Taylor Swift released Red (Taylor’s Version) two weeks ago, on November 12th, and I’m still recovering. Actually, I’m still recovering from Folklore (2020), but that’s besides the point.

For context, Red (Taylor’s Version) is a re-recording of Swift’s classic 2012 album, Red. She’s working to re-record all of her music so she actually holds ownership over her creations (yay, women!). Red is my favourite album of all time and, somehow, Red (Taylor’s Version) tops it. There’s just something about Swift’s matured vocals that brings the whole thing together.

Of course, with these re-recordings come what Swift has termed the Vault tracks, or songs that she wrote for Red but didn’t end up putting on the album. I’ll admit it, I didn’t love the Vault tracks on Fearless (Taylor’s Version), but the ones on Red (Taylor’s Version) are incredible. I’m going to deep-dive into each of them, so I hope you’re ready for an exorbitant amount of parentheses. 

“Ronan (Taylor’s Version)”

This song is kind of a Vault track, but also not really? This track wasn’t on the original Red, but Swift did originally release it in 2012 as a charity single to help fight cancer. The lyrics are based on Maya Thompson’s blog about her three-year-old son, Ronan, who died of neuroblastoma. 

I’m not sure how I feel about Swift re-recording this one, to be honest, but it’s still really good. The chorus, “Come on baby with me we’re gonna fly away from here,” gets me every time. Unsurprisingly, this is just a deeply sad song about a harrowing story. 

I give “Ronan (Taylor’s Version)” 8 out of 10 stars.

“Better Man (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”

“Better Man (Taylor’s Version)” is my favourite Vault track—aside from “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault),” obviously. You know a Taylor Swift song is gonna be good when it’s just short of five minutes long. 

Man, this one is incredible! Her vocals just sound so good and the song is honestly heart wrenching. “Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I can feel you again / But I just miss you and I just wish you were a better man” hits every time. 

I give “Better Man (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” 10 out of 10 stars.

“Nothing New (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault) [feat. Phoebe Bridgers]”

I really, really love this one, too. Upon the first few listens, I wasn’t the hugest fan, but after a while, the song really grew on me. My favourite Taylor Swift songs are often the ones I only like on the fifth or sixth listen. Phoebe Bridgers is the perfect feature on this one—it has the same vibes as her songs.

This song is just really interesting, lyrically—it’s about wondering if the world will still want you when you’re not a shiny new toy anymore. Obviously, this is something Swift has struggled with, as she reinvents herself in each album, enacting a new “era” with a new haircut and style. I think it’s really important to think about how we pressure female singers to be young and new, lest they lose their value.

“How can a person know everything at 18 / But nothing at 22,” also hits. Gives me “Betty” from Folklore vibes.

I give “Nothing New (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault) [feat. Phoebe Bridgers]” 9 out of 10 stars.

“Babe (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”

“Babe (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” is also a weird one—Swift did originally write this track for Red, but Sugarland released it in 2018, featuring Swift’s vocals. Anyway, I guess Swift thought she’d sing it for herself.

I do like this song and think it’s catchy, but it’s not my favourite. I’m slowly learning that I really love all the choruses on these Vault tracks—which is weird, as usually I’m more a fan of the verses and bridges—but I don’t love this one. The lyrics are just a little repetitive. I do think the line, “You really blew this, babe,” is funny. 

I give “Babe (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” 7 out of 10 stars.

“Message In A Bottle (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”

This one slaps. I can’t listen to it without bopping my head. It’s become one of my housemate’s favourite Taylor Swift songs of all time for this very reason. I like the boppy vowels in the chorus. Very good. 

I don’t love this song because it’s very unlike Swift’s style, in any of her albums. There’s just not much to it. No line in particular jumps out at me. But, the song is still super fun.

I give “Message In A Bottle (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” 7.5 out of 10 stars.

“I Bet You Think About Me” (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”

This is another one that I like more and more with each listen. The beat is catchy without being poppy, and I love the country twang. I kind of think it’s like a yee haw “I Almost Do.” I also find this one quite funny, and full of powerful images. Every time I hear it, I laugh at the “organic shoes” line. Plus, the music video was really good. I mean, Blake Lively and Miles Teller? Come on.

I give “I Bet You Think About Me” (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” 8 out of 10 stars.

“Forever Winter (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”

“Forever Winter (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” was one of my initial favourites, and I stand by it. This track has a stellar title, cool trumpets, and I just love the line, “I’ll be summer sun for you forever.” I originally took it to be about an ending relationship, but I now see it’s clearly much deeper than that, and it’s incredibly sad. This song hurts my heart just like “Ronan (Taylor’s Version)”—you can hear the aching in her voice.

I give “Forever Winter (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” 9.5 out of 10 stars.

“Run (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”

This one is good, too. I love that it’s the first song Swift and Ed Sheeran wrote together. “Run (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” just sounds very authentic and stripped-down, and I’m a huge fan. Swift and Sheeran’s voices sound so nice together. 

I forget about this one sometimes, but every time I listen to it, I remember why I love it. Also, why is every song on The Vault about snow and/or running away somewhere?

Anyway, I give “Run (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” 8 out of 10 stars.

“The Very First Night (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”

This one is SO GOOD. I think it’s more of a bop than “Message In A Bottle (Taylor’s Version),” to be honest. It makes me want to jump around in the street. I listen to this song whenever I walk to class and freak out passersby by bopping my head right off my neck.

I don’t have much to say about this one, except that it has 1989 (2014) vibes in the best way. I mean, “the note on the Polaroid picture?” This is yet another clue that 1989 (Taylor’s Version) is next. Harry Styles, I can’t wait for the feature.

I give “The Very First Night (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” 9.5 out of 10 stars. 

“All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” 

Here it is. The Big Kahuna. I wasn’t kidding about the parentheses. 

“All Too Well” is my favourite song of all time. Naturally, I lost my mind when Swift announced we were finally getting the original, ten-minute version. She had to cut the song down for the original Red, obviously, because releasing a ten-minute song is ridiculous. Somehow, though, “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” doesn’t even feel long. Only the title does.

“All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” is even better than “All Too Well”—I honestly didn’t think it was possible. Every new line rips my heart out of my chest and shreds it to pieces with a butter knife. The first time I listened to this, “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 21” made me cry. I can picture the spot I was standing in when I heard it. Now, though, it’s the “And I was thinking on the drive down / Any time now, he’s gonna say it’s love / You never called it what it was,” part that gets me the most. 

And “And I was never good at telling jokes / But the punchline goes / ‘I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age’”? Jake Gyllenhaal isn’t coming back from that one. Good riddance—he didn’t even come to her birthday party. 

I give “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” 11 out of 10 stars.

Kudos if you made it to the end of this ridiculously in-depth review of Red (Taylor’s Version). This album has clearly consumed slightly too much of my brain space these last couple weeks and will likely continue to for a long while.

Give her back the scarf, Maggie!


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