For many of us, middle school consisted of B.O., sleepovers, and consistent streams of Fearless. It was an album that allowed us to believe our love lives were identical to Taylor Swift’s. We truly related to “You Belong with Me” and dreamed of the day we could live the lyrics of “Love Story”: “It’s a love story, baby, just say yes.” Taylor even prepared us for highschool with “Fifteen”: “I walk through the doors / it’s the morning of my very first day.” Throughout it all, Taylor walked beside us.
Little did we know, we weren’t just necessarily supporting Taylor. In her original deal with the record label Big Machine, she didn’t “own” any of her own music. In the recent years, Swift begged her former label for ownership of her own music, but was turned down. As a result, she left the label that she had been with since the beginning, in effort to regain her masters. This is an extremely big deal for musicians—artists should own their own art. Just recently, in November 2020, Swift was able to break free and finally started to re-record her first five albums—Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now, Red, and 1989—and make them her own. Hence the iconic name “Taylor’s Version” that follows every song on the re-recorded album.
Taylor Swift has been an icon in the music industry since her 2006 debut. Ever since then, she has continued to redefine herself, her music, and the industry itself. The new album cover for Fearless is Swift in Romeo’s shirt from the classic 2009 “Love Story” music video. With this, Swift is saying she believed she needed Romeo to come whisk her away, but now she realizes that she can wear the medieval shirt in the relationship. This album cover lets her fans know that she is self-sufficient—men or surly record labels will no longer exploit her.
One of the biggest wins of this new release is the new additions from the vault. Some of her original songs that she wrote back in the day unfortunately didn’t make the cut in the original album. Fortunately for us, now they have. My personal favorite is “Mr. Perfectly Fine.” I would stake my entire reputation on this song. It has an upbeat rhythm while also full of clever lyrics. Swift uses the titles “Mr.” and “Mrs.” mixed with classy cliches to tell yet another story of “boy breaks girl’s heart.” Take it from me—this song will soon be another iconic throwback blasted in the car and used to contemplate the relationship that never was.
Even the classics were redone and are better than ever. Taylor’s laugh in “Hey Stephen” has aged alongside us. “White Horse” may sound different, but the tender feelings it evokes from its listeners hasn’t. I also recommend listening to her collaboration with Maren Morris: “You All Over Me.” This collaboration is lullaby-meets-country, and this meeting is one you can’t miss. I would extremely recommend listening to the entire album and let the classics revive your middle school self, and allow the new songs to take a pick at your present day self.