Somebody better roll the window down — the emotional motion sickness is about to get real.
Red (Taylor’s Version) is finally here, arriving like a comet fans have been waiting for since the original release in 2012. The 30-track version contains unearthed gems from the vault, including “Nothing New,” which Swift recorded with Phoebe Bridgers. For any fan of both artists, it was the second-most anticipated song on here, right after a 10-minute version of Swift’s magnum opus “All Too Well.” And guess what? It delivers beyond expectations.
The minute Swift dipped her toes into indie-rock and released Folklore — co-produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner and featuring Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon — it was only a matter of time until she teamed up with Bridgers, one of the sharpest and most distinctive songwriters of her generation and a leading voice in the genre. Phoebe was 18 when Red was released, so when she sings the chorus “How can a person know everything at 18/But nothing at 22?” it’s almost too eerie and perfect.
Swift’s adult voice combines with Bridgers’ honey-soaked, hushed vocals, melding together in an autumn rush that brushes against your cheek. They sound like two old friends sitting in rocking chairs, reminiscing about their early years. “People love an ingénue,” sings Swift, almost advising Bridgers, who spent the last year riding the wave of stardom with her album Punisher. When Bridgers kicks off her verse with “How long will it be cute?/All this crying in my room,” it’s as if she’s asking Taylor about the next steps that follow that kind of dramatic glow-up. It’s devastatingly sweet, honest, and effortless.
“Phoebe Bridgers is one of my favorite artists in the world,” Swift revealed to Seth Meyers on Friday. “If she sings it, I will listen to it.” (And all the fans who got on board with Stranger in the Alps said, “Amen.”) “I love her voice, and I also love that she’s a very funny person,” Swift continued. “I really wanted another female artist who I loved to sing it with me, because I think it was a very female artist perspective … And her response was, ‘I’ve been waiting for this text my entire life.’”
What are Swift’s favorite Phoebe songs? Let’s do our best to guess: The Taylor of Taylor Swift, Fearless, and Speak Now would probably dig the folky malaise of “Graceland Too.” In her Red, 1989, and Reputation years, it’s a safe bet she’d get the feels for “Savior Complex.” It’s also no question that the Lover, Folklore, and Evermore Tay would really connect with a dark fairytale like “Garden Song.” But overall, we have to assume “Motion Sickness” is her favorite. (Could “I hate you for what you did/And I miss you like a little kid” be any more of a Red line?)
The “Nothing New” collaboration may be just the start of this powerhouse duo. But even if all they ever do is just this legendary one-off, that’s okay, too. It shows a tremendous leap forward in Bridgers’ career — and it’s a reminder, for anyone who needed one, that Swift knows great songwriting when she hears it.
Find a playlist of all of our recent Songs You Need to Know selections on Spotify.