Release Date: Oct 22, 2012
Record label: Big Machine Records
Genre(s): Pop, Country, Pop/Rock, Teen Pop, Contemporary Country, Country-Pop
Like Kanye West, Taylor Swift is a turbine of artistic ambition and superstar drama. So it's no surprise she manages to make her fourth album both her Joni Mitchell-influenced maturity binge and her Max Martin-abetted pop move – and have it seem not just inevitable but natural. Red is a 16-song geyser of willful eclecticism that's only tangentially related to Nashville (much like Swift herself at this point).
Those who consider pop music to be merely for the lowest common denominator are missing out. I planned to say a lot more than that, but the simple truth is that pop music can be just as affecting and transcendent as any other, ostensibly more “credible” genre. If you think about it, it’s hard not to wonder why this point even needs to be argued.
Alone among her peers, Taylor Swift appears genuine. Which isn't to say she's without affectation or that she avoids artifice. She uses both when it suits her, as any real pop star would -- and if her 2012 album Red intends to do anything, it's to prove Taylor is a genuine superstar, the kind who transcends genre, the kind who can be referred to by a single name.
When Big Machine released the Max Martin-produced lead single from Red, “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” a big topic of conversation was how decidedly un-country the track was. Around that time, Big Machine label head Scott Borchetta did an interview with NPR’s Marketplace and gave the quote heard round the world: “Our entire goal is to make something that moves you … if you don’t want to call it country, I don’t care.” To put it a little less bluntly, debating genre boundaries doesn’t feel terribly relevant to what Taylor Swift’s up to on her fourth studio album. She has a huge, young audience, and she’s thinking just as iPod shuffle-fluidly about music as they do.
Each Taylor Swift album to date has taken her a step further away from the traditional country with which she first made her name as a teenage songwriting prodigy, but even so, the sound of a dubstep drop, magnificently executed, on I Knew You Were Trouble is a shock. In truth, Swift's big international pop move for country-shy markets comprises a mere sprinkling of perky Max Martin productions, with the emphasis elsewhere being firmly on the songcraft. All Too Well and The Lucky One possess twists to make you gasp; as ever, Swift seems to know just the right phrase to pull you inside her break-up narratives.
Swift, like Justin Bieber, has a knack for romance. Among the wintry little pen-portraits on her fourth album there's a couple "dancing round the kitchen in the refrigerator light" (All Too Well). Red was allegedly inspired by her experience of "love and its fast-paced, crazy adventures": how she's had time to open her door to such a parade of lovers good and bad, God only knows.
The writer James Dickey once described a poet as ”someone who stands outside in the rain, hoping to be struck by lightning.” He could’ve been talking about Taylor Swift. When the Dean of Tween isn’t inviting guys to meet her in the pouring rain, she’s courting danger any other way she can, just for the drama of it all. Her new album is called Red — as in red light or red alert — and it finds her singing about walking directly into traffic, wading into quicksand, and flirting with the kinds of jerks Kanye West might toast to.
Taylor Swift wasn’t born a Southern belle, it’s simply the persona she adopted having moved to Nashville, Tennessee at 14-years-old. An eternally romantic teen in love with the idea of being in love, it was all too picturesque for the American public to resist; so the country music and teen-pop markets both swooned in adoration. Sure, she sang about getting dumped and "stupid old pick-up trucks" she was never allowed to drive but who doesn’t hit a few bumps on the road to finding their perfect man? Well on Red, Taylor’s gone through another split and this time, it's personal.
You can make a strong case that the secret to Taylor Swift’s unparalleled success has come from her ability to control her musical identity as well as any other in-their-prime artist. Focusing on developing her craft ever since she hit the scene in her teens, Swift has always possessed the skills and an ethic that belie her age, coming off like an old hand in her music even when her subject matter was young adult. So instead of worrying about keeping up with her peer group, Swift seemed like she kept her eyes on the prize for the long run, rather than simply cashing out for short-term gain.
After “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” the lead single from Taylor Swift’s fourth album, Red, bricked at country radio, Swift and her record label quickly followed up with the lovely “Begin Again,” something of a mea culpa to the format that gave Swift her big break. But the bulk of Red only confirms what “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” first hinted at: that Swift is eager to embrace her status as a pop star. Considering that her material has almost always been better when she loses the ill-fitting country signifiers and focuses on her uncanny gift for writing pop hooks, it’s a smart, if overdue, move for Swift, and Red plays as a survey course in contemporary pop, as Swift and her small army of collaborators try to find a style that fits her best.
The wide-reaching, massive ambitions of Taylor Swift’s latest album, Red, should come as no surprise. Swift’s career and her music have been headed towards full-fledged crossover success for some time, and to take issue with some of the more transparent pop concessions on Red is to have missed the point, to have been grasping onto a Nashville authenticity years after Swift’s tossed such strict conventions aside. Folkies threw a fit when Dylan went electric, but that doesn’t mean he hadn’t been warning them all along.
Review Summary: Naivety, innocence, and romanticism turn into plain childishness.Taylor Swift’s current status in pop-culture almost isn’t believable for someone her age. She is the all-time leader in digital music sales. She’s won numerous awards including six Grammys, ten American Music Awards, seven Country Music Association Awards, six Academy of Country Music Awards, and thirteen BMI Awards.
She’s writing Facebook updates for her fans, and they love her for it. Fraser McAlpine 2012 Would it be too much of a stretch to call Taylor Swift her generation’s Morrissey? Probably, but just as The Smiths found their audience amongst a great cardigan-clad heap of rejected and lonely youth, so Taylor has found hers in the girls who have been treated poorly by the boys. For song after song, Taylor points the finger at feckless boyhood (never manhood – the guys in Taylor Swift songs are always unformed and callow) and throws her hands to the heavens, asking: why didn’t you treat me better? Why didn’t you realise what you had when you had it? Why are you still ringing me? Why are you such an idiot? And she does this partly because she’s a quick-witted lyricist with a sharp eye, and partly because she’s a true romantic, just like her audience.