Since being introduced to Taylor Swift’s music when I was eight, I have been anxiously anticipating when she will release new music.
As a kid, I remember waiting for her songs to come out, and watching her music videos on YouTube. I recreated her music videos including “You Belong To Me,” “Mine,” and “Love Story” on my Dell desktop in the basement of my childhood home. I would write down the lyrics to songs including “Fearless,” “Love Story,” “You Belong With Me,” “Fifteen,” “Enchanted,” “Sparks Fly,” “Haunted,” and “The Story of Us” in my barely-legible handwriting and sing them on the bus on my way to school. I’ve been a Swiftie since the beginning, and as I’ve grown up, I’ve come to love and appreciate her music even more. The release of her re-recorded version of her 2008 album Fearless (Taylor’s Version) was no exception, and I counted down the days until the album came out.
A country-pop singer songwriter originally from Redding, Pennsylvania, Swift rose to fame in 2006 with her eponymous debut studio album and has taken the world by storm ever since. Capturing our hearts and minds with her enchanting lyrics, she writes music about growing up, finding yourself, and falling in love. With this re-recording, Swift has released ten studio albums over the years, including Taylor Swift (2006), Fearless (2008), Speak Now (2010), Red (2012), 1989 (2014), Reputation (2017), Lover (2019), Folklore, and Evermore (2020, sister albums). She has gained notoriety all over the globe, and her fairytale-like lyrics and easy vocals have mesmerized fans for years. The documentary Miss Americana (2020) on Netflix documents the highs and lows of her career and her personal life, and shows the behind-the-scenes of her songwriting process. Throughout her career, Swift has won 11 Grammy Awards and numerous other accolades. She has become one of the most popular artists of the century, and one of the best-selling musicians of all time.
As one of the most beloved and successful musicians to date, she has had people take advantage of her dozens of times before. One of the most notable people to manipulate Swift is none other than Scooter Braun, American record executive, media proprietor, and manager. Braun has been a thorn in Swift’s side for years now, and although he was never her manager, he has managed to weasel his way into her life and career, and benefit from her hard work despite the fact that he contributed nothing. Known for discovering Canadian singer Justin Bieber on YouTube when he was 12, Braun has worked with other prominent artists including Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, and J Balvin. He is also the founder of several organizations including Schoolboy Records, Ithaca Ventures (includes SB projects), RBMG Records, and more.
Swift has disliked Braun for years, for various reasons. Firstly, because he aided Kanye in producing his song “Famous,” which disses Swift. More famously, in June of 2019 Braun was involved in a deal that concerned the sale of the masters for Swift’s first six albums. After ending her 13 year deal with Big Machine Label Group in June 2019, Swift tried to buy the masters to her earlier music but was offered unfavorable conditions. Shortly after her departure, Braun’s company Ithaca Ventures acquired Big Machine Label Group. In doing so, Braun also received the masters to Swift’s first six albums, despite the fact that she did not consent to this. In October of 2020, Braun sold Swift’s masters, old music videos, and album art to Shamrock Holdings, a private equity firm funded solely by Disney, for more than $300 million without her consent. Although Swift tried to buy her masters from Braun prior to this, she was denied. She has also declined to partner with Shamrock Holdings. What irks fans and Swift the most is that despite this sale, Braun will continue to benefit financially from Swift’s music.
In June of 2019, she released a statement on Tumblr detailing her feelings about the situation and she wrote, “For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work. Instead I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and “earn” one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in. […] I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world. All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years… You deserve to own the art you make.”
Fearless background- Since Braun received her masters to her old music, Swift has announced that she is planning to re-record all six of her albums from her time with Big Machine Label Group.
Fearless is the first album that she has re-recorded for herself and her fans. Released on April 9, 2021 through Republic Records, the album includes all 19 tracks from the platinum edition of the original album and six more songs from the vault. Guest vocalists include Maren Morris, Keith Urban, and Colbie Caillat. Fearless (Taylor’s Version) was produced by Swift, Christopher Rowe, Jack Antonoff, and Aaron Desser, who also function as her co-songwriters. Songs from the vault include “You All Over Me,” “Mr. Perfectly Fine,” “We Were Happy,” “Don’t You,” “That’s When,” and “Bye Bye Baby.” Swift wrote 12 out of the 26 songs on her own.
As a big fan of Fearless, I was overjoyed when the re-recording came out. Overall, I feel that she has matured both vocally and professionally, and I thought that this showed in her music. I also loved the incorporation of the fiddle, guitar, harmonica, drums, piano, and light synth. This album feels like a bridge between country and pop, and I really love how her songs encapsulate growing up. Some of her old hits that I really enjoyed hearing re-recorded include “Jump Then Fall,” “The Best Day,” “Today Was a Fairytale,” “Forever and Always (Piano Version),” and “White Horse.” I especially loved her new songs from the vault. I can’t stress enough how great “Mr. Perfectly Fine” which is about her relationship with Joe Jonas, is. I’ve had this pop bop on repeat for a month now. The guitar and harmonica filled “You All Over Me,” featuring Maren Morris harkens back to Swift’s country roots, as she lyrically expresses what she has “lived and learned” in her life. The mid tempo reminiscent song “We Were Happy” filled with light guitar picking and soft vocals makes listeners feel nostalgic. Overall, the re-recording of Fearless is even better than the original album, and I cannot wait to hear what Swift releases next.