RED- by Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift- One of the few artists we can truly say affect our generation in a positive way. Stunning, mature and aware that she has an influence.
Her 4th studio album, RED was released on 22nd October 2012 and I was one of the first people to grab a copy on that Monday morning. It is a 16-track beauty with the songstress touching upon every possible genre of music to face this earth.
The album starts off with ‘State of Grace’ a rock-influenced introduction to the record. It acts as a warning as to what the album will contain- an insight to Swift’s chaotic love live from her perspective. With the heavy guitars and breathy background vocals, State of Grace not only introduces listeners to Taylor Swift’s new sound, but to the more tragic songs on the album.
Next is ‘Red’ where Swift goes back to her roots with the up-beat country-pop song with a total of 13 heart-wrenching similes. The auto-tuned stutter of ‘red-ed-ed-ed’ in the chorus is like marmite: you either love it or you hate it, but it definitely adds something more mainstream to the otherwise typically ‘Taylor Swift’ tune.
‘Treacherous’ is a beautiful acoustic track with a ground-breaking echo-filled bridge. It’s filled with the simple strung of guitars with a taste of Taylor Swift’s insight into adult relationships and temptation. Dan Wilson did an excellent job of producing the track and brings exactly the right amount to sensitivity into the track.
After the sweet country ballad, comes ‘I Knew Young Trouble’ a dubstep-influenced track bursting full of thrilling bass lines and rocky beats. This is definitely Taylor’s biggest step out of country music, but she has done it effectively with her play on lyrics and clear emotions remaining center-stage.
The highlight of Taylor Swift’s album is ‘All Too Well’ the next track on the record. In my opinion, it is a perfect representation of what the lyricist is about: not just the blonde girl with the guitar, but a woman who can tell a story so beautifully that a song can make you cry or laugh from a few simple words. It’s a story of a relationship that went tragically wrong and Taylor Swift’s dramatic vocals and the electric guitars bring out the pure emotion of the song.
‘22’ is a poppy, up-beat tune that will have teenage girls jumping with joy in their bedrooms. It’s the story of living in your 20’s and letting go to just have fun. I can see it as an ultimate girl power anthem to rival the Spice Girls or Katy Perry.
‘I Almost Do’ is the probably the song on the album that is most influenced by country music and is reminiscent of Swift’s older music, back when she was 16 years old and singing with her guitar and cowboy boots in front of tiny audiences. The distinct twang of guitars compliments Taylor’s sultry tone.
Obviously, ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ is one of the most talked about songs of 2012. The poppy anthem clearly displays Swift’s ability to not only write and sing well, but create humor within a song. Max Martin and Shellback did well producing the song, labelling it a pop single but not separating her so far away from her roots that she is unrecognizable.
‘Stay Stay Stay’ is a cheerful country song not unlike 2010’s ‘Ours’ and the joyous ukulele lightens the album’s mood a considerable amount.
The first collaboration on the record is ‘The Last Time’ and features Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol. You might think this an odd alliance, but his deep vocal compliment Swift’s more girlish tones. The duet is a piano-based track with heavy piano chords and operatic strings which creates a hypnotic effect throughout the song.
‘Holy Ground’ is one of the stand-out tracks on the album. Jeff Basker produces the track beautifully with the echoing guitars and over-lapping background vocals. This song demonstrates Swift’s lyrical talent with her describing the ups and downs of a relationship. “Spinning like a girl in a brand new dress, we had this big wide city all to ourselves; we blocked the noise with the sound of ‘I need you’ and for the first time I had something to lose.”
‘Sad, Beautiful, Tragic’ is a calm, country song with the chorus consisting of simple lyrics and compelling guitar tunes. It reminds me of the story of Romeo and Juliet with the enthralling yet devastating plot.
‘The Lucky One’ describes Swift’s fears of losing herself through fame and regretting her actions. The rhythmic drum beats and mesmerizing vocals make the song as catchy as it is meaningful.
The second of Taylor Swift’s duets is with UK folk sensation, Ed Sheeran. ‘Everything Has Changed’ is a delightfully sweet track with the two songwriter’s voices harmonizing exquisitely. Sheeran has a stunning tone to his voice and stands out, but doesn’t over-shadow his partner.
‘Starlight’ is another catchy tune with a pretty piano tune hidden amongst the pounding beat and bubblegum guitar solos. This song probably doesn’t broadcast Swift’s best lyrical talent or eye for ground-breaking Top 40 singles, but it’s a refreshing track to have on the otherwise forlorn record.
The last track on the album is Taylor Swift’s 2nd single from RED, the country song ‘Begin Again.’ It’s a charming song with a clean harmonica tune in the background. It’s perfect for ending the album stating that throughout all that she’s been through, Swift is ready to move on.
Overall, this album is diverse and uplifting compared to the more troubled or solemn albums of 2012. Taylor Swift still sings her pure country songs (Begin Again, I Almost Do) but has reached out to a more poppy and mainstream style (WANEGBT, 22, I Knew You Were Trouble ect.) For me, the best songs on the album demonstrate how talented and varied Swift can be with any genre such as All Too Well, Treacherous and Holy Ground. It is simply one of the best records of 2012 and because of that, I urge people who appreciate all genres to listen.
Just think about this. Taylor Swift has at least 31 million fans. Each concert she does has around 80,000 people. She has more fans than Australia has people. Her fans make up 0.0045318278289028% of the world’s population. Is she was a country, she would be the 39th largest country in the world.
Taylor Swift is a phenomenon. And RED definitely broadcast her fearlessness and undeniable talent.