Taylor Swift’s Empowering Move to Reclaim What’s Hers


Taylor Swift’s re-recording of her 2012 album “Red” was released this past weekend, after months of high anticipation from fans and critics.

“Red (Taylor’s Version),” which came out on Friday, Nov. 12, is a new recording of Swift’s fourth studio album,  and now including nine previously unreleased songs and new features from Phoebe Bridgers, Chris Stapleton, and an additional Ed Sheeran track. But why did Swift feel the need to re-record her old album?

It all started in June 2019 when Scooter Braun, an American record executive, acquired Big Machine Records from the founder of Big Machine himself, Scott Borchetta. The acquisition costed Braun 300 million dollars, with the bulk of the money coming from Taylor Swift’s entire discography at the time: “Taylor Swift,” “Fearless,” “Speak Now,” “Red,” “1989,” and “reputation.”

Swift had already left Big Machine, which happened in November 2018 when she signed with Republic Records and Universal Music Group. What upset Swift the most was that she wasn’t given the chance to buy her own masters back. So there came the idea: re-record all of her music she no longer had any ownership of.

According to a Nov. 11 article from the Financial Times, Braun and company believed that they could profit off of Swift whenever she talked about them in the media, not believing that she would actually re-record all of her old music.

“‘The message was: the controversy has been great for us. Every time she lights us up online, people go listen to those songs,’ said one of these people … As it turns out, Swift’s above average level of determination has kicked off one of the most interesting experiments in modern music history.”

Swift already released “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” on April 9, 2021, so “Red (Taylor’s Version)” comes as the second installment of the series of the re-recordings.

In a Nov. 11 interview with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, Swift explained the “from the vault” tracks and what it means to her to be able to add additional songs to her repertoire.

“It’s an opportunity for me to go back and re-record all the music that was on the original album, and then what I’m really excited about is these songs that no ones ever heard before that were supposed to be on that album,” Swift said. “I’ve dug up these songs that I wrote along the way that didn’t make the album because I thought ‘I want to save this for the next album,’ but then the next album would be a completely different thing.”

Swift has already earned outstanding praise for “Red (Taylor’s Version).” On Metacritic, a website where critics post reviews for music, movies, tv shows, and more, the album has earned an astonishing rating of 94 with 11 professional critiques thus far. Rolling Stone rated the album a perfect 100, stating “the new Red is even bigger, glossier, deeper, casually crueler. It’s the ultimate version of her most gloriously ambitious mega-pop manifesto.”

The Line of Best Fit gave the album a 90, and praised Swift’s ability to work with such a wide range of songs and still find success.

“In anyone else’s hands, 30 tracks might feel bloated and indulgent, but Swift tempers length with careful curation, sequencing and a respect for what made the original Red such a superb pop record,” they said.

Pitchfork, an online music publication notorious for its harsh criticism, gave the album and 8.5 and said, “If you haven’t listened to Red, recently or ever, it’s well worth your time; in its ecstatic, expressive vocals, tart humor, vivid imagery, and tender attention to the nuances of love and loss, you’ll find everything that makes Taylor Swift great.”

The Willistonian reached out to students that consider themselves super-fans to get their opinions on the highly anticipated album.

Abby Muscato, a sophomore from Arlington, VA, loves that Swift is releasing these re-recordings because it shows that Swift knows her own worth, further solidifying herself as one of Abby’s role models.

“I love how much of a power move it is. My whole life Taylor has been the soundtrack of my life showing me the ropes of life through her lyrics. I learned how to find the silver lining, to have fun, and to accept sadness and pain,” Abby said. “So her realizing her value and getting herself out of that situation and re-recording her music shows how you have to stand up for yourself.”

Sofia Michalski, a senior from Easthampton, MA, loves the vault track “Nothing New” because of the complexity in the meaning behind the song.

“I think it is really cool to hear her sing about being a female artist and waiting to reach her expiration date in the music industry, especially when she wrote this before all her different eras,” Sofia said. “It is sad that women have to do this but satisfying at the same time because for her to sing about this now is like an act of defiance because she has managed, with her songwriting, to stay a top female artist for so long.”

Sarah Markey, a senior from Northampton, Mass., and Anna Sawyer, a sophomore from Easthampton, Mass., both agree that “Message in a Bottle” is their favorite new track from the vault. They both believe that Swift’s re-recordings are empowering to anyone looking up to her.

“She is such a great role model. I really respect the effort she is putting into reclaiming her work and identity. A true girl boss,” Sarah said.

“It is empowering young women to be strong and she is just so iconic for doing it,” Anna added.

What makes “Red (Taylor’s Version)” so special is one of the additional “from the vault” tracks: “All Too Well (10 Minute Version),” which Swift herself says is “the one that I am the most excited about.”

“All Too Well” from the original 2012 “Red” album is highly regarded as a fan favorite, as well as now being one of Swift’s favorite songs. The song stands at five minutes and twenty nine seconds, but Swift had alluded to a longer version, the 10 minute version, in the past.

In the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums podcast in 2020, Swift explained how the song “All Too Well” was originally written.

“It was a day when I was just, like, a broken human, walking into rehearsal just feeling terrible about what was going on in my personal life,” Swift said. “I ended up sort of just playing four chords over and over again, and the band started kicking in…people just started playing along with me. I think they could tell I was really going through it. I just started singing and riffing and sort of ad-libbing this song that basically was ‘All Too Well.’”

Because her sound technician happened to burn a CD of the impromptu performance, the whole 10 minutes was saved. In her Nov. 11 interview with Jimmy Fallon, Swift admitted, “10 minutes is absurd, that’s an absurd length of time for a song,” which is why the whole 10 minutes did not make the original album.

Every student The Willistonian talked to offered praise for this new 10 minute version.

Sofia spoke highly of both the song itself, and the short film that came along with it.

“l loved the 10 minute version, especially the video paired with the song. I think the ending and the tonal switch completes the story that her fans have grown up listening to and relating to in a way that brings a lot of closure and maturity to the old version,” she said.

Abby mentioned the successful short film, as well as her gratefulness that Swift released this version for the fans.

“It is absolutely perfect! Why couldn’t we have gotten it sooner! However, I am glad we are getting it now when she owns it because it was so highly recommended,” Abby said. “I almost started crying when I heard it at first but there was a sense of feeling like it was all gonna be okay. Also, the film to go along with it is perfection.”

Following the trend, Sarah said the 10 minute version “is awesome. So beautiful, so emotional. I love her combination of the old and new.” Anna called it “so good and magical.”

As the success and praise of “Red (Taylor’s Version)” continues to pour in, fans can only help but wonder what album will be subject to re-recording next. Right now, Swift is at the top of her game and shows no sign of slowing down.