Fearless (Taylor’s Version): A Review

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Bhoomi Sharma, Photography Editor

Taylor Swift is grabbing our attention and pulling us headfirst into the past, fearless, with the release of her rerecordings.

 

In 2019, Scooter Braun and his company Ithaca Holdings acquired Taylor Swift’s original audio mixes, called her ‘masters’, for a reported $300 million without Swift’s permission or knowledge. It’s common for artists to not own their own work, especially musicians, and there have been struggles with artists before that wanted to own their own masters but were not able to. Swift took it to another level when she made her struggle public and mentioned that she had never even gotten the chance to buy her own masters back. After much public back and forth, Swift decided to re-record all her work and was only allowed to do so starting November 2020. 

 

Her bold decision has already made an impact. Olivia Rodrigo, a musician known for her first two singles “deja vu” and “drivers license” and her love for Taylor Swift, learned her lesson from Swift’s troubles and negotiated with her label to own the masters of her songs. I have no doubt that other artists will soon do the same. Swift is going to spend the next year, at the least, releasing her rerecordings knowing this reduces the value of both her original masters and the new ones. But she needs to make a point. Artists that make a living off their work are rarely allowed to own their work, and she knows this. Swift’s taking a stand for all artists, as she has done before, and fighting for the right for them to own their own work as she gets to now.

 

The re-recording of “Fearless”, her second album originally released on Nov. 11 2008, was released on April 9, 2021. The announcement came in Swift’s usual fashion: easter eggs. In a call back to 2008, she posted a letter to her fans where the letters of “April Ninth” were the only ones capitalized, while the rest were lowercase. Several of her fans think the next rerecording being released will be her fifth studio album, 1989. 

 

It is both beautiful and odd to be listening to these songs for the first time and yet knowing them entirely. The songs haven’t changed much. Occasionally, Swift has changed a beat or two, and sometimes she has changed lyrics, but for the most part, the songs are the same. But it’s her smoother vocals and the lack of country accent that truly make the rerecordings feel different.

 

Part of the reason the re-recordings are so emotional to listen to again is because of the state Swift’s life is in as of releasing the rerecording. She mentioned previously in her long pond studio sessions that she relied heavily on her own life experiences and the idea that her audience wanted something autobiographical, so when listening to most of her songs in her original recordings, the listener knows she was feeling the words at the time she recorded them. Her songs told us about what had just happened in her life, and they were food for tabloids and fans to speculate on.

 

Her original recordings are like bottled up moments in her life where the pain and hurt in the lyrics still stung. But now, recording these same songs years later, she’s grown up. We’re not listening to the nineteen year old who got broken up with anymore. We’re listening to a 30 year old woman who has lived and learned, who now has a stable and long relationship with a man she hadn’t yet met at nineteen. It’s nostalgic to listen to the “Fearless” rerecording knowing she’s had years to move on from these situations. It’s nostalgic and sentimental, but it’s also not that sad anymore. Her emotions are dulled because she’s so far removed from the situation, but our emotions as listeners are heightened.

 

It’s not the same for every song, I’ll admit. Some songs, like “Fifteen”, or some lines, like “Now I’m Miss “Gonna be alright someday”” hit different in the sense that you know she’s alright. You know she’s gotten better and you know she’s achieved the things that she said she would, and the promises she made herself in these lines and in these songs have been fulfilled. It’s emotional because it feels like seeing a close friend opening a time capsule and realizing they’ve accomplished more than they had the guts to even dream about.  

 

There’s so much more I’m looking forward to hearing from her, knowing that she’s going to be releasing new songs along with reworked versions of her masterpieces that I already know and love. Until then I’ll be listening to Fearless (Taylor’s Version) on repeat.