The most famous advocate of the ‘it’s not me, it’s you’ approach to relationships, Taylor Swift has built her career on naming and shaming the indiscretions of her high-profile celebrity exes in a contrastingly ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ style. Having added Jake Gyllenhaal and Conor Kennedy to her list of potential victims since 2010’s Speak Now, it’s little surprise that her fourth studio album, Red, continues to read like a slightly cryptic musical version of Us Weekly. Now in her 20s, it remains to be seen how long America’s unofficial National Sweetheart can get away with her teenage girl diary shtick. But these five sets of lyrics prove that for now, there are few who can do the whole ‘kiss and tell’ routine much better:

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

Likely to leave a string of Hollywood A-listers’ ears burning, Red’s lead single sees Swift belittle the efforts of her on/off ex-boyfriend to weasel his way back into her arms over an early 00s blend of acoustic R&B guitar loops, thudding beats and irresistibly infectious pop-rock melodies that are typical of Max Martin & Shellbeck’s hit-making production style. The jury’s still out on whether the airhead spoken word asides are a stroke of genius or a crime against music, but there’s little point denying that “We Are Never…” is about as perfectly crafted as bubblegum pop gets: [LISTEN]

I’m really gonna miss you picking fights
And me, falling for it screaming that I’m right
And you, would hide away and find your peace of mind
With some indie record that’s much cooler than mine

Begin Again

In amongst the occasional wobble bass and layers of studio trickery, it’s refreshing to hear a track as beautifully back-to-basics as “Begin Again.” Ignore the slightly saccharine intro, which is a little too close to Enrique Iglesias’ “Hero” for comfort, and you’re left with an understated and poignant ballad, awash with shimmering steel guitar riffs and melancholic violins, in which Swift recollects how her previous boyfriend’s insecurities ruined their relationship, and subsequently how a simple first date in a coffee shop starts to restore her belief in The Big L: [LISTEN]

And we walked down the block to my car and I almost brought him up
But you start to talk about the movies that your family watches
Every single Christmas and I want to talk about that
And for the first time, what’s past is past


Virtually drowning in metaphors, the title track sees Swift reference objects as random as a luxury Italian car and an impossible-to-finish crossword to describe the “head banging against the wall” nature of a past relationship, although the slightly narrow field of colours mentioned in its chorus suggests she could have done with a trip to The Home Depot for inspiration. Throwing a few nods to her Nashville past, there are shades of both Shania Twain and Mumford & Sons in its banjo-plucking country rock sound, but the flourishes of AutoTune stuttering are more T-Pain than T-Bone Burnett: [LISTEN]

Losing him was blue like I’d never known
Missing him was dark grey all alone
Forgetting him was like trying to know somebody you’ve never met
But loving him was red

I Knew You Were Trouble

Likely to be forever known as the ‘shock! horror! Taylor Swift goes dubstep’ track, “I Knew You Were Trouble” isn’t exactly like to have Skrillex too worried just yet, but it’s a clever ploy which reflects the song’s celebration of the ‘bad boy.’ All too aware that the rebellious object of her affections adheres to the ‘treat them mean, keep them keen’ philosophy, a smitten Swift still tries her luck anyway, feigning little shock or self-pity when he inevitably tosses her aside: [LISTEN]

Once upon a time, a few mistakes ago
I was in your sights, you got me alone
You found me, you found me, you found me…
I guess you didn’t care and i guess i liked that

The Lucky One

Forgetting the cold stone fact that a mega-rich superstar harping on about the pressures of fame is never particularly a good idea, Swift covers the same ground as Britney Spears did 12 years earlier, admittedly in a slightly less cack-handed fashion, on one of Red’s few tracks to give the subject of love the elbow. The big question remains, does “The Lucky One” allude to her own constant presence in the tabloids, and if so, does the poetic final verse about a reclusive former celebrity icon hint that Swift is eventually thinking of all packing it in? [LISTEN]

It was a few years later, I showed up here.
And they still tell the legend of how you disappeared,
How you took the money and your dignity, and got the hell out.