It’s a “Red”-letter day.
Taylor Swift fans worldwide had been bracing themselves for the release of “Red (Taylor’s Version)” at the stroke of midnight Friday. Actually, who are we kidding — the Swifties have been preparing for this day since the album re-release was announced in June.
Before we get into the cataclysm of fan reactions, let’s recap how we got here. In 2012, 11-time Grammy winner Swift released the original “Red” album, strongly suspected by fans and critics to be about her break-up with fellow A-lister Jake Gyllenhaal (more on him later).
At the time, Swift was under contract with Big Machine Records, which retained the master recordings of her first six albums when she signed with Universal Music Group in 2018. In 2019, her masters were sold to talent manager Scooter Braun, who Swift publicly accused of “incessant, manipulative bullying.”
It never would have been possible to go back & remake my previous work, uncovering lost art & forgotten gems along the way if you hadn’t emboldened me. Red is about to be mine again, but it has always been ours. Now we begin again. Red (my version) is outhttps://t.co/ZUAWDuv4jL pic.twitter.com/Ji26KdOlWQ— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) November 12, 2021
Needless to say, she was not happy that Braun owned her music. So she decided to re-record those albums — starting with 2008′s “Fearless” and now “Red” — which her current contract ensures she will own (hence the pointed “Taylor’s Version” addendum in the titles).
OK, now back to the present. Fans are in a tizzy over the album, which includes 10 tracks that are “from the vault” — i.e.: written for, but not included on, the original album. The extended, 10-minute version of “All Too Well,” a heart-wrenching ballad all but confirmed to be about Gyllenhaal, has people the most excited. Especially because an “All Too Well” short film, written and directed by Swift and starring Swift, Sadie Sink, and Dylan O’Brien, is set to be released Friday, as well.
Gyllenhaal reportedly was in a relationship with Swift in late 2010. Many fans are speculating that the actor is dreading the re-release of “Red,” especially after they deduced that the short film’s actors have a similar age difference to Gyllenhaal and Swift’s during their relationship. There’s also been a lot of discourse about “the scarf,” which we’d explain, but you’re probably better off just listening to “All Too Well” yourself.
It’s not just fans who were buzzing with anticipation about “Red (Taylor’s Version).” The Empire State Building posted a video Wednesday of the skyscraper lit up red in honor of the album’s release, and Starbucks updated its social media bios to a Taylor Swift lyric, sparking rumors that the coffee chain will put out a Swift-inspired drink to coincide with the album’s re-release. Photos and videos of a purported Starbucks memo also began circulating, indicating that the drink would be a grande caramel nonfat latte — which was confirmed Friday morning by a Twitter post from Starbucks.
Swift, for her part, has spent the week leaving a series of cryptic messages, particularly in TikTok comments. Her fans have come to expect enigmatic hints from the singer whenever she announces a new project, and interpretations abound. For example, one fan observed that the car featured in the trailer for the “All Too Well” short film was a 1989 model, perhaps a nod to her album “1989,” which has not yet been re-released. Swift, ever evasive, left this comment:
So does this mean that “1989″ is going to be the next re-recorded album? Not so fast. Other possible Easter eggs could point to a different answer, like the price of a signed CD of the “Red” re-release on Swift’s website being listed as $20.10 and written in purple font. “Speak Now,” Swift’s third studio album, was released in 2010 and had Swift sporting a purple gown on the cover, leading fans to wonder if “Speak Now” will be her next re-release. Maybe it’s a “Red,” “Speak Now,” and “1989″ triple whammy? Fans can only hope.
Besides all the detective work, fans are expressing their excitement about finally hearing the re-recorded album they’ve been waiting nearly six months for — and joy that the singer now owns another one of her albums. Swift seems just as excited — she posted a photo recreating one from nine years ago, the day before the original “Red” came out.
If you want a detailed breakdown of the brand new songs on the album, check out our article decoding seven of the “From the Vault” tracks. Otherwise, please enjoy the general Swift madness.
Taylor Swift will own more than half of her discography on Friday.— Andy (@repTourAndy) November 10, 2021
Dana Gerber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org