Taylor Swift’s fourth album, the 2012 smash-hit “Red”, is not sonically cohesive, as we’ve heard her say many, many times in the past year or so. 22 sounds nothing like Holy Ground, and it’s hard to believe that a break up song as upbeat, cheery and charming as We Are Never Ever Getting Back together was written by the same woman, at the same time, who wrote a break up song as devastating, heartbroken and hard-hitting as All Too Well. All of those songs are lyrical brilliance in their own way, and demonstrate a versatility that most song-writers can’t achieve, but they’re hardly similar, and they’re not sonically cohesive. Listening to it for the first time was like an event; I still remember where I was when I listened to every song, and still remember how they all made me feel that very first time.
After almost 10 years in the music industry, Taylor has proven she shines in whatever she does, but she shined most on Red, which is why it’s upsetting for many fans to see her perceived eagerness to escape from this album and leave it as a thing of the past. 1989 might be Taylor’s own favourite of all the albums she’s done, and the one she said she’s most proud of, BUT, here’s 5 reasons why I think Red is the best album Taylor Swift has ever done.
The Feels are real.
Red is a representation of the two years of her life Taylor Swift took to write it, and by not being Sonically Cohesive it is the perfect representation of the entire spectrum of emotions a human would feel in that time, and how easily you can change between them. It would be near impossible to recreate the same spectrum of emotions, the different perspectives of the same stories and different reactions a person can have to the same situations when you abandon the quest for something real in favour of something cohesive. It’s an album that breaks your heart and puts it back together again, in a way that only Taylor Swift could, and that is in no small part thanks to the versatile genres and sounds. Each Taylor Swift album seems to embody a different stage of your life, but not Red: Red embodies them all at once. It’s the soundtrack to blossoming love and burning heartbreak, friendships that are forming or failing, and moments you’re either desperate to forget, or want to remember for the rest of your life.
By not being a product of a certain genre or trend, or influenced by a certain time period, the album has a longevity and lasting shelf life it couldn’t have achieved otherwise. It’s been 3 years, and still I listen to it on a regularly basis, and it still doesn’t feel old. 1989 was at the forefront of 2014/ 2015 pop music, and artists are going to be trying to emulate it for the next few years, but it’s already becoming a trend-gone-by, something we’ll remember in the next few years with the same fond-retrospect we treat N-Sync or the Spice Girls. Red doesn’t seem to have gone that way yet, and it might not ever. Red, like Joni Mitchell’s Blue, or Alanis Morrisette’s Jagged Little Pill, is an album we can listen to and enjoy long after it’s release, without seeming outdated.
It’s Lyrical Genius.
I’ve never been heartbroken, I’m not even sure I’ve ever been in love, but there are songs on that album that, for at least as long as I listen to them, have me believing otherwise. Every time I hear All Too Well, I forget that I’ve never had such an intense heart-break in my life, because Taylor Swift makes me believe that I have, such is the power of that album. Anyone who still thought Taylor Swift couldn’t write an exceptional song after this album where either deluded, in denial, or hadn’t listened to it right through. A list of the top ten best songs Taylor Swift has ever written would compose almost entirely of songs from Red, and still a few from the track-list would be robbed of a place. Really, nothing can be said to prove this point that an example can’t do better; You call me up again just to break me like a promise/ so casually cruel in the name of being honest/ I’m a crumpled up piece of paper lying here, cause I remember it all…all…all
Every time you listen to it again, you discover something more, another hidden beauty that you had previously over looked, but becomes another standout lyric once you listen to it properly. It’s so easy as a songwriter to fall in to a pattern of stringing together overused cliches or metaphors, but Taylor doesn’t do that. Not with Red. Each song has at least three lines that always make me want to rush to social media and share it as a status with everyone.
(I did start a list here of other standout lyrics from the album, and though special shout outs should be given to Treacherous, State of Grace, Begin Again, The Moment I Knew and Holy Ground it would take too long to list all of the albums lyrical excellence…if you’ve got a standout line of your own from the album leave it in the comments below!)
Red was when Taylor really crossed over.
1989 might be her first “documented” pop album, but that’s only because Red as so eclectic and uninhibited in it’s genre. There are many elements of it that are purely pop, and pop gold at that, but every single song is some kind of pop cross over – folk, rock, country, dubstep where all amalgamated with pure pop to give us an album that became one of the best genre crossover’s of all time. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and I Knew You Where Trouble are still, arguably, her most iconic pop songs, and ten years down the line when we’ve all got work we should be doing and we’re looking at ways to avoid it, it will be those two we go to first on our retrospective pop music binges on youtube, just like we do with Wannabe for the Spice Girls, or Man I Feel Like A Woman with Shania Twain. They where written and produced with Max Martin and Johan Shellback, the hit-makers behind almost all of 1989 and oversaw it’s entire production; if elements of Red where not a pop masterpiece, 1989 could not have even existed. Taylor first struck pop gold on this album, with 1989, she just kept digging in the spot she’d found it before.
And the last reason Red is her best ever album is…
…this post was never intended to be a defence of Red, nor a list of why it was such a masterpiece. This list started in a group chat on Facebook where, after all lamenting our love for 1989 over a year after it’s release, we challenged each other to come back with a comprehensive list of the Top 10 best Taylor Swift songs. For all of my friends, most of the Top 10 came from Red, and when they compared it with each others, it was always the song from Red that had us going “Oh how did I miss that one”, and decide to expand the list to include the top 15. This whole post started out as my top ten Taylor Swift songs, and then my top Fifteen Taylor Swift songs, but morphed in to this when I realised I was basically quoting the entire Red tracklist, leaving off one or two songs in favour of Blank Space or Style or Enchanted or Fifteen or Long Live.
There aren’t many songs on Red that couldn’t fight their corner, through quality, content and masterful lyrics, for a place in the Top Ten Taylor Swift songs of all time. Her other albums might sneak in one of two or maybe even in three, but the list would surely be dominated by Red, and even then you’d feel bad at all the songs from Red that you’d left out, because they deserve it too.
So, there we have it, all the reasons why I, a massive Taylor Swift fan whose love of her music verges on the obsessive, believe Red to be Taylor Swift’s Magnum Opus. In a few years I think many fans will agree with me (a lot already do!); we’ll look back down the line when Taylors retired, with children and a husband and probably even more cats and Grammys than she already has now, and say “Yeah, 1989 was Great, and it might have broken so many records it’s ridiculous…but Red, Red was the best of them all…..”
Like I said up there, if you’ve got a standout lyric from Red or any other Taylor Swift album, or you just want to fight the corner for another album and say why that one is the best that Taylor’s ever done, I’d love to hear about it on Twitter @CelebMix, or in the comments.