Taylor Swift's latest album, Red is about love and heartbreak. The change is evident on the first single, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together", which is a departure from her country-pop sound with a somewhat hip-hop-inspired beat. And the risk is paying off - the track sold a record-breaking 623,000 digital downloads in its first week alone.
But it wasn't a smooth ride to get there for Swift, 22. "I went through a few roller coasters", she tells Rolling Stone of the romantic relationships she's had over the past two years since she released Speak Now. "Trying to chronicle each step of the way was challenging, because you go to some really dark places with the lyrics. Then in the next track, you're talking about how amazing it is to meet somebody new".
For Red, which will be released on October 22, Swift decided to work with other songwriters for the first time and joined forces with Max Martin, who has worked with Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, and Adele collaborator Dan Wilson in both Nashville and Los Angeles in between stops on her world tour. The result was nearly 40 songs, which she has since whittled down to just 16.