Red is the fourth studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was released on October 22, 2012, by Big Machine Records, as the follow-up to her third studio album, Speak Now (2010). The album title was inspired by the "semi-toxic relationships" that Swift experienced during the process of conceiving this album, which Swift described the emotions she felt as "red emotions" due to their intense and tumultuous nature. Red touches on Swift's signature themes of love and heartbreak, however, from a more mature perspective while exploring other themes such as fame and the pressure of being in the limelight. The album features collaborations with producers and guest artists such as Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol and Ed Sheeran and is noted for Swift's experimentation with new musical genres. Swift completed The Red Tour in support of the album on June 12, 2014, which became the highest-grossing tour of all time by a country artist, grossing over $150 million.
Praised by critics for Swift's versatility as a musician and her experiments with new music genres, straying from her usual country sounds, Swift received numerous awards and nominations for Red. At the 56th Grammy Awards, Red was nominated for Best Country Album, giving Swift her third consecutive nomination in the category, and the prestigious Album of the Year, marking Swift's second nomination for Album of the Year at the Grammys, following her 2010 victory with Fearless (2008). This gave Swift the distinction of being the first country act to be nominated twice in the Album of the Year category at the Grammys in the 2010s.
Red debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, giving Swift her third consecutive chart topper in the US. Its first week sales of 1.21 million was the third biggest debut in history for a female artist and became the fastest-selling album in over a decade. It made music history for claiming the biggest first week sales of all time by a country act, the record previously held by Garth Brooks. Red is just the 18th album in United States history to sell one million copies in a single week. It was also a huge global success, becoming Swift's first chart-topper in the UK, and also topped the album charts in Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand while charted in the top ten in every other major market including China. Worldwide, it has sold 6 million copies as of August 2014. Red became the best-selling country album of 2012, making it her third consecutive top-seller and the second best-seller overall across all genres despite being out only for two months. This makes the fourth time Swift has an album ranked in the year's top three sellers. Red has been certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), making it Swift's fourth consecutive album to reach this plateau.
Background and Release
On August 13, 2012, Swift gave a live webchat to over 72,500 viewers, in which she answered fan questions, previewed the lead single, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together", and announced her fourth album's title as Red, as well as its release date.
During the live webchat, she also revealed that she wrote more than 30 songs for the album, of which she included 16 for the album and expressed that dysfunctional relationships can provide a lot of inspiration. Contrary to her previous self-written album Speak Now (2010), Swift enlisted the help of several of her favorite songwriters. In an interview with MTV News, the singer revealed that the album "is interesting because each song stands on its own. It's this patchwork quilt of different sounds and different emotions, and I don't think anything on the record sounds like We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together". She also previewed songs from the album on Good Morning America every Monday, beginning on September 24 until October 15. Swift performed on October 22 for the album's release, and the next day, she performed a live concert on the same show. According to the singer she had spent over two years with the recording process, writing and preparation for the album. Sarah Barlow shot the album's cover, which shows Swift's face, particularly her red lipstick. The standard and deluxe versions of the album were released on October 22, 2012 in Italy, New Zealand, the United States, among others. A karaoke version of the album was also released on February 5, 2013 on the iTunes Store, which includes the instrumental version from all tracks of its standard version.
Red was a huge commercial success. In the United States, Red became the fastest-selling album in over a decade after selling 1.21 million copies in its first week, and earned Swift her third No. 1 album on the Billboard 200. Red has the second highest first week sum by a female artist, only behind Britney Spears' Oops!... I Did It Again (2000), which opened with 1.3 million units. Red had the biggest sales week in 2012 and outsold the top 52 albums in the Billboard 200 on its first week. It has also the biggest one week sales for a country album beating Garth Brooks' Double Live which sold 1.085 million copies in 1998. Red sold 465,000 digital copies in its first week in the US, which is the second biggest after Lady Gaga's Born This Way (2011). It sold around 1.459 million copies worldwide in its first week of sales. In its second week on the Billboard 200, the album remained at No. 1 and sold 344,000 copies (down 72%). Next week Red held atop the Billboard 200 and sold a further 196,000 copies (down 43%) which brought its sales to 1.749 million, thus ranking the third biggest selling album of 2012 behind Adele's 21 and One Direction's Up All Night. The album was dethroned by One Direction's Take Me Home on its fourth week. In its seventh week, Red climbed back to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 selling 167,000 and with that, Swift is now tied with Jay-Z and Whitney Houston for fourth most-weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking in 1991.
Swift held the Billboard 200 top spot the next two weeks, thus making Swift the first artist since The Beatles in 1969 to log six or more weeks at No. 1 with three consecutive studio albums, following Fearless (eleven weeks) and Speak Now (six weeks). Also, this is the third time that Swift has had the No. 1 album in the last week before Christmas, which is traditionally the most competitive week of the year. She also achieved the feat with Fearless in 2008 and Speak Now in 2010. Red spent its seventh non-consecutive week at No. 1 in the sales week ending Dec 30, 2012, selling 241,000 (down 12%). This gave Swift a total of 24 weeks atop the Billboard 200 throughout her career, tying her with Adele as the woman with most weeks at No. 1 since SoundScan began tabulating the Billboard 200 in May 1991. Red finished 2012 as the second biggest album despite being out for only two months, selling 3.11 million. It makes the fourth time she has an album ranked in the year's top three sellers. As of January 2015, the album has sold 4,133,000 copies in the US.
In Canada, Red ranks Swift's third No. 1 album as well selling 93,000 copies on its debut week and has easily crossed the Platinum certification in the country. With that sales, Red became the biggest one week sales in Canada since Michael Bublé's Christmas moved 107,000 copies last Christmas season of 2011 and the biggest first week sales since 2008. To date, Red has been certified triple platinum by Music Canada with shipments exceeding 240,000 copies.
Red was also commercially successful outside the United States. In the United Kingdom, Swift garnered her first No. 1 album with Red with sales of 61,000 copies on its opening week. In Australia, the album debuted at No. 1 and spent a total of three consecutive weeks at the top, becoming Swift's longest running No. 1 album in Australia; Red was certified 4× platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association for shipments exceeding 280,000 copies. In New Zealand, the album also became Swift's third No. 1 album, and has been certified platinum by the RIANZ. Worldwide, Swift set a new worldwide iTunes Store record for highest ever first-week album sales with 566,000 copies sold digitally around the globe. Later, this record was beat by Justin Timberlake's album The 20/20 Experience (580,000 copies during its first week). The album has sold over six million copies worldwide.
Red received generally positive reviews from music critics. On Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews and ratings from mainstream critics, the album received a metascore of 77, based on 23 reviews. Melissa Maerz of Entertainment Weekly gave the album a (B+) and wrote that Red finds her singing about walking directly into traffic wading into quicksand and flirting with the kinds of jerks Kanye West might toast to" and closed the review saying that the album might be about flirting with danger." The Guardian was also very positive on the album, gave it four-stars-out-of-five and wrote: "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." Jon Dolan from Rolling Stone magazine found some influences on the album such as Joni Mitchell and U2, rated it three-and-half-stars out of five and said: "her self-discovery project is one of the best stories in pop. When she's really on, her songs are like tattoos." Billboard gave a very positive review to the album, called it "her most interesting full-length to date" and said that "Red puts Swift the artist front and center with big, beefy hooks that transcend her country roots for a genre-spanning record that reaches heights unseen since Shania Twain's Up!."
Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic stated that "Although she can still seem a little gangly in her lyrical details -- her relationship songs are too on the nose and she has an odd obsession about her perceived persecution by the cool kids -- these details hardly undermine the pristine pop confections surrounding them. If anything, these ungainly, awkward phrasings humanizes this mammoth pop monolith: she's constructed something so precise its success seems preordained, but underneath it all, Taylor is still twitchy, which makes Red not just catchy but compelling." Robert Christgau praised the album by saying that he likes the feisty ones, and complimented that "Begin Again" and "Stay Stay Stay" stay happy and hit as hard. Michael Gallucci of The A.V. Club said "Lyrically, it's the same path Swift has walked since her 2006 debut, just deeper and a little darker. But musically, it's bigger and bolder than anything she's ever done in the pop world." however saying "It's magnificent at times, but it's also complicated and sometimes unfocused". He dismissed the duets as boring, however, praising "State of Grace" and "All Too Well" as "occasionally fascinating work".
Spin positively said "Whatever it is, this music is full of adult pleasures, even if the most explicit image Swift offers is of an ex-boyfriend sniffing her scarf because it smells like her. On Red — the color of blood and lipstick and fire and Southern dirt and hearts and conservatism and tractors and communism and sin, this last a word whose charged valence here might discomfit know-it-alls who would never use it without scare quotes — Swift's too smart and tuneful to condescend to her contradictions. Or to yours." The Los Angeles Times praised the album by saying the "versatility is the album's most striking characteristic" and "By setting rural music alongside more 'urban' sounds of the moment, Swift is arguably just responding to a pop world in which country singles might please her base, but certainly doesn't expand it. But that's the cynic's view, and Swift on Red has little time for cynicism. Rather, she's striving for something much more grand and accomplished." Slant Magazine was critical, but said "While songs like "All Too Well" and "Treacherous" prove how adept Swift is at expressing genuine insights into complex relationship dynamics, there are also a handful of songs that lack her usual spark. Still, if Red is ultimately too uneven to be a truly great pop album, its highlights are career-best work for Swift, who now sounds like the pop star she was destined to be all along."
|1. State of Grace||4:55|
|4. I Knew You Were Trouble||3:39|
|5. All Too Well||5:29|
|7. I Almost Do||4:04|
|8. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together||3:13|
|9. Stay Stay Stay||3:25|
|10. The Last Time (ft. Gary Lightbody)||4:59|
|11. Holy Ground||3:22|
|12. Sad Beautiful Tragic||4:44|
|13. The Lucky One||4:00|
|14. Everything Has Changed (ft. Ed Sheeran)||4:05|
|16. Begin Again||3:57|
|Deluxe Edition (Bonus Tracks)|
|17. The Moment I Knew||4:45|
|18. Come Back... Be Here||3:42|
|19. Girl at Home||3:40|
|20. Treacherous (original demo recording)||3:59|
|21. Red (original demo recording)||3:46|
|22. State of Grace (acoustic version)||5:22|