Shepherdstown, W.Va., – When Taylor Swift signed with Republic Records prior to the release of her 7th studio album, “Lover,” her previous label decided to sell the masters of her first six albums to Scooter Braun, the manager of Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Demi Lovato (aka some of Swift’s most high-profile peers and competition in the music industry.) This meant that Braun would be in control of Swift’s catalog up until her move and could do what he wanted with it (like blocking her performance recordings of the songs for the “City of Lover” concert movie) and he would profit from the recordings.
Taylor Swift was never given the opportunity to buy back her masters. She decided to follow in fellow singer JoJo’s footsteps and re-record her first six albums her way so that fans could still listen to the songs they had grown up listening to without giving profits to Braun.
Fearless (Taylor’s Version) marks the first of the re-recorded releases to be done and released to the public. Since this is Swift’s Version, changes that she originally wanted to be made to the album are made exactly how she wanted them to be. This is her entire vision. If you compare the lyrics of the original recordings to these, you’ll find some slight changes to get Swift’s message across better. As I was listening to the album in full for the first time, I wrote down some thoughts I had on each of the 26 tracks as well as a ranking of them. If you’d want to listen along, here’s a playlist of all the tracks via YouTube: Fearless (Taylor’s Version)
Fearless (Taylor’s Version)
This version feels fuller and more complete than the old version. This song just makes me so nostalgic and hearing it with current vocals makes my heart so happy. She has grown so much and gone through so many experiences since her first time being fearless that you can just hear the difference.
Fifteen (Taylor’s Version)
This version makes me like it so much more- it feels like a letter to your old self instead of a recap of what’s happened lately. Swift obviously knows now that there’s a lot more to life besides high school and that experience can easily be heard. Also singing about Abigail when she was her bridesmaid…tears. Only tears.
Love Story (Taylor’s Version)
This is the first one of Swift’s Versions released and probably her most prolific and widely known song ever. Hearing those iconic chords and her sweet tone brings back so many memories of 2008 when life was simpler and all I cared about was Taylor Swift (though that love for Swift hasn’t changed.) This song resonates more now because she is in a stable relationship with Joe Alwyn who I wouldn’t be surprised if she and he got married and released a video for this song with the footage. When this was released prior to the album, people were saying how you couldn’t spot the difference, but there certainly are some.
Hey Stephen (Taylor’s Version)
Okay so for an unusual Swiftie opinion- I didn’t love this song. This version is much more compelling to me as a listener, so I don’t think I’d consider it a skip anymore. Her voice sounds so pure and bubbly, I can’t dislike it.
White Horse (Taylor’s Version)
HEARING THE CHORDS, I IMMEDIATELY CRIED. I remember watching the music video for this the day it premiered on CMT. Somehow this version sounds even sadder, but Swift has gone through a lot more life where she has gotten hurt that she packed into this. One of the best track 5’s. “I’m gonna find someone someday that will actually treat me well” wrecked me.
You Belong With Me (Taylor’s Version)
This is the song that kicked of her notoriety unfortunately due to the Kanye West situation at the VMA’s. This version feels brighter, and I obsess over the way she says “never” with aggression. She’s had to sing this song so many times since she debuted it, but it still sounds fresh and exciting. I will be screaming this version in my car for probably the rest of my life.
Breathe (feat. Colbie Caillat) (Taylor’s Version)
I’ve been waiting for my favorite track from the original album, and this DID NOT DISAPPOINT. More immediate crying if I’m honest. Hearing Colbie Caillat and Swift again made my heart swell and I’m so glad they did this together again. Though I do still wish Caillat had a solo moment in the song- a criticism Swift has continually gotten is that she only features women as background vocals (Caillat, HAIM, and Maren Morris later on this album.) Nevertheless, this re-recording was phenomenal and is at the current top of my list.
Tell Me Why (Taylor’s Version)
Complete transparency, this is another song on the original “Fearless” I didn’t listen to too often and I have no clue why. I love the beat and rhythm of this track- it feels very fitting in showcasing the beginning of Swift’s country career. It’s interesting to hear Swift tackle this type of track again in her current pop and indie lanes, she returned to it successfully and improved upon her Grammy-winning work. “Tell Me Why (Taylor’s Version)” will be played more often than its original version ever was.
You’re Not Sorry (Taylor’s Version)
This was my first angsty song as a kid- Swift taught me how to be angry and sad at the same time through “You’re Not Sorry.” The harmonies in this song are some of my favorite early Taylor harmonies and they sound much angrier to me now. Some of her strongest lyrics from the album are on this song and they’re all gut punches. Honestly 18-year-old Swift was chaotic by putting “You’re Not Sorry,” “The Way I Loved You,” and “Forever & Always” back-to-back in this album as the holy trinity of teaching me heartbreak.
The Way I Loved You (Taylor’s Version)
Swift really wrote about this toxic relationship at such a young age, and I am so sorry she had this “roller coaster kind of rush” now that I’ve had it too. She saw this relationship as perfect even as it fell apart. The importance of every time she sings the word “loved” should not be overlooked- she’s on to better things and taking these lessons with her. AND THAT’S WHAT SHE DID. The little chimes in the bridge made me so happy.
Forever & Always (Taylor’s Version)
This little pop-punk country ballad is my favorite little music hybrid. The anger, the sadness, it truly is almost palpable. She’s been abandoned and made to feel like she was the one in the wrong countless times since this song’s original release that I can’t avoid acknowledging her growth that must’ve been poured into this re-recording. Plus, this song is great to scream along to during a solo car drive!
The Best Day (Taylor’s Version)
I want to cry listening to this song after thinking about “Soon You’ll Get Better.” Throughout her entire career, Andrea Swift has been a rock and staple for Swift; this can easily be seen in the documentary Miss Americana. I can only imagine how Swift must’ve felt re-recording this song after all that’s happened since the conception.
Change (Taylor’s Version)
I remember watching the music video for this song on loop on my tube tv throughout the night- this is probably my favorite song on the album. It’s so hopeful and uplifting, it gives me such hope! It certainly is a revolution Swift, and you are leading by example for fighting for your rights and what you believe in! People really shouldn’t have taken advantage of her or underestimated her after she released this rally cry of an anthem- 10-year-old me was ready to go to battle hearing this song and 22-year-old me is still willing to fight for her.
Jump Then Fall (Taylor’s Version)
I love the wah-wah sound in the background of the music on this track- this track is just so bubbly and fun. I also love that Swift didn’t put these bonus tracks at the beginning like on the Platinum version of “Fearless”- it feels more cohesive to me for “Jump Then Fall” to come after “Change” like we’re getting a fresh start after the revolution.
Untouchable (Taylor’s Version)
I only recently found out that this song is a cover…I feel like such a fake fan. However, this song was made for Swift. Her voice sounds so good on it, especially this new version that feels more laid back. The song fully swells and builds up throughout the track until it bursts in the final chorus. Too good.
Forever & Always (Piano Version) (Taylor’s Version)
The superior version of this song on both versions of the album. One of the rawest recordings of a Swift song I’ve ever heard. The lyrics are understood in a different way with this stripped-back version and the prominent harmonies are stellar.
Come In With The Rain (Taylor’s Version)
Yet again, a song I didn’t listen to too often originally…but seriously what was wrong with me??? This song is immaculate, the key shift is perfect, the emotion is so raw to teenage feelings yet it’s still a bit upbeat. I will be listening to this song a lot now. It also is another example of Swift’s stellar bridges and buildups.
Superstar (Taylor’s Version)
First off, the spelling is different with this version no longer being titled “SuperStar.” Also, this is probably one of the most disliked Swift songs by fans with the original version. I honestly like this version of the song a lot though- it’s interesting hearing Swift sing about her pinning after someone she couldn’t fathom reaching and now, she’s that herself. I’m shocked at how high I’m placing this song in my ranking, but I really think it’s cute and good. Plus, the key change was in the perfect spot and elevated the song dimensionally. This may be one of Swift’s most overlooked songs. It’s a feeling most people can relate to easily with any form of crush.
The Other Side Of The Door (Taylor’s Version)
This is a cute song, but in my opinion with 25 other song options on this album, this track is fairly forgettable. This song feels very hyped and feels like an in-between for “The Way I Loved You (Taylor’s Version)” and “You Belong With Me (Taylor’s Version).” I do especially love the outro to this song though and think it’s a standout for the track.
Today Was A Fairytale (Taylor’s Version)
This song wasn’t originally on “Fearless”- Swift had made it for the movie Valentine’s Day that she appeared in. However, since it was released through Big Machine Records around the time of the original “Fearless” release, she decided to add it to “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).” This new version fits with the overall vibe of “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” and I really enjoyed it. Since this song originally wasn’t on any of her albums, I typically overlooked it. This song still sounds like it was created for a movie rather than an album though, but I still like it!
You All Over Me (feat. Maren Morris) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)
Okay so first off, these “From the Vault” song titles are extremely long. However, this song is SO good and I have an issue with Big Machine Records not allowing her to release it originally. It may have been too mature in theme for the original album or too close in structure to some of the other songs, but this song is phenomenal. Some of the lyrics, especially the entire second verse, hit just perfectly. I love that Swift brought Maren Morris onto this track because Morris has been compared to Swift countless times since she has appeared in the country music scene. This is the album that catapulted Swift into the mainstream limelight and Morris gained more popularity when she appeared as a guest on the reputation Stadium Tour, so it makes sense to add a new female country singer on a vault song.
Mr. Perfectly Fine (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)
Okay, these vault tracks really slap. Swift releasing this song really came at Joe Jonas’s neck yet again 13 years later. The fact that she says Mr in the song 27 times, the same amount of seconds Jonas took to break up with Swift over the phone…she is wild, and I strive to be her. And the fact that she first used the lyric “casually cruel” in this song??? Madness. I’m glad that she saved “casually cruel” for “All Too Well” though (and cannot wait for that “Taylor’s Version.”) But yes, back to “Mr. Perfectly Fine”- it is a bop and I love it. Another good scream along in the car song.
We Were Happy (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)
This one made me cry quick too- she paints the perfect picture of falling out of love with someone. The instrumental feels so perfect with the spaces between the prominent guitar strums. I loved the background vocal harmonies by Keith Urban as well. This also may have one of Swift’s best bridges??? Like it is too good. “I hate those voices telling me I’m not in love anymore. But they don’t give me choices and that’s what these tears are for” wrecks me.
That’s When (feat. Keith Urban) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)
This song is such an upbeat bop and I love that she collaborated with Keith Urban on it! Urban was someone who she opened for on tour before she blew up (plus his wife Nicole Kidman loves Swift.) I like this song’s dynamic between two people discussing the aftermath of a breakup. I will admit though, upon first listen I was very confused by the chorus.
Don’t You (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)
This inner monologue of Swift’s about running into an ex in public is something we all go through. Yet again, Swift has a perfect second verse and I want to steal her songwriting talent. The drums on this track remind me of the “1989” era (which could be a nod by Swift that “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” maybe next as it is speculated by fans.) This song feels a certain amount of emptiness in it that I enjoy, it adds to the hollow feeling someone gets when running into an ex.
Bye Bye Baby (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)
The opening line of this song makes me immediately think of “If This Was A Movie.” I love the bridge of this song- I don’t know why it makes me feel like it could be in the musical “Waitress” but that’s the imagery I get. (Speaking of musicals…Swift should absolutely do the music for one please.) The line ending the second verse “feels like I’m becoming part of your past” was a perfect transition from verse to chorus. This track is a great way to end the new version of this album- it’s a sad, uplifting song that ends this chapter of Swift’s life.
My personal ranking of the songs after the first listen:
- Breathe (feat. Colbie Caillat) (Taylor’s Version)
- You’re Not Sorry (Taylor’s Version)
- We Were Happy (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)
- You All Over Me (feat. Maren Morris) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)
- Forever & Always (Piano Version) (Taylor’s Version)
- Change (Taylor’s Version)
- The Way I Loved You (Taylor’s Version)
- Bye Bye Baby (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)
- Come In With The Rain (Taylor’s Version)
- You Belong With Me (Taylor’s Version)
- Perfectly Fine (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)
- Forever & Always (Taylor’s Version)
- White Horse (Taylor’s Version)
- Superstar (Taylor’s Version)
- Fearless (Taylor’s Version)
- Love Story (Taylor’s Version)
- Don’t You (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)
- Today Was A Fairytale (Taylor’s Version)
- That’s When (feat. Keith Urban) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)
- Untouchable (Taylor’s Version)
- The Best Day (Taylor’s Version)
- Jump Then Fall (Taylor’s Version)
- Hey Stephen (Taylor’s Version)
- Tell Me Why (Taylor’s Version)
- Fifteen (Taylor’s Version)
- The Other Side Of The Door (Taylor’s Version)