Autumn leaves are falling down, and Taylor Swift has come with the perfect album for those looking for their fall heartbreak. Whether you’ve just had your heart shattered into a million pieces, or want to pretend just for a night, "Red (Taylor’s Version)" is the perfect album for you.
"Red (Taylor’s Version)" released on all music streaming services and in physical form on Nov. 12, over eight months after Swift’s first re-record, "Fearless (Taylor’s Version)," which was released back in April. "Red (Taylor’s Version)" features over two hours of music, comprising of the 19 original songs from the first album, as well as 11 songs from "The Vault,” including the long awaited 10 minute version of the fan-favorite song “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault).”
Though the album did not feature a lead single prior to its release, which has been controversial amongst Swift’s fanbase, this choice definitely worked in the favor of "Red (Taylor's Version)," in my opinion. "Red (Taylor's Version)" is an album that is best enjoyed all at once, with all its whirlwinds, so releasing a single—even a Vault track or two similar to "Fearless (Taylor’s Version)"—would disrupt this flow. Not only this, but the lack of a lead single helped build anticipation, as fans were constantly on the edge of their seats hoping to hear the new version of their favorite songs.
It isn’t just the lack of a lead single that helped build anticipation, either. Swift seemed to have every company and icon fans could think of—from Duolingo to the Empire State Building to Sour Patch Kids—on her team for the release of "Red (Taylor's Version)," with each company releasing their own witty tweets or TikToks about the album. Swift even partnered with Starbucks to release her own drink for the release weekend, fittingly named the Lat-Tay.
Beyond brands, Swift and her team have worked hard to keep her fans engaged, even without a lead single. Swift’s merchandise store seemed to have new releases at least once a week leading up to the album, as well as announcing a short film based around the song “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)” for fans to enjoy on the album’s release day.
Although Spotify crashed when the album first released, I was able to get a listen in. And for lack of better phrasing, this album feels like a punch in the gut. The original version of "Red" was heartbreaking as is—Swift describes it herself as her only true breakup album—however this version had me crying for well over the two-hour run time.
Like "Fearless (Taylor’s Version)," the album itself does not feature many lyrical or melodic changes. However, "Girl at Home (Taylor's Version)" had been changed to have much more of a pop sound, which had been the sound Swift had wanted for the song. Overall, though, the songs are much fuller and crisper in their sound.
Standout songs for me were “Stay, Stay, Stay (Taylor's Version),” “Begin Again (Taylor's Version),” “Starlight (Taylor's Version),” “Nothing New (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)”—a song from the Vault which features Phoebe Bridgers—and of course, the ten minute version of “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault).” I will admit I am a bit biased, since “Begin Again” is my favorite song from "Red," however the rest of the songs still stood out to me with their instrumentals and vocals. “Nothing New (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)” had been especially exciting, since it is the first song where a female artist that dueted with Swift had a verse.
However, a couple songs did fall flat for me. “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together (Taylor's Version)” has been joked about mercilessly by Swift’s fans, especially on TikTok, because of how awkward one part of the chorus sounded. The lyric “We-eee, are never ever getting back together” sounded as though it had been heavily auto-tuned, and while I found it playful and fun, it is extremely jarring in comparison to the original. “I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault),” a Vault track featuring country music artist Chris Stapleton, had also been jarring, since the song sounded like it fit better on Swift’s debut album or "Fearless," rather than "Red (Taylor's Version)." However, the entire album was incredible, and has little to no skips.
“All Too Well (Taylor's Version)” remains a fan-favorite from "Red (Taylor's Version)," however, the 10-minute version of the song added so much depth to the heartbreaking, tragic relationship Swift describes. Originally, the song had been 24 minutes long, but was then condensed to 10 minutes, before being condensed to the radio length. This extended version is absolutely heartbreaking, with an extended metaphor of death to describe the failing relationship and lines such as, “you kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath,” to destroy the hearts of listeners.
The beauty and pain of “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)” is only exemplified by the short film Swift released, which starred Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien. Though Sink and O’Brien are never given names beyond Her and Him, it’s clear Sink is acting as a stand-in for Swift in this film, and O’Brien is most likely a stand-in for Jake Gyllenhaal, Swift’s ex and alleged inspiration for a portion of the album.
This film is absolutely stunning, and the actors are incredible in their roles. The film uses both the song and original dialogue—as well as title cards that describe the timeline—to carry along the plot of this couple’s relationship falling out in flames. Sink and O’Brien were perfectly cast, most likely showcasing the unnerving age gap that existed between Swift and Gyllenhaal either visually or through dialogue. Sink in general was a phenomenal actress, and my heart shattered several times with her character because of her acting.
“All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)” was not the only video Swift released following her album’s release on Nov. 12. On Nov. 14, Swift tweeted a teaser trailer for the music video for another Vault track, “I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault),” which was directed by Swift’s long-time friend and ex-"Gossip Girl" star Blake Lively. The video dropped 10 a.m. the following day, and was met with similar praise as the short film for “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault).”
The music video for “I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)” is the polar opposite of the short film for “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault).” The music video had been filmed with whimsy and fun, with Taylor Swift infiltrating the mind of a groom, played by Miles Teller, before and during his wedding—constantly making him think about her even on his wedding day.
In contrast to “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault),” this video was extremely playful and refreshing. Swift stands out amongst the pure white in bright red attire, and slowly the wedding becomes more and more red as she touches things in the venue. Swift, in general, is having much more fun, such as in scenes of her eating fistfuls of cake, turning the entire wedding red like the Queen of Hearts from "Alice in Wonderland," using straws to make herself look like a seal at the kids' table, or teaching the children at this table how to do the fishing rod middle finger gag. Overall, this video reminded me of her "Lover" era music videos.
With four more albums to re-record—five counting the possibility of her Christmas extended play being re-recorded—Swift fans have plenty to look forward to. For now, though, they have a stellar album to keep them content, and certainly to help some fans to get through their next painful breakup.