By: John Mark Aguilar
LAST OCTOBER, country-pop artist Taylor Swift, released her latest album, Red, months after her hit single ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ took off and infected the mass with its catchy tune. Having sold a whopping 1.2 million copies, Red effortlessly claimed the top spot on the Billboard 200 for several consecutive weeks. Also, Ms. Swift became the best-selling artist for the last decade since Eminem.
“All the different emotions written on this album are all pretty much about the kind of tumultuous, crazy, insane, intense, semi-toxic relationships that I’ve experienced in the last two years. All those emotions — spanning from intense love, intense frustration, jealousy, confusion, all of that — in my mind, all those emotions are red,” Taylor Swift said.
This shows her maturity and an obvious departure from her usual ‘twangy’ style. However, for the past few months, her supposedly ‘mature’ album was overshadowed by her pop songs such as ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ and ‘22’, making the general audience turn on her for being immature and a ‘guy-basher.’
What she said about this album being ‘darker’ and ‘very different’ from her previous works are true. Songs like ‘State Of Grace’, ‘The Lucky One’ and ‘Begin Again’ agree with me. Too bad, it looks like her PR is wasting chances of showing this side of Taylor to the general public. Now, to save her from the bad publicity she constantly gets, let’s have a review of the songs in Red.
State Of Grace – This is probably one of the best opening-track of all time. From the arena-like drums to her impressive vocals, she is most likely to be crowned as queen of alternative pop. We can feel the U2 vibes in it, making the song effective in portraying what to expect throughout the album. The use of reverb guitar is very noticeable and adds to the massive effect of being in love.
Notable line/s: “This is the state of grace. This is a worthwhile fight. Love is a ruthless game unless you play it good and right. These are the hands of fate. You’re my Achilles heel. This is the golden age of something good and right and real.”
Red – Like her other previous works, Red is one her country-pop masterpieces or what they call, ‘typical Taylor’. However, what shocked us – most of us – is the stuttering effect after each of the choruses. The ‘re-e-e-ed’ part sounds like a hit. This is going to be a smash on both (Pop and Country) radio formats.
Notable line/s: “Loving him was like driving a new Maserati down a dead-end street. Faster than the wind, passionate as sin, ended so suddenly.”
Treacherous – Are you bored of generic pop tracks about getting some? Well, this song is for you. Treacherous, from what Taylor stated, is about having a relationship when you know that it’s really dangerous and might end up really bad but you go for it, anyway. But we know better; this song is about sex (not that I’m complaining or anything). This song is one of her lyrical masterpieces. With the help of Dan Wilson, one of the main producers of Adele’s 21, this is easily her best narration yet.
Notable line/s: “Two headlines shine through the sleepless night and I will get you, I’ll get you alone. Your name has echoed through my mind and I’ll just think you should, think you should know. That nothing safe is worth the drive and I will follow you, follow you home. I’ll follow you, follow you home.”
I Knew You Were Trouble – A pop perfection, enough said. The minimal use of Dubstep is very effective. You can tell her frustration right away. The change of beats, the muffled sound of ‘trouble, trouble, trouble’, the house-wrecking bass line; all of these sound as chaotic as this song wants to portray. This is not your typical Taylor Swift song.
Notable line/s: “A new notch in your belt is all I’ll ever be.”
All Too Well – Taylor Swift is known for her song writing ability and this one proves it. A very well-written song about reminiscing a failed yet wonderful relationship and how they both know the love they once shared is still there. This is what a ballad should be. She sure knows how to make good imageries and deliver it with such grace. This shows how wonderful an artist Taylor is.
Notable line/s: “Hey, you called me up again just to break me like a promise. So casually cruel in the name of being honest.”
22 – Enough with the breakups, let’s have some fun! 22 is about being alone, not caring about the others and just having fun. It’s an anthem about youth and how to deal life not too seriously. This aims for all audiences, not only for teens. The use of abrupt pop breakdown after the ‘twangy’ acoustic set will hook everyone immediately. Definitely, a ‘Hot 100’ worthy.
Notable line/s: “We’re happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time. It’s miserable and magical. Oh yeah. Tonight’s the night when forget about the deadlines.”
I Almost Do – A nice slow ballad that perfectly breaks the bubbly energy feeling after 22. Taylor’s vulnerability in her voice is what makes this song special. It also displays very vivid images in each verse. It has a nostalgic feeling which is much recommended for every song like this.
Notable line/s: “We made quite a mess, babe. It’s probably better off this way. And I confess, baby. In my dreams, you’re touching my face and asking me if I wanna try again with you and I almost do.”
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together – One of the most fun break-up songs I’ve heard in a while. Like, ever. Though the lyrics might be odd for a Taylor Swift standard, it has the sassiness that ‘Picture to Burn’ and ‘Better than Revenge’ had once shown. The spoken bit is a very unique one. No wonder this song holds the record for the most number of people sung during Valentine’s Day. It has SMASH written all over it. This is the anthem of our generation, to be honest.
Notable line/s: “You hide away and find your peace of mind with some indie records that’s much cooler than mine.”
Stay Stay Stay – Unlike ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’, Taylor here, tries to save the relationship in a sweet-funny-catchy way. It has a similarity between ‘Ours’ and ‘Our Song’ in terms of melody. True, it’s not as great as the two songs mentioned earlier, but it is cute. It is a fun song, perfect for singing along and daydreaming about perfect love.
Notable line/s: “All those time that you didn’t leave, it’s been occurring to me. I’d like to hang out with you for my whole life.”
The Last Time (feat. Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol) – Wait! This is not Ms. Swift singing. Yes, it’s Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol. This song was produced by Jacknife Lee who’s responsible for ‘Eyes Open’ and ‘Final Straw’. This is also a ballad but with a very edgy style. It’s a surprise that both voices blend well with each other. This also has a very dramatic guitar solo that will make your head bop unconsciously. This is a very classic and sleek song aimed for dark rock fans.
Notable line/s: “This is the last time I’m asking you this. You put my name at the top of your list. This is the last time I’m asking you are. You break my heart in a blink of an eye, eye, eye.”
Holy Ground – This song lives up to its name. It is holy. Don’t ever doubt Jeff Baskher and his broad knowledge in music. This is a pop song with an urban touch. It grabs your attention from the first up to the last verse. The evident use of drums and guitar riffs is enough to make this song one of the highlights of this album, one of the finest tracks of her career.
Notable line/s: “Tonight I’m gonna dance for all that we’ve been through but I don’t wanna dance if I’m not dancing with you.. Tonight I’m gonna dance like you were in this room but I don’t wanna dance if I’m not dancing with you.”
Sad Beautiful Tragic – You may find similarities between this and ‘Safe and Sound’. They both have the same feeling of nostalgia and creepiness, but this song failed to out-beat Safe and Sound’s superiority. All of that aside, it is a very well-penned song that can be compared to another melancholic song like ‘Last Kiss’. Both are tear-jerkers.
Notable line/s: “And you’ve got the demons and, darling, they all looked like me.”
The Lucky One – Another Jeff Baskher-produced song about fame. The drum beat can be similar to her song, ‘Speak Now’. It’s a three-versed song about a life of a certain celebrity who was harassed severely by the media, and how the singer realized how lucky this celebrity was when she stepped off the limelight. Songs such as ‘Never Grow Up’, ‘Innocent’ and this should be given a public nod because this side of Taylor shows how amazing an artist she is.
Notable line/s: “It was a few year later, I showed up here and they still tell the legend of how you disappeared.”
Everything has Changed (feat. Ed Sheeran) – Unlike the other duet, this one is an acoustic-pop. Accompanied by brilliant strings of guitars and drums, Taylor and Ed served, yet another masterpiece. The harmony between the two of them is soothing and forms an image of a sweet true love. It’s a very sweet song that managed to capture everyone’s attention after the drums came in.
Notable line/s: “All I know is we said hello, so dust off the highest hopes. All I know is pouring rain. Everything has changed. All I know is a new found grace. All my days I know your face. All I know since yesterday is everything has changed.”
Starlight – This is one of the highlights of the album. It has a 90’s influence in it. It is a country-pop song with a side of techno vibes. The wide variety of synthesizers used are very effective. It gives out a magical feeling of being 17 and fearless. It’s a ‘quality-pop’ that only minority of the people would appreciate.
Notable line/s: “We were 17 and crazy, running wild, wild. Can’t remember what song he was playing when we walked in.”
Begin Again – The closing track of the album. It is a sweet ballad that summarizes all the songs you listened to. It was simply written but also shows her ability as a lyricist. Taylor’s improvement sonically and vocally is very much noticeable here. It urges you to play the whole album again like ‘Our Song’ from her debut album.
Notable line/s: “And we walked down the blocked to my car, I almost brought him up. But you start to talk about the movies that your family watches and I won’t talk about that for the fist time. What’s past is past.”
Overall, Taylor’s latest album expresses how much she matured as an artist for the past two years. Not all of us might see it because of her management’s messy single choices, but I, for sure, know that she’s grown up now. Red is probably her best album to date. It will be hard to top next year.