Red (Taylor Swift song)

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Taylor Swift - Red (Single).png
Single by Taylor Swift
from the album Red
ReleasedJune 21, 2013 (2013-06-21)
RecordedSeptember 6, 2011 (2011-09-06)
LabelBig Machine
Songwriter(s)Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift singles chronology
"Highway Don't Care"
"Everything Has Changed"
Music video
"Red" on YouTube

"Red" is a song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift for her fourth studio album of the same name (2012). It was released on October 2, 2012, in the United States by Big Machine Records as the second promotional single from Red and eventually served as the album's fifth official single on June 21, 2013.[2] It was one of the tracks released during the four weeks preceding the release of the album.[3] Musically, "Red" is a country song, and its lyrics use colors and metaphors to describe an intense and tumultuous relationship.

The track received generally positive reviews from music critics, who praised its lyrics, but were ambivalent towards its composition. The song debuted at number six on the Billboard 100 chart in the United States and at number one on the Hot Digital Songs component chart. Also in the United States, the song debuted at number two on the Hot Country Songs chart, behind the album's lead single "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together".


Swift previewed the track on the October 1, 2012 episode of ABC's Good Morning America. The song finds Swift playing with the idea of colors in relation to her emotions about a relationship. Before playing the track, Swift explained its meaning: "I wrote this song about the fact that some things are just hard to forget," she said, "because the emotions involved with them were so intense and, to me, intense emotion is red." Swift explained that she decided to name this song as her album title, as its lyrics encompass the entire theme of the project. "Thinking about what that means to me and all the different emotions that are written about on this album – they're all pretty much about the sexy, crazy, insane, intense, semi-toxic relationships that I've experienced in the last two years," I noted. "All those emotions – spanning from intense love, intense frustration, jealousy, confusion – in my mind, all those emotions are red. There's nothing in between; there is nothing beige about any of those feelings."

Swift explained to Billboard. "I think the reason I said that was because I made the record exactly the same way I made the last three. I knew I hadn't jumped out of my comfort zone, which at the time was writing alone and working with Nathan. ["Red"] the song was a real turning point for Red the album. When I wrote that song my mind started wandering to all the places we could go. If I were to think outside the box enough, go in with different people, I could learn from and have what they do rub off on me as well as have what I do rub off on them."[4]

Swift seems to look back with uncertainty at her 2012 feeling that love is "red" in the song "Daylight" from her 2019 album Lover. In the song, she sings, "I once believed love would be burnin’ red. But it's golden. Like daylight."[5]


"Red" is a country song.[6][7] It is written in the key of C# minor and lasts three minutes and forty-one seconds. It is in common time with an approximate tempo of 125 beats per minute. Swift's vocals range from F3 to C5.[8]

Music video[edit]

A music video for the song was released on July 3, 2013; the video features footage from Swift's Red Tour.[9] Crowd cheers from the concert footage can be heard in the background of the song throughout the video. As of January 2020, the video has over 175 million views on YouTube.[10]

Critical reception[edit]

Marc Hogan of Spin felt the mixed influences didn't work in Swift's favor: "A glossy soft rocker with a stomping four-on-the-floor beat, back-porch twang, adult-contemporary orchestration, and Top 40-ready electronic vocal effects, it covers a bizarre number of bases. And the key lyric compares her lost love, mourned here as an object of desire but not kissed off as one of the usual jerks, to 'driving a new Maserati down a dead end street,' like Swift is about to brawl with Rick Ross." [11] Grady Smith of Entertainment Weekly, joked, saying: "Those are the only colors the song — which Swift says is all about 'intense emotion' — brings up, which kind of let me down. (...) I'm being serious — I kept waiting for some other hue to pop up, and it never did.(... And then, said: "Lyrically, (...) [some] lines (...) lack the crisp, powerful punch that Swift usually delivers. And in a song all about the vividness of feelings, they paint a rather blurry portrait. (...) Where is the drama, the sexiness, the freefall of passion? The poppy production white-washes over all that. That doesn't mean this is a bad song, just maybe an underwhelming one."[12]

Rebecca Macatee of E! Online, found the lyrics to be a rainbow of fruit flavors: "She...goes through myriad colors to describe her feelings... We're not sure what color Swift's heart is, but we're sure it's pretty."[13] Laurence of Music City Post, noted the track's melodic strength: "With a lot of heart on the sleeve lyricism (...) and a hefty guitar solo, 'Red' does nothing by half measures."[14] Rolling Stone responded favorably to the record, noting that the song marries her heartbreak anthems with a radio-friendly sound "with banjos flying, strings swelling and guitars wailing, Swift keeps her lyrics simple but effective[.]"[15] The Pop Fairy gave a negative review: ""Red" is (...) another love song by America's favorite cougar of the moment. (...) The only unique thing about the song is the thing I can't stand, the electronic 'R-R-Red' that repeats after the chorus." Finishing with 'A little more effort would be nice.', giving the song a grade 'C'.[16]

One of the more positive reviews came from Billy Dukes of Taste of Country, who gave the track 4.5 out of 5 stars. Said Dukes: "...'Red' is arguably the best lyric on the album. It's a songwriting spotlight for Swift, who toys with colors like a skilled artist, and this song is her Sistine Chapel."[6] Estelle Tang of Elle Magazine named 'Red' the 6th best love song of all time saying "Here's one for those dwelling in the past: Taylor Swift's "Red" isn't about a current love affair, but one that's come and gone. Still, it captures the exhilaration of falling headlong for someone: "Loving him was red." [17]

Commercial performance[edit]

On the Billboard Hot 100, "Red" debuted at number six on the week ending October 11, 2012. It sold 312,000 digital copies, allowing it to debut at number two on the Hot Digital Songs chart. It became Swift's 13th top ten hit, as well as her 10th to debut in the top ten, extending Swift's record as the artist with the most top ten debuts in the Hot 100's history. In addition it earned the fourteenth largest opening week sales for a song in digital history. After being serviced to country radio, it re-entered the chart at number 100, and proceeded to linger in the lower ends of the chart for the next several weeks. Following Swift's performance of the song at the 2013 Country Music Association Awards, the song vaulted from number 76 to number 32, which became its peak as a single. It was present on the chart for a total of 22 weeks.

On the Billboard Hot Country Songs, "Red" debuted and peaked at number two, behind Swift's own "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together". It charted for 42 weeks, becoming Swift's longest running song on the chart. It also peaked at number 7 on the Country Airplay chart, becoming Swift's 18th top ten hit on the chart.

Internationally, "Red" debuted at number 5 on the Canadian Hot 100, becoming Swift's seventh top five hit and eleventh top ten hit there, and charted for a total of 15 weeks. It debuted and peaked at number 30 on the ARIA charts charts on the week ending ending October 7, 2012. In New Zealand, peaked at number 14 on the RIANZ charts. On the UK Single Chart, it debuted and peaked at number 26. It reached number 25 on Irish Singles Chart, and number 46 in Spain.

Live performances[edit]

The song was performed as the third song of The Red Tour set list, and as the surprise songs for the first shows in Columbus and Pasadena during The 1989 World Tour and Reputation Stadium Tour, respectively. On September 9, 2019, Swift performed the song at the City of Lover one-off concert in Paris, France.[18]


Year Organization Award/work Result Ref
2014 CMT Music Awards Female Video of the Year Nominated [19]
Video of the Year Nominated
BMI Awards Publisher of the Year Won [20]
Country Awards Top 50 Songs Won

Track listing[edit]

Digital download[21]
  1. "Red" — 3:43
Digital download (2013 CMA Awards Performance)[22]
  1. "Red (2013 CMA Awards Performance) (featuring Alison Krauss, Edgar Meyer, Eric Darken, Sam Bush and Vince Gill)" — 3:51

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from liner notes of Red.[23]



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[39] Gold 35,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[40] Gold 100,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[41] Silver 200,000*
United States (RIAA)[43] 2× Platinum 2,000,000[42]

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
United States October 2, 2012[44] Digital download Big Machine Records
June 24, 2013[45] Country radio


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External links[edit]

  • Taylor Swift official site: single, album (with lyrics)