Music Review: Taylor Swift's 'Red' is mediocre
Taylor Swift, "Red" (Big Machine Records)
Taylor Swift's "Red," the Grammy winner's fourth album, is a 16-track set that has the singer continuing to step away from her country roots to take on a more rock and pop sound. The album features songs that are big and stadium ready (she has a U2-like moment on album opener, "State of Grace") and others that are soft and slow.
But while "Red" contains its share of winners, many of the songs lack the colorfulness and vitality the album title suggests, leading to an overall letdown. Lyrically and sonically, the album lacks oomph and feeling: It sounds like we've heard it all from her before (check "Starlight").
Hooking up with some new — and popular — producers seemed like a good move for Swift, who has worked with a supertight group of writers and producers on her first three albums (half of "Red" is produced by her longtime producer Nathan Chapman). Unfortunately, stepping out of her comfort zone doesn't always work.
Max Martin and Shellback, who have helmed No. 1 smashes for Maroon 5, Pink, Kelly Clarkson and others, have given Swift her first No. 1 pop hit with the juvenile-sounding anthem "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," which echoes Avril Lavigne in her teen years. "22," another Martin and Shellback collaboration, is an improvement, but not by much, with weak lines like: "Everything will be all right if we just keeping dancing like we're 22." The producers fare better on "I Knew You Were Trouble.," an adventurous track with Swift taking the bull by the horns, sounding aggressive over an electrified and electronic beat.
Jeff Bhasker, best known for producing the breakout album by fun. and songs for Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Lana Del Rey and others, is behind average songs like "Holy Ground" and "The Lucky One." Swift also works with Dan Wilson, a singer who has co-written two of music's best songs with the Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice" and Adele's "Someone Like You." His song with Swift, "Treacherous," is a good one.
The main issue with "Red" is that it sounds empty. There's nothing close to the country-soul ballads like the heart-wrenching "You're Not Sorry" and "White Horse" from her "Fearless" album, or even the emotion — and magic — on songs like "Never Grow Up" and "Enchanted" from 2010's "Speak Now." She gets close to reaching those touching heights on "I Almost Do" and the album's duets. English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran — and Swift's falsetto — shine on "Everything Has Changed," produced by Butch Walker (Lavigne, Pink, Dashboard Confessional). On "The Last Time," Swift takes a back seat to Snow Patrol lead singer Gary Lightbody, whose heavy and gravely vocals ride beautifully over the haunting beat, courtesy of producer Jacknife Lee. Too bad there's not more where that came from.
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: "The Last Time" is refreshing.
Follow Mesfin Fekadu on Twitter at twitter.com/musicmesfin
- Brad Pitt's Changing Looks
- Hollywood's Hottest Dads
- Mark Wahlberg's Shirtless Looks
- Prince William & Duchess Kate's Cutest Couple Moments
- Stars with tattoos of other celebs
- Brooke Shields' Changing Looks
- Carrie Underwood's Evolving Looks
- 'Fast & Furious 6' Cast Yearbook Photos
- Worst Celeb Sunburns
- Celeb Twins
- Celebs Who Work Out on the Beach
- Country Music's Hottest Couples
- Worst spring wardrobes
- Leonardo DiCaprio's Romance Retro
- WATN: 'Boy Meets World'
- Tim McGraw's changing looks
- Craziest Kim Kardashian pregnancy rumors
- Celebs Who Look Like Their Pets
- Mariah & Nick's Matching Style
- Hollywood's Tomboys
- The Royal Couple's Favorite Sports
- Kim Kardashian's Curvy Maternity Style
- WATN: 'Jurassic Park'
- January Jones' Retro Looks
- The Rock's Soft Side
- WATN: 'Veronica Mars'
- WATN: 'Beetlejuice'
- Fergie's Changing Looks
- Star Twitter Quitters
- Hollywood's Hottest Ryans
- Insured Celebrity Body Parts
- Most Expensive Celeb Engagement Rings
- Sweetest Celeb PDA
- Kim Kardashian's Tightest Looks
- Olivia Wilde's Best Street Style
- Justin Timberlake's Many Looks
- Hottest Royal Beach Bodies
- Celebrity Pets with Famous Names
- Michelle Williams' Best Fashion Moments
- Lindsay Lohan's Changing Looks
- Justin Bieber's Changing Hair
- Most Awkward People on the Red Carpet
- WATN: '7th Heaven'
- Ke$ha's Worst Looks
- Worst Oscar Fashion
- George Clooney's Oscar Dates
- Most Embarrassing Celeb Splits
- Stars Before They Were Oscar Nominees
- Jennifer Lawrence's Best Fashion Moments
- Rihanna's Sexiest Grammy Style
- Drew Barrymore's Craziest Looks
- Jennifer Aniston's Changing Looks
- Worst Dressed Celeb Designers
- Anne Hathaway's Oscar Looks
- Grammy's Hottest Couples
- Taylor Swift's Best Grammy Fashion
- WATN: 'Wonder Years'
- Destiny's Child's Most Iconic Looks
- Best Off-Season Bikini Bods
- Emma Stone's Best Red-Carpet Looks
- Celeb Flashers
- Mariah Carey's Biggest Feuds
- Mariah Carey's Wacky Wardrobe
- Britney Spears' Wackiest Red Carpet Poses
- Celeb Makeup Mistakes
- Ryan Gosling's Leading Ladies
- Nicole Kidman's Golden Globe Fashion
- Katy Perry's Year as a Single Gal
- Celebs Who've Removed Romantic Tattoos
- Most Memorable Celeb Holiday Cards
- Five of the Worst Celeb Winter Wardrobes
- Jennifer Aniston & Justin Theroux's Romance Retro
- Stars Who Are Aging in Reverse
- Christina Aguilera's Worst Looks
- 2012's One Hit Wonders
- Celebs Without Makeup
- Best and Worst Beach Bodies of 2012
- 2012 Fashion Don'ts
- Craziest Beauty Trends of 2012
- Celebs Who Survived Cheating Scandals
- The Turkeys of 2012
- Kristen Stewart's Best Red Carpet Moments
- WATN: 'Less Than Zero'
- Star Couples Who Went from Friends to Lovers
- The Most Famous Celebrity Pets
- The Hottest Celebrity Halloween Costumes
- WATN: 'I Know What You Did Last Summer'
- Jessica Biel's White Hot Red Carpet Style
Two months after major marital problems, Ozzy and Sharon do a Hollywood date night on Celebs gone Social.Watch Video »
See how this former Calvin Klein model's looks have changed over the years.Watch Video »
Demi Lovato drops some major newborn scoop about Selena Gomez's family on today's Celebs Gone Social.Watch Video »
Take a look back at Prince William and Duchess Kate's cutest couple moments.Watch Video »
See how this country cutie has changed her looks over the years.Watch Video »
Star Inspired Ink
From Ryan Cabrera to Megan Fox, see celebs who've gotten tattoos of other stars.Watch Video »
From Videos of Wonderwall
From Crowd Ignite