Why I’m So Happy Taylor Swift Started Her Re-Records with Fearless (Taylor’s Version)

In case you have been living under a rock these past two years—which to be fair, many of us have understandably been—then you have probably heard about Taylor Swift’s ambitious endeavor to re-record her first six albums (Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now, Red, 1989, and Reputation). This is because she does not own her masters; rather, they were sold in 2019 by Big Machine Records to celebrity manager and longtime critic of Swift’s, Scooter Braun, without her knowledge or a chance to buy the rights to her masters herself. 

Following this purchase, Swift publicly opposed Big Machine Records’ selling her of masters, and she was continuingly denied the opportunity to buy her masters. Keep in mind, these master albums include Swift’s songs that she wrote in her bedroom as a teenager or when she was feeling so much that she just had to write it down. They are captured moments of her personal life, so she was justified in feeling violated by having her past songs unknowingly sold.

Braun eventually offered her the chance to buy her masters, but only on the condition that Swift would sign an NDA on her public statements of Braun’s character, which would force her to compromise her truth. She refused. In 2020, Braun sold the masters to investment company Shamrock Holdings. Initially, they offered her a deal in which she could become an equity partner with them and co-own her masters, on the grounds that Braun would continue to make money from her masters. Again, she refused.

She was essentially left with two options: (1) she could give up on her masters and continue to make new music that she owns, or (2) she could re-record her masters in hopes that listeners would listen to her version instead of her previous albums which she does not own. Swift, being the relentless person that she is, decided to combine them (without giving up, of course). 

Over quarantine, she not only released two completely new albums that she owns (folklore and evermore), but she also began to re-record her masters. In re-creating and re-imagining her work, she took the efforts to both showcase how much her voice has matured and grown over the years, and to study her different sounds for each album and mimic them, in order to maintain the same energy and spirit each album was originally created with. With six re-recorded albums to release, she was able to make them entirely her own (because, hello, she owns them!). She had to decide what each album cover will be, which songs she will release first from every album, and of course, the order in which the re-records are released.

Taylor Swift / YouTube Had she gone in chronological order, which is the order I listed above, she would have started with Taylor Swift and ended with Reputation. As always, however, she is one for unpredictability. For whatever reasons (I may never know any of them), she decided to kick off her re-recordings with her second album, Fearless. And I am so happy that she did.

While Fearless was not her first album, it was certainly her breakthrough and the first album that gave her real fame. It opened up a door for her into the world of success that few artists ever get to really experience. It was the first album for which she won a Grammy Award (it earned eight nominations, two of which she won, including the prestigious Album of the Year), toured, and established her as not just a country artist, but as a country-pop crossover musician. Each of Swift’s albums have created different eras, and the Fearless era is no different; in addition to the album introducing her to the world of real fame, it also sent out strong messages about happily ever after, first love, and the refusal to give up on love in spite of heartbreak. This album was practically my bible growing up; I remember singing it on the school bus, setting it as my alarm every morning for years (“Fifteen” specifically woke me up), and dancing around in my room in my pajamas, happily singing every word. Taylor Swift Reputation performance Photo by Melodies1917 from Wikimedia Commons distributed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license

The album in itself inspires nostalgia for high school and for first love, but hearing it—for what feels like the first time again—brings me back to growing up and having these songs as the backbone of how I narrate all my experiences. The songs are the same, and yet the 13 years in between its first record and its new re-record make all the difference—for her and for listeners. 

I’m not sure the order in which she will release the rest of her re-recorded albums (although it looks like 1989 will be next), but knowing her, she will do it right. And she will certainly do it in a way that will put us all in our feels with her heart-wrenching lyrics and joyful songs alike.

If you haven't yet, do yourself a favor and listen to Fearless (Taylor’s Version); it will make you fall in love with love and nostalgia all over again. 

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