Music · Reviews

A completely necessary review of Red.

As I started writing this, there was a tad bit of indifference and annoyance towards Word Press because I was staring at a colorful bar of crap (more commonly known as a rainbow) going across the top of my screen. I considered ignoring the inspiration to write for the time until the colors went away, but I decided to swallow my pride (lol no pun intended) and take advantage of creativity. As my fortune cookie from a few nights back profoundly stated: “Express yourself now.” (The rainbow is gone now. You really wanted to know that, I’m sure.)

I recently started my first job at the library, so I’ve been spending a lot of time around books. As a result, it’s put me in a very bookworm-ish, hipster-esque, coffee shop dwelling, writing mood. So I checked out some books (The Fault In Our Stars, If I Stay, The Longest Ride and Mr. Monk in Trouble, because I know you really wanted to know) and I keep wanting to go out after workย and sit down and read, write and drink some coffee, like all of the cool bloggers and writers do nowadays. So fetch.

After driving around Lake Woodlands and Lake Robbins going to the library, Barnes & Noble and Target for three days straight I’ve finally sat down and started to write something. I came up with the idea of writing an album review of each of Taylor Swift’s albums when I thought of reviewing Jordan Taylor’s new albumย (I haven’t listened to it, yet, though, but I’m so excited to!). This review might be late (like two and a half years), but it could still be valid. There might be some lost soul out there waiting for some good music to cross their path. Maybe this lil’ blog post could save their life. Also people probably definitely want to hear my opinions on the subject because I’m very high up in the music business and know a thing or two about good art. Duh.

I’m going to try to release one review each day over the next five days. You can read them or ignore them, I don’t care, but this is just to get myself into the habit of writing on my blog. I have a history of starting a blog and never actually carrying through with it, so I’ll probably get bored or lazy and decide to quit after my first review. But I want to keep myself accountable. So I’m going to do this. I want to try to blog while I’m at college, too, just to keep in touch with people at home (because it’s not like I’ll be home every weekend for church or anything), so I might as well start now and work myself into it with something that’s (sort of) easy to tackle.

This blog post in itself is much longer than I intended it to be. But part of that is because I’m just introducing my next few days’ worth of entries. It’s also partially due to the fact that this particular album has 19 tracks, including the bonus ones. All of the other entries won’t be this long, I promise!

There’s a wealth of Taylor Swift to choose from, but I thought I’d start with an album that’s popular, but not overly popular and overrated: Red. It was the second Taylor Swift album that came into my possession and ever since the first time I held it in my hands it’s been in my top two.ย The Red Era will always hold a special place in the hearts of Swifties everywhere. I’m absolutely in love with the pictures that came from the Red photoshoot and the tour itself, and the album booklet is probably my favorite. The songs themselves, of course, are perfect. There’s literally only two that I could live without. And even then I couldn’t live without them. Because Taylor Swift. ๐Ÿ™‚

RED

State of Grace

As always, Taylor begins one of her more masterful masterpieces with a solid intro. I love the production on his song. Theย base drum is definitely a statement (hah, state), and the electric guitar throughout adds that nice little hook. State of Grace is definitely one of my favorites on the album. For a while it was on repeat (as many of the other songs have been). As always I’m a sucker for a good lyric and this song doesn’t disappoint: “And I never saw you coming / and I’ll never be the same”, “This is the state of grace / This is the 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”. SO GOOD.

Who I think it’s about: Jake Gyllenhaal. This is going to be a recurring thing, so hang tight.

Red

I never realized how much I loved this song until I started listening to this CD again. I sound great when I sing it because it fits my range really well (lol I’m so conceited). Also production. And lyrics. RED. BLUE. GREY. COLORS. EMOTIONS. ALL THE THINGS. YEAH.

Who I think it’s about: Jake Gyllenhaal

Treacherous

I remember the first time I was listening to Red and I came across Treacherous. I really liked it when I heard it, and it was one of those that I wished I knew the words so I could sing it. Eventually I did learn the lyrics and it’s one of my favorite Taylor Swift songs. I underestimate it when I forget about it, though. But I’m always pleasantly surprised when I listen to it again. I also think this is a song that really showcases Taylor’s growth as a lyricist. The words are very deep and more mature than some of her other stuff, and I really like that.

Who I think it’s about: I always thought it was about John Mayer. But I think reports say that it’s actually for Gyllenhaal (he literally inspired this entire album). But I’m just gonna go with John Mayer because it actually makes more sense, I think.

I Knew You Were Trouble

Duh. This song is the jam. It’s definitely a car song. You could find me jamming to this one on the way to work and I wouldn’t be ashamed at all. If it was ever overrated at any point in time, it’s not now because we’ve moved on to other music and I’m so glad of it because I could probably blast it and people wouldn’t get offended. Also lyrics and production.

Who I think it’s about: Well, I mean, I think she admitted it was about Harry Styles, sooo….

All Too Well

I’m being a hipster right now because I just want to say that I was obsessed with this song before it was popular. Then it blew up and it wasn’t cool anymore. Although it still remains one of her greatest lyrical masterpieces. I do remember when I was listening to it non-stop how I noticed the lyrics and seeing how they were so poignant and beautiful and deep. Whoever says Taylor Swift is untalented is very much wrong, simply from viewing this song. I’ve actually gotten kind of emotional while singing it once because the lyrics are that real and raw.

Who I think it’s about: Jake Gyllenhaal. Duh.

22

Oh my gosh, this song is like, so totally relatable. Hahahaha “Happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time” is sooooo me. I mean, it’s a great girls’ night out party song, and it’s so fun and all, but I do usually skip this one. It’s definitely not my favorite song on the album, and certainly not my favorite Taylor Swift-wide, but when I do listen to it I definitely appreciate it.

Who I think it’s about: From the liner notes: Ashley [Avignon], Dianna [Agron], Claire [Kislinger’, Selena [Gomez].

I Almost Do

While this isn’t my favorite song on the album, I think it contains one of the best Taylor Swift lyrics: “I bet it never, ever occurred to you / that I can’t say hello to you / and risk another goodbye.” That’s just a start. The whole song is great in that light. It’s so sad and you just feel for the person in question.

Who I think it’s about: I never knew how I felt about this one. Probably Jake Gyllenhaal because every other song is about him, too. Why not?

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

The sass of this song. It’s great. Just a few days ago I was partying to this song on my way home with the windows rolled down, and some girls came up next to me and we started having a jam competition. (Don’t worry I was careful when we were driving because I always think of that scene from Fireproof when the girls got in an accident because of something like that and I don’t want to end up on some train tracks because that’s dangerous and I could die.) I also love how she made it so pop-y and mainstream that Gyllenhaal would hate it (he’s an indie music fan, hence the lyrics: “And you / would hide away and find your peace of mind / with some / indie record that’s much cooler than mine”). That just shows how detailed, clever and ingenious Taylor Swift is with her music.

Who I think it’s about:ย Jake Gyllenhaal, everybody knows that. ๐Ÿ™‚

Stay Stay Stay

This song is so cute! The “ding ding ding ding ding… ding!” makes me so happy every time. If you were to pick the happiest Taylor Swift song out there, this one would most likely be it. Ukuleles have a knack for making a song sound jolly and peppy and this song is no exception. The lyrics are happy, too: “But you carry my groceries / and now I’m always laughing / And I love you because you have given me / no choice but to stay, stay, stay”. Some of my favorite lyrics are contained in this song, too: “All those times that you didn’t leave / It’s been occurring to me / I’d like to hang out with you / For my whole life”; “No one else is gonna love me when I get mad, mad, mad”. Boom. Lyrical magic.

Who I think it’s about: I’ve heard it’s about Conor Kennedy, and since I don’t really know much about him, I’d say it sounds good and matches with the things I do know about him.

The Last Time

Honestly, this is not my favorite Taylor Swift song. I usually skip it to go on to the next song (no shame because Holy Ground), but every once in a while I do enjoy it. The way it’s written and the message are both really cool. I like how it begins with the guy singing rather than the girl. It adds a nice touch that isn’t traditional, but works. And of course I can’t ignore the fact that Gary Lightbody sounds exactly like a British version of Jon Foreman. That alone makes the song so much better.

Who I think it’s about: I know people think it’s Jake Gyllenhaal, but I’m gonna give this one to Harry Styles. I’ve just always thought that. Plus, among further examination of the slew of driving, car and road references in 1989 (predominately about Harry) the line “all roads, they lead me here” kind of fits. Just a hunch. I could be wrong, though.

Holy Ground

I really started liking this song when I learned it on guitar. It’s easy to play because it literally contains like two or three chords in each verse and chorus. I like the production, too. There’s not really much that I could say about this, other than that it’s one of my favorites on the album.

Who I think it’s about: Joe Jonas. She said in an interview that the song is about looking back on a relationship that ended badly and finally being at peace with it. Everyone knows Joe broke up with her over phone call, and also the line “But I don’t wanna dance if I’m not dancing with you” matches up with “I’m not much for dancing / but for you I did” from Last Kiss, which is definitely about him. I don’t think I’m the only one to assume this is about him, but I’ve also seen some reports that it’s about some other guy. Not sure who, though.

Sad Beautiful Tragic

This is generally a song I skip, too, simply because it’s so long and sad. It’s a beautiful song and very deep and dark, but it’s not exactly my forte. I’ll listen to it every once in a while, though… when I’m sleeping…

Who I think it’s about: I have absolutely no idea. The song mentions trains a lot, and a “long, handwritten note”, but other than that I’m pretty sure there isn’t much else to go by. It’s probably Gyllenhaal, though.

The Lucky One

Taylor Swift seems to have a knack for writing songs that happen to share titles with Nicholas Sparks novels (Dear John, The Lucky One). I kind of hope she’ll carry on that (semi) tradition in the near future because it’s actually kinda cool. But anyways, as always, I love this song. The lyrics are great and I love the whole vibe of the song. I love that it’s about herself and acts as sort of a warning to dreamers and up-and-coming artists that want to make it big in the music industry. It’s a very simple production, too, I feel, because of the only instruments really playing are a drum and guitar. I’m seriously so obsessed with this song.

Who I think it’s about: Herself. Also, some of her favorite female artists inspired certain verses, I’m pretty sure. Not sure who those ladies are, though.

Everything Has Changed

Ah, yes. Ed Sheeran. Everybody’s favorite awkwardly suave ginger who writes beautiful lyrics and plays cool guitar. I’m probably the first to say that I’m not particularly a fan of the guy, but I do love his and Tay’s friendship. And they came up with a pretty great song, too. It’s definitely not my favorite, and like The Last Time I usually skip it after the first verse and chorus, but I do like it. I’m not really sure what else to say about it, though…

Who I think it’s about: The description “green eyes, and freckles and your smile” match to Ed himself, and I just kind of assumed they used him as the model just because he was the co-writer, but it’s probably really about Conor Kennedy.

Starlight

I am obsessed with this song. While the Kennedy’s may not be the apple of a lot of people’s eyes, I’m in love with the picture Taylor paints about Ethel and Bobby Kennedy’s youthful romance. I love the image of “starlight” and the urge to “dream impossible dreams”. Starlight might not go as deep as a lot of her other songs, but I think it’s such a pretty image to perceive. Lyrics like “Picked me up late one night out the window” and “He was try’na skip rocks on the ocean” bring me back to the days of malt shops and Coca-Cola’s. It makes me think of Rascal Flatts’s “Ellsworth”. It has that similar vintage feel. Of course the melodies and production of the song are wonderful and make it what it is. Also, the range is very comfortable for my voice, so that’s always a plus! ๐Ÿ™‚

Who I think it’s about: Well, liner notes say “For Ethel”, so I’m just gonna go out on a limb here and say it’s Ethel Kennedy.

Begin Again

Arguably, one of Taylor’s finest songs. When people would complain about how Taylor was escaping country music when Red came out, I would just laugh and “turn the lock and put my headphones on” and begin listening to this poignant country ballad about moving on from past heartbreak. Begin Again and Teardrops On My Guitar were actually the two songs that really got me hooked on Taylor Swift. I watched their music videos over and over and over again. The music video for Begin Againย is particularly one of my favorites. Set in Paris, it shows Taylor around the city in a lot of quaint little coffee shops, alleyways and waters’ edges. It matches the sound of the song perfectly, too. The soft sound of the shakers and that country twangy thing in the music blend together so well to make it sound so pretty and country. After a long hiatus from this particular album it’s so refreshing to come back to this song and remember where your roots are. Of course the song’s message is equally meaningful and beautiful. “I’ve been spending the last eight months / thinkin’ all love ever does is break, and burn, and end / but on a Wednesday in a cafe / I watched it begin again”. Lyrical genius. Perfectly encompassing the feelings one would have just before they discover the bright side of a heartbreak. And, if you’ve studied Taylor’s way of speaking, you know the way she ended that line with “and end” matches perfectly with how she normally talks and writes.

Who I think it’s about: I do believe it’s the story of how she’sย moving on from Jake Gyllenhaal. I’m not 100% if the timing is correct, but people speculate that Conor Kennedy is the other guy referenced throughout the song.

Bonus Tracks

The Moment I Knew

I once read an article describing each of the songs on Red and they said something along the lines of “Not many artists have a song as deep as this in the body sections of their albums”. That was a rough paraphrasing, but in short, few artists are able to have a song as deep and meaningful included simply as part of the whole of the album, not including the bonus tracks. I’m doing a terrible job of explaining this. Basically, Taylor Swift writes heartbreaking songs that everyone can relate to and very few artists can say they have a song like The Moment I Knew. I wish I could find the article so I could quote it word-for-word, but the internet is so large. Also, Billboard’s website is being dumb and at the moment I can’t view the page with the review. But whatever the words are, they speak truth. Each time I listen to this song I’m amazed at the simplicity of it. But it speaks volumes from the very first line: “You should’ve been there / Should’ve burst through the door with that baby-I’m-right-here smile”. In that one sentence you actually get a very good sense of where the song is headed. The bridge, of course, is the real turning point when you get the brunt of the hurt: “What do you say when tears are streaming down your face / in front of everyone you know / And what do you do when the one who means the most to you / Is the one who didn’t show”. Chills. It all comes to a climax, though, when she reveals the reason for the party in question in the final chorus: “And they’re all standing around me singing’ / happy birthday to you / but there was one thing missing / and that was the moment I knew”. Again, chills. As always the music production has a huge part in making the song a home run. Cellos have to be my favorite stringed instrument and it being featured in this song makes it sound even sadder from the first notes in the beginning. Okay, this review is too long. Moving on.

Who I think it’s about: I always assumed John Mayer. But looking now I’m pretty sure the timing doesn’t work. They definitely broke up when she was nineteen (from Dear John: “Don’t you think nineteen’s too young to be played by your dark, twisted games”) and this song is about her 21st birthday, I’m pretty sure. So, Jake Gyllenhaal (who else?).

Girl At Home

I really like this song. While it’s not my favorite, I was once obsessed (I tend to be more obsessed with bonus tracks because they’re usually more difficult to get a hold of). I like the subject matter, too. Don’t mess with Tay. And don’t mess with other girls, because, bro! she will will write a song about you.

Who I think it’s about: Taylor said this was about some guy that was flirting with girls at some party she went to even though he very obviously had a girlfriend. I don’t know if she clarified who exactly he was, but I couldn’t guess anyway. There’s just so many boys in the world…

Come Back…Be Here

The one song dedicated to Marius Pontmercy has to be one of the songs I obsessed over the most. Red’s bonus tracks took forever to come out on iTunes and I had to suffice with YouTube pitched versions to listen to in the meantime. That’s very upsetting and frustrating, especially when the song has freakin’ great melodies and lyrics like “Taxi cabs and busy streets / they never bring you back to me / I can’t help but wish you took me with you”. I was so obsessed with this song that I wrote a song myself that has a similar feel and melody with lyrics about different cities like in Come Back…Be Here. I tend to model my songs after Taylor’s… No shame.

Who I think it’s about: Pretty darn sure it’s for Eddie Redmayne, because non-existent long-distance relationship.

So, I guess that’s my review! It was very long-winded, I know. The next ones won’t be that long (and maybe not as detailed), so hang with me, people! ๐Ÿ™‚

-Julie (:

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