Taylor Swift is the gift that keeps on giving.
The singer just released Red (Taylor’s Version) earlier this month, complete with never-before-heard songs, singles she had given to other artists, and a 10-minute version of her fan-favorite classic, “All Too Well.”
As a Swiftie myself, I was ecstatic to have an album full of old favorites and new hits, but some stuck with me more than others.
“What I’m really excited about is the songs that no one’s ever heard that were supposed to be on that album,”Taylor Swift
Even though I’ve listened to most of these songs for close to a decade (and others I just heard for the first time last week), I felt it was appropriate to do a good old-fashioned ranking.
So, without further adieu, here is my definitive ranking of Red (Taylor’s Version), complete with the original songs, bonus tracks, and vault songs. Let’s see if you agree with me!
Taylor rarely misses, but “Girl at Home” is a miss. She tried to give the song an electronic-pop makeover, but even that couldn’t save this disaster. It’s OK, Taylor, your wins far outweigh your losses.
“Stay Stay Stay” is cute, don’t get me wrong, but it’s nothing special. While Red is a patchwork album full of different genres, this country song isn’t nearly as good as some of the other country songs she’s written in the past.
It’s slightly cheesy and doesn’t fit with the rest of the songs on the record. On to the next!
Now, before I get burned at the stake, I like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” But what the heck happened to the “we-eeee” part in the chorus? It sounds like something straight out of Kidz Bop!
Every single song on this re-release sounds just the same, if not better than the original, except for this one. I’m not sure what happened with the production, but it’s off.
Like another song on this record, Taylor wrote “Babe” back when she was working on the original version of Red, but decided to leave it on the cutting room floor.
She then gave it to the country band Sugarland, who turned the song into a country hit. Though Taylor’s version is good, I still think I prefer the Sugarland version. And trust me, that rarely happens.
Let me just first say, I’m obsessed with the horns at the beginning of this song. Why don’t more Taylor Swift songs have horns?
But, unfortunately, that’s where my obsession stops. Again, this song is good (how many times can I say a song is good in this article?), but it doesn’t wow me. Of all her vault tracks, this is one of the few I tend to skip.
“The Lucky One” is basically the same storyline as “Lucky” by Britney Spears, but I have to say Britney did it better.
I don’t really have much to say about the song, other than it’s perfectly fine. But, when it comes to a Taylor Swift ranking, a perfectly fine song won’t crack the top 20.
This was the first song Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran ever wrote together, and while it’s good, there’s a reason it wasn’t on the original album.
In fact, it sounds like it belongs on an Ed Sheeran album, rather than a Taylor Swift album. That’s not a bad thing, but it doesn’t really fit on Red.
“22” is a song you want to hear when you’re out on the town with your friends, but if I’m being honest, it’s been overplayed the last decade.
As someone who was 19 years old when the original Red was released, I loved having “22” to jam out to on my 22nd birthday. But, now that I’m a little older, it’s not one of my most-listened-to-Taylor Swift songs.
“The Last Time” is a beautiful song, but it’s not one I would ever choose to listen to.
Do I skip it when it comes up on shuffle? No. But do I pick to listen to it out of all the other options on the album? Also no. It’s good, but it’s not great.
Word to the wise — if you tell someone you’re going to be at their birthday party, make sure you go to their birthday party. In “The Moment I Knew” Taylor writes about a boyfriend (allegedly Jake Gyllenhaal) who doesn’t show up to her 21st birthday.
As someone who despises birthdays and wishes they didn’t exist, I can’t necessarily relate to this sort of pain, though I do really enjoy the chorus.
Written about a young boy who passed away from cancer, “Ronan” is not a song you want to listen to over and over again. In fact, it’s a song you listen to once and then cry about for an hour.
But, despite the tough subject matter, it really is incredibly touching. For anyone who has suffered a painful loss, this song may provide a sense of comfort.
Let’s start with the positives, shall we? Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran are two of the best songwriters working today, so it’s no surprise this song works. Not to mention, their voices sound great together!
However, it’s not a very exciting song. It’s a great song to have on in the background during a party, which isn’t exactly a compliment. I don’t know, my feelings on this song change daily.
“Come Back…Be Here” is my favorite of the original bonus tracks, as it paints a very clear story in my head of longing for someone who isn’t around. I can almost envision the entire song in my mind as if it’s a movie.
And again, like almost every other Taylor Swift song, it’s got a pretty bangin’ bridge.
If you’re really down in the dumps, go ahead and turn on “Sad Beautiful Tragic.” It’ll hit you right in the feels.
But, if you’re not feeling sad, you won’t want to listen to a second of this song. This song is for sad people only! For that reason, it doesn’t quite break the top 15.
There are two types of people in this world — people who prefer “State of Grace (Acoustic Version) and people who prefer the original “State of Grace.”
As a “State of Grace” purist, I much prefer the original to the acoustic, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like this song. It’s beautiful — and really shows off her vocals — but I’m going to choose the original 10 out of 10 times.
Written about Ethel Kennedy and her marriage to Robert F. Kennedy, this is one of the first songs Taylor ever wrote about somebody else’s life. Why did she decide to write about the Kennedy family? Well, Taylor was inspired to write the song after she met Ethel, who is the grandmother of Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, Conor Kennedy.
While it’s a tad strange to hear a song about Ethel and Robert F. Kennedy’s marriage on a Taylor Swift album, at the end of the day it’s really just a song about two kids falling in love.
Does this song belong in a Disney Channel Original Movie? Probably. Is it slightly cheesy? Yes. Do I care? No.
In fact, “Message In a Bottle” is like a sweet, sugary dessert I could eat over and over again. There’s not a lot of deep meaning in the song, but it makes me want to want to roll down the windows in my car and sing, which I consider a success.
“I Bet You Think About Me” is the country song Red needed from the start. It’s snarky Taylor at her very best, and with the addition of Chris Stapleton’s beautiful voice, it’s too good to ignore.
I still prefer Taylor’s pop songs on this record, but I’m happy this song has entered the Taylor Universe.
I feel like “I Almost Do” has never really gotten the recognition it deserves. It’s a song about wanting to take someone back after a failed relationship, but knowing you shouldn’t.
And, while it’s ultimately about realizing somebody isn’t good for you, the song itself is actually very sweet and loving.
When Red was initially released in 2012, “I Knew You Were Trouble” was one of my top three favorite songs from the album. While It has certainly been overplayed over the last decade or so, there’s no denying its brilliance.
It’s Taylor’s first attempt at a slightly more experimental pop sound, but it also maintains the authentic storytelling she’s always done so well in the past.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to this song since Red (Taylor’s Version) dropped last week. It’s like a straight shot of serotonin to my brain.
I understand why it didn’t make the original version of the record (it’s slightly too uplifting for the album’s overall vibe), but I’m so glad we have it now.
Despite sounding a lot like another song on this album (more on that later), “Holy Ground” continues the pop-rock theme that bleeds throughout this entire album.
The four-on-the-floor beat is incredibly catchy and the lyrics give you a birds-eye view of a failed relationship. It’s not the most memorable song on the record, but it’s also one you can never skip.
Two words — Phoebe Bridgers. Taylor has had female features on songs before, but she’s never given them an actual verse to sing. That all changes on “Nothing New,” which is about getting older and feeling like you’re no longer relevant to society. Relatable!
Taylor’s songwriting is great on this song (I particularly like the line “how can someone know everything at 18 and nothing at 22”), but it’s Phoebe that really solidifies it as one of the best on the album.
Despite the album being full of songs about heartbreak, pain, and devastation, “Begin Again” reminds us there’s always a rainbow after the rainstorm.
While it’s hard to remember, given the popularity of the bonus tracks and vault songs on this record, “Begin Again” is technically the last song on the album. It’s simple and at times quiet, but it’s a beautiful song to end the record.
Hey, it’s “Holy Ground” 2.0! Some critics over the years have said “State of Grace” is Taylor’s play at a U2 song, and I have to agree.
As the album intro, the song really sets the stage for what’s to come. It lets us on in a romance that’s gone wrong, but it also reminds us of how euphoric falling in love can feel.
Relating feelings to colors is nothing new, but “Red” is Taylor’s best title track of all time. Though she’s veered away from pop-rock in recent years, it’s a genre that really seems to work for her songwriting, singing, and instrument ability.
On “Red,” (which, truthfully, should open the album), Taylor gives her fans a “rock” anthem they can air-guitar along to. And honestly, what’s better than that?!
Left off the original version of Red, Taylor decided to give “Better Man” to country band Little Big Town, which they released in 2017.
While their version is excellent, Swifties were clamoring for Taylor to put her version on the re-release, and boy did she deliver. This is a song you want to put on in the car and blast at full volume.
“Treacherous” is the underrated best song off of Red. It often gets overshadowed in favor of other mid-tempo songs, but it arguably has one of the best bridges Taylor’s ever written.
Also, who among us hasn’t gone down a path we know deep down is not good for us? Relatable and poignant, “Treacherous” still slaps.
“All Too Well” was never supposed to be a hit. It was a simple track-five song that was also over five minutes long, but it somehow became one of the most beloved Taylor Swift songs of all time.
Though the original has been put on the back burner because of the release of the 10-minute version (more on that later), it is still just as iconic as ever before. It’s a song that takes listeners on a journey, with lyrics so specific it makes you feel like you’re a fly on the wall watching this romance burst into flames.
Yes, it’s the length of three songs. Yes, it sounds a touch more pop than the original. But this is the version Taylor intended to release all along, therefore it is the superior version of “All Too Well.”
While the original version gets straight to the point, there’s something incredibly visceral about diving deep into this torrid romance. The new verses cut like a knife and bring you along for the ride, full of highs, lows, keychains, and scarves. Thank you for this gift, Taylor. Thank you.