Arts, Music, Review

Taylor Swift’s Album Cements Her Industry Dominance


Swifties around the world have been patiently awaiting the release of Fearless (Taylor’s Version) ever since the rerecording of the album was announced by the singer. After much anticipation, Taylor Swift released the album this Friday. It consists of 26 songs total—six of which had previously never been released. 

When Swift was a bright-eyed singer, she signed with Big Machine Records in 2005 before switching to Universal Music Group’s Republic Records in 2010. Big Machine Records still owns the original recordings of her first six albums, and when music manager Scooter Braun acquired the label, he sold these recordings to Shamrock Holdings for a reported $300 million in 2019. Since this acquisition, Swift promised she would rerecord those six albums, beginning with Fearless

As Swift described in a tweet, Fearless is an album that depicts both the “bliss and devastation of youth.” She intended to keep the essence of the album as close to the original as possible. There were no changes made in the lyrics or the musical stylings. As a result, it is rather difficult to distinguish between the original and the rerecording, but there is a certain maturity and richness in her voice that inevitably results from a decade of experience in the music industry. Her youthful lyrics about first loves, heartbreak, and self-discovery take on even more meaning now that she has reached this new stage in her life. 

Where she does add some nuance is in her six new tracks, which are a blend between Fearless’ country tones and Folklore’s dreamy indie-pop tones in terms of acoustics.

“I’ve decided I want you to have the whole story, see the entire vivid picture, and let you into the entire dreamscape that is my Fearless album,” Swift wrote to fans in the same tweet. “That’s why I’ve chosen to include 6 never before released songs on my version of this album. Written when I was between the ages of 16 and 18, these were the ones it killed me to leave behind.”

“You All Over Me,” the first of these songs to be released, is a piece about the heartache that follows a breakup. The charming track features Maren Morris on backing vocals. Swift also teams up with Keith Urban on “That’s When,” a song that isn’t monumental in terms of lyrical composition, but is rather heartfelt and reminiscent of Swift’s early country years. 

In “Mr. Perfectly Fine,” Swift sings about people unexpectedly changing. “We Were Happy,” “Don’t You,” and “Bye Bye Baby” follow a similar style and theme of heartache, ultimately highlighting the naivete that comes with youth. 

On this rerecording, Swift triumphantly takes on the suits of the music industry, hoping to reshift the artistic and commercial power back to the artists and give them the opportunity to control the future of their own music. She has undoubtedly been a trailblazer in this pursuit and has sparked many conversations regarding artistic ownership. 

In addition, Swift has given fans the opportunity to do something that seems rather impossible: go back in time and relive the magic of this album. Listening to the album, it is difficult not to be transported to your childhood bedroom, listening to Fearless with friends from an iPod as you navigate your young lives and innocent romances. 

On one of Fearless’ more popular tracks, Swift gets to reminisce about her adolescent life on her hit “Fifteen” as she sings, “When you’re fifteen, feeling like there’s nothing to figure out … this is life before you know who you’re going to be.” It leaves listeners to wonder if this question still remains unanswered for her. She surely could not have foreseen her incredible success or the remarkable influence she would have on the music industry. 

Swift is certainly a musical pioneer who has mastered the skill of connecting with many different audiences. No matter what age you are or how many heartbreaks you have had, it is impossible not to feel a spark of nostalgia when you hear the opening to “You Belong With Me,” “Love Story,” or “White Horse.”

We are living in a time when we are constantly trying to look forward to a more hopeful future. This album reminds us that sometimes it is just as important to reflect on the past and all we have to be grateful for. 

Photo Courtesy of Taylor Swift

April 11, 2021