Taylor Swift Unlocks the Vault for Red (Taylor’s Version)

Ava Orofino, Scarlet Staff

Jake Gyllenhaal must be feeling all too unwell. 

At midnight on Friday, November 12, Taylor Swift broke Spotify (and quite possibly the rest of the internet) when she released Red (Taylor’s Version). The album is over 2 hours long and is complete with re-recordings of the original 16 songs from the 2012 album, plus eight more “from the vault” with collaborations featuring Ed Sheeran, Phoebe Bridgers, Gary Lightbody, and Chris Stapleton. The album concluded with a ten-minute version of All Too Well, debated to be the most heartbreaking song in the album. 

It is very widely known to fans that “All Too Well” was very likely written about Jake Gyllenhaal, Swift’s ex-boyfriend. The Taylor Nation community had bashed the actor for the whole day, making the situation into a meme after meme. After the short film, All Too Well was released, fans noticed so many similarities between the film and Gyllenhaal and Swift’s past relationship. The 14-minute film starred Stranger Things star, Sadie Sink as Her, and Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien as Him, and was written and directed by Taylor herself, who also made a cameo at the end of the film. She had chosen the actors specifically, as they were both huge Swifties, and admitted that she would never have gone through with the project if Sadie hadn’t agreed to participate. “After Sadie agreed, then I called Dylan” she revealed. The two costars have a large age difference, Sink being 19 at the time and O’Brien being 30, which are the same ages as Taylor and Jake were when they were together. Dylan O’Brien has a shot in the video where he is dressed similarly to Gyllenhaal in a paparazzi photo from a few years ago. 

Taylor Swift via her Twitter

However, in an interview with Swift on the night of the premiere, she was asked whether it was true or not that Gyllenhaal had “inspired” the hit song, and if he was the reason the song was so successful. It is important to credit the execution of the project and not the “inspiration”. Taylor had written the song, performed it, and transformed a situation from a negative experience into something positive, none of which has anything to do with her ex-boyfriends. When Ed Sheeran or The Weekend performs and writes songs about their ex-girlfriends, no press asks questions about their inspiration. It shows a real difference between men’s and women’s love songs; there is never a doubt on the credit of the song for men, but it is the opposite for women. Interviews often portray sexism in this way, but that doesn’t stop Swift from making a quick subject change to discuss how proud she was of the project. 

It wouldn’t be a Taylor project if she hadn’t hidden a few easter eggs in the middle of the release. Swifties are very analytical fans, they tend to pick up on any of the small details the artist throws out. For example, she may have teased 1989 (Taylor’s Version) as the next re-recorded album, as the car that was in the short film was from 1989. She also released “Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version)” when the original version was trending on the popular social media app, TikTok. However, there is a chance she’s teasing the release of her third album, Speak Now, as the online price for the hardcopy of Red (Taylor’s Version) is $20.10 (written in purple lettering!), i.e 2010 the year Speak Now came out. The film premiered at 6:30 PM Eastern Time at the AMC in Lincoln Square, New York City on Friday, just a few hours after the music release. Taylor and the two stars of the short film attended the premiere, which was sold out almost immediately after tickets went on sale. Following the premiere, the film was live-streamed on YouTube at 7 pm for the rest of the world to see and is currently on YouTube for fans to watch whenever they please.

At the beginning of her career, she had signed with Big Machine Records, who had owned all the rights and the original recordings of her first six albums, which ranged from her self-titled debut in 2006 to “Reputation” in 2017. Any money that was acquired from streams or downloads would go straight into Scooter Braun’s, the recording companies’ owner, pocket. “Artists should own their work for so many reasons” the artist had written on an Instagram caption a few months ago. That and the fact that Swift had reported Bruan had bullied her numerous times throughout her years working with the record label, she decided to re-record her albums once she signed with Universal’s Republic Records in 2018. This way, her fans could still listen to her music, but she would make the money she deserved from it. 

Taylor Swift performs her All Too Well (Taylor’s Version) (10 Minute Version) in front of the short film during SNL on November 13th.

Swifties were ecstatic when the singer-songwriter announced the official release date of her second re-recorded album, following “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” in April of this year. This “new” version of her sophomore album was the biggest opening day for an album on Spotify, with 50 million streams worldwide in a single day. She topped this album, with 90 million streams on the first day, making her the most streamed female artist in a single day. The whole site crashed around midnight, as anticipated fans were eager to hear the new versions. Others proclaimed their excitement for the new album throughout the week. New York City’s own Empire State Building lit up the sky with red lights in honor of Swift’s new album to prove that they were supportive fans. They even tweeted “Welcome to New York, it’s been waiting for you. To be clear, we just love Taylor and can’t wait for #RedTaylorsVersion” referencing her ode to the Big Apple in a song present in her 1989 album. Starbucks also celebrated the album’s release with Taylor’s signature drink in a red cup. Swifties can order a grande caramel nonfat latte simply by saying “a latte, Taylor’s Version” at any Starbucks location or drive through. The company teased the collaboration by tweeting “it’s red season” with a red scarf emoji and will continue to stream Red (Taylor’s Version) at their locations for the next week.

Fans will still be reeling from this album for a while, especially as they anticipate the new releases within the next few months. After almost 10 years since the original album, the new version is the number one on iTunes Top 100 Album List, within the first week of release, and All Too Well (Taylor’s Version) (Ten Minute Version) is number two on the iTunes Top 100 Song List. “You call me up again just to break me like a promise, so casually cruel in the name of being honest” is a line from All Too Well and is Swift’s favorite line she’s ever written.