Taylor Swift's "Red" isn't even out yet, and already advance singles have veered from cheerleader pop to hints of dubstep. But perhaps the new "State of Grace" stands the best chance of making the case for Swift's musical growth in the upcoming album.
Swift debuted a piece of it Monday on "Good Morning America," and it instantly became the fourth single from her fourth album to hit No. 1 on iTunes. It has a strong U2 streak to it, with feedback- and echo-drenched guitars and some of her most for-the-rafters vocals yet.
Despite "Red" being tipped as a "breakup album," this one is all love-struck optimism, a setting she's worked well in before. The chorus line of "And I never saw you coming / And I’ll never be the same" must be music to Conor Kennedy's ears, at least.
It's the least obviously "re-inventing" single from the album so far. Even though "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" was an instantly meme-able pop monolith and "I Knew You Were Trouble" a hard left turn into electronics, this song might be the most effective.
"Red" is out Oct. 22 and should be one of the most talked-about pop records of the year, marking a major shift in Swift's relationship to the country music market. We'll be listening.