Taylor Swift: Red
  • Composition
  • Musicianship
  • Production
  • Originality
  • Goat

I just got my hands on what could be the most mind-blowing, sophisticated composition of 2012. I know you wouldn’t think it if you focus only on the artist and any predispositions you have about her previous efforts, but this album represents a crowning achievement in instrumental layering techniques and profound lyricism.

“Red” by Taylor Swift marks the country-pop-star-turned-progressive-virtuoso’s first foray into the realm of the concept album. It’s an existential journey into the mind of a mind of an angsty starlet, described by Swift as the “tumultuous, crazy, insane, intense, semi-toxic relationships” she had experienced in the past few years:

Loving him is like driving a new Maserati down a dead end street.

Marvelous. I can’t say enough about the deep metaphorical structure inherent in each song. Swifts use of basic simile belies the ingenious story structure she unfurls throughout the album’s 16 tracks. Listeners will be hard pressed to find a better example of lyrical mastery.

As for the music itself, Swift wrote or co-wrote every song in “Red”, the first time in her budding career that she has finally shown the world her refined musical chops and stunning theoretical knowledge. No artist has ever used the 4/4 time signature to such effect — the consistent yet subtly genius rhythmic structure will please both the Cro-Magnon popular music masses and the most discerning progressive music aficionados.

The music itself pairs those same old, tired chord progressions with Swift’s wunderkind ability to tweak those progressions into exciting new musical adventures. The album features a litany of musicians playing everything from chamber orchestra instruments (violin, viola, cello, contrabass) to folk instruments (steel guitar, mandolin, fiddle) and even the Greek bouzouki. Session musician Charlie Judge even has the wherewithal to contribute a Hammond B3 organ and some synthaxe to this masterpiece of an album, clearly debunking the negative arguments of any doubters and cementing this record as a crowning achievement of progressive music.

It’s safe to say that the omission of Taylor Swift’s “Red” in our annual Proggies™ awards ranks among the greatest oversights in the history of this blog, and for that we apologize profusely to Swift and her handlers.

And just in case you’re still not convinced of the album’s progressive merits, check out the following track off the album. Our fact checking department is still vetting this statement, but we’re confident that this is the first time an artist has used goat vocals in a composition. Simply magical.