Happy 8 Years of Red!
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
I don’t usually get all personal on the blog, but something you should know about me is that I’ve been a die-hard Taylor Swift fan ever since she released ‘Tim McGraw’ as a single from her first album. I’ve listened to all of her albums and memorized every line the day they came out, I once made a super embarrassing music video to ‘You Belong With Me’ in high school that’s still floating around on YouTube somewhere, and I own the official sweater she wore in the ‘Cardigan’ video.
All my friends and I worship Taylor, and Red came out at a crucial part in our lives. Our girl Taylor released Red during our freshman year in college and it couldn't have come at a better time for me, personally. Shortly after Taylor released the album, I got super sick and couldn’t go back to college for a semester. I listened to Red on repeat for months bedridden in a tiny room at my dad’s house, and Taylor made me feel not so alone. Red may not be my favorite Taylor Swift album, but it did get me through one of the hardest times of my life. I even got to go see her at Heinz Field during the Red Tour once I had healed from my surgeries! I unfortunately don't have any pictures, but believe me, it happened.
Since I have listened to Red potentially more than any other Taylor Swift album, I’ve decided to rank the songs in honor of its 8th Anniversary from worst to best. Believe it or not, I don’t know a ton about music so this is a very unofficial, non-legit ranking. The only criteria I have for making this list is that, like Taylor, I’m happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time. If you’re still in, let’s do this.
16. I Almost Do
I don’t think I’ve listened to this song all the way through more than once. It has a nice message, but after the first few lines, I get it. Taylor wants to reach out to some guy and she doesn’t, but every time she thinks about, she almost does, as she tells us repeatedly in the song. If she doesn’t actually reach out, why should I care? Give me the drama! Give me Taylor Swift destroying a mansion a la ‘Blank Space’! This song just doesn’t do it for me.
15. Sad Beautiful Tragic
This is another one of those songs that’s nice, but after the first few lines, I get it. You can only hear the phrase ‘sad, beautiful, tragic love affair’ one too many times until you get bored. Still, it serves a purpose. It’s a very good sit-in-the-dark-and-eat-ice-cream-after-you’ve-been-dumped song. (Not that I would know, or anything.)
14. Begin Again
A lot of people really like this song, but this is another automatic skip for me. This could be because I don’t feel like it encapsulates the feeling of a new relationship. The whole point of this song is that Taylor is in a new relationship and she’s happy, but it’s boring. New relationships aren’t boring, like this song. They’re exciting and new and a little scary, and I just don’t feel like this song does them justice. Sorry, Tay.
I like this song, but only when I have the patience to listen to the whole thing. To me, this song feels like a whole lot of build-up for not a lot of payoff. It gets exciting around the 2:00 mark, and that’s just too long for me to listen to a song I don’t love. On the plus side, I feel like this song better captures the feeling of a new relationship than ‘Begin Again’.
12. The Lucky One
Now we’re getting into the territory of songs I actually like. Took us long enough, right? I feel like ‘The Lucky One’ walked so ‘The Last Great American Dynasty’ could run. The whole message is great, about about how getting everything that you want might not actually make you happy, but I have to be in the mood to listen to it since it’s a little slow. I do, however, remember the live version being super cool. Check it out if you haven’t seen it:
11. Stay Stay Stay
This song is pure, lighthearted fun, and I just can’t help but smile when I listen to it. The only reason it isn’t ranked higher is because that’s all I feel like it is. It doesn’t have a whole lot of depth to it, and I didn’t play it on repeat like I did with some of the other songs from the album. I still love it, though.
This song’s cool, but the backstory is even cooler. When Taylor Swift was dating a Kennedy, she wrote this song about Ethel and Bobby Kennedy when they were teenagers. The song is pure, nostalgic bliss, if not a little shallow like ‘Stay, Stay, Stay’.
9. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
Okay, who hasn’t sung this song at the top of their lungs with their friends and meant every word? This was the first single off the album, and when it came out, I thought it was super dumb. Over the years, however, it’s grown on me. I have sung this song so many times with my friends, and we all know every single word. Plus, I feel like everyone’s dated someone who’s “indie record was much cooler than mine”. Barf.
8. Everything Has Changed
Ah, why if it isn’t the superior Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran collab. The other one, ‘End Game’ off Reputation, can’t even hold a candle to this one. Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran are a match made in Heaven, and this was the perfect song for them to release. It has a whole lot of heart and is surprisingly deep yet simple. The video is also super cute, check it out:
My friend once said, “Nobody needed ‘Red’, like the song.” I couldn’t disagree with her more. ‘Red’, Taylor Swift’s last great country song, showcases Taylor Swift’s writing ability perfectly and makes me want to get up and dance at the same time. I’m no songwriter, but that can’t be easy to do. Also, if Taylor Swift had never given us ‘Red’, we would’ve never gotten one of the deepest lines from her Lover album. Near the end of ‘Daylight’, Taylor sings, “I used to think love would be burning red, but it’s golden.” So cool!
6. I Knew You Were Trouble.
5. The Last Time
I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I think ‘The Last Time’ is criminally underrated. In my angsty teenage years, I worshipped Snow Patrol and must have listened to ‘Set Fire to the Third Bar’ at least 300 times. I loved Taylor Swift’s collaboration with Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, and I also feel like it inspired ‘Exile’ from Folklore.
Whether you love or hate the song, you have to admit the song ‘22’ is a cultural phenomenon. This song is the only reason that the age 22 has any significance. It’s just so fine, and the whole line about being “happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time” is just *chef’s kiss*.
3. Holy Ground
THE BRIDGE. THE AUTUMN VIBES. WOW. I can’t get enough of ‘Holy Ground’ and still listen to it at least once a month. I think it’s another criminally underrated Taylor Swift song. I don’t even have a specific reason why I like it so much. It is just. Really. Good.
2. All Too Well
Bet you thought I was going to put this at #1, didn’t you?
Objectively, ‘All Too Well’ is the best song on Red. I would even call it one of the best songs Taylor has ever written, and the single best song pre-Folklore. All us Swifties wanted was a whole album of ‘All Too Well’, and Taylor gave us that. She didn’t have to go that hard, but she did it for us. Long live Queen Taylor, and long live ‘All Too Well’.
1.State of Grace
This is my all-time favorite Taylor Swift song, because, as they say in Perks of Being a Wallflower (a reference I feel Taylor would be proud of), it makes me feel infinite. This song makes me feel like anything’s possible, and I just feel good listening to it no matter where I am or what I’m doing. It makes me feel like I’m fighting the “worthwhile fight”.
What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? I know I’m going to get some major flack for a few of these rankings, so give me your two cents on Twitter at @shutupallybear and happy 8 years of Red!