Taylor Swift certainly charmed us when she released the title track from her upcoming album Red last night on iTunes. But as she returns to her country roots on “Red,” did she alienate any of her pop fans or give her many detractors another reason to hate on her? The critics seem to be divided about the song — there’s certainly less critical acclaim than for her lead single “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” or its follow-up “Begin Again.”
Even so, if the tune serves primarily as a concession to her country fan base, it’s done the trick, since its influences were noted in almost every review. See what the critics thought about the song after the jump.
:: Spin felt the schizophrenic influences didn’t work in Swift’s favor: “A glossy soft rocker with a stomping four-on-the-floor beat, back-porch twang, adult-contemporary orchestration, and Top 40-ready electronic vocal effects, it covers a bizarre number of bases. And the key lyric compares her lost love, mourned here as an object of desire but not kissed off as one of the usual jerks, to ‘driving a new Maserati down a dead end street,’ like Swift is about to brawl with Rick Ross.”
:: Rolling Stone responded favorably to the record, noting that the song marries her heartbreak anthems with a radio-friendly sound: “With just a few weeks until Taylor Swift releases her hotly anticipated new album, Red, the singer stoked the flames a bit more by streaming the record’s earworm of a title track. Certainly more country-fried than the massive pop thump of first single ‘We Are Never Getting Back Together,’ the twangy ‘Red’ does sneak in some Top-40 tropes – the chopped and repeated last syllable of “red” in the chorus, for example – but is overall more reminiscent of Swift’s break-out broken-hearted anthems. With banjos flying, strings swelling and guitars wailing, Swift keeps her lyrics simple but effective[.]”
:: Entertainment Weekly wanted to see a little bit more color diversity, joking: “Those are the only colors the song — which Swift says is all about ‘intense emotion’ — brings up, which kind of let me down. I feel like if we’re going with a color theme for a whole song, we need more splashes than just red, blue, and dark grey — I mean, is dark grey REALLY a color? How about some yellow and green? Weirdly, I’m being serious — I kept waiting for some other hue to pop up, and it never did. Now I feel totally mauve, you know?”
:: Billboard saw it as a return to form for the singer-songwriter after she’s departed from her country sound, writing, “Not since her ‘Love Story’ days has Swift sold such a country kick to mainstream fans: while much of her music is guitar-based with a hint of pop, ‘Red’ is downright Nashville. The steel guitar twangs all the way through the song, while there’s an electronic effect on her vocals in the chorus that serves as both a hook and as a device to emphasize the importance of the title word.
:: E! Online found the lyrics to be a rainbow of fruit flavors: ”She…goes through myriad colors to describe her feelings… We’re not sure what color Swift’s heart is, but we’re sure it’s pretty.”
:: Music City Post noted the track’s melodic strength: “With a lot of heart on the sleeve lyricism like ‘Forgetting him was like trying to know somebody you never met’ and a hefty guitar solo, ‘Red’ does nothing by half measures. Swift has always had an ear for a great pop melody, but ‘Red’ sees her marrying those sensibilities to the kind of scale befitting a star of her stature, the kind of mature female star that can ‘do love’ with all the credibility and assured confidence of any Lana Del Rey.”
:: Just don’t get on the bad side of The Pop Fairy, who was unimpressed by it all: “Red” is – you guessed it – another love song by America’s favorite cougar of the moment. Swift compares loving her boo of the day to ‘driving a Maserati down a dead end street’ and naturally to the color the song is titled after (not such a great metaphor). It’s literally by the book T. Swift, from the guitar notes to the lyrics. The only unique thing about the song is the thing I can’t stand, the electronic ‘R-R-Red’ that repeats after the chorus.”