Taylor Swift recently released the re-recorded version of her album ”Red,” entitled “Red (Taylor’s Version).” Fans have long anticipated this release, as it marks the second album Swift has re-recorded.
The rerelease of her “Red” album has resulted in a resurgence of sexism towards Taylor Swift. People have criticized Swift for exploiting Jake Gyllenhaal, her alleged ex-boyfriend who the album is assumed to be inspired by. However, if you look into the reasons why Swift is re-recording her music, the sexism that is present in the music industry can be easily observed.
“All Too Well” is a song in which Swift reflects upon a now broken relationship. Swift’s crafty lyricism takes listeners on a journey as we experience the full catharsis of her relationship and climatic breakup. The song explores Swift’s more vulnerable side as she reveals the power imbalance she experienced as a younger girl in a relationship with an older man.
While never officially confirmed, “All Too Well” – as well as most of the songs off “Red” – are believed to be inspired by Swift’s ominous relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal. The two were rumored to have dated when Swift was 20 and Gyllenhaal was 29.
Following the rousing success of Swift’s re-release of her album, Swift was met with equally harsh criticism. Many claimed Swift was acting as a “cheap songwriter” as she was yet again singing about her breakups and damaging Gyllenhaal’s reputation.
Taylor Swift is certainly not the only artist who has used heartbreak as a source for artistic influence. Male and female artists alike have long used their personal breakups to inspire their music. Many male artists have written about the same themes of Swift, but have only received critical acclaim not judgement.
Swift has had great success not due to cheap songwriting, but due to her impressive lyricism, crafty narrative and ability to allow people to relate to her music.
Hating upon female artists for singing about their personal relationships is quite misogynistic as many male artists have long sexualized or degraded women in their music with little to no criticism. Male artists will call women derogatory names or slurs and no one bats an eye. However, when Taylor Swift writes a song about how she felt taken advantage of in her relationship, people call her a “lazy songwriter” or a “desperate hack” attempting to destroy a successful man’s career.
Many of Swift’s critics are unaware of the reason why she has re-released her “Red” album. Swift’s old label, Big Machine Records had sold her entire music catalog to Scooter Braun, without giving Swift the ability to buy back her own music.
Braun has long been defacing Swift’s career as he worked with Kanye West to make the song “Famous” in which Kanye suggests Swift is only relevant due to him. Braun told Swift if she wanted her old catalog back, she would have to release an album to receive one back. Rather than work under a bully, Swift decided to re-record all of her old music and gain back control and power of her songs.
Swift’s re-recordings were never about getting back at an ex-boyfriend who wronged her. It was about regaining control over her music and the narrative the media created about her.