Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: ‘Nothing New’ is the core of ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’

Taylor Swift released her album "Red (Taylor's Version)" on Nov. 12, 2021.
Taylor Swift released her album "Red (Taylor's Version)" on Nov. 12, 2021.

I originally had this review divided into parts.

I had sections like “Best Lyrics” and “Standout Songs.” I even attempted to include a ranking of the tunes, but “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is a two hour-plus behemoth — it would take much longer than a few days to properly rank all 30 songs.

This is a special album. It deserves to be spoken about from the heart of a true fan. It deserves an eloquent essay instead of some not-so-fully-developed sections with a few sentences trying to convey why it’s one of music’s rare perfect pop albums.

So I’ll be damned if I don’t try my best to give this album the love letter it deserves.

There’s a song on “Red (Taylor’s Version)” called “Nothing New (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault).” It features indie rocker Phoebe Bridgers, who was the best choice for the duet. Her style of singing and songwriting fits the sadness of the tune perfectly.

This is the true emotional core of “Red (Taylor’s Version).” When the original “Red” was released in 2012, “All Too Well” was the definitive backbone of the album. It seemed to convey not only Swift’s lyrical depth, but the reason she was writing this album.

The original version of the album was great. It showed us a “happy, free, confused and lonely” person — as Taylor likes to put it — trying to work through conflicting emotions. 

When Swift was only 22, she was already worried about her musical future. And, for her, it made sense. In her short life, she had already released three albums and was writing a fourth. Expectations were high, but she was afraid her time in the spotlight may be short. 

She mentions in the 2020 Netflix documentary “Miss Americana” how women pop stars are only popular for so long. Believing she’ll only be relevant for a finite amount of time, you can see why every album is so different. Why she believes she needs to keep everyone interested in all the right ways but not weird them out with anything too zany. Why she experiments just enough, but not too much, in order to satisfy critics and fans alike.

At 31, she works like she’s on the clock, like the years of her relevancy are ticking down to a dramatic close. But she’s not on the clock. And I’m not sure she ever will be.

Because Swift, with the rerelease of a decade-old album, is on top of the world. “Red (Taylor’s Version)” became the album with the most single-day streams by a female artist on Spotify. She also became the most-streamed female in a single day in Spotify history.

“Nothing New” is 360 words – much shorter than this review. Yet Swift manages to sum up the deepest fear driving the album. Being forgotten.

If Taylor worries about that to this day, I hope she knows she doesn’t have to. I hope she knows that I’m writing this column at 2 a.m., which is one of her favorite times to write about, because she’s influenced my life as much as anyone I know. 

This is an album about someone feeling forgotten not only by a romantic partner, but, as we see through “Nothing New,” it’s also about someone afraid of being forgotten, period. It’s similar to “The Lucky One,” which was featured on the original “Red,” but the roles have reversed. 

In “The Lucky One,” Swift is the new girl.

In “Nothing New,” Swift is only 22 but already feeling her time wane.

If I have one piece of advice, I would say to listen to “Red (Taylor’s Version)” through the eyes of the girl in “Nothing New.” Every other song will make even more sense. 

Because the real theme, the real fear — being forgotten and feeling unloved by those in both her private and public life — is more apparent this time around.

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