Red (Taylor Swift album)

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Red
The cover image features face of Taylor Swift in red lips wearing a long brimmed hat. On the bottom-left title of album appears.
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 22, 2012 (2012-10-22)
Recorded2011–2012
Genre
Length65:09
LabelBig Machine
Producer
Taylor Swift chronology
Speak Now World Tour – Live
(2011)
Red
(2012)
1989
(2014)
Singles from Red
  1. "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together"
    Released: August 13, 2012
  2. "Begin Again"
    Released: October 1, 2012
  3. "I Knew You Were Trouble"
    Released: November 27, 2012
  4. "22"
    Released: March 12, 2013
  5. "Red"
    Released: June 21, 2013
  6. "Everything Has Changed"
    Released: July 16, 2013
  7. "The Last Time"
    Released: November 4, 2013

Red is the fourth studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was released on October 22, 2012, by Big Machine Records. The album's title refers to what Swift described as the tumultuous "red" emotions that were evoked from the unhealthy romance she was experiencing during the album's conception.

Swift enlisted new producers in addition to longtime collaborator Nathan Chapman with hopes of experimenting with newer sounds that would expand her artistry beyond her previous country pop style. The final product was an album that combines pop, country, and rock, with folk and electronic elements, drawing from various sub-genres such as arena rock, Britrock, dance-pop, and dubstep. The songs on Red delve into the complex and conflicting emotions ensuing from lost romance. Big Machine promoted Red as a country album, but many critics disputed this categorization, calling it a straightforward pop album.

Seven singles supported the album, four of which peaked inside the top 10 of the US Billboard Hot 100: the lead single "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" topped the chart, whereas "Begin Again", "I Knew You Were Trouble", and "Red" reached numbers eight, two, and six, respectively. Swift promoted the album with the Red Tour (2013–14), the most successful country tour of all time with $150 million grossed upon completion. Red was a commercial success: it spent seven weeks atop the Billboard 200, making Swift the first female artist and the second act since the Beatles, to have three consecutive albums each spend at least six weeks at number one. The album topped the charts in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom and was certified seven times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, and received multi-platinum certifications globally.

Red was positively received for Swift's lyrics, but divided critics on its genre-spanning sound: praise directed at Swift's versatility, and criticism targeted the inconsistency. It received nominations for Album of the Year at the 2013 Country Music Association Awards, and Album of the Year and Best Country Album at the 2014 Grammy Awards. Retrospectively, critics lauded Red for showcasing Swift's artistry, describing it as a transitional record that drifted her from country into mainstream pop, which laid the groundwork for her consequent albums' electropop sound.[1] Red appeared in publications' lists of the best albums of the 2010s, and ranked at number 99 in the 2020 revision of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Following the dispute regarding the ownership of its master, the re-recording of the album, Red (Taylor's Version), is slated for release on November 19, 2021. It will feature 30 of the songs that Swift originally wrote and expected to include on the 2012 album.

Background[edit]

Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift released her third studio album Speak Now in October 2010. She wrote the album entirely by herself, as a statement to her critics that she was a capable songwriter.[2] Co-produced by Swift and her longtime collaborator Nathan Chapman, the album musically expands on her characteristic country pop sound, with increasing elements of radio-friendly pop crossover, which had been evident on its predecessor Fearless (2008).[3] It incorporates various rock styles, including pop rock and bluegrass.[4] Speak Now was the fastest-selling digital album by a female artist, with 278,000 downloads in a week, earning Swift an entry in the 2010 Guinness World Records.[5] At the 54th Grammy Awards in 2012, the album was nominated for Best Country Album, and its single "Mean" won Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance.[6]

Recording and production[edit]

Swift on the Speak Now World Tour in 2011, when she was in the midst of the songwriting for Red.

Promptly following the release of Speak Now, Swift planned to continue collaborating with Chapman for its follow-up.[7] By October 2011, she had written around 25 songs.[8] Executives at Swift's label at this time, Big Machine, congratulated her on having finalized the album within one year.[9] Swift felt that she had been repeating the same songwriting process as she had for Speak Now, which diminished her creativity.[9] Therefore, she sought to collaborate with new producers and Chapman to venture out of her "comfort zone" of writing songs alone.[9] While Speak Now was Swift's statement as a songwriter, she envisioned her fourth studio album as a statement of her "thirst for learning".[2] She subsequently reworked the album while embarking on the Speak Now World Tour.[10]

Swift decided that her fourth studio album would not follow one coherent genre, aiming to experiment with as many styles as she could.[9] To this end, she recruited musicians whose works she admired, hoping to "learn from them".[10] Although Swift wanted to experiment with various musical styles, she—as a songwriter—prioritized the lyrics over the production, striving to capture her emotions as she had done on her previous songs. The songwriting would start with identifying an emotion to a song, and the production would follow.[11] On songs that Swift co-wrote with other writers, she first presented them with the feelings that she had been going through, played a rough demo on her guitar, and then asked for their idea on how to convey the story better.[7] Each song would have a different production corresponding to the emotion portrayed, resulting in an eclectic mix of styles.[9]

The first song that Swift wrote was "All Too Well", during a rehearsal of the Speak Now tour in late 2010.[2] Having gone through a recent breakup, Swift began ad-libbing self-written lyrics about heartbreak on a four-chord guitar riff as her touring band spontaneously provided backing instruments.[2] A critical point when Swift was in the midst of the recording sessions with Chapman was the song "Red", on which her creativity "started wandering to all the places [she] could go".[7] Big Machine's president Scott Borchetta overheard the original production by Chapman and suggested a more pop-oriented sound.[12] After several failed attempts at the desired sound, Swift asked Borchetta to recruit Swedish producer Max Martin, whose chart-topping pop tunes had intrigued Swift by "how [they] can just land a chorus".[7][12] Martin and his frequent collaborator Shellback produced three songs on the album: "22", "I Knew You Were Trouble", and "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together", all of which are characterized by the pair's trademark synthesizers and electronic production.[12] The final version of "Red" was produced by Swift, Chapman, and Dann Huff.[13] Huff, who had produced for several country artists, worked with Swift and Chapman on two other songs: "Starlight" and "Begin Again".[10][13]

Another new collaborator was Jeff Bhasker, whose production of the song "We Are Young" (2011) by indie band Fun captivated Swift by its drum instrumentation.[9][14] Bhasker produced two songs: "Holy Ground" and "The Lucky One".[13] Swift worked with Butch Walker on the song "Everything Has Changed", a duet with English singer Ed Sheeran.[10] She admired Walker for "how he creates this really organic but emotionally charged music".[9] The song "Treacherous" was produced by Dan Wilson, whose works with his band Semisonic served as an inspiration for Swift.[10][14] Swift enlisted musicians Gary Lightbody and Jacknife Lee of the indie band Snow Patrol, saying, "they can just hit you when they are singing about loss or longing".[7] Lee produced the song "The Last Time", on which Lightbody is a featured vocalist.[10] Swift wrote more than 30 songs for the album, of which 16 made the final cut of the standard edition.[15] Of the 16 tracks, Swift was the sole writer of 10 and co-writer of the remaining six.[14]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Composition[edit]

The final 16-track version of Red is a genre-spanning record, departing from the predominantly country pop sound of Swift's previous albums.[2][16] Swift explained the diverse musical styles as a "metaphor for how messy a real breakup is" and described it as her "only true breakup album".[2] Critics are conflicted about the genre that best describes the album. J. English wrote for NPR that the album's influences range from Swift's well-known country sound to new genres such as dance-pop, dubstep, and Britrock.[16] Jon Dolan of Rolling Stone reviewed the album under their column for country music,[17] while AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine called it a straightforward pop album that shows no trace of country.[18] In another review, Billboard viewed it as a crossover album that reminisces Canadian singer-songwriter Shania Twain's 2002 country-pop crossover Up!.[19]

The first half of Red consists of country and pop songs intertwined with each other.[19][20] The songs that critics characterized as pure pop are "I Knew You Were Trouble", "22", and "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together".[note 1] Some songs on Red expand on the rock stylings of Speak Now, such as "State of Grace" and "Holy Ground", which music professor James Perone found reminiscent of 1980s arena rock.[21] Others, such as "I Almost Do", "Stay Stay Stay", "Sad Beautiful Tragic",[16][22] and "Begin Again" are reminiscent of the country sound of Swift's older songs.[23]

Lyrics and themes[edit]

Joni Mitchell, a blond woman, is seen performing on a guitar. She is wearing a black dress and a wristwatch looking downwards.
Joni Mitchell's 1971 album Blue inspired Swift's songwriting on Red.

While the album's music transcends Swift's country roots, her storytelling ability, nurtured by her country background, remains intact in her songwriting.[16][24] The album's title refers to what Swift termed as the tumultuous "red" emotions evoked by unhealthy romantic relationships that she was experiencing during the album's conception.[25] She described the emotions "spanning from intense love, intense frustration, jealousy, confusion" as extreme feelings where "there's nothing in between. There's nothing beige about any of those feelings".[25] The lyrics delve into these feelings, describing a full range of emotional intensity.[26] Pitchfork's Brad Nelson summed up the album theme as disappearances, from lost romance to lost friendship to Swift's old country sound; this is echoed in the album cover, where Swift is looking downward, and her face is seen partially covered by a shadow from her brimmed hat.[27] Critics noted the similarities between the cover and that of Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell's 1971 album Blue,[27][28] which was an inspiration for Swift's songwriting on Red.[29]

Compared to the fantasy-driven narratives with happy endings of Swift's previous songs, Red realizes the uneasy reality where the most seemingly enduring relationships can painfully end.[27] Critics observed a sign of maturity in Swift's perspectives and recognized the album's additional themes ranging from wide-eyed optimism to insecurity about one's perceived image, and the pressure of stardom.[16][18] Hints of sex, a theme absent in Swift's previously released music, are also apparent on the album, which coincided with Swift's outgrowing her public image as an innocent sweetheart.[16][note 2] Writing for The A.V. Club, Michael Gallucci acknowledged that the songs present a deeper observation, but did not appreciate that the Red songs demonize Swift's ex-lovers.[30] NPR's J. English, meanwhile, noted that the album portrays Swift at her most vulnerable and mature, for recognizing her coming-of-age in "plaintive, reflective tones".[16] Music Billboard similarly noticed the album's portrayal of maturity through vulnerability, "where she most effectively lays bare her emotional life in all its messy complexity".[26] Most of the songs on Red were inspired by one specific ex-boyfriend, and according to Swift, that ex-boyfriend contacted her after listening to the album and described the experience as "bittersweet".[31]

Songs[edit]

Red opens with "State of Grace", an arena rock song featuring chiming guitars and dynamic drums with lyrics about the tumultuous feelings evoked from first sights of love.[27][32] James Perone found the song reminiscent of 1980s rock and commented that it sets the album's overall theme of the complex feelings ensued from lost romance.[33] The title track, "Red", incorporates acoustic banjo and guitars, and electronic vocal manipulation.[34] The lyrics in the refrain correspond different stages of love to different colors, such as "losing him" to blue, "missing him" to dark gray, and "loving him" to red.[35] Spin senior staff writer Marc Hogan described the track as soft rock,[34] while Taste of Country senior editor Billy Dukes felt that the song straddles the boundary between country and mainstream pop.[22]

The third track, "Treacherous", begins with a slow-tempo guitar strum and percussion.[19][27] Swift sings about how she would fight to protect a dangerous relationship.[22] Regarded by critics as Swift's most radical sonic innovation on the album, "I Knew You Were Trouble" begins with a pop rock production featuring acoustic guitar before cascading into a dubstep-tinged refrain backed by aggressive synthesizers.[19][27][36] Its lyrics find Swift blaming herself for a toxic relationship that has ended.[20] Swift commented the song was a completely new style for her that she thought "people were going to be freaked out over".[37] Critic Jon Caramanica from The New York Times described the dubstep production as "a wrecking ball, changing the course not just of the song but also of Ms. Swift's career".[20]

"All Too Well" is widely regarded by critics as the album's emotional centerpiece.[2][27][38] Featuring a slow-burning production blending country, folk, and soft rock, the song chronicles the heartache that Swift goes through.[19] It contains vivid details on the timeline of a lost relationship, from the peak of romance to the lingering memories after it has ended.[19][39] The imagery of Swift's scarf left in a drawer in the lyrics became a symbol associated with the song; critic Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone remarked: "No other song does such a stellar job of showing off her ability to blow up a trivial little detail into a legendary heartache".[40][41] It is followed by "22", a straight-up pop song featuring pulsing synthesizers that recalls a 1980s sound.[20][42] The lyrics of "22" celebrate the joys of being young and confident regardless of the fear of aging while acknowledging the heartache that Swift and her friends endured in the past.[16][24]

"I Almost Do" is a country pop and soft rock ballad featuring gentle guitar strums, with lyrics about the internal struggle to whether get back with an ex-lover or move on.[19][38] Swift explained that the song is about "the conflict that you feel when you want to take someone back, and you want to give it another try, but you know you can't".[43] It is followed by "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together", which finds Swift promising to her ex-lover that they will never reconcile over their broken relationship.[19] The song is a gleeful dance-pop tune with pulsing synthesizers, processed guitar sounds, and hip hop-influenced bass drums.[18][44]

"Stay Stay Stay" is a fast-tempo song instrumented by a toy piano, a ukulele, a mandolin, and hand claps with lyrics about Swift and her lover trying to make up after a fight.[20][39] It is proceeded by "The Last Time", a duet with Gary Lightbody.[44] "The Last Time" features a melancholic production backed by string instruments, which Perone drew comparisons to the music of late-1970s and early-1980s rock bands, but with a muted texture.[45] Both Swift and Lightbody provide lead vocals; Lightbody sings about his perspectives on a failing but enduring relationship in the first verse, and Swift presents her view in the second verse.[45] The refrain is backed by strings and brass, intensifying the emotional tension between the two characters.[46]

In "Holy Ground", Swift reminisces about a lover who has gone and describes the ground on which they stood together as "holy ground", over an uptempo drum beat and chugging guitars.[45] Perone characterized the song as country rock that expands on Swift's country pop sound,[45] while Slant Magazine described it as heartland rock.[39] The next track, "Sad Beautiful Tragic", is a melancholic slow-tempo folk-oriented waltz about a doomed love affair.[19][22] The soft rock track "The Lucky One" is a cautionary tale about the perils of celebrity.[16][47] Narrated from a third-person perspective, it references the story of a successful singer who "chose the rose garden over Madison Square".[19][39]

"Everything Has Changed" is a stripped-back guitar ballad, on which Swift and Ed Sheeran sing about wanting to get acquainted with a new romance.[19][48] "Starlight" is an uptempo dance-pop song with lyrics describing the romance of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy.[17][19][39] The album's final track, "Begin Again", is a gentle country song.[19] According to Swift, the song is about "when you've gotten through a really bad relationship and you finally dust yourself off and go on that first date after a horrible breakup, and the vulnerability that goes along with all that."[38] Perone noted that Red concludes with a straight-up country song after exploring other genres, which confirmed the importance of Swift's country roots.[23]

The deluxe edition of Red includes three extra original songs—"The Moment I Knew", "Come Back... Be Here", and" Girl at Home"; and three alternate versions of three songs on the standard edition—"Treacherous", "Red", and "State of Grace".[49][50] "The Moment I Knew" narrates a story of a character's 21st birthday when, despite a Christmas theme and good friends, her boyfriend does not show up, signaling a failing relationship. "Come Back... Be Here" was produced by Dan Wilson, who produced "Treacherous". The lyrics describe a long-distance relationship with no signs of whether or not it could continue past a two-day time frame. The final, "Girl at Home", is about a girl's feelings when her boyfriend is out and flirting with other women.[49]

Release and promotion[edit]

Marketing[edit]

Swift is seen signing autographs. She is wearing a brown trench coat and red lipstick
Swift on a promotional appearance for Red on Good Morning America, October 22, 2012

To bolster album sales, Swift and Big Machine implemented an extensive marketing plan.[51] On August 13, 2012, Swift gave a live webchat via Google Hangouts, through which she announced the details of Red, including the release date and cover, and answered fan questions.[25][52] She concurrently released the lead single from Red, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together",[25] which topped the US Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks.[53] An alternate version was released to US country radio.[54] "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs for ten weeks.[55]

On September 22, 2012, Swift announced that she would preview one song from Red each week on Good Morning America, as part of a four-week release countdown from September 24 until the album's release week.[56] The four songs—"Begin Again",[57] "Red",[58] "I Knew You Were Trouble",[59] and "State of Grace"[60]—were also released for digital download ahead of the album's release. "Begin Again" was later released to US country radio as an official single on October 1, 2012.[61][62] The single peaked at number seven on the US Billboard Hot 100.[63]

Both the standard and deluxe versions of Red were released on October 22, 2012.[51] In the US, the standard edition was available in digital and physical formats, and the deluxe edition containing six extra tracks was available exclusively for physical purchase at Target.[51] Swift also had tie-ins with corporations including Keds, Wal-Mart, and Papa John's.[51] A day after the release, Swift began a cycle of television appearances, starting with a live performance on Good Morning America; pre-recorded television appearances on shows including The Ellen DeGeneres Show and 20/20 subsequently followed.[51] She made many appearances on radio, giving interviews to as many as 72 stations, mostly in the US, and a few international outlets from South Africa, New Zealand, Spain, Germany, and Mexico.[51] She also performed at awards shows including the MTV Video Music Awards,[64] the Country Music Association Awards,[65] and the American Music Awards.[66]

Red was further promoted by a string of singles. "I Knew You Were Trouble" was released to pop radio as an official single on November 27, 2012.[67] It was a big hit on pop radio, peaking atop the Billboard Mainstream Top 40/Pop Songs for seven weeks.[37] The single peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100[68] and was a top ten chart hit in Oceania and Europe.[69] "22" was released to pop radio in March 2013,[70] and "Red" was released to country radio in June 2013.[71] The singles peaked at number 20 and number six on the Billboard Hot 100, respectively.[72] Other singles were "Everything Has Changed"[73] and "The Last Time"; the latter had a limited release to UK radio.[74]

While Swift and Big Machine promoted Red as a country album, the album's diverse musical styles sparked a media debate over Swift's status as a country singer-songwriter.[54][75] Music magazine Spin argued that it was hard to categorize Red, given that the genre country itself is "the most dynamically vibrant pop genre of the last decade or so".[76] Others noted that Swift had always been more pop-oriented and country, and described Red as her inevitable move to mainstream pop.[77] Swift responded in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that country music "feels like home", and dismissed the debate regarding her country status: "I leave the genre labeling to other people."[77]

Touring[edit]

Swift dressing in a red dress and singing on a microphone
Swift on the Red Tour, the highest-grossing country tour of all time

Swift announced the album's accompanying world tour, the Red Tour, shortly after the album's release.[78] On October 26, 2012, she announced the first 58 dates for the North American leg, kicking off in Omaha, Nebraska, and visiting Canada and the US throughout the spring and summer of 2013 before concluding in Nashville, Tennessee in September.[79] To support a high demand, Swift held the concerts mostly in sports arenas and stadiums.[78] After the 58-date North American leg, the Red Tour visited Australasia,[80] the UK,[81] and Asia.[82]

The Red Tour was a box office success. The four shows at Staples Center in Los Angeles extended Swift's total number of sold-out shows to 11, making her the solo artist with the most sold-out shows at Staples Center.[83] She was the first female artist to sell out Sydney's Allianz Stadium since its opening in 1988.[84] The tickets for the Shanghai show sold out within 60 seconds, setting the record for the fastest sellout in China.[82] When it ended in June 2014, the tour grossed $150.2 million and became the highest-grossing country tour of all time.[85]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?6.6/10[86]
Metacritic77/100[87]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic5/5 stars[18]
The A.V. ClubB+[30]
The Daily Telegraph3/5 stars[88]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[42]
The Guardian4/5 stars[89]
Los Angeles Times3/4 stars[47]
MSN Music (Expert Witness)A−[90]
Pitchfork9.0/10[27]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[17]
Spin8/10[76]

Red received generally positive reviews from contemporary critics, most of whom commended Swift's songwriting.[51][91] Jon Dolan from Rolling Stone lauded Swift's autobiographical lyrics which are depicted in songs that "linger on like tattoos".[17] In a retrospective review published in 2019, Pitchfork's Brad Nelson described the album as Swift's fully-realized effort as a versatile songwriter, who explored her deeper observations and perspectives.[27]

The album's production polarized critics. On a positive side, Billboard praised Red's radio-friendly tunes that catapulted Swift to even higher fame.[19] Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic said although Swift's lyrics about romantic relationships and social anxiety sound somewhat clumsy, they add substance to "the pristine pop confections", which makes Red a compelling album.[18] Spin's Michael Robbins characterized the album as a record "full of adult pleasures",[76] and The Guardian's Kate Mossman described it as "one of the finest fantasies pop music has ever constructed".[89] Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Randall Roberts was impressed by the different musical styles as she "strives for something much more grand and accomplished".[47] Jon Caramanica from The New York Times agreed, calling the production a striking feature of Red which proves that Swift is more of a pop star than a country singer.[20]

Some reviewers were more reserved in their praise. Jonathan Keefe from Slant Magazine wrote that Red is not consistent enough to be considered "truly great", but some of the album's are "career-best work for Swift, who now sounds like the pop star she was destined to be all along".[39] Michael Gallucci from The A.V. Club found the music far more ambitious than Swift's previous records, but overall a "complicated and sometimes unfocused" album.[30] Writing for MSN Music, Robert Christgau viewed Red as an inferior version of the Magnetic Fields' 1999 album 69 Love Songs but appreciated Swift's efforts to expand her sonic territory.[90] The Daily Telegraph's James Lachno found the production bloated, and commented that the album would be better had Swift fully embraced mainstream pop and abandoned her old country sound.[88] Mesfin Fekadu of The Associated Press felt that the album "sounded empty" compared to Fearless (2008) and Speak Now (2010), but praised "I Almost Do" and the album's duets.[92]

Accolades[edit]

Red received accolades in terms of both critical and popular recognition. Mainstream publications featuring Red on their lists of the best albums of 2012 included Billboard,[93] The Daily Beast,[94] The Guardian,[95] Idolator,[96] MTV News,[97] Newsday,[98] PopMatters,[99] Rolling Stone,[100] Spin,[101] and Stereogum.[102] Critic Jon Caramanica ranked the album second on his list of 2012's best albums for The New York Times.[103] Red placed at number 17 on the 2012 Pazz & Jop, an annual mass critics' poll conducted by The Village Voice.[104] The album was proclaimed as one of 2012's best country albums by Spin.[105]

At the 56th Grammy Awards in 2014, Red was nominated for Album of the Year and Best Country Album.[106] The album received nominations at US country music awards, including two nominations for Album of the Year at the 2013 Country Music Association Awards[107] and the 2013 Academy of Country Music Awards.[108] It won Favorite Country Album at the 2013 American Music Awards,[109] Top Album and Top Country Album at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards,[110] Top Selling Album at the 2013 Canadian Country Music Association Awards,[111] and Top Selling International Album of the Year at the 2014 Country Music Awards of Australia.[112]

Commercial performance[edit]

Red was a commercial success.[113] In the US, Red debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 1.21 million copies.[114] It was Swift's third consecutive Billboard 200 number one.[114] In just over two months, Red surpassed 3.1 million copies sold.[115] It claimed the biggest single-week sales of 2012 and surpassed Garth Brooks's 1998 album Double Life as the fastest-selling country album.[116] With this achievement, Swift was recognized in the Guinness World Records as the "First Solo Female with Two Million-Selling Weeks on the U.S. Albums Chart"; her previous studio album Speak Now (2010) also sold one million copies in its debut week.[117] In the UK, Red has the most Top 10 singles out of any Taylor Swift album.[118]

Red spent seven non-consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard 200.[119] This made Swift the first female artist, and the first artist since the Beatles, to have three consecutive studio albums each spend six or more weeks atop the chart (her previous studio albums Fearless and Speak Now respectively spent 11 weeks in 2008–09 and six weeks in 2010–11).[120] Red was the third consecutive time—Fearless (2008) being the first and Speak Now (2010) and the second—that Swift had an album peak at number one during the last week before Christmas, which is traditionally the most competitive week of the year for album sales.[121]

The album reached number one on the record charts of various European and Oceanic countries, including in Australia,[122] Canada,[123] New Zealand,[124] Ireland,[125] and Scotland.[126] Red was Swift's first number one on the UK Albums Chart,[127] where it was certified 2x platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and as of June 2021 sold over 772,000 copies.[118][128] Less than a month after its release, Red sold 2.8 million copies worldwide.[113] In the US, Red was the second-highest-selling album of 2012 after two months of sales, selling 3.11 million copies.[129] Globally, Red was the second-best-selling album of 2012, with sales of 5.2 million copies.[130]

By August 2014, the album had sold over eight million copies.[131] As of October 2020, Red's US sales stood at 4.49 million.[132] The album was certified seven times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for exceeding seven million album-equivalent units.[133] It also received multi-platinum certifications in Australia and Canada (4× platinum),[134][135] and New Zealand (2x platinum).[136]

Impact and legacy[edit]

Red appeared on many publications' lists of the best albums of the 2010s. According to Metacritic, it was the fifteenth most acclaimed album of the decade.[137] It featured on Atwood Magazine's unranked list,[138] and was included on The Independent[139] and Pitchfork.[140] It was ranked within the top 10 by Insider (first),[141] Uproxx (three),[142] Billboard (four),[143] Rolling Stone (four),[144] the Tampa Bay Times (nine),[145] and Stereogum (10).[146] Taste of Country ranked Red as one of the best country albums of the decade.[147] In 2020, Rolling Stone ranked Red at number 99 on their revised list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[148]

The album's production straddling between country and pop inspired Swift to venture into genres she had not tried before.[149] The successful pop radio singles, specifically the dubstep-infused "I Knew You Were Trouble", served as a "signal flare" for Swift to collaborate again with pop producers Max Martin and Shellback, known for radio-friendly pop.[150][151] Upon reading reviews calling Red an inconsistent album, Swift fully embraced the electropop sound, transcending her previous country image.[152] Its upbeat pop production laid the groundwork for the synth-pop sound of her next album 1989 (2014), which she dubbed "blatant pop music",[149] and her "first documented, official pop album". Swift continued to explore pop with its successors, Reputation (2017) and Lover (2019).[153]

Critics have noted the impact of Red's eclectic sound on subsequent albums released by multiple female country singers, including Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, and Kelsea Ballerini.[154] Music critic Steven Hyden credited Red for emerging a new generation of indie artists, whose works are "aesthetically much closer to Swift's pop than anything in the rock underground".[155] Fans and critics have dubbed Red an "autumnal album" due to its aesthetic and lyrical imagery.[156] Jordan Sargent of Spin named Red "one of the best pop albums of our time".[157] American singer and actress Lauren Alaina cited Red as an album that changed her life.[158] In 2019, an indie rock album titled ReRed was released as a tribute to Red, featuring artists like Wild Pink, Adult Mom, and Chris Farren. All proceeds from the album goes to Equal Justice Initiative, an organization dedicated to ending "mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and racial inequality".[159]

Track listing[edit]

Red — Standard edition[160]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."State of Grace"Taylor Swift4:55
2."Red"Swift
3:43
3."Treacherous"Wilson4:02
4."I Knew You Were Trouble"
  • Martin
  • Shellback
3:39
5."All Too Well"
  • Swift
  • Chapman
5:29
6."22"
  • Swift
  • Martin
  • Shellback
  • Martin
  • Shellback
3:52
7."I Almost Do"Swift
  • Swift
  • Chapman
4:04
8."We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together"
  • Swift
  • Martin
  • Shellback
  • Swift [161]
  • Martin
  • Shellback
3:13
9."Stay Stay Stay"Swift
  • Swift
  • Chapman
3:25
10."The Last Time" (featuring Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol)
Lee4:59
11."Holy Ground"SwiftJeff Bhasker3:22
12."Sad Beautiful Tragic"Swift
  • Swift
  • Chapman
4:44
13."The Lucky One"SwiftBhasker4:00
14."Everything Has Changed" (featuring Ed Sheeran)
  • Swift
  • Sheeran
Butch Walker4:05
15."Starlight"Swift
  • Swift
  • Chapman
  • Huff
3:40
16."Begin Again"Swift
  • Swift
  • Chapman
  • Huff
3:57
Total length:65:09
Red — Deluxe edition (disc two)[50]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
17."The Moment I Knew"Swift
  • Swift
  • Chapman
4:46
18."Come Back... Be Here"
  • Swift
  • Wilson
Wilson3:43
19."Girl at Home"Swift
  • Swift
  • Chapman
3:40
20."Treacherous" (original demo recording)
  • Swift
  • Wilson
Wilson4:00
21."Red" (original demo recording)Swift
  • Swift
  • Chapman
3:47
22."State of Grace" (acoustic version)Swift
  • Swift
  • Chapman
5:23
Total length:25:19
Red — French limited edition (DVD) – Live on the Seine
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Red"Swift 
2."You Belong with Me"
  • Swift
  • Rose
 
3."22"
  • Swift
  • Martin
  • Shellback
 
4."I Knew You Were Trouble"
  • Swift
  • Martin
  • Shellback
 
5."Love Story"Swift 
6."We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together"
  • Swift
  • Martin
  • Shellback
 

Notes

  • "I Knew You Were Trouble" is stylized as "I Knew You Were Trouble.".

Personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from AllMusic.[13]

Musicians

  • Taylor Swift – acoustic guitar, lead vocals, background vocals
  • Nathan Chapman – bass guitar, drums, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboards, mandolin, percussion, piano, soloist, synthesizer, background vocals
  • Peggy Baldwin – cello
  • Brett Banducci – viola
  • Jeff Bhasker – bass guitar, keyboards, piano, background vocals
  • J. Bonilla – drums, percussion
  • Nick Buda – drums
  • Tom Bukovac – electric guitar
  • David Campbell – string arrangements, conducting
  • Daphne Chen – violin
  • Lauren Chipman – viola
  • Eric Darken – percussion
  • Marcia Dickstein – harp
  • Richard Dodd – cello
  • Paul Franklinsteel guitar
  • Eric Gorfain – violin
  • Dann Huffbouzouki, electric guitar, high strung guitar, mandolin
  • Charlie Judge – accordion, Hammond B3, piano, upright piano, strings, synthaxe, synthesizer
  • Gina Kronstadt – violin
  • John Krovoza – cello
  • Marisa Kuney – violin
  • Jacknife Lee – bass guitar, guitar, keyboards
  • Max Martin – keyboards
  • Grant Mickelson – guitar
  • Anders Mouridsen – guitar
  • Jamie Muhoberac – cello
  • Neli Nikolaeva – violin
  • Owen Pallett – conductor, orchestration
  • Radu Pieptea – violin
  • Simeon Pillich – contrabass
  • Wes Precourt – violin
  • Bill Rieflin – drums
  • Shellback – bass guitar, guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboards
  • Jake Sinclair – bass guitar, background vocals
  • Jimmie Lee Sloas – bass guitar
  • Aaron Sterling – drums
  • Jeff Takiguchi – contrabass
  • Andy Thompson – guitar, electric piano
  • Ilya Toshinsky – mandolin
  • Butch Walker – drums, guitar, keyboards, percussion, background vocals
  • Patrick Warren – string arrangements
  • Amy Wickman – violin
  • Dan Wilson – bass guitar, electric guitar, piano, background vocals
  • Rodney Wirtz – violin
  • Jonathan Yudkin – fiddle, violin
  • Caitlin Evanson – background vocals
  • Elizabeth Huett – background vocals ("The Moment I Knew")
  • Tyler Sam Johnson – background vocals
  • Gary Lightbody – featured artist, background vocals
  • Ciara O'Leary – background vocals
  • Ed Sheeran – featured artist

Production

  • Taylor Swift – songwriting, producer
  • Nathan Chapman – producer, engineer
  • Joe Baldridge – engineer
  • Sam Bell – engineer
  • Matt Bishop – engineer
  • Delbert Bowers – assistant
  • Chad Carlson – engineer
  • Tom Coyne – mastering
  • Leland Elliott – assistant
  • Jeff Bhasker – producer
  • Eric Eylands – assistant
  • Greg Fuess – assistant
  • Chris Galland – assistant
  • Serban Ghenea – mixing
  • Matty Green – assistant
  • John Hanes – mixing engineer
  • Sam Holland – engineer
  • Dann Huff – producer
  • David Huff – digital editing
  • Michael Ilbert – engineer
  • Tyler Sam Johnson – guitar engineer
  • Jacknife Lee – engineer, producer, songwriting, programming
  • Gary Lightbody – songwriting
  • Steve Marcantonio – engineer
  • Manny Marroquin – mixing
  • Max Martin – producer, songwriting
  • Seth Morton – assistant
  • Justin Niebank – mixing
  • Chris Owens – assistant
  • John Rausch – engineer
  • Matt Rausch – engineer
  • Tim Roberts – assistant
  • Eric Robinson – engineer
  • Liz Rose – songwriting
  • Pawel Sek – engineer
  • Shellback – producer, songwriting, programming
  • Ed Sheeran – songwriting
  • Jake Sinclair – engineer
  • Mark "Spike" Stent – mixing
  • Andy Thompson – engineer
  • Butch Walker – producer
  • Hank Williams – mastering
  • Brian David Willis – engineer
  • Dan Wilson – producer, songwriting

Charts[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2012) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[122] 1
Australian Country Albums (ARIA)[162] 1
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[163] 3
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[164] 2
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[165] 25
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[123] 1
Croatian Albums (HDU)[166] 27
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[167] 3
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[168] 7
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[169] 49
French Albums (SNEP)[170] 30
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[171] 5
Irish Albums (IRMA)[125] 1
Italian Albums (FIMI)[172] 3
Japanese Albums (Oricon)[173] 3
Mexican Albums (Top 100 Mexico)[174] 4
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[124] 1
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[175] 2
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[176] 8
Scottish Albums (OCC)[126] 1
South African Albums (RISA)[177] 4
South Korean Albums (Gaon)[178] 12
South Korean International Albums (Gaon)[179] 1
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[180] 4
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[181] 8
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[182] 9
UK Albums (OCC)[183] 1
US Billboard 200[184] 1
US Top Country Albums (Billboard)[185] 1
Chart (2019–2021) Peak
position
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[186] 17

Certifications and sales[edit]

Certifications for Red, with pure sales where available
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[134] 5× Platinum 350,000double-dagger
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[222] Gold 20,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[135] 4× Platinum 320,000^
Colombia (ASINCOL)[223] Gold 5,000^ 
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[224] Gold 10,000double-dagger
France (SNEP)[225] Gold 50,000double-dagger
Germany (BVMI)[226] Gold 100,000^
Ireland (IRMA)[227] Platinum 15,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[230] Platinum 256,000[note 3]
Japan (RIAJ)[231]
Digital download
Gold 100,000*
Mexico (AMPROFON)[232] Gold 30,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[136] 2× Platinum 30,000^
Poland (ZPAV)[233] Gold 10,000*
Singapore (RIAS)[234] Platinum 10,000*
Sweden (GLF)[235] Gold 20,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[128] 2× Platinum 695,000[note 4]
United States (RIAA)[133] 7× Platinum 4,490,000[note 5]
Summaries
Worldwide 8,000,000[note 6]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Release history[edit]

Country Date Edition(s) Label
Canada[238][239] October 22, 2012
  • Standard
  • deluxe
Universal Music
India[240] Standard
New Zealand[241]
  • Standard
  • deluxe
United Kingdom[242][243] Mercury Records
United States[244][245][246][247]
  • Standard
  • deluxe
Big Machine Records
December 4, 2012 Vinyl LP
February 5, 2013 Karaoke CD+G/DVD
Italy[248][249] October 23, 2012
  • Standard
  • deluxe
Universal Music
Australia[250]
Spain[251][252]
Japan[253][254] October 24, 2012
Netherlands[255][256] October 25, 2012
Germany[257][258] October 26, 2012
Thailand[259][260] October 27, 2012 Deluxe
October 31, 2012 Standard
France[261][262][263] November 5, 2012
  • Standard
  • deluxe
Mercury Records
April 22, 2013 Limited CD/DVD
Philippines[264] November 5, 2012
  • Standard
  • deluxe
MCA Music Inc.
Indonesia[265][266] Standard Universal Music
February 28, 2013 Deluxe
China[267][268] December 31, 2012 Standard Universal Music
May 25, 2013 Deluxe

Red (Taylor's Version)[edit]

Red (Taylor's Version)
Taylor Swift - Red (Taylor's Version).png
Studio album (re-recording) by
ReleasedNovember 19, 2021 (2021-11-19)
LabelRepublic
Taylor Swift chronology
Fearless (Taylor's Version)
(2021)
Red (Taylor's Version)
(2021)

Red (Taylor's Version), the upcoming second re-recorded album by Swift, is scheduled for release on November 19, 2021, through Republic Records. It is a re-recording of Red and follows her first re-recorded album, Fearless (Taylor's Version), which was released in April 2021. The re-recording is Swift's countermeasure against the changed ownership of the masters to her first six studio albums.

Background[edit]

As per her contract with Big Machine, Swift released six studio albums under the label from 2006 to 2017. In late 2018, the contract with the label expired; she subsequently signed a new recording deal with Republic Records, a division of Universal Music Group, which secured her the rights to own the masters[note 7] of the new music she will release.[270] In 2019, American businessman Scooter Braun and his company Ithaca Holdings acquired Big Machine.[271] As part of the acquisition, ownership of the masters to Swift's first six studio albums, including Red, transferred to Braun.[272] In August 2019, Swift denounced Braun's purchase of the label and announced that she would re-record her first six studio albums, so as to own their masters herself.[273] In November 2020, Braun sold the masters to Shamrock Holdings, an American private equity firm owned by the Disney estate,[note 8] under the conditions that Braun and Ithaca Holdings will continue to financially profit from the albums.[274] Swift began re-recording the albums in November 2020.[275]

Musically and lyrically, Red resembled a heartbroken person. It was all over the place, a fractured mosaic of feelings that somehow all fit together in the end. Happy, free, confused, lonely, devastated, euphoric, wild, and tortured by memories past. Like trying on pieces of a new life, I went into the studio and experimented with different sounds and collaborators. And I'm not sure if it was pouring my thoughts into this album, hearing thousands of your voices sing the lyrics back to me in passionate solidarity, or if it was simply time, but something was healed along the way.

— Swift looking back on Red and introducing its re-recording, Instagram[276]

Fearless (Taylor's Version), the first of her six re-recorded albums, was released on April 9, 2021. It achieved critical and commercial success,[277] and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart as the first re-recorded album in history to top the chart.[278] On June 18, 2021, Swift revealed that Red (Taylor's Version), the re-recorded issue of Red, would follow on November 19, 2021. It is set to contain all 30 songs that were meant to be on the 2012 version.[278] Swift also teased the original 10-minute-long version of "All Too Well" as part of the track listing.[279] Alongside the announcement, preorders for the album were made available.[280] While appearing on The Official Big Top 40 on June 27, 2021, Sheeran confirmed his involvement with Red (Taylor's Version), saying he had already re-recorded "Everything Has Changed".[281]

Artwork[edit]

The cover artwork of Red (Taylor's Version) depicts Swift wearing a beige peacoat and a burgundy-colored "Matti" velvet fisherman's cap, seated in a vintage 1932 Chevrolet Cabriolet convertible, with an autumnal background. Janessa Leoné designed the hat, which sold out on Leoné's website.[282][283]

Confirmed tracks[edit]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "I Knew You Were Trouble", "22", and "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" were produced by Swedish pop producers Max Martin and Shellback.[20]
  2. ^ The media had described Swift as "America's Sweetheart" for her wholesome girl next door image. As she became a household name in popular music, her dating history with a series of well-known male celebrities became a subject of tabloid scrutiny and began to diminish that image.[20]
  3. ^ Japanese sales figure for Red as of December 2013[228][229]
  4. ^ UK sales figure for Red of August 2019[236]
  5. ^ US sales figure for Red as of October 2020[132]
  6. ^ Worldwide sales figure for Red as of August 2014[237]
  7. ^ A master is the first recording of an audio work, from which copies are replicated and distributed for consumption by the masses; the owner of the master, therefore, owns all formats of the album, such as digital versions for download or on streaming platforms, or physical versions available on CDs and vinyl LPs.[269]
  8. ^ Not to be confused with the Walt Disney Company. Shamrock is a private corporation founded by Roy E. Disney as the Disney family's investment firm. The family completely owns Shamrock and remains its sole investor.[274]

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