Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Taylor Swift releases 'Red (Taylor's Version),' makes fans all too unwell

November 24, 2021
Illustration by Daena Faustino
Illustration by Daena Faustino —

When the clock struck midnight on Friday, Nov. 12, tens of millions of people across the globe gathered their friends to listen to Taylor Swift’s rerecording of her 2012 album, “Red,” which she titled “Red (Taylor’s Version).”

Amongst these people were social relations and policy senior Bridgette Bauer and her friends. Bauer usually goes to bed early, but she stayed up late to listen to the entire album, which features 30 songs, nine of which were never-heard-before vault songs.

“We listened to it just beginning to end in order, at least the first time around because it's an order for a reason, so I think it's good to do it that way,” Bauer said. “We were all just sitting in silence listening to it, and there were gasps whenever there was a line or something that we hadn't heard before.”

The album debuted with 90.6 million streams on the Spotify Global Charts, and Swift soon became the first female artist to earn more than 100 million Spotify streams in one day with 122.9 million.

One of the album’s most anticipated songs was the ten-minute version of “All Too Well.” Swift had to shorten the song in the original version, so fans have been waiting to uncover what else was meant to be in it for several years.

“It blew out my expectations,” an anonymous freshman who co-runs an Instagram page called MSU Swifties said. “It was insane. I literally was crying on my floor afterwards.”

Actors Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brian starred in a short film Swift produced and released for “All Too Well (Ten Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault).” It depicts the story being told in the song, and this story is said to be based on Swift’s past relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal.

Gyllenhaal and Swift dated when they were 29 and 20, respectively. Although Swift has never confirmed nor denied rumors that “All Too Well” is about the actor, fans are certain it is for several reasons.

One reason is that she sang, “I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age” in the ten-minute version, referencing the age gap in their former relationship. Also related to this infamous age gap is the casting of the short film and Sink and O’Brian also have a nine year age difference.

“People were like, ‘Oh my God, it makes me so uncomfortable to see Sadie kiss Dylan,’” music education and vocal performance sophomore Charlotte Plotzke said. “It’s like that’s the point … And also seeing him manipulate her in that scene in the kitchen … They let people call her crazy and dramatic … It struck a chord with me.”

Fans know that Swift is international about everything she does as she likes to give easter eggs, or clues, as to what will be coming from her next. One speculation is that she is writing a book and releasing it in two years.

“At the end of (the) ‘All Too Well’ (short film), when it's 13 years later, she comes out to her book signing,” another freshman who co-runs the MSU Swifties Instagram account said. “It's (been) 11 years since the Jake Gyllenhaal incident, so I definitely think a book is on the way.”

This is Swift’s second time rerecording an album of hers. The reason for this is that she would like to own the masters to all her songs, which she currently does not because her old record label, Big Machine Records, sold the masters to record executive Scooter Braun instead.

In June, Swift revealed that she will be rerecording “Red,” but she did not announce the short film until Nov. 5 — just one week before the drop of the album.

“I love Dylan O'Brien, like I love Dylan O’Brien, and Sadie Sink,” Bauer said. “I think it was really cool to see them together. I think it brought the song to life more. Being able to put the lyrics to a visual was super cool.”

Performing old songs is not new to Taylor. This is something she has been doing at her concerts essentially all throughout her career. Sometimes, she puts a spin on songs; however, for the rerecording of “Red,” she did not.

“I think it's really cool how she then went back to the original styles of the songs,” Plotzke said. “She wasn't taking the new spin on it. She went to literally almost a photocopy of instrumentals.”

Aside from the 10-minute version of “All Too Well” are eight songs from the vault. These are tracks that Swift wrote when she wrote the rest of the original album but were never released. 

Additionally, there are a few features on “Red (Taylor’s Version),” including Phoebe Bridgers and Ed Sheeran.

“I think my favorite vault song is 'Nothing New' with Phoebe Bridgers because it's very relatable as a senior in college looking back at my time at Michigan State,” Bauer said. “When you're a freshman, everything's new, but when you're a senior, you're about to go. I think it's just really good for transitions … in your life.”

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These rerecordings also mean something to Swift’s fans, or “Swifties.” Often, they feel as though they grew up with her, both through maturing themselves as well as watching her mature. Listening to the songs they grew up on brings a sense of nostalgia.

“I've been a Taylor fan since I was super super little,” one of the MSU Swifties account runners said. “My first CD was a Taylor Swift CD, so since I was like three or four. Having a recording of 'Red' is like reliving it for me because I was super young when it came out … It's such a nice experience having it to live it in a time in my life when I can relate to it more.”

Swift will be turning 32 next month, and she just released rerecordings of songs she wrote in her early 20s as a young, naive, innocent girl. She has since matured, not only emotionally, but also vocally. Fans say that hearing her sing songs that capture the essence of being youthful but in her mature tone is a new experience.

“I think it was more powerful in a way because she summed up the album as a young woman being happy, free, confused and lonely, and since she's past that now, she has a literal scope of not only what it's like to go through it but what it's like to heal from it,” Plotzke said.

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