We’re all excited about the release of Taylor Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version) today. This specific album is a re-recording of her 2012 album of the same name, only recorded under Taylor’s personal artistic vision, with a more mature and developed vocal display, and without the ownership of Big Machine under the hand of American talent manager Scooter Braun. But Swift isn’t the only music star who uses the color of red to represent her freedom away from the industry machine and her own emotional battles. Britney Spears, throughout her conservatorship battle and the #FreeBritney movement, has channeled the color red to represent her freedom from those in power.
For those of you who know (AKA Swifties), Taylor’s fourth studio album, Red, is widely accepted to be a collection of songs written about the breakup between her and American Actor Jake Gyllenhaal, whom she dated for three months in 2010. The album, in its own rite, is a type of catharsis, written to express Swift’s anger, sadness and longing towards and against the breakup.
Now, with this re-recording, Red (Taylor’s Version) has taken up an entirely new meaning. When Scooter Braun, the infamous American talent manager acquired Big Machine in 2019 for $300 million, he by extension gained ownership to the master recordings of the first six studio albums by Swift. The singer responded to the purchase, calling Braun an “incessant, manipulative bully.”
Swift quickly took matters into her own hands, and took it upon herself to re-record her first six studio albums, giving her complete rights to the material. Red (Taylor’s Version) is a dedication to freedom from those in power who seek to seize intellectual property and deny the very basis the arts were founded on: art can only belong to those who create it and to the public who chooses to consume it.
But the power of red isn’t limited to Swift. If you’ve been following the story of the Britney Spears conservatorship battle, or the #FreeBritney movement as it’s known online, you may have seen some similar color messaging in Britney’s imagery.
Speculation arose after Britney posted after she shared an Instagram post with the caption “RED,” with a red refrigerator and red lips. She addressed what the colors meant to her after fans started hypothesizing that she was trying to send a cryptic message.
“What does the red refrigerator mean on my Instagram? Honestly, I just thought it was cool. I thought it was vintage. It was red. And it was just really cool,” Britney said in a quick video. Alongside the refrigerator, Britney has been seen wearing various red outfits during recent public appearances, including photos with fiancé Sam Asghari.
Both of these conversations, while different in specifics, both speak to an issue of women’s autonomy in art and day-to-day life. For too long, people, specifically men in power (Britney’s father in the conservatorship battle, Braun in the Taylor debacle), have felt the need to censor and control women. But with these bold color statements, there’s a subtext of visibility. If we’re bright, if we stand out and if we make ourselves known, then no one can outshine us or our vibrancy.
So let your red shine, and in the process, advocate for the freedom and power of women everywhere.