Friday, October 22, 2021

Taylor 2.0

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After dropping singles such as “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” and “You All Over Me (Taylor’s Version),” Swift finally dropped her long awaited new version of her 2008 studio album “Fearless,” titled “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” on April 9. Swift announced back in late 2019 that she was planning to re-record her first five studio albums beginning with “Fearless” in order to gain control over her music. 

Swift signed a recording contract with Big Machine Records in 2005 when she was just 16 years old. When she switched over to Republic Records in 2018, she was forced to leave her masters, or the original recordings of her albums, behind. Swift was given the opportunity to sign a new contract at Big Machine Records with manager Scooter Braun in which for every new album she released she could have the masters to an older album. Swift knew this deal would hurt her in the future, and therefore began releasing new versions of her beloved originals. 

“Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” is everything we’ve been waiting for, including all of our old favorites, collabs with Colbie Caillat, Keith Urban and Maren Morris, and six brand new songs from the vault. These songs carry all of the nostalgia of 2008, with Swift taking us right back to all of the heartbreaks we lived through and love we daydreamed about. This album is about to create a brand new generation of “Fearless” era fans. 

The quality improvement of the music is clear from the first note on the first track. The melodies are smoother and filled with new little musical nuances that make the album a whole new experience for fans. In addition to clarity in the music, we can hear how far Swift’s voice has come in the past 13 years. Her voice has matured, which gives new levels of power to her tracks. She sings with more control and better enunciates the lyrics especially in tracks, such as “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” and “You Belong With Me (Taylor’s Version).” 

In addition to the improvement of Swift’s voice, there are different underlying tones as she revisits these songs from a new place in her life. She sings these songs with new pain and new life experience. As people, we do an immense amount of growing in the time from when we are a teenager to the time we are an adult. In the original recording of “Fifteen” there is a sense of childlikeness, hope and navigating your teen years; now in “Fifteen (Taylor’s Version),” there is a more mature aura that indicates she is clearly not a teenager anymore. Swift sings the new version almost in the way a big sister gives advice. She sings in a reflective way from her experiences, as if she’s telling stories and sharing wisdom to her younger sister. 

Another noticeable difference between her 2008 “Fearless” album and “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” is the musical genre. The 2008 “Fearless” album has a more notable country twang, which is associated with Swift’s initial roots in country music. Swift has since moved away from the country genre and into more of a pop sound, with her first official pop album being “1989” in 2014, and more recently moved into an indie folk sound with sister albums, “folklore” and “evermore,” both in 2020. Revisiting the iconic “Fearless” album, Swift doesn’t exactly emulate the country sound and feel of the original. The darling country imperfections are smoothed over and exchanged for a more polished sound. Personally, I love the more country sound of the originals as it gives these stories personality and is more authentic to who she was when she first wrote these songs. Obviously, she isn’t the same person she was when she wrote and recorded these songs so many years ago. “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” is reflective of how far she has come as an artist while revisiting her beginnings. 

Being a day one stan of Swift, I will always be able to tell the two albums apart. I love them both dearly, but for me the original will always hit differently. For me, the 2008 album is closely associated with growing up in my awkward childhood pre-teen years. At 10 years old, Swift’s “Fearless” was one of the albums on a continuous loop on my black MP3 player while I danced around my bedroom with my little sister far after the lights should have been turned off. This was the Taylor Swift that had me daydreaming about love and heartbroken over breakups I had never even felt, and to this day, not much has changed. “Fearless” is still one of my go-to Swift albums, and I still dance around my room singing these iconic songs into my hairbrush most mornings.

When revisiting this album, I not only see the growth in Swift, but also the growth in myself since the 2008 version. I may see how far we’ve both come in these past 13 years, but some things sure haven’t changed — like the lyrics of the songs and the non existent heartbreaks I’m somehow still singing about. 

Claire Desenberg is an Entertainment Staff Writer for the spring 2021 quarter. She can be reached at cdesenbe@uci.edu.