Explore Issue 01 of LOOP Magazine

Featuring Sam Tompkins and Victor Ray as our cover stars, as well as internal spreads from Girli, Jords, Mysie, Finn Askew, Kara Marni and Master Peace

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Why ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ Is Still A Whole New Listening Experience

You’ve probably noticed the cultural phenomenon overtaking your social media feeds if you’ve logged onto the Internet at any point since midnight of Nov. 13. That’s when Taylor Swift dropped the re-recording of her album Red — officially called Red (Taylor’s Version) — thus transporting millennials and zillennials back to 2012. This is more than one big party of 20 and 30-somethings listening to “22” without the guilt of giving streams to the investment fund that currently owns the masters of her first six albums, thanks to a sale made by someone Taylor very openly condemned in 2019. Neither are all the in-depth Twitter threads and TikTok thesis videos about a certain Spider-Man actor a result of pure nostalgia, although that certainly plays a factor. Rather, by reviving what’s known as the breakup album in the canon of Taylor’s discography, the Tennessee native is not only returning to her heartbreak and musings of young love, but her grownup fans are as well. We’re not simply reliving these memories, though: we are experiencing it through a new perspective, just like Taylor presumably did while tackling the re-recording at 31 years old. Red is no longer just a fun breakup album to sing out loud to in the car as an “F U” to that one ex. It’s a work of art to really soak in as you reflect on the loves that have come and gone (and maybe stayed) in your life and how they shaped you, song by song.

Of course, the bonus songs on the album help make the re-recording feel like a new listening experience. Taylor released 14 tracks from her “vault” — a treasure trove of songs that didn’t make the cut for the pop star’s original albums — and upgraded Red (Taylor’s Version) from being a 16 to 30-track project. The additional lines bring an even more raw edge to her already vulnerable songs; just listen to the nucleus of this powerhouse of an album, “All Too Well,” which introduces us to lyrics like:

The idea you had of me, Who was she? A never-needy, ever lovely jewel, Whose shine reflects on you.


I was never good at telling jokes, but the punch line goes, ‘I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age.

I couldn’t have fully comprehended these lines if I first heard them in high school (maybe a Gen Z Swiftie could). A teenage me, though, would’ve interpreted these impassioned words as Taylor’s form of flipping the bird to Jake Gyllenhaal, Taylor’s ex who is the unconfirmed muse for this song. While the Nightcrawler star is the butt of every Swiftie’s joke at the moment, the full version of “All Too Well” — now 10 minutes long instead of five — can really be about the dangers of dating any man who wants that “never-needy, ever lovely jewel.”

To put that in non-metaphorical terms: someone who has not yet achieved the confidence to demand their needs due to a lack of years on this Earth. They’re new, still shiny…like a “lovely jewel.”

This point is driven home in the short film for the extended version of “All Too Well,” which came out a day after the re-recording’s release and stars Teen Wolf‘s Dylan O’Brian (30) and Stranger Thing‘s Sadie Sink (19). Fans believe their ages are a reflection of Taylor’s relationship with Jake, who was 29 years old when Taylor was still approaching her 21st birthday in the fall of 2010.

Sadie, who plays the younger version of Taylor in the song’s accompanying film, charms her older on-screen lover with her “innocence” (as Taylor sings in “All Too Well”). This means Sadie’s character is also unarmed, due to a lack of experience, against a barrage of gaslighting from Bryan (Dylan’s character) in that one memorable kitchen scene. After watching the co-stars’ emotional warfare play out, the actors’ age difference makes you rethink their entire relationship.

Age is another big theme in Taylor’s version of “Nothing New,” which is given a new spin thanks to featured vocals from indie dream girl Phoebe Bridgers. Taylor, along with the 27-year-old Grammy-nominated singer, made me feel like they read my unwritten diary pages about what exactly I fear about celebrating yet another birthday. The dread I feel doesn’t come from the number attached to myself, but rather, my fear of other people’s reaction towards it. Together, Taylor and Phoebe sing in the chorus:

How long will it be cute, all this crying in my room?

When you can’t blame it on my youth

And roll your eyes with affection

And my cheeks are growing tired

From turning red and faking smiles

Are we only biding time ’til I lose your attention

And someone else lights up the room?

People love an ingénue

Buckle up, because the existential dread gets even heavier:

How did I go from growing up to breaking down?

And I wake up in the middle of the night

It’s like I can feel time moving

How can a person know everything at eighteen

But nothing at twenty-two?

And will you still want me when I’m nothing new?

At 26 years old, Taylor’s re-recording of Red manages to make me feel more angsty than my teenage angst could ever accomplish. That’s also the simple answer for why everyone and their sister is currently pouring tears (and their hearts out) to Red (Taylor’s Version), in case you were puzzled by all the hubbub over an album that first came out nearly a decade ago.

Words by Jade Boren

Posted On 3 October, 2022