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Taylor Swift: Making old things new again

The world is ‘burnin’ red’ for Taylor Swift this week

Writer-director Taylor Swift attends a premiere for the short film “All Too Well” at AMC Lincoln Square 13 on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, in New York.
Writer-director Taylor Swift attends a premiere for the short film “All Too Well” at AMC Lincoln Square 13 on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, in New York. Swift reeleased her album “Red” with new recordings this week,
Evan Agostini, Associated Press

Nobody loves their fans like Taylor Swift loves her fans.

She rereleased her album “Red” with new recordings this week, adding new songs with collaborations. It feels like every corner of the internet is “burning red” to celebrate the release. The Empire State building even glowed red in her honor.

The buzz surrounding the album caused Spotify to crash on Thursday night.

“It’s interesting to go back and relive this nostalgia with fans who are the reason why I get to do this ...” she said on “Late Night With Seth Meyers.” “And this time around, I get to do things I know they wish I had done the first time. Because I’m always listening. I’m always lurking. And I’m always listening to their opinions and their theories.”

And fans sense that she really is always listening. By rereleasing “Red,” Swift is making a plan for her fanbase, which is something she’s always done.

Why is Taylor Swift rerecording her earlier albums?

In 2019, Swift expressed interest in gaining ownership over her catalog of music since, she said, it was sold without her knowledge, according to The Washington Post. Instead of fighting to regain control of her music, she responded by rerecording her previous albums.

By rerecording her albums, she’s showing the power of taking ownership of your work and your story. “Red (Taylor’s version)” is a lengthy 30 tracks spanning two hours and 10 minutes.

And that includes a 10-minute version of “All Too Well,” a proclaimed fan-favorite.

Renewing focus on fan-favorite ‘All Too Well’ from ‘Red’

“All Too Well” was considered a deep track hit among fans and critics alike. Many music fans view the emotional depth of her lyrical writing as a time when the pop star started to really show her aptitude as a songwriter.

Steven Knipe, the singer in the Indie pop band Adult Mom, has covered songs from Swift’s “Red” album and claims “All Too Well” is the song he shows to anyone who doubts Swift’s talents as a writer and artist, according to Billboard.

“Its story is specific and detailed while remaining relatable — and its melodies are scream-able, cry-alongable, and extremely quotable, all elements that make for a cult classic of a song,” he told Billboard.

In the song, she references an old scarf that Swift fans continue to reference in memes and conversations surrounding the artist, including the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team.

“All Too Well” is a truly powerful breakup song, and what makes it the most relatable is probably what also makes it painful to perform. It’s really sad. Many speculate about the song being about her public breakup with Jake Gyllenhaal, who is 10 years her senior, and which is a line in the song.

Swift said it’s her most requested song to perform since the original “Red” album came out in 2012. During her Reputation Tour, Swift explained how fans changed the meaning of the song for her, which transformed her experience in performing it for her fans.

Taylor Swift loves a good easter egg for her music

And Swift plays into those references seamlessly. The artist is becoming ubiquitous for the Easter eggs she plants on her Instagram posts that hint at new announcements sending her fans, known as “Swifties,” into a frenzied fervor trying to be the first to figure out what’s coming next.

“When it got out of control was when I started to realize that it wasn’t just me who had fun with this, that they had fun with it, too,” she told Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” “And I should never have learned that because then I couldn’t stop. And then all I started thinking of was how do I hint at things?”

Basically, everyone in the world knows Swift and could most likely recognize some of her songs. And everyone seems to have an opinion about her. Instead of rejecting or ignoring that fact, Swift has leaned into it, writing songs that reference negative criticism about her, while continuing to create a mass appeal.

She’s proving to be a ubiquitous figure that doesn’t plan to go away any time soon.

She’s hyperaware of her fan base and treads that fine line of creating music and content that feels more grown-up while also continuing to appeal to young girls in a way that parents can feel comfortable with.

Taylor Swift knows her audience

During her Reputation Tour, each song she performed included borderline campy themes, costume changes, props and sometimes massive structures that played to an aspect of the song. She kept those themes and dancing fairly mild and tame for what was considered to be the most provocative song of the album, to keep it appropriate for parents who brought their young fans.

Taylor Swift takes her power and control back

This isn’t the first time she’s fought to take power back in a way that could revolutionize an industry. In 2017, she sued a Denver radio host for allegedly groping her, asking to be awarded a measly $1. It wasn’t about the money. It was to send a message that her body was her own.

Erin Stewart wrote for the Deseret News about how Swift coming forward with the experience was a conversation starter to discuss the topic of consent with her daughters.

“I love her because of what she did for girls everywhere recently in a trial where she stood up for herself after being victimized by sexual assault,” wrote Stewart.

Taylor Swift maintains a dedication to her fan base

Swift has embraced her platform by encouraging fans to vote, be kind and to stand up for themselves.

Releasing “Red” with new songs that were scrapped at the time she wrote them requires a lot of bravery and vulnerability. It’s a snapshot in time, and Swift does not shy away from writing about deeply personal experiences. She still seems to have the rare ability to captivate listeners with cathartic and authentic writing.

Each rerecorded song is denoted with “(Taylor’s Version)” next to it to signify to listeners that this is the song she owns. Many fans have created memes depicting different variations on (Taylor’s Version) playing into it.

Is ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ as good as the original?

In her album, “Red (Taylor’s Version),” her voice is more mature, the music has a more polished feel, but can she express the same raw emotion so evident in the original? Maybe. Maybe not.

But as Swift evolves as a person and an artist, her fans are also growing up, so maybe they will consider themselves (Taylor’s Version), too.

Fans can catch Swift’s directorial debut in a short film version of “All Too Well” starring Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien premieres tonight at 5 p.m. MST.