Reclaiming Her Work: Fearless (Taylor’s Version)

Courtesy of Flickr.
Riley Yates
May 19, 2021

In 2008, Taylor Swift, an artist now regarded by many as the music industry, released her second studio album, Fearless. The album featured twelve songs, all written or co-written by Swift, that discuss love, heartbreak, fairy tales, and even a day spent with Swift’s mother, Andrea. The album became a massive hit and continues to be adored by fans, with “Love Story,” one of the singles from the album, boasting over 431 million streams on Spotify. 

While Swift has experienced a wildly successful musical career, she has also faced various challenges, such as in 2019, when she clashed with Scooter Braun, an American entrepreneur, over the rights to her musical work. In June, 2019, Braun’s holding company, Ithaca Ventures, acquired Big Machine Label Group, the record label with which Swift produced the first six of her nine studio albums. As a result of this deal, ownership of Swift’s work, including her masters (the original recordings of her songs), was sold to Shamrock Holdings for $300 million. Swift tried to repurchase her masters numerous times but ultimately decided to re-record all six albums and own all re-recorded masters, which she announced during a performance on Good Morning America in August, 2019. 

In true Swift fashion, the artist kept her specific plans for re-recordings under wraps, leaving fans with only one piece of information: she could legally begin the process in November, 2020. Of course, the pandemic took its course, and it is tough to say whether lockdown prolonged or fast-tracked her mission. While fans eagerly awaited November, they were surprised by an unexpected album, Folklore, the release of which came casually with a multi-image post on Instagram in July, 2020. Swift began her career as a country artist but jumped genres between her albums Red and 1989 to join the pop scene. With Folklore’s release, she dabbled in alternative-style production and even reverted to her country roots with storytelling elements sprinkled throughout the seventeen tracks. 

November came and went, filled with whispers of announcements and fans grasping for any clues they could find. In December, Swift’s birthday month, Evermore, another surprise album, dropped. The sister album to Folklore, Evermore featured more of the same earthy undertones and story-based lyrics. Though still processing Folklore, fans welcomed Evermore with open arms and did not think much about re-recordings, assuming they were put on the back-burner. 

However, in February, 2021, Swift made another appearance on Good Morning America to announce her completed first re-recorded album. Fearless (Taylor’s Version) not only featured all the songs from the original album, but also six unreleased songs “from the vault.” “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” was the first single, followed by a collaboration with country star Maren Morris called “You All Over Me (From the Vault),” and an upbeat version of “Love Story” called the “Elvira Remix.” April 3 saw the release of the full tracklist following a cryptic video clip featuring a vault door opening to reveal jumbled letters and words. 

On April 7, one day before the album’s release, Swift dropped another “from the vault” track titled “Mr. Perfectly Fine,” which fans immediately discovered was about Joe Jonas, who dated Taylor in 2008, when Fearless was initially written. Much to fans’ delight, Jonas’s wife, Sophie Turner, had a lighthearted exchange with Swift over Instagram expressing her support of the song. The next day, when the full Fearless (Taylor’s Version) tracklist became available for streaming, purchase, and download, fans felt immediately transported back to 2008. In a perfect combination of new-album-excitement and immediate nostalgia.  Fans could sing every word to the original songs and get to fall in love with the vault tracks. Taylor’s nuances throughout the re-records were especially appreciated, and her fans could appreciate how the singer’s voice has matured and improved over thirteen years. As excitement over Fearless (Taylor’s Version) is still growing, many fans are on the edge of their seats to see which album will be re-released next.

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