By Chelsie Derman
Arts & Entertainment Editor
Love, heartbreak, young adulthood — Taylor Swift captures these themes just as strongly in her re-recording of her second 2008 album, “Fearless,” an album that takes me back to my childhood.
According to Vox, Swift announced in 2019 that she will re-record all of her “pre-Lover” music after her old record label, Big Machine Records, got sold to the record executive Scooter Braun. Essentially, this gave Scooter Braun the rights to license any of Swift’s older music to play in any TV show, movie or advertisement (and to receive payment for the licensing fee). In order to gain rights over her own songs, Swift decided she would re-record all of her songs that had been released prior to her album, Lover.
“Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” contains 26 songs. Most of these tracks were all from Swift’s famous album, “Fearless,” while the album also contains six Bonus Tracks of not-previously-released songs from Swift’s “vault.”
“Love Story,” probably my absolute favorite song of Swift’s due to its calming melody and the resemblance to a YA story, definitely still holds the same spark in Swift’s re-recording. This song had been released earlier this year, and set up high expectations for the rest of the album.
Its instruments are still just as beautiful, albeit a little less soft than the original, and with more of a country undertone — but not a noticeable amount. However, this version of “Love Story” gives a more mature feel. The original “Love Story” reflected Taylor’s youth, still a teenager at the time of its recording, which fit well for the story topic on such a young love. While the original “Love Story” gives the feel of two teens — based off of Shakespere’s “Romeo and Juliet” — the new “Love Story” lacks this same touch. Rather, the song takes a more reflective turn.
Perhaps I’m biased, growing up and loving this song since the age of seven. I have heartfelt, nostalgic memories of myself at seven years old, listening to “Love Story” through the car’s stereo. I also remember when I was merely thirteen, listening to “Love Story,” and daydreaming about the day I would find love. However, if I were to take a break from pulling apart the differences between the original “Love Story,” and its re-recording, I can simply enjoy the re-recording on its own merit — because both are wonderful songs.
I also love Swift’s new additions — the tracks “from the vault,” which Taylor had written years ago, but did not end up in her original “Fearless” recording. These almost-released songs, which fit under the country/pop genre, allow “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” to really blossom.
“Mr. Perfectly Fine,” the third track released from the album and from Taylor’s “vault,” has a fun, catchy melody. With the lyrics, “Goodbye, Mr. Perfectly fine / How’s your heart after breaking mine?” Swift captures this scenario where the partner seems completely unaffected emotionally following a breakup. I could 100% see this song fitting into the original “Fearless” album, the theme of love and breakups present.
Swift released “You All Over Me,” another track “from the vault,” before the rest of the album. The song also features Maren Morris. Part of the chorus, “But no amount of freedom gets you clean / I’ve still got you all over me,” reflects how, in the aftermath of relationships, you are still affected by the other person one way or another. Gentle and soft country, the melody and lyrics instantly hooked me.
Other songs “from the vault” include “We Were Happy,” “That’s When,” “Don’t You” and “Bye Bye Bye.”
“We Were Happy,” reminisces about an old love, equipped with a soft, peaceful melody. “That’s When,” featuring Keith Urban, is another reflection piece, where Swift sings about the times she and her partner were together. “Don’t you,” also about love, takes on a slower pace than the rest of the songs, but no less enjoyable than tracks. Lastly, “Bye Bye Bye,” the last song “from the vault,” is also slower and the song centers on seeing someone after a long time.
Even with the slower tracks, I am nowhere close to bored — it is perfect to have in the background while doing homework.
Songs you may recognize from the original album — “Fearless,” “Fifteen” and “You Belong With Me” — all remain true to its original recording, the melody and instruments the same. But here Swift, like in the re-recording of “Love Story,” really demonstrates how much her voice has grown over the years.
Other tracks like “Forever and Always” and “The Best Day” feel somewhat different from their original recording, and I believe their new versions suit them (although I love the old versions too).
For the song “The Best Day” in particular, the new version has more of a (slight) beat. Despite the different vibe, it doesn’t make the song any less heartwarming or enjoyable.
While I’m not going to go into every song and their modifications, I will say this — “Fearless” and “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” should not be compared or contrasted too harshly. Both, in my opinion, are excellent albums, and they are both excellent in different ways.
Initially, before “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” was released, I expected an almost copycat version of the earlier album. I thought: “if over half of the songs are essentially the same, what’s the difference?” And I thought that, no matter what, I would still 100% prefer listening to “Fearless” over “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” for nostalgistic reasons.
I was certainly wrong.
“Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” is worth the listen. Along with the six new tracks, “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” features more mature vocals, as well as alterations to songs that make the tracks feel unique to this new album.