Red (Taylor Swift song)

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Taylor Swift - Red (Single).png
Single by Taylor Swift
from the album Red
ReleasedJune 21, 2013 (2013-06-21)
StudioSeptember 8, 2011 (2011-09-08)
LabelBig Machine
Songwriter(s)Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift singles chronology
"Highway Don't Care"
"Everything Has Changed"
Music video
"Red" on YouTube

"Red" is a song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift for her fourth studio album of the same name (2012). It was released on October 2, 2012, in the United States by Big Machine Records as the second promotional single from Red and eventually served as the album's fifth official single on June 21, 2013.[1] It was one of the tracks released during the four weeks preceding the release of the album.[2] Musically, "Red" is a country song, and its lyrics use colors and metaphors to describe an intense and tumultuous relationship.

The track received polarizing reviews from music critics, who praised its lyrics, but were ambivalent towards its composition. The song debuted at number six on the Billboard 100 chart in the United States and at number one on the Hot Digital Songs component chart. Also in the United States, the song debuted at number two on the Hot Country Songs chart, behind the album's lead single "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together".


Swift previewed the track on the October 1, 2012 episode of ABC's Good Morning America. The song finds Swift playing with the idea of colors in relation to her emotions about a relationship. Before playing the track, Swift explained its meaning: "I wrote this song about the fact that some things are just hard to forget," she said, "because the emotions involved with them were so intense and, to me, intense emotion is red." Swift explained that she decided to name this song as her album title, as its lyrics encompass the entire theme of the project. "Thinking about what that means to me and all the different emotions that are written about on this album – they're all pretty much about the sexy, crazy, insane, intense, semi-toxic relationships that I've experienced in the last two years," I noted. "All those emotions – spanning from intense love, intense frustration, jealousy, confusion – in my mind, all those emotions are red. There's nothing in between; there is nothing beige about any of those feelings."

Swift explained to Billboard. "I think the reason I said that was because I made the record exactly the same way I made the last three. I knew I hadn't jumped out of my comfort zone, which at the time was writing alone and working with Nathan. ["Red"] the song was a real turning point for Red the album. When I wrote that song my mind started wandering to all the places we could go. If I were to think outside the box enough, go in with different people, I could learn from and have what they do rub off on me as well as have what I do rub off on them."[3]

Swift seems to look back with uncertainty at her 2012 feeling that love is "red" in the song "Daylight" from her 2019 album Lover. In the song, she sings, "I once believed love would be burnin’ red. But it's golden. Like daylight."[4]


"Red" is a country song.[5][6] It is written in the key of C# minor and lasts three minutes and forty-one seconds. It is in common time with an approximate tempo of 125 beats per minute. Swift's vocals range from F3 to C5.[7]

Music video[edit]

A music video for the song was released on July 3, 2013; the video features footage from Swift's Red Tour.[8] Crowd cheers from the concert footage can be heard in the background of the song throughout the video. As of January 2020, the video has over 175 million views on YouTube.[9]

Critical reception[edit]

Marc Hogan of Spin felt the mixed 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." [10] Grady Smith of Entertainment Weekly, joked, saying: "Those are the only colors the song — which Swift says is all about 'intense emotion' — brings up, which kind of let me down. (...) I'm being serious — I kept waiting for some other hue to pop up, and it never did.(... And then, said: "Lyrically, (...) [some] lines (...) lack the crisp, powerful punch that Swift usually delivers. And in a song all about the vividness of feelings, they paint a rather blurry portrait. (...) Where is the drama, the sexiness, the freefall of passion? The poppy production white-washes over all that. That doesn't mean this is a bad song, just maybe an underwhelming one."[11]

Rebecca Macatee of 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."[12] Laurence of Music City Post, noted the track's melodic strength: "With a lot of heart on the sleeve lyricism (...) and a hefty guitar solo, 'Red' does nothing by half measures."[13] Rolling Stone responded favorably to the record, noting that the song marries her heartbreak anthems with a radio-friendly sound "with banjos flying, strings swelling and guitars wailing, Swift keeps her lyrics simple but effective[.]"[14] The Pop Fairy gave a negative review: ""Red" is (...) another love song by America's favorite cougar of the moment. (...) The only unique thing about the song is the thing I can't stand, the electronic 'R-R-Red' that repeats after the chorus." Finishing with 'A little more effort would be nice.', giving the song a grade 'C'.[15]

One of the more positive reviews came from Billy Dukes of Taste of Country, who gave the track 4.5 out of 5 stars. Said Dukes: "...'Red' is arguably the best lyric on the album. It's a songwriting spotlight for Swift, who toys with colors like a skilled artist, and this song is her Sistine Chapel."[5] Estelle Tang of Elle Magazine named 'Red' the 6th best love song of all time saying "Here's one for those dwelling in the past: Taylor Swift's "Red" isn't about a current love affair, but one that's come and gone. Still, it captures the exhilaration of falling headlong for someone: "Loving him was red." [16]

Live performances[edit]

The song was performed as the third song of The Red Tour set list, and as the surprise songs for the first shows in Columbus and Pasadena during The 1989 World Tour and Reputation Stadium Tour, respectively. On September 9, 2019, Swift performed the song at the City of Lover one-off concert in Paris, France.[17]


Year Organization Award/work Result Ref
2014 CMT Music Awards Female Video of the Year Nominated [18]
Video of the Year Nominated
BMI Awards Publisher of the Year Won [19]
Country Awards Top 50 Songs Won

Track listing[edit]

Digital download[20]
  1. "Red" — 3:43
Digital download (2013 CMA Awards Performance)[21]
  1. "Red (2013 CMA Awards Performance) (featuring Alison Krauss, Edgar Meyer, Eric Darken, Sam Bush and Vince Gill)" — 3:51

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from liner notes of Red.[22]



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[39] Gold 35,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[40] Gold 100,000*
United States (RIAA)[42] 2× Platinum 2,000,000[41]

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
United States October 2, 2012[43] Digital download Big Machine Records
June 24, 2013[44] Country radio


  1. ^ "®R&R :: Going For Adds™ :: Country". June 24, 2013. Archived from the original on October 15, 2013. Retrieved July 27, 2013.
  2. ^ Williott, Carl (September 21, 2012). "Taylor Swift's 'Red' Nabs Countdown Campaign With iTunes & 'Good Morning America'". Idolator. Buzz Media. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  3. ^ "Swift explains why Red was chosen as the album title". December 15, 2012.
  4. ^ Cullum, Erin (September 2, 2019). "Taylor Swift's Subtle Red Reference in "Daylight" Proves Just How Much She Loves Joe Alwyn". POPSUGAR Entertainment. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Dukes, Billy (June 11, 2013). "Taylor Swift, 'Red' – Song Review". Taste of Country. Townsquare Media. Retrieved July 27, 2013.
  6. ^ Sciarretto, Amy (October 6, 2012). "Taylor Swift 'Red' Track Listing Revealed". Taste of Country. Townsquare Media. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  7. ^ "'Red' sheet music". Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  8. ^ Rogers, Christopher (July 3, 2013). "[WATCH] Taylor Swift 'Red' Video — Watch Tay-Tay's Full Official Music Vid". Hollywood Life. Archived from the original on August 5, 2013. Retrieved July 27, 2013.
  9. ^ "Taylor Swift - Red". July 3, 2013. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  10. ^ Hogan, Marc (October 2, 2012). "Hear Taylor Swift's Maserati-Themed 'Red' Title Track". Spin. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  11. ^ Smith, Grady (October 2, 2012). "Taylor Swift explains her personal rainbow of emotions on 'Red'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  12. ^ Macatee, Rebecca (October 2, 2012). "Listen: Taylor Swift Debuts New Single "Red"; Donates Concert Tickets to Internet-Pranked School". E! Online. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  13. ^ "Taylor Swift – Red". Music City Post. October 2, 2012. Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  14. ^ "Taylor Swift Describes Color of Heartache on 'Red'". Rolling Stone. October 2, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  15. ^ "Taylor Swift's "Red" Is More Beige". E! Online. October 2, 2012. Archived from the original on September 8, 2017. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  16. ^ Tang, Estelle (January 29, 2019). "52 Best Love Songs of All Time". Elle. Hearst Digital Media. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  17. ^ Mylrea, Hannah (September 10, 2019). "Taylor Swift's The City of Lover concert: a triumphant yet intimate celebration of her fans and career". NME. Retrieved September 12, 2019.
  18. ^ "Miranda Lambert Leads 2014 CMT Music Awards Nominations". Nash Country Weekly. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  19. ^ "Vince Gill Recognized as BMI Icon at the 2014 BMI Country Awards". Broadcast Music, Inc. November 4, 2014. Archived from the original on January 8, 2015. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  20. ^ "Red - Single". iTunes Store. Apple Inc. Archived from the original on October 4, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  21. ^ "Red (2013 CMA Awards Performance) - Single by Taylor Swift". iTunes. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
  22. ^ Red (Compact disc liner notes). Taylor Swift. Big Machine Records. 2012. BMR310400A
  23. ^ " – Taylor Swift – Red". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  24. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved October 11, 2012.
  25. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Canada Country)". Billboard. Retrieved November 20, 2013.
  26. ^ " – Taylor Swift – Red" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved October 16, 2012.
  27. ^ "Chart Track: Week 40, 2012". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  28. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Japan Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved August 29, 2015.
  29. ^ " – Taylor Swift – Red". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  30. ^ " – Taylor Swift – Red" Canciones Top 50. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  31. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 13, 2012.
  32. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  33. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved October 11, 2012.
  34. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Country Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  35. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Digital Song Sales)". Billboard. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  36. ^ "Best of 2013: Hot Country Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 2013. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  37. ^ "Best of 2013: Country Airplay". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 2013. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  38. ^ "Billboard Country Update for December 15, 2014" (PDF). Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. December 15, 2014. p. 17. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  39. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2014 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  40. ^ "Japanese single digital certifications – Taylor Swift – Red" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. Retrieved November 11, 2014. Select 2016年05月 on the drop-down menu
  41. ^ Trust, Gary (November 26, 2017). "Ask Billboard: Taylor Swift's Career Album & Song Sales". Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  42. ^ "American single certifications – Taylor Swift – Red". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved November 11, 2014. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  43. ^ "Taylor Swift's "Red": Hear The Jangly Country Track - idolator". October 2, 2012.
  44. ^ "Going For Adds: Country (Week Of: June 24, 2013)". Radio & Records. Archived from the original on October 15, 2013. Retrieved June 16, 2013.

External links[edit]

  • Taylor Swift official site: single, album (with lyrics)

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