Taylor Swift is apparently bringing in Phoebe Bridgers as a guest for her upcoming “Red (Taylor’s Version)” album — not according to any press release, but according to a word puzzle the superstar put up on social media Thursday morning.
Chris Stapleton and Ed Sheeran also appear to be confirmed as guests. Sheeran’s participation was already known — he appeared on the original “Red” album, and recently said in an interview he’d re-recorded his duet part, as well as hinting at other recordings — but Stapleton joins Bridgers in the surprise department.
The unscrambled list of newly recorded “Vault” tracks being added to the original “Red” running order:
22. “Better Man”
23. “Nothing New,” featuring Phoebe Bridgers
25. “Message in a Bottle”
26. “I Bet You Think About Me,” featuring Chris Stapleton
27. “Forever Winter”
28. “Run,” featuring Ed Sheeran
29. “The Very First Night”
30. “All Too Well” 10-minute version
Of these 10 songs, six have been not been publicly released in any form before. Of the four that fans already have some familiarity with, two are tracks that she lent out to other artists after choosing not to include them on “Red.” “Better Man” became a No. 1 country hit when it was recorded by Little Big Town in 2016. Similarly, “Babe” was a hit for Sugarland in 2018, with Swift adding background vocals to the duo’s single.
The 10-minute version of “All Too Well,” of course, expands upon the standard version originally included on “Red”; a longer cut of the composition had become a sort of holy grails for fans after she discussed an epic version in interviews. The children’s cancer-themed “Ronan” was released as as a stand-alone single for charity in 2012.
As for Swift’s re-recordings of the existing “Red” tracks, she offered very brief snippets of two of them, “22” and “I Knew You Were Trouble,” on her Instagram Story about five hours after dropping the word puzzle.
As Swift did prior to the release of “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” — the first of her complete remakes of her Big Machine catalog albums — the singer took to her Instagram and Twitter accounts with a video containing what looks to be a random jumble of letters for fans to decode. Embedded within that word salad are song titles and guests for the “Vault” bonus tracks, consisting of songs written during the time frame but never released, set to come out as brand new recordings. But this time, the seemingly random lines of letters weren’t in anagram form, but added up to a crossword puzzle instead.
Some of the clues were tougher than others for Swifties to immediately decode. But Bridgers’ name? Swift didn’t make that too much of a challenge. When you take the entire sequence of lines of letters that appear in the video clip and stack them top to bottom, the letters in “Phoebe” line up in the left hand column. Even more obviously, “Bridgers” runs left to right on the next-to-bottom line. Stapleton’s name took a little longer to figure; the letters in “Stapleton” appear backward on the bottom line of the puzzle.
Level: casually cruel in the name of being honest pic.twitter.com/Tf0ahCMql8
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) August 5, 2021
Swift’s only non-puzzle comments on the post read: “*presses post* … *cackles maniacally* … Level: casually cruel in the name of being honest” (that last phrase a longtime fan-favorite line from “All Too Well”).
“Red (Taylor’s Version)” was announced in June as set to come out Nov. 19. Until now, the only information Swift has released about it was that it will include 30 songs. No singles from the collection have yet been released.
A CD version of the upcoming set went up for pre-order simultaneously with the release of the word puzzle.
GUYS ITS A CROSSWORD pic.twitter.com/0EWG4yY1yH
— Jelle Verbeek (@jelleverbeek) August 5, 2021
senhor é sir mesmo né? kkkkk a taylor me deixando doente…mas vey, tem 3 feat ai: phoebe, ed e ? n acho q seja o zayn pic.twitter.com/phujTMTKqF
— saah RED 🧣 (@smaIIady) August 5, 2021