‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ Songs, Ranked

Reagan Bradshaw, Meera Trujillo, Emily Milton, and Sarah Porter

Staff writers

Amid the controversial selling of Taylor’s Swift’s original music collection from Big Machine Records, Swift has been rerecording her albums with new cover art, new songs, and her own twist. Theogony reviewed the songs on her latest re-recorded album, Red (Taylor’s Version), and came up with a list of our favorites.  

13. “Sad Beautiful Tragic”

“Sad Beautiful Tragic” is Swift’s most haunting song on the album as she reminisces on a past relationship. She thinks about the relationship in a bittersweet way as she remembers it as a beautiful relationship, but sad and tragic in that it did not work in the end. This song is similar to “Better Man” as they both explore the idea of having a seemingly great relationship but miscommunication caused its downfall. This song is the perfect representation of a short but sweet relationship. 

Best Lyric: “Words, how little they mean/When you’re a little too late” 

12. “I Knew You Were Trouble” 

“I Knew You Were Trouble” is the definition of Taylor’s Version. She has significantly stronger vocals as her enunciation is clearer and crisper. Her background music feels fiercer. “I Knew You Were Trouble” is a song about going ahead with a relationship or fling knowing in the end it will not work out. Going against your gut feeling and hoping things will be different but deep down knowing they will not. The feeling of “I should have listened to my friends.” 

Best Lyric: “No apologies, he’ll never see you cry / Pretends he doesn’t know that he’s the reason why”

11. “Better Man” 

Originally performed by music group Little Big Town with Taylor singing backup vocals, Taylor reclaims her song as she sings it solo. “Better Man” is about wondering how things could have gone differently in a relationship if your partner had stepped up and been a better person. It encapsulates the thought of what if they were able to keep it together and if the relationship could have survived. The “what if” feeling is one many people can relate to, whether it is about a lover, a friend, or even a family member. 

Best Lyric: “And I gave to you my best and we both know you can’t say that” 

10. “Holy Ground” 

“Holy Ground”‘s upbeat and cheerful sound is addictive from the first drum beat; the buoyant instrumentals make you (and probably Taylor) feel out of breath. The lyrics, such as “spinning like a girl in a brand new dress,” almost feel like a kid on a sugar high (and, who knows, it’s highly probable this, in fact, was the case with Swift). Its quick musical pace well exemplifies feeling thrust into a new relationship, which ends even quicker than it starts. “Holy Ground” is a religious term used to describe a location the presence of God has blessed. The term compellingly encapsulates the pureness and divinity of the relationship and raises that to a Celestial level. 

Best Lyric: “Back to a first-glance feeling on New York Time/ Back when you fit in my poems like a perfect rhyme

Photo by Beth Garrabrant.

9. “The Lucky One”

Though few can relate to the experience of fame and fandom Swift herself has, “The Lucky One” “goes up in lights” as Red’s 13th track, and depicts a feeling many relate to — that of being used. The track stands uniquely in the album because it does not directly address a past or current relationship, but rather demonstrates the vulnerability of your emotions spilled all over a tabloid headline. Its underlying meaning juxtaposes the irony of being coined “The Lucky One,” while simultaneously being exploited. Leading up to Red (Taylor’s Version)’s release, fans took to Tiktok to chime in on their connection to the song’s meaning through sharing their own experiences. Whether you are an everyday person or an A-List celebrity, “The Lucky One” is heart-wrenchingly relatable as it questions the sacrifices individuals are willing to make for others’ approval.

Best Lyric: “And they tell you that you’re lucky, but you’re so confused /’Cause you don’t feel pretty, you just feel used”

8. “Begin Again” 

“Begin Again,” Red’s 16th track perfectly summarizes the feelings of renewal after a treacherous relationship and learning to love anew. The song, with its slow and melodious verses, practically inserts listeners into the beginning steps of a new relationship and, as the playful chorus builds, listeners feel as if they are actually in that same cafe on Wednesday. Though the original song generates an atmosphere of innocence and brokenness, Swift’s updated version feels more like a mature lover reflecting back on a youthful relationship. 

Best Lyric: “I think it’s strange that you think I’m funny ‘cause he never did”

7. “Everything Has Changed” feat. Ed Sheeran

This song demonstrates the feeling when someone you’ve known all your life becomes someone entirely different to you but in the best way. This beautiful duet feels like first love and childhood wrapped into one, and Sheeran and Swift’s real-life friendship only adds to the sweetness. Both Sheeran and Swift sound older on some verses and Swift pronounces some words softer than before, but other than that this duet sounds almost identical to the original. 

Best Lyric: “All I know is we said ‘Hello’, and your eyes look like coming home.” 

6. “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)”

In 2012, Swift released “All Too Well” on her fourth album Red. It was originally only 5 minutes long and it wasn’t included as a single. Nevertheless, it became a fan favorite for years to come. Taylor Swift had said even then the song was supposed to be 10 minutes long, but it was cut down. 

11 years later, the long-awaited version is finally here. Perhaps the reason why Taylor Swift fans have long glorified this song is that it establishes Swift’s place in the music industry as not just a songwriter, but a storyteller. With each verse, she carefully describes the beautiful memories painted in a past relationship. From leaving her infamous scarf at “your sister’s house” to “singing in the car getting lost upstate” and even “dancing in the kitchen in the refrigerator light”, her listeners can picture the vivid scenes of an autumn heartbreak as if reading a novel. 

But this new version is more brutal and aggrieved than the previous version. Each new verse is like a deeper cut; she does not dare shy away from the details. “Cuz there we are again when nobody had to know/ You kept me like a secret but I kept you like an oath.” Not to mention the production changed from piano and soft guitar strums to a pulsating bass beat constantly building up the tension of the song as the listener anxiously awaits which turn the story will take. 

The new version also seems to show a new perspective on the story portraying her ex-lover’s “casual cruelty” never straying from the truth. “You said if we had been closer in age maybe it would have been fine/ And that made me want to die.” And of course, Swift leaves little easter-eggs referencing her song “The Moment I Knew” as she sings “It’s supposed to be fun/ Turning twenty-one” as a nod to her twenty-first birthday, the one where her boyfriend did not even show. 

But she does not finish there. In the place where the song is supposed to end, a new verse hits as a final blow of her rage. “And I was never good at telling jokes/ But the punchline goes, I’ll get older/ But your lovers stay my age” with a nod to the age gap in the relationship. “’Cause in the city’s barren cold/ I still remember the first fall of snow/ And how it glistened as it fell/ I remember it all too well”, Swift sings unable to enjoy the beauty around her, still plagued heartbreak. 11 years later, Swift seems to sing it with more heartbreak and anger than before.


5. “Nothing New” feat. Phoebe Bridgers

Nothing New is an aching, brutally honest ballad that tackles the sad truth about Swift’s feelings about being a woman in the music industry. Taylor Swift previously describes writing this song in a time where she felt that she was no longer a shiny new figure in music. In her 2019 documentary, Miss Americana, she makes a point that women in the music industry are usually discarded after 2 years. From a 2012 perspective, Swift was afraid of being tossed away and forgotten, singing “Lord what will become of me/ once I’ve lost my novelty?” 

This track features Phoebe Bridgers, who is another female artist, renowned for her darker, more honest songs, as well as her melancholy tone. She truly made the perfect addition to this song as she seems to plead, “Am I only biding time ’til I lose your attention.” 

With one of the best bridges on the album, Bridgers and Swift’s vocals intertwine as they effortlessly seem to fade into each other. It almost seems anxious as Swift imagines the girl who will take over her career describing her with “the kind of radiance you only have at seventeen.” With only gentle guitar strums to accompany the vocals, it feels completely raw and sincere. 

Best Lyric: “I’ll say I’m happy for her/ Then I’ll cry myself to sleep…”

4. “The Last Time” feat. Gary Lightbody

This version definitely had less emotion behind the lyrics (which was why it was my favorite from the original album Red), but the vocals are much stronger as is the electric guitar, while the drums are a little softer. The powerful way that Swift and Lightbody belt the lyrics discussing a relationship that the characters are giving one more shot, just adds to the relatability of trying one last time a failing relationship. Lightbody starts off the song with one of his verses, which is different from Swift’s entire discovery, and the way that he and Swift’s voices melt with one another shows us, flawlessly, what a duet should be. 

Best Lyric: “This is the last time I let you in my door/This is the last time ‘I won’t hurt you anymore.” or “You wear your best apologies, but I was there to watch you leave.” 

3. State of Grace

“State of Grace” is the leading track off the original Red and Red (Taylor’s Version), while also having an acoustic version towards the end. The new version sounds much more mature and reminiscent of a whimsical time, while it leaves behind the true feeling of the unknown in the original. The percussion has improved to be more direct and placed, while the guitar is highlighted much more giving it a mellow rock feel. This song feels like the light and heartfelt beginning of a relationship, where it’s all you ever wanted while also becoming something you never thought love could be. When it’s over, this song leaves people with an ambiance of unfamiliar, yet welcome experiences and the young adult world. The acoustic version sounds similar to its partner on the original acoustic but sounds sadder now after years past. 

Best Lyric:  “Love is a ruthless game/Unless you play it good and right” 

2. Treacherous 

It’s no surprise that “Treacherous” has long been one of many fan favorites of Taylor Swift. It is a perfect display of Swift’s simple yet moving lyrics. The song starts with simply a guitar but as the song progresses, it builds up further, venturing into the burst of bright emotions Swift conveys in the bridge. “And I just think you should know/ That nothing safe is worth the drive and I would follow you follow you home,” she pleads longingly, knowing that the love she pursues will break her heart, but she chases the thrill nonetheless. It seems like a jumble of anxiety overpowered by curiosity and wonder. The instrumentals seem to suck its a listener in, never letting go, as they wonder where Swift will take them. And suddenly, all the instrumentals cut out and all that’s left is the initial guitar. “This hope is treacherous/ This daydream is dangerous/ This hope is treacherous/ And I, I, I,/ I, I, I/ I, I, I/…” and there’s a sudden build-up to the bridge, once again. 

Best Lyric: “And I’d be smart to walk away/ but you’re quicksand”

1. Red

The title track for the re-recording of Swift’s fourth studio album truly encapsulates the emotions painted in all 30 tracks: the tumultuous thrill of love and the aching pain of heartbreak. Furthermore, it displays Swift’s brilliant songwriting as she portrays her emotions in colors, “Losing him was blue like I’d never known/ Missing him was dark grey all alone/ Forgetting him was like tryna know somebody you never met/ But loving him was red”.

Best Lyric: “Loving him is like driving a new Maserati down a dead-end street…”