We Swifties are being fed like never before. In the last 2-ish years, we’ve been blessed with Taylor Swift’s eighth and ninth studio albums–folklore and evermore. And with Red (Taylor’s Version) being released last November, we are up to eleven albums total.
That is crazy.
Midnights comes out next week, and I’ve been reflecting on this unique era we’ve been in since November 2020. Originally, I wasn’t planning on reviewing Taylor’s re-recorded albums. But the more I think about it, Red‘s re-recording has been an era all its own.
Therefore, it legally must be reviewed on this here website.
Since I have already reviewed the songs on the original Red album, my review of Red (Taylor’s Version) will simply cover its deluxe and vault tracks. Then, I will do the impossible task of ranking all 30 tracks from worst to best.
Let’s do this.
17. “The Moment I Knew”
This song details the horrible feeling of waiting for the person you love to show up to your birthday…and how it feels when they never do.
It’s a fittingly heartbreaking and specific subject, but sadly “The Moment I Knew” is not my favorite.
I just think other songs on Red (Taylor’s Version) cover this moment more poetically. “The Moment I Knew” feels denotative and plain compared to, say, “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)”.
18. “Come Back…Be Here”
I admit, I slept on this song for a long time. And still, it isn’t one of my absolute favorites.
But “Come Back…Be Here” isn’t close to being a bottom-tier song on Red. It completely fits the retrospective, broken mood of the 20-year-old Taylor who wrote this album in the first place.
A classic. An essential piece of the album.
19. “Girl At Home”
For a relatively lighthearted song, “Girl At Home” is an adequate, catchy little tune. A favorite? No. A fun bop that I will usually let play instead of skipping? Yes.
20. “State Of Grace (Acoustic Version)”
Yeah, I love.
I didn’t know I needed an acoustic version of this song until I had it. And now, I have no idea how to answer the question “Which version do you like better?” It’s impossible, I fear.
The original has a beat that I love, but this stripped-down rendition is so easy and soothing to my psyche. And you know I’m a sucker for fingerstyle acoustic guitar.
Overall, this was well worth including on the re-recording of Red.
This is the hardest kind of song to rank. What am I supposed to say?
This song is about losing a child when they are very young. It’s hard to think of something more devastating. And for that reason, I usually have to skip this one. Not because it’s a bad song. It’s just too damn sad to hear regularly.
Taylor Swift went completely off script with this song, which has nothing to do with the core messages of Red (Taylor’s Version). But to a small group of people out there, this might be the best song they’ve ever heard.
22. “Better Man”
I’ll admit it: I have slept on this one. It’s one of Taylor’s songs that I think her critics would use as an example of her lack of accountability in her breakups.
But, as always, we don’t let the double-standard critiques of Taylor define how we feel about her work.
So, “Better Man” works just fine.
Hearing “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” strikes a nerve that feels so authentic to the young adult she was at the end of this relationship.
It isn’t her most lyrically rich song by a long shot. But it’s worth a listen.
23. “Nothing New [feat. Phoebe Bridgers]”
How can a person know everything at 18, but nothing at 22? That is the question, isn’t it?
Here, Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers sing about losing your shine in the public eye over time. We know now that Taylor wouldn’t lose her shine for another ten-plus years (and counting). But at the time, this was probably a very pertinent question to lose sleep over.
“Will you still want me when I’m nothing new?” That question could be interpreted not only professionally, but romantically as well.
For those reasons, “Nothing New” is an important fetch from the vault.
Sorry, Sugarland. Taylor did it better alone.
In fact, I had no idea that Taylor appeared in the “Babe” music video as a seductive home-wrecker until this version released.
And I love it.
“What about your promises, promises” has such an infectious beat under it that I can’t help dancing a little despite the unfortunate subject matter. The catchiest song about cheating since “Before He Cheats,” methinks?
25. “Message In A Bottle”
Oh my god. What an unexpected surprise.
Taylor did not have to include one of her all-time best pop songs in the Red (Taylor’s Version) vault tracks. Yet here I am, fully in this unforeseen chokehold.
I have seen a drag queen perform this song. I have blasted this song at deafening volumes in the car. I have danced and taken shots to this song.
It is a bop so fun and colorful that I’m frankly shocked she brought it out from the Red vault and not the 1989 one.
An A-tier pop song, even by her own standards, “Message In A Bottle” was a burst of sweet flavor that Red was missing.
26. “I Bet You Think About Me”
My first impression was “…oh, this is the song she’s making a music video for?”
What a silly question. I guess I just wasn’t sold by the country breakup ballad at first.
But now that it’s been the better part of a year, I can say that this is one of the songs I memorized the fastest. The upbeat guitar chords belie the song’s breakup story, and make the whole thing feel fun and super listenable.
At this point, it’s absolutely a favorite. Not only from the vault, but from Red (Taylor’s Version) as a whole.
27. “Forever Winter”
Oh, but do we want to talk about slept-on songs?
I don’t have any excuse here. I don’t know why I thought I needed to skip past this song so many times to get to the “good stuff” on the album. I don’t know.
But as of the last two weeks, I recognize this track’s merit as one of the most unique and heartbreaking songs on the album.
The message? Check in on your friends. You never know who’s struggling with their mental health.
While that message threatens to depress the listener, the arrangement of the strings in this song’s instrumentation is anything but downbeat. So the song is sad, but ends up feeling quite screamable.
28. “Run [feat. Ed Sheeran]”
Hot take, perhaps: Yes, Red could use another Ed Sheeran collaboration.
In my opinion, it’s the album most fit for his musical style, with the best collaboration they’ve done to date in “Everything Has Changed” (eat your heart out, “End Game”).
So, “Run” does it for me.
I love the guitar arrangement. I love the airy, woodsy tone.
It’s not the most complex or deep song on the record, but that’s okay. Not every track can be.
“Run” is a very worthwhile addition to Red (Taylor’s Version).
29. “The Very First Night”
I slept on this one for a while, too.
But while “Forever Winter” and “Better Man” were disregarded as legitimate lyrical pieces on the record, “The Very First Night” kind of just got lost in the shadow of pop gem “Message In A Bottle.”
In other words, this song is a good time, but not as good as some of the other pop songs on Red (Taylor’s Version).
It’s a lighthearted affair, which we won’t complain about on the Taylor Swift breakup album.
30. “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)”
Here we go.
What can I possibly say about “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” that hasn’t already been said? For years, fans have been begging to hear the first draft of “All Too Well,” which Taylor trimmed down to fit into one 5-minute track for the original Red album.
And boy, did blondie deliver on this.
“All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” did the impossible, becoming the longest number-one hit in Billboard history. It debuted to enormous streaming success, and even got an award-winning short film to accompany it.
So, let’s talk about what’s new in the 10-minute version of Swiftie favorite, “All Too Well.”
We get several new verses, both in the existing arrangement of the song, as well as in a completely new section tacked on where the original song concludes.
Of all the new pieces of the song, my favorites are “I still remember the first fall of snow, and how it glistened as it fell” and “it’s supposed to be fun, turning twenty-one.” But it’s tough to choose, because Taylor has added a ton of great lyrics here.
I’m going to say something controversial, though: I prefer the production of the original to the 10-minute version. I don’t think anything will beat the relentless strumming of that G chord heading into the bridge of the 5-minute version. Like, ever.
So, between the shockingly good additions introduced in “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” and my preference for the guitar strumming in “All Too Well,” it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite.
Ranking these will be tough. But don’t be shocked when they are number one and number two on the list.
Red (Taylor’s Version) Review & Tracks Ranking
This re-recording had no right being this good.
I was so happy to support Taylor when she released Fearless (Taylor’s Version) in early 2021. But nothing could have prepared me for the absolute era that Red (Taylor’s Version) would be. In many ways, it was like getting an entirely new album.
Which is great, because it kept me satisfied the whole time Taylor worked secretly on Midnights, which will be arriving on October 21st.
Overall, Red (Taylor’s Version) was an improvement on Red in every way, and makes my inevitable Taylor Swift album ranking much, much more difficult.
If I had to rank the 30 tracks on the album from worst to best, I would probably do it like this:
- “Stay Stay Stay”
- “The Moment I Knew”
- “The Last Time (feat. Gary Lightbody)”
- “The Lucky One”
- “I Almost Do”
- “Sad Beautiful Tragic”
- “Girl At Home”
- “Come Back…Be Here”
- “Nothing New [feat. Phoebe Bridgers]”
- “Holy Ground”
- “Everything Has Changed [feat. Ed Sheeran]”
- “Run [feat. Ed Sheeran]”
- “Better Man”
- “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
- “The Very First Night”
- “Forever Winter”
- “State of Grace”
- “State of Grace (Acoustic Version)”
- “I Bet You Think About Me [feat. Chris Stapleton]”
- “I Knew You Were Trouble”
- “Message In A Bottle”
- “Begin Again”
- “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)”
- “All Too Well”