Taylor Swift is Fearless on Her Own Terms, by Cecelia Johanni
Taylor Swift has been busy during quarantine. In 2020, Taylor released two surprise albums, folklore and evermore. Throughout the writing and recording process, she was also working on another project: re-recording her first six albums.
Relive 2000s nostalgia with Fearless (Taylor’s Version). Released on April 9, this version of the album includes re-recordings of the traditional album. It also features songs from the platinum version and six “from the vault” songs. Colbie Caillat, Marren Morris, and Kieth Urban lent their vocals to the album. This oeuvre is a representation of Taylor’s fight against adversity in the music industry. This re-recording is truly a labor of love after years of adversity in the music industry.
In June 2020, Taylor turned to social media to announce that her former label Big Machine Records, sold the company to Scooter Braun, manager of Justin Bieber and Demi Lovato—and legal owner of Taylor's master recordings.
The lack of transparency and bullying that Taylor faced had incited major backlash from fans and Taylor’s team. Until the announcement, she was never informed that the deal was in the works, characteristic of a manager like Braun, whose clients antagonize Taylor over social media.
The betrayal of this deal runs deeper. Braun formerly managed Kanye West, whose feud with Taylor began in 2009 when he interrupted her first VMA acceptance speech. A more recent offense occurred when West featured a naked look alike of Taylor in his "Famous" music video. Scott Borchetta, former owner of Big Machine Records, sold the label to Braun despite his connection to West. Taylor, being one of the first artists signed to the label, was outraged. By selling to Braun, Borchetta sent a message that money was more important than the integrity of the label.
Determined to own the rights to her music, Taylor is re-recording her albums released under Big Machine. This move shifted power back into her hands and has brought attention to unfair policies many music artists face. Taylor has spoken publicliy about the discrimination women in the music industry face. She hopes that her journey will serve as a beacon to young women when negotiating terms and conditions.
The first single of the re-record is Love Story (Taylor’s Version). It reached number one on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs. Taylor also made history as the first artist to have a number one single in the 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s.
The tracks on Fearless (Taylor’s Version) remain true to the original version in terms of lyrics and instrumentals. Taylor even recruits former band members to play on the album. Though Urban and Morris’s features on the vault tracks were expected to be new recordings, it is especially refreshing for Caillat to reprise her back up vocals in Breath (Taylor’s Version).
Production of the album, however, did add some new elements. Taylor’s voice has matured since the original release in 2008. This results in fuller, smoother vocals throughout the album. folklore and evermore collaborators Jack Atonoff and Aaron Dessner assisted Taylor in the production of the from-the-vault songs. This fresh feel fine tunes the album for maximum nostalgia.
Overall, Taylor’s project has been wildly successful. New converts and die-hard Swifties alike agree that dancing around to You Belong With Me (Taylor’s Version) hits just as hard now as it did in middle school. So, give it a listen, grab a hairbrush, and sing along to Taylor Swift just like the good old days.