recorded as a country song, transforms into pop/electronic on the re-recorded album. She captures the essence of the 2012 version of Red with her playful background laughter and comments throughout the songs, while creating a more refined production. 

The singles from the album, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” “22” and “I Knew You Were Trouble,” feature a more mature, adult voice. The music is more hollow as Swift’s voice is heard more clearly with the music in the background. Fans get to hear how much Swift’s voice has progressed over the years. Swift’s laugh after the lyric “with some indie record that’s much cooler than mine” in “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” has increased significance in the re-recording due to the release of her indie-folk, Grammy-winning album “Folklore.” “I Knew You Were Trouble” features a fierce electric guitar — signifying her transition to pop music. 

“It was bold, it was crazy, it was out of control, it was passionate, it was important.” Taylor Swift

Finally, we get to her title track “Red.” When asked why she called her album in 2012 “Red,” Swift replied that the colors mentioned in the song correlate with all the emotions that she had felt writing this album and during her breakup. Loving him was red; as Swift says, “It was bold, it was crazy, it was out of control, it was passionate, it was important.” 

The red emotion was the most important part of the album because it incorporated all the good and the bad that she had been through in her relationship. This song is more rock and electronic than the rest of the songs — emphasizing the boldness and experimentation with which she wrote the album. 

It’s amazing to see how far Swift has come with “Red.” This was the album that turned me into a Swiftie. I remember watching her “All Too Well” performance at the Grammys and seeing the tears run down her face — and now, the song holds a special place in her heart because of the fans and their relationship to the song. Swift has come full circle and has matured with her emotions — love was “burning red” to her but now it’s golden, as she sings in her song “Afterglow” from her eighth album, “Lover.”

This bittersweet album perfectly encapsulates the feeling of love, loss and fury. Nine years after its original release, Red still captivates fans, and I think I speak for all Swifties when I say that we can’t wait to see this “Red” era begin again.

The Bottom Line: Taylor Swift’s version of Red portrays her growth in character and maturing in voice, and the momentum the album is receiving essentially depicts Taylor’s ever-growing popularity in the music industry. 

The Peaks: “Nothing New,” “All Too Well (10 Minute Version),” “Red,” and “Babe” 

The Valleys: “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “Forever Winter” 

The Verdict: 10/10