In a bid to both legally own her work and devalue the original recordings to prevent others from profiting, Taylor has so far released her own versions of the 2008 album Fearless, and Red, which was first released in 2012.
While fans have been left absolutely delighted by Taylor’s decision, her ex-boyfriends were probably less thrilled as Taylor famously writes autobiographical songs that reflect on her relationships.
This means that the exes who inspired songs that were originally written years ago were back in the spotlight, with Taylor’s new records also coming with previously unreleased tracks that were cut from the original albums.
The pair dated for three months between 2010 and 2011. She was 20 years old at the start of the relationship, and he was 29.
Released on Nov. 12, last year, the 10-minute version of “All Too Well” and its accompanying short film sparked fresh scrutiny over the romance, and triggered a huge backlash against Jake.
In the updated song, Taylor made scathing reference to their age gap as she claimed her ex had told her: “If we had been closer in age maybe it would have been fine,” which made her “want to die.”
An apparent jab at Jake’s current relationship was also added, with Taylor singing: “I was never good at telling jokes / But the punchline goes / 'I’ll get older, but your lovers will stay my age.'"
Many listeners interpreted this to be about Jake, now 41, whose girlfriends after Taylor had also been in their early 20s. His current partner, Jeanne Cadieu, was 23 when they started dating.
Taylor also recalled “weeping in a party bathroom” over her partner, and how the relationship left her feeling “maim[ed]” and like a “soldier” returning from war “half her weight.”
Alongside the track, Taylor also released a short film starring 19-year-old Sadie Sink and 30-year-old Dylan O’Brien as lovers, with fans noticing that the age gap between the two actors was reminiscent of the one between her and Jake.
Removing any lingering doubt over who the song is about, Dylan was seen sporting similar facial hair to Jake in the video, and even wore a beanie hat that looked eerily like the one Jake wore in paparazzi shots of him and Taylor taken during their relationship.
The film does not paint Dylan’s character in a good light, and he is constantly seen belittling Sadie’s, who is visibly distressed over the romance and can be seen sobbing uncontrollably in bed after their breakup.
The reminder and apparent visual representation of how Jake and Taylor’s relationship unfolded left many of her fans upset on her behalf, and triggered an onslaught of criticism against Jake 10 years after the romance had ended.
In fact, Jake was forced to turn off comments on his Instagram posts as Taylor fans flocked to social media to react to the song, with many dragging him for breaking Taylor’s heart and voicing their discomfort at the age gap.
As a result, Jake and Jeanne’s relationship came under fire due to the 16 years between them.
The Hollywood star did not publicly respond to the “All Too Well” uproar at the time, with a source telling E! News that he had “no interest” in the reaction.
"He doesn't read gossip or pay any attention to that," the insider added. "He's living his life and focused on himself. He's ignoring all of the noise."
However, Jake has now finally acknowledged the album in an interview with Esquire, where he claimed that he hadn’t listened to it.
When asked about the attention that the song had sparked, Jake insisted that he didn’t “begrudge” Taylor using her personal experiences in her songs and said that it has “nothing” to do with him.
But he later appeared to call Taylor out for allowing her fans to troll people in her name and said that everybody has a “responsibility” for what they “put into the world.”
“It has nothing to do with me. It’s about her relationship with her fans,” Jake said of Red. “It is her expression. Artists tap into personal experiences for inspiration, and I don’t begrudge anyone that.”
The publication goes on to say that Jake denied that it was hard to deal with social media after the album came out, but when pressed on why he turned off his Instagram comments he appeared to make reference to the online abuse.
“At some point, I think it’s important when supporters get unruly that we feel a responsibility to have them be civil and not allow for cyberbullying in one’s name,” he said.
“That begs for a deeper philosophical question. Not about any individual, per se, but a conversation that allows us to examine how we can — or should, even — take responsibility for what we put into the world, our contributions into the world,” Jake went on. “How do we provoke a conversation? We see that in politics. There’s anger and divisiveness, and it’s literally life-threatening in the extreme.”
Jake isn’t the first of Taylor’s exes to acknowledge how her fans have treated them, with John Mayer previously responding to a Swiftie who sent him a death threat on Instagram.
Taylor and John dated for a few months between 2009 and 2010. Taylor was 19 years old when the relationship began, and John was 32. Similarly to Jake, the age gap has been scrutinized over the years.
In fact, Taylor even appeared to reference it herself in her song “Dear John,” which states: “Dear John, I see it all, now it was wrong / Don't you think 19 is too young / To be played by your dark twisted games, when I loved you so?”
The rerelease of Red — specifically “All Too Well” — and the backlash it prompted against Jake in November got fans talking about what John should expect when “Dear John” is rerecorded for Taylor’s 2010 album Speak Now.
While some Swifties simply made jokes about how they imagined John would react to a revised version of the track, others took it too far and sent John abusive messages on social media.
In fact, screenshots appeared online of John responding to one fan named Alondra who’d messaged him: “Fuck yourself ugly bitch i hope you choke on something,” alongside a heart symbol.
Hours later, she wrote: “answer me you bitch.”
Replying to the message, John wrote: “Hi Alondra, it’s John. I’ve been getting so many messages like these the past couple of days, I decided to choose your message at random to reply to. You can feel free to screenshot, share in any way you like if you want.”
“I’m not upset, I just tend to have a curious mind and feel compelled to ask. Do you really hope that I die?” the singer asked.
Alondra apparently replied saying that she’d only messaged him on a dare from a friend and that she didn’t expect him to see it.
“So it’s a fun thing people are doing without taking into account that I might see it and be affected by it?” John responded, but he went on to insist that it was “100 percent okay” as he added, “Go forth and live happy and healthy!”
John previously said that he was “really caught off guard” by “Dear John,” and lashed out at Taylor in an interview with Rolling Stone a couple of years after its initial release.
“It made me feel terrible,” he said. "It was a really lousy thing to do. I never got an email. I never got a phone call. I was really caught off guard."
“I will say as a songwriter that I think it’s kind of cheap songwriting,” he went on. “I know she’s the biggest thing in the world, and I’m not trying to sink anybody’s ship, but I think it’s abusing your talent to rub your hands together and go, ‘Wait till he gets a load of this!’ That’s bullshit.”