Reviewing country music isn’t usually my forte. Nor is listening to it. But I have to ask, is Red really a country album? Or bigger yet, is Taylor Swift even a country artist anymore?
Red is one of the most anticipated records of the year, and there have already been some huge releases for 2012, including Justin Bieber, No Doubt, and Taylor’s well known ex, John Mayer. Not that earning the spotlight has ever been an issue for Miss Swift. Even when she was literally robbed of it three years ago at the VMAs by Kanye West, it only gave her more positive attention. So what’s her secret?
Taylor has been very smart about playing this game. She’s diversified her musical pallet, per se. She staked her claim in the country music scene and has now also invested her talents in the pop market, since catchy tunes…well, they catch on; she swiftly swooped in for her piece of the prize there too (no pun intended). Without even meaning to, she walked away with a Billboard record for the biggest digital sales week ever by a female, in the first week of her lead single release from Red (We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together). That was all before her album was fully released last night.
So yeah, I’d say she’s earned herself a seat as a front-running artist in today’s industry.
Let’s get back to We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. Firstly, sucks for him – he’s probably kicking himself. No wait, they’re all probably kicking themselves. It’s becoming a thing to be the centrepiece of one of Taylor’s songs. Is it a good thing? Especially when the song is THAT catchy? Well it’s obviously doing wonders for Taylor.
There is a variety of sounds on this new record. I Knew You Were Trouble has you believing for a slight moment that Taylor may have spent her summer listening to a little too much Skrillex. But Sad Beautiful Tragic is a literal ballad that should be playing in the background of all Nicolas Sparks movies.
The question of country or pop (or maybe dubstep?) is answered with songs like Starlight, Stay Stay Stay and of course the title track Red. I’m not talking about musical genre here – Taylor has always had her own country-esque sound – but I’m talking about lyrical genre. Taylor’s lyrics paint so much imagery for the listener that it’s hard not to picture a short film running through your head. And even if her lyrics are what some would call ‘cheesy’, or ‘movie-like’, or ‘cliché’, that’s essentially where her ‘country’ element comes from: in the songwriting.
Swift wrote all of the songs on Speak Now by herself, but this time she collaborated with writers of international caliber. Red contains duets with two notable Europeans. Gary Lightbody (Snow Patrol) joins the singer on The Last Time, and Ed Sheeran is there for harmonic purposes on Everything Has Changed.
The only complaint I have is that I thought 22 would be a cute follow-up to Fifteen. But instead it sounds like a post-Sk8er-Boi Avril Lavigne song that’s supposed to make you want to have slumber parties and pillow fights with your girlfriends next weekend. Not that anyone is going to care about that – her fans are going to love it, they always do.
Here’s one thing I’d be willing to bet: even if anyone denies liking Taylor Swift’s music, everybody can relate to at least one of her songs, and they know it’s true because they’ve secretly listened to that one song a thousand times. That’s what sets Taylor apart from a lot of artists – we always say don’t sweat the small stuff, but she makes sweating the small stuff okay. We don’t feel stupid about it when we do, but we feel normal. So overall, I guess everyone benefits from the aftermath of Taylor’s relationships. But it makes me wonder… what will she write about if she ever gets married?
Favourite Tracks: State of Grace, Red, All Too Well, Sad Beautiful Tragic, Starlight
Check out the official video for We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together!
Here is the complete track list for Red:
1. State of Grace
4. I Knew You Were Trouble
5. All Too Well
7. I Almost Do
8. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
9. Stay Stay Stay
10. The Last Time
11. Holy Ground
12. Sad Beautiful Tragic
13. The Lucky One
14. Everything Has Changed
16. Begin Again