“I started writing songs ‘cause it’s kind of like a message in a bottle. You write a song, and you can send it out into the world, and the person you wrote it about might hear it too.”
~ Taylor Swift
In October 2012, Taylor Swift became the first female artist in Nielsen SoundScan history to break record sales twice. “Red,” her latest album, sold over one million copies in its first week, and she reached that impressive mark with “Speak Now” (2010) as well. Not to mention, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” her catchy hit single, is taking over the radio airwaves.
Since “Speak Now,” I’ve become somewhat of a “Swiftie” listener myself (apparently that’s the name of her fan club), and I was curious to see how her stories in “Red” would unfold. While her vocals matured, and the styles of music blur between pop, country and some rather eclectic dub step, I was even more pleasantly intrigued by her songwriting. Its bold nature discloses personal details about her life, her words reminiscent of words you would only find on a page in a diary.
Is this why so many adolescents and twenty-somethings can relate to her music?
I would argue that her specific writing style works — it allows the listener to capture his or her own emotions and confront those feelings in the moment. After all, isn’t it better to deal with those unresolved sentiments or pesky triggers head-on?
“Red” was the title track she wrote about a relationship “that was the worst thing ever and the best thing ever at the same time,” Swift said on an episode of VH1’s “Storytellers.” The color red covers a wide spectrum of emotions, the singer explained. Whether she’s focusing on its positive associations, such as passion, affection and fearlessness, or its negative connotations of anger, frustration and jealousy, she correlates her feelings to this strong color.
“All Too Well,” my personal favorite, showcases Swift on guitar with a very raw and nostalgic set of lyrics, as she depicts the beginning and end of an intense romantic relationship and all that’s in between. This song may strike a nerve and resonate with many, mainly because of how honest the singer is. There’s not much to decipher — it just feels very genuine and breaks your heart.
“For me, there are several songs I can relate to on the album, but it also depends on my mood,” Karen Sadetsky, an avid Swift fan, said.
“If I am looking for a fun, upbeat song, I most definitely would go with ’22.’ The pre-chorus, which lyrically states, ‘we’re happy, free, confused and lonely in the best way, it’s miserable and magical,’ describes the ups and downs of not knowing what a lot of 20-somethings want to do with their life. Swift is basically saying it’s okay to feel all of these emotions, and to just go with the flow and enjoy yourself now with all of your friends.”
“Holy Ground,” another lively track, epitomizes an aura of heartache, but also expresses gratitude for what was once very real.
Since I’ve listened to this album on loop and poured myself into these lyrics over and over, I really only have good things to say about Taylor Swift growing as a songwriter, and becoming an artist we can truly identify with.
Sure, some critique this album as lacking a “spark” that was present in “Fearless,” which she released as a young teenager. However, despite more of a collaborative production with newer sounds, I found quite a few precious and relatable gems on “Red,” which will definitely hold me over till her next venture.