Hot Takes on Red (Taylor’s Version) (Paula’s Version)

Everyone and their mother has an opinion and a hot take on Red (Taylor’s Version).

This week I’ve heard some great hot takes. I always love the New York Time’s Popcast and their breakdown is excellent. Rolling Stone Music Now has a great episode. CBC’s Popchat has an episode breaking it down. Popchat’s Elamin Abdelmahmoud is very into Taylor Swift and wrote an excellent article for Buzzfeed about her. What I’m trying to say is that lots of people smarter than me have hot takes. We do not need more hot takes but I love Taylor so here we are.

These are my hot takes on Red (Taylor’s Version) – so we’re calling Hot Takes on Red (Taylor’s Version) (Paula’s Version). I’m going to go track by track. Some will have more details than others and that’s okay. Some will have personal stories, others will have cultural critiques. But remember we’re just having some fun here 🙂

I love Taylor – Swifties don’t come for me if I don’t love your favourite song.

Hit play on Spotify and let’s get into it.

I need to preface this by saying Red is not my favourite album. There are some REALLY good songs and there are some others that I never got in to. I’ve always ranked Red lower in my rankings – the first three (Debut, Fearless, Speak Now) and the last three are my favourites (Lover, Folklore, Evermore). But I will say this re-release has moved this album up in my mind.

“State of Grace”

Welp. I’m going to start off slow because I’ve always enjoyed this song, but I don’t have any strong feelings about it. Like it’s a good song but not the best.


I like this song better than State of Grace… but again… not one of my favourites. I will say that this is one of the songs that has grown on me in the re-release era.


Not a strong start TayTay… these first three songs do not do it for me. So sorry…

“I Knew You Were Trouble”

OKAY now we’re getting somewhere and I have THOUGHTS. This song is *iconic*. I hated it when it first came out. I thought it was so annoying, it contributed to my lack of love for this album but it’s much better this round. I actually love it now. I am disappointed that she didn’t do a I knew You Were Trouble Goat Remix (Taylor’s Version) but I’m sure someone on the internet will make that happen. IYKYK.

“All Too Well”

OBESSED. We all are. I love this song. I’ve always loved this song. This was the song on the album that made me actually like the album. I will say, that the 10 minute version is SO MUCH BETTER, but I love that we have both. Especially because the four minute version is clean and I can perform it at work!


So. This album originally came out in fall 2012, all my friends turned 22 in 2013. This song was the HOT song that year. It is so overplayed for me but in the bet way possible. I cannot wait for all the 99 and 00 babies to have their 22nd birthdays this year with this new version.

“I Almost Do”

Country Taylor is alive and well on this track and I’m here for it. It’s one of my favourite tracks. I just love it for it’s simplicity.

“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

I have such a sense memory with this song. I hear it and I’m immediately transported back to the front room of Cooks Cabin on Birch Island. I can feel the camp sheets, hear the rubber mattress crinkling under the weight of all my friends. I can HEAR the grainy sound of this song come out of someone’s Blackberry as we all curled up to listen to the NEW taylor swift song in the middle of August during rest hour. I also remember thinking this song was SO different for Taylor. It was pop and she was COUNTRY. It felt completely at odds with everything we loved her for, but also… it was so good. It remains one of my favourite songs. This is a photo from that summer with the girls I lived with in cooks cabin. We were such babies!

The 2012 Cooks Cabin Crew

“Stay Stay Stay”

Obessed. It was just so lovely. It reminded me of all my favourite songs from Speak Now. Huge fan. I’m here for it.

“The Last Time” (ft Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol)

I adore this song. I love the re-record. I love that Gary came back to do this song. It’s very 2012 and I love that for us.

“Holy Ground”

A classic. I don’t have any hot takes on this, other than that. It’s a classic.

“Sad Beautiful Tragic”

I have zero thoughts on this one. It has slipped through the cracks. I have no memories, thoughts, or anything on this….

“The Lucky One”

I always think about the Zac Efron movie vs the Taylor Swift song which also came out around the same time. But the song is better than the movie (TBH it’s a low bar – the movie was trash).

“Everything Has Changed” (featuring Ed Sheeran)

This is one of my favourite songs from this album. The music video was a favourite. Everything about this song was perfect. I could listen to this song over and over for a long time.


I was not into this song and I’m still not into it.

“Begin Again”

I LOVE this song. Of the original songs – this one, Everythig has Changed, Stay Stay Stay, and All Too Well are my favourites. It’s the country songs. Plus the Paris music video. It was all so lovely.

“The Moment I Knew”

So this was on the Deluxe version of the OG and skipped my consciousness in 2012. No clue why because it’s one of my favourites now. I love it. Plus when played in conjunction with the 10-minute All Too Well — it’s perfect. 10/10.

“Come Back… Be Here”

This song has always annoyed me. It’s too basic. Moving on.

“Girl at Home”

I should have loved this song back in 2012. I would have related to it… but it was a skip. Still is…

“State of Grace” (acoustic version)

See above. I feel extremely ‘meh’ about this song. However – I would actually LOVE a full album of acoustic versions of all her best songs. Just a girl and her guitar. All I want.


So here’s my personal story about this song. When it first came out in 2012, I didn’t think much of it. Fast forward nine years and I now work at a children’s hospital and have spent nearly a decade volunteering with a camp for kids with cancer. This song WRECKS me. It is such a wonderful tribute to a particular kid but so applicable to so many others. It’s a “skip” for me because it makes me SOB. So really it’s a top teir song. Well done Taylor.

“Better Man”

I am SO sad that she didn’t release this song herself. It is so much better than half the stuff on this album. I have so many questions why this one got cut. I love Little Big Town’s version of this song, but it is a PERFECT Taylor song. I am obsessed.

“Nothing New” (featuring Phoebe Bridgers)

This is my favourite song from the vault. I honestly have had it on repeat for days. It’s so poignant. Collaborating with Phoebe Bridgers is brilliant. I WISH they could have released this in 2012. I could have really used this song. But it also feels so contemporary. I cannot get enough of it. Plus Taylor’s now using it as a self referencing meme and I’m here for it.


See Better Man. Same feelings here. The Sugerland version is great, but WOW this is so good. I would have loved it on this album in 2012.

“Message in a Bottle”

It does feel more 1989 than Red so I get when it was cut and you can see how her song writing was evolving. It’s my only vault song that I understand why it was cut.

“I Bet You Think About Me” (featuring Chris Stapleton)

OKKKAAYYY. I have an essay to write here. This is a top tier song and I’ve been watching the music video on repeat.

First – the song is fire. It’s such a great song. It is classic COUNTRY. It’s full of fun revenge lyrics. It’s got such a catchy hook. It’s just so great. But the END:

“I bet you think about me when you say
“Oh my god, she’s insane, she wrote a song about me”
I bet you think about me:”

JUST *chefs kiss* perfect. Plus… it’s a perfect tiktok sound.

Second – the VIDEO! Off the top. When this premiered, I legitimately SCREAMED because I am obsessed with Miles Teller. I’ve been so worried about his association with certain folks who are anti-vaxers. However I really do not think Taylor and Blake would associate themselves with someone who was an anti-vaxer. Like REALLY don’t think so. I have to think they hang out with and work with good people so I’m so hopeful that this means he’s not an ididot and I can go back to loving him.

Okay and then, the video is directed by Blake Lively!!!! Another person I am *obessed* with. It is a stunning video. The white slowly all turning red. It’s so well made. I love that Taylor is working more with female co-creators. She often works with men and I really want to see her put women up front and this is a perfect example of giving your female friends a boost.

Last point – the FINGER WINDUP. I will be putting that in my back pocket for future use.

Just up and down – I cannot say enough good things about this song.

“Forever Winter”

I love this song. I’m so glad it’s out in the world. Again you can see her moving towards her 1989 era, but it just works. I’m into it.

“Run” (featuring Ed Sheeran)

I do like Everythig Has Changed better than Run, so I get the choice to put that on the album if you can only have one Ed song – but WHY was this buried for so long?! It’s fantastic.

“The Very First Night”

WHY ARE THE VAULT SONGS SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE SONGS ON THE OG ALBUM?! I don’t know who was making these choices but they need to be fired. Oh wait… she did fire them. lol.

“All Too Well (10 minute version)”

You made it to the end. You get the BEST song on the record and there is so much to talk about here.

1 – The Short Film

I don’t even know how to explain how much I love this and how many times I’ve watched this. It wrecked me. The casting, the cinematography, the storytelling, just everything was immaculate. She’s elevated the original All Too Well into a higher art. It feels much more like a song that a 30 year old wrote 10 years later about a situation that happened, vs a song that a 21 year old wrote in the moment. It’s extremely retrospective — and this film plays into that when we see the ‘present day’ Taylor at the end. It is a brilliant video. I don’t love that it’s a “short film” and I don’t love that some swifites are calling it for it to win an Oscar – I just think it’s an evolution on the music video. It’s a music video and then some. I still LOVE it. I still think Dylan is hot. I still went out and bought red lipstick after watching this and styled my hair like Sadie’s all weekend. I still cried for hours thinking about this video. But it’s a video. Not a short film.

Also shoutout to these guys who do the most PERFECT imitation of “you dropped my hand” that even blondie herself commented on:

@durafest2 Reply to @greek_ms_piggy @taylorswift we would’ve never dropped your hand. #skitcomedy #swifttok #alltoowell10min #BetterTogetherChallenge ♬ original sound – Alex and Pablo

2 – The SNL Performance

Okay – this is GOLD. I have actually played this version, this live performance, more than I have had played the song on Spotify (which is saying something). It is a career defining moment. The way it’s just her and her guitar, centre stage with a minimal look and a autumnal stage design and PERFECT lightening. She builds her performance, layering intensity as she commands the stage. You can just hear the audience building with her, cheering at the absolute perfect points. It feels like watching an intense sporting event – I wanted to yell at the tv: keep going, you’ve got this, push through the pain, keep it going, you’re doing it, YOU’VE DONE IT. It honestly gives me Tessa and Scott Olympic vibes and there is no higher compliment from me. It’s a masterclass in how to command a stage.

Give her a standing ovation. Induct her into the hall of fame JUST for this. Give her all the Grammys. Then go check on Jake…

Which we do need to talk about. He could have AVOIDED all the hate directed at him if he had just been a better man (jk) on top of this. It all goes away if you just say “great song” publically. Just be like, we’ve all moved on, we’re all adults, and this song is wonderful. It’s the Jonas strategy — get to a place where she’s sending your babies presents. It’s really not hard. It’s not her responsibility to take the heat off you. You knew when dating her after her first THREE albums came out that she writes songs about people. You also lived through the original Red era, you knew what was coming. She also announced that this was coming back months ago. I have zero empathy for him. He could have hired a strong publist months ago and been in a better public space for this avalanche of hatred.

However – Swifties we need to back off. Like it was a decade ago. She is FINE and really doesn’t need anyone attacking this man on the internet. It’s a bad look for everyone.

@washingtonpost Get some sleep, Jake Gyllenhaal’s publicist. #TaylorsVersion #Spiderman #NoWayHome ♬ original sound – We are a newspaper.

3. The Sad Girl Version

She knows her audience really well. Sad Girl Autumn is really hitting. It makes the song EVEN MORE emotional (and I don’t understand how that’s possible). Personally, I prefer #smartgirlfall over Sad Girl Audtum… which is why I need to wrap this up and get back to my homework.

What do you think of Red?

Leave me a comment – I can’t wait to hear from you 🙂

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