Taylor Swift’s ‘Fearless’ Return


April 16, 2021

You’re dancing in your room to the newly released Taylor Swift track, “You Belong With Me.” Plot twist: it’s 2021. This past week, Taylor released a brand new version of “Fearless,” this time called “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).” This four-time Grammy winning album was already incredible, but Taylor’s stronger vocals make it even better than before.

“Fearless” is not going to be the only album remade. Taylor is embarking on a long journey to remaster her first six albums (all the ones owned by Scooter Braun). For backstory, Taylor released these albums under Big Machine Records. Headed by Scott Borchetta, this was Taylor’s home in her country days and where she always thought she’d belong. She was disheartened, however, when Borchetta pushed back on selling her the masters for her work. Borchetta ended up selling them to Braun instead, a notable industry figure that Taylor stated that she hates. Taylor owns the copyright to the lyrics, as she’s the songwriter on every track, but those original productions, those specific recordings, are now owned by Braun. So, Taylor is making those original songs useless. By releasing new versions, (hopefully) fans will choose to not listen to the original, instead favoring the updated version. There really is nothing she does better than revenge. 

While there are plenty of things to say about the re-recorded songs, exceptionally noteworthy are the vault songs—unreleased songs, most of which have never been heard before and didn’t make it to the 2008 “Fearless.” Caroline’s personal favorite of the vault songs is “Mr. Perfectly Fine,” which somehow manages to sound exactly like country Taylor and yet so much newer because of Taylor’s vocals. With the very distinct country sounds as well as hard-hitting lyrics like “goodbye Mr. Perfectly Fine, how’s your heart after breaking mine,” this song easily transports Taylor Swift fans back to 2008, when they might have been blasting the original “Fearless” songs after some heartbreak they might not have even experienced yet. There are also similarities between the lyrics of this song and some of Taylor’s future works, which makes fans all the more excited about this hit—for instance, in the refrain, Taylor sings “goodbye, Mr. Casually Cruel,” the exact term used in Taylor’s 2012 song “All Too Well,” with its lyrics “so casually cruel in the name of being honest.” For the casual listener, this detail might not have been noticed—but for long-time fans, it’s an absolute rush to see how Taylor’s lyrics have grown and re-emerged in different forms. Because of that, “Mr. Perfectly Fine” feels both like a window to the faraway and also less distant past—something that basically captures the overall magic of the “Fearless” album as a whole. 

Emma’s favorite track is one that she actually did not like prior to the re-recordings. “Today Was A Fairytale” has always been one of her least favorite Taylor Swift songs of all time, but her opinion has entirely changed after hearing the new version. Taylor’s stronger voice adds a new element to the track, a maturity that makes the cheesy lyrics excusable. It’s impossible not to smile listening to this track. Taylor made the right choice choosing to include it on the album, a potentially risky choice considering it was originally just a random movie single! 

“The Other Side of the Door” is another standout track, winning an award for “most improved.” This song, originally only on the platinum version of the album, is a known fan favorite among the more die-hard swifties. What really sells the song is the last thirty seconds: a run of Taylor yelling her frustrations with her relationship and its epic highs and lows. She sings, “and the faded picture of a beautiful night, you carry me from your car up the stairs!” All it takes is one quick comparison of the original versus Taylor’s Version to know that Taylor has massively matured over the years. Gone is the angsty teenager with the whiny voice; here is a grown woman having fun reflecting on her past loves. 

Another improved song is “The Way I Loved You.” Now, this song was already a fan favorite for all of its typical teenage angst about “screaming and crying and kissing in the rain,” but where teenage Taylor’s voice might have been strained in hitting the high notes, grown Taylor sings with both passion and skill. Her vocals are much stronger, and because of that, she seems freer to emote the parts that need to be emoted, subtle in the ways that need to be a little more subtle. It makes the standout moment of the song, the bridge—and what a bridge, with the desperate, bitter punches of “he can’t see the smile I’m faking, and my heart’s not breaking ‘cause I’m not feeling anything at all”—all the more powerful, and that’s something that can only be achieved after years of control and maturity. 

One heart-wrenching part of “White Horse” comes in the last chorus. “I’m gonna find someone someday who might actually treat me well” was originally one of the saddest lyrics Taylor had ever written. The pain in her voice was audible when she would perform the song. In the re-recording, though, you can hear the smile on her face. Her circumstances have changed: she is no longer the heartbroken little girl, but now truly in love with someone that she’s been living with for years now. She HAS found someone who treats her well. Now, instead of being devastating, the lyric is heart-wrenchingly happy. Other noteworthy parts of this song are just some of the subtle lyric changes, like how instead of “this ain’t a fairytale” in the 2008 version, Taylor switches the lyrics to “this ain’t OUR fairytale,” which feels oddly more optimistic—she is acknowledging that her past romance just didn’t work, but that’s okay, because she has a different and a better fairytale coming. 

That knowledge of her happy ending hits throughout different parts of the album. Songs like “Fifteen” almost hurt knowing that Taylor is in her thirties. She has come a long way, and this album is an especially important milestone, as it is one Taylor completely owns. “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” is so special to both Taylor and her fans, a trip down memory lane to create something that is even better than the original.

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