In 2012, before the streaming unseating downloads and physical storage media as the music industry’s dominant format, the two best-selling albums of the year were Adele’s “21,” followed by Taylor Swift’s “Red.” As 2021 draws to a close Nearly a decade later, this year’s best-selling albums — the ones that inspired fans to buy a CD or LP or find someplace where you can still pay to download instead of stream — are almost certainly Adele’s last. , “30”, followed by… “Red” by Taylor Swift.
At this point “Red” re-entered the scene: Outraged by the sale in 2019 of her old label Big Machine -which included the master recordings of her first six albums-, Swift devised a plan to re-record her first works as a way to devalue those masters, essentially supplanting them in the marketplace with proprietary products. (Big Machine’s buyer was Scooter Braun, the music executive known, among other things, for creating Swift’s nemesis Kanye West; Braun sold the label last year for about $300 million.)
The company seemed, to say the least, quixotic when it was announced. However, Swift, who wrote and recorded two albums of original songs in 2020, began to make good on her wild promise this year, releasing her version of 2008’s “Fearless” in April – “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” she called it – and then releasing “Red (Taylor’s Version)” in November. Both meticulously reproduce the sound of the originals with the help of Swift’s collaborators at the time; the two albums lure fans with freshly revamped versions of Swift’s so-called vault recordings.
The debut of “Red (Taylor’s Version)” atop the Billboard 200 gave Swift her fourth No. 1 album in 16 months, the fastest an artist has accumulated on as many charts, according to the trade magazine. “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” will likely end in 2021 as the fourth best-selling album of the year, behind “30”, “Red” and the second of Swift’s LPs,
“Evermore,” which is nominated for album of the year at January’s Grammy Awards. (“Folklore”, his first album of 2020, took that award at the last edition of the Grammys, in March). iHeartMedia, the nation’s largest radio conglomerate, even said it would substitute cuts from “Taylor’s Version” of Swift’s songs as she made them available.
The singer reflected her unique mix of determination and means, not to mention the time she was out of concerts during the pandemic; the fact that the re-recordings have met with unprecedented success is an indication of the unique devotion of her fans. Most surprising, however, is the creative energy the 32-year-old singer drew from this seemingly commercial venture: how alive she made her past seem when she held it in her hands.
In the new version of “Fearless”, he subtly remodeled his old songs “Fifteen” Y “The Best Day,” which she wrote as a teenager, to carry some of the disappointments she faced in the years after publication; her songs still speak of young love and parental devotion, but now Swift’s slightly tired voices also speak of toxic masculinity and her mother’s long battle with cancer.
“Mr Perfectly Fine”, one of the themes from the “Fearless” vault, brought Swift’s now-defunct relationship with Joe Jonas (!) back into the limelight, which was nothing compared to the frenzied chatter Swift sparked with the version. 10-minute stretch of “All Too Well” that he included on “Red (Taylor’s Version)” — and recently got to sing on “Saturday Night Live” in a gutsy performance that throbbed with the hard-earned satisfaction of someone who finally gets to say precisely the right thing to an insensitive ex. (Swift is currently romantically involved with English actor Joe Alwyn, about whom she says as little as possible publicly.)
Other musicians have found material for their own work in Swift’s influential catalogue, including Generation Z singer-songwriters like
Holly Humberstone and Gracie Abrams, for whom Swift’s flair for structure and emotional detail make her something of a godmother figure to Carole King. In particular, Olivia Rodrigo, 18, credited the superstar as co-writing two tracks on her smash debut, “Sour,” not because they wrote it together, but because Rodrigo had borrowed aspects of Swift’s songs.”New Year’s Day” Y “Cruel Summer.”
Swift and her heirs weren’t the only artists extracting raw material from history in 2021. Think of indie rocker Lucy Dacus, who dug through her teenage journals for inspiration for her acclaimed album “Home Video.” Think of director Peter Jackson, who cut out dozens of hours of Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s late ’60s material on the Beatles to assemble his epic “Get Back” docuseries. Consider Adele, who uses voice notes from conversations with her son to punctuate a song from “30” in which she worries about how her divorce will affect her life.
Technological advances and the culture of the Internet have made it easier than ever to recover from success; the general lack of rigor of 2020 and 2021 has perhaps also made it more irresistible. However, Swift’s most interesting project goes beyond mere nostalgia.
The best vault theme from “Red” is “nothing new”, a torn duet with Phoebe Bridgers (to name another swiftie declared) that achieves a kind of dual consciousness. It’s about a young woman who wonders how a boyfriend – or maybe the music industry – will think of her when she grows up, and of course Swift was supposed to be thinking of herself when she wrote it in the early 2010s, just as she started get out of your naive phase.
However, today it is almost impossible to listen to “Nothing New” and not think about Rodrigo, especially when the narrator imagines that she meets another woman with a fresher face on the bridge of the song: “I know that one day I will meet her Swift sings, “She’ll know the way and then she’ll say she got the map from me.” She adds, “I’ll say I’m happy for her and then cry myself to sleep,” but there’s no hard feelings in her performance. She is empathetic, if not surprised, like someone who knew that one day she would look back and see it coming.
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How Taylor Swift took back 2012 to win 2021
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