Review - Taylor Swift - Red
Like her or not, Taylor Swift is probably the biggest star in music today, so not writing about her would be stupid. Especially when she has put out the poppiest record of her career.
‘Red’ does sound like Taylor, but at times like Taylor pretending to be Avirl Lavigne. Tunes like lead single (and her first number one hit) “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “22” have that pop-but-slightly-punky attitude to them, and the latter is sure to be a single as well.
To be fair though, I think the label is going for a new one with this record – pretty sure at one time or another (and in one form or another) every single song on this record is going to be released as a single. So far, the album has had two official singles (the aforementioned “We” and “Begin Again”), and several other promotional releases (“Begin Again”, “Red”, “I Knew You Were Trouble”, and “State of Grace”). That’s five singles so far, and the album isn’t even out yet! Normally promotional singles don’t do a whole lot, but when you are Taylor Swift, it’s a different story.
Every single song released from ‘Red’ has debuted in the top 10 of the Hot 100. Think about that. Five top ten hits…AND THE ALBUM ISN’T EVEN OUT YET. How many more does this thing have?
Judging by America’s reaction to “We Are…”, a lot. Much of the album is focused on the pop side of things, rather than the country sound which made her a star. Where her last album ‘Speak Now’ had hits like “Mean” and “Sparks Fly” which got pop re-records for radio, ‘Red’ just starts there. Longtime producer Nathan Chapman is back for more, but Swift called for reinforcements. Max Martin and Shellback – two of the biggest and most successful pop music producers of all time – are here as well, and we’ve already gotten to hear their take on what Swift as a pop star should sound like.
‘Red’ is a bit of a disappointment in the musical realm (certainly not commercially). Swift’s albums always go number one, and her songs always chart well. Grammys are certain, as is at least basic critical acclaim, so why ditch the country and go complete pop? Swift sounds best (to me) on a song like “Everything Has Changed”, which show the influence of past collaborators The Civil Wars and which also remembers Ray Lamontagne. Also, the 22 year old (yes, she’s only 22! Can you believe it?!) cements her place as one of the industry’s top songwriters, a talent that is unmistakably (and unavoidably) hers.
Listen to: “Red”, “The Last Time (ft. Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol)”, “Holy Ground”, and “Everything Has Changed (ft. Ed Sheeran)”