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The Norseman

Swift climbs quickly to top of charts with re-recorded album

Very few artists manage to keep up with music trends and stay relevant, but since her debut in 2006, Taylor Swift has managed to redefine herself as an artist across multiple genres, while breaking numerous records along the way. 

After the release of her 8th studio album folklore in the summer of 2020 (which rightfully won the Grammy for Album of Year) and the surprise drop of its sister album evermore in December, recognition for her beautiful songwriting and her grueling work ethic was at its peak. Fans thought that the year could get no better. That is, until she announced her re-recording of Fearless, her second studio album.

Re-recording a decade old album seems useless to some, but for Swift, it means taking back a part of her career that was stolen from her. For some context, up until 2018, Swift was a part of Big Machine Records, a record label that was owned by Scott Borchetta. 

Prior to switching record labels, Swift had been trying to buy the masters to all of her albums for years, but had been denied. The masters of an album or recording are the rights to make, sell, and distribute copies of that recording. Without her masters, she cannot perform any of her “old songs” at any award shows or concerts. 

Swift made the switch to a new label after Borchetta sold Big Machine to music manager Scooter Braun, someone who she describes as a manipulative bully. By switching to her new label, Republic Records, Swift no longer has control or ownership over her first 6 studio albums, from Taylor Swift to Reputation. 

Since then, she has maintained that she wants to re-record all six of those albums so she can fully own the music that she wrote and worked on. On February 11, Swift announced on Good Morning America that she would be releasing her re-recording of Fearless on April 9, naming it Fearless (Taylor’s Version). This came after an ad she did with Match teasing her re-recording of “Love Story”. 

Along with the 20 songs that were featured on the original album, she also released 6 new songs “from the vault”. The six songs “You All Over Me (Featuring Maren Morris)”, “Mr. Perfectly Fine”, “We Were Happy”, “That’s When (Featuring Keith Urban)”, “Don’t You”, and “Bye Bye Baby” were written around the same time as the original songs. Part of the reason these songs were not included, as she mentions in the booklet from the Fearless (Taylor’s Version) CD, was because her label limited the amount of songs that she could release and there is limited space on a CD. 

There isn’t much to say about the actual songs (other than the new 6) because they are the exact same, but I think the overall tone of the album is very different from the original. 

Swift was 18 when she released Fearless and most of the songs are very much centered around her relationship with Joe Jonas and their messy breakup. Opposed to her more recent albums folklore and evermore, where she strayed from the autobiographical and began to write about stories that weren’t necessarily hers, Fearless was a more angsty country centered album that was heavily influenced by her own experiences. 

Fearless (Taylor’s Version) lacks some of the teen angst and raw emotion visible in her younger voice, but I think the newer maturity in her voice and the production helps demonstrate her growth as a singer and performer. 

The vault songs are also a refreshing addition to the original 20, and they show a wider range of the music that she wrote during that time. My personal favorite is “Mr. Perfectly Fine”. It was one of the best additions to the album and follows a common theme within her music: songs that are sad lyrically but accompany a happy beat. 

I also love it because it further goes to prove that Swift has not let Joe Jonas know a day of peace since the release of the original album. Even Jonas’ wife Sophie Turner showed some love for the song via Instagram in a story which stated: “Well it’s not NOT a bop”. 

Overall, Fearless (Taylor’s Version) is not only a testament to the hard work and perseverance of Swift, but it is also a statement to other artists that they should own their own work. 

Critics call it a cash grab or pointless, but Swift is taking back a large part of her career and her hard work that was taken from her. 

Fans can only speculate when she will release her next re-recording, but one of the most popular theories is that 1989 will be next. This theory is supported by the recent Spirit Untamed trailer, teasing the re-recording of “Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version). 

With Fearless (Taylor’s Version) already debuting as number one on almost every chart and fans mulling over every single “easter egg” they can find in the music videos, social media posts, and merch, it is safe to say that any project Swift releases in the future will be an obvious success.

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