In 2012, before the streaming To overtake downloads and physical storage media as the dominant music industry 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 Almost a decade later, this year’s best-selling records – those that inspired fans to buy a CD or LP or find somewhere you can still pay to download rather than stream – are almost certainly Adele’s last. , “30”, followed by … “Red” by Taylor Swift.
At this point “Red” came back on the scene: Outraged by the 2019 sale of her old label Big Machine – which included the master recordings of her first six albums – Swift devised a plan to re-record her early work as a way to devalue those masters, essentially supplanting them in the market with products of their own. (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 quixotic to say the least when it was announced. However, Swift, who wrote and recorded two original song albums in 2020, began to fulfill her far-fetched 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. They both meticulously reproduce the sound of the originals with the help of Swift’s collaborators at the time; The two albums attract fans with newly revamped versions of Swift’s so-called vault recordings.
The debut of “Red (Taylor’s Version)” at the top of the Billboard 200 gave Swift her fourth album number 1 in 16 months, the fastest an artist has accumulated on so many charts, according to the trade magazine. “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” will probably 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 the January Grammys. (“Folklore”, his first album of 2020, won that award at the last edition of the Grammys, in March). iHeartMedia, the nation’s largest radio conglomerate, even said it would replace Swift’s songs with cuts from “Taylor’s Version” as she made them available.
The singer reflected her unique mix of determination and means, not to mention the time she was away from concerts during the pandemic; the fact that the re-recordings have been unprecedentedly successful is an indication of the unique devotion of their fans. Most surprising, however, is the creative energy the 32-year-old singer drew from this seemingly commercial endeavor – how vivid the past made it seem when she held it in her hands.
On the new version of “Fearless”, he subtly remodeled his old songs “Fifteen” Y “The best day, ”Which she wrote as a teenager, to bring out some of the disappointments she faced in the years after it was published; the songs continue to speak of youthful 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 songs from the” Fearless “vault, brought Swift’s now-defunct relationship with Joe Jonas back to the limelight (!), Which was nothing compared to the frenzied talk Swift sparked with the version of 10 minutes of “All Too Well” which he featured on “Red (Taylor’s Version)” – and which he got to sing recently on “Saturday Night Live” in a gritty performance that throbbed with the hard-earned satisfaction of someone finally getting to say precisely the right thing to do to an insensitive ex. (Swift is currently in a romantic relationship 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 catalog, including Generation Z singer-songwriters such as
Holly Humberstone and Gracie Abrams, for whom Swift’s talent for structure and emotional detail make her something of a godmother to Carole King. In particular, 18-year-old Olivia Rodrigo recognized the superstar as the co-writer of two tracks from her hit 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 to extract raw material from history in 2021. Think indie rock Lucy Dacus, who rummaged through her teenage diaries for inspiration from her acclaimed album “Home Video.” Think of director Peter Jackson, who cut dozens of hours of Michael Lindsay-Hogg footage from the late 1960s on the Beatles to put together his epic docuseries “Get Back.” Think of Adele, who uses voice memos from conversations with her son to punctuate a “30” song in which she worries about how her divorce will affect her life.
Technological advances and the culture of the Internet have made recovering from successes easier than ever; the general lack of rigor in 2020 and 2021 has perhaps also made it more compelling. However, Swift’s most interesting project goes beyond mere nostalgia.
The best vault theme for “Red” is “Nothing new”, A heartbreaking 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 consider her when she grows up, and of course Swift is supposed to have been thinking of herself at the time of writing in the early 2010s, just as she was starting out. to come out of its naive phase.
However, nowadays 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 will know the way and then she will say that the map got it from me. ” She adds, “I’ll say I’m happy for her and then I’ll cry myself to sleep,” but there’s no resentment in her performance. She is empathetic, though not surprised, like someone who knew that one day she would look back and see it coming.
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