Taylor Swift Sets ‘Fearless: Taylor’s Version’ as First in Her Series of Full-Album Do-Overs

Chris Willman
·7-min read

Fearless” is being born again. Taylor Swift was not just talking a good talk when she vowed to independently re-record all six of the albums she originally released on her former Big Machine label: The singer announced Thursday morning that her blockbuster sophomore album from 2008 would be the first in a series of full-album remakes that is set to roll out one by one. The first out of the shoot will be “Fearless: Taylor’s Version,” expanded to include 26 songs instead of the original 13.

The first single from the album will be out Thursday night at midnight. It’s “Love Story,” just as the first version of that song was the lead single from the first version of the album in ’08.

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“i have now finished re-recording all of ‘Fearless,’ which will be coming out soon,” Swift said on “Good Morning America.” “My version of ‘Fearless’ will have 26 songs on it, because I’ve decided to add songs from the vault, which are songs that almost made the ‘Fearless album, but i’ve now gone back and recorded those so that everyone will be able to hear not only songs that made the album but the songs that almost made it. The full picture.” Six of the 13 added tracks are promised as never-before-heard.

Besides appearing on “GMA,” Swift also dropped a mini-essay about the remake campaign on social media.

Although “soon” was all Swift had to say about how quickly “Taylor’s Version” might arrive on “GMA,” fans quickly picked up on the fact that not-so-randomly capitalized letters in her social media message spell out an APRIL NINTH release date for the full album.

“I’ve spoken a lot about why I’m remaking my first six albums, but the way I’ve chosen to do this will hopefully illuminate where I’m coming from,” Swift wrote in her social media message. “Artists should own their own work for so many reasons, but the most screamingly obvious one is that the artist is the only one who really knows that body of work. For example, only I know which songs I wrote that almost made the ‘Fearless’ album. Songs I absolutely adored, but were held back for different reasons (don’t want too many breakup songs, don’t want too many down tempo songs, can’t fit that many songs on a physical CD).”

She continued, “Those reasons seem unnecessary now. 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. 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.”

Swift has not released any track list, so it’s yet to be revealed what the seven additional tracks will be beyond the 13 songs from the original album and the six she’s touting as completely unheard before now. But Swift did release a “platinum edition” of the “Fearless” album in 2010 that expanded the lineup with six additional tracks, so she may be drawing from at least some of those to push the number of new recordings on “Taylor’s Version” up toward 26.

Few things are random in Swift world, not just with the capitalized letters that spell out a release date, but especially when it comes to numbers of any sort and any combination that aligns with the number 13. So it was with Thursday’s news, which was revealed on 2/11… as in, 2 + 11 = 13. Not every tie-in is strictly numerological, though, as Swift also tied the new version of “Love Story” (the most unremittingly happy song in an early catalog of otherwise somewhat tortured teen songs) to the imminence of Valentine’s Day.

What is expected to become even clearer as the full new version of “Love Story” is released Thursday night is that Swift is not coming up with refreshed arrangements for her old songs., She’s apparently trying to make them as identical-sounding to the originals as humanly possible, to try to make the Big Machine versions as valueless as possible — an exercise never before attempted on anywhere near this scale by any pop star, and one that may reset the bar for unalloyed chutzpah.

“Fearless,” which marked the beginning of Swift’s serious crossover from country to pop, has been characterized as the most awarded album in country music history. It won Swift her first Grammy Award for album of the year, a feat she later repeated with “1989” — which, of course, is also in the remake pipeline. “Fearless” remains the one album in her catalog to be certified diamond by the RIAA for shipments of more than 10 million units in the U.S., although “1989” is in similarly rarefied air with certification for 9 million

The singer first promised in 2019 that she planned to replicate the releases after the sale of her original master recordings, along with the rest of Big Machine, to sworn archenemy Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings. Braun was subsequently revealed this past November to have sold off Swift’s catalog to Shamrock Holdings for hundreds of millions of dollars, a move that will continue to profit Braun and certainly did nothing to lessen Swift’s resolve to diminish the value of those recordings by providing substitutes.

While Swift can’t do anything to take the original Big Machine albums off the sales and streaming market, what she can do is push the original versions down in rankings and search results as the new versions are embraced by her fans, many of whom will be eager to follow her lead in trying to teach Braun and Big Machine a lesson, or will just be curious how the remakes sound. Perhaps just as significantly, Swift will be able to license the new do-overs for whatever purposes she likes, including synchs for advertising or film and TV placement. Big Machine and Shamrock will be prohibited from using the original versions for those purposes, as that also requires the permission of the song publisher — who, in this case is Swift.

Indeed, Swift already licensed one of the remakes — and gave fans a tease of what the new/old music would sound like — when a snippet of “Love Story” made its debut in December as the soundtrack to a comical Match ad campaign directed by pal Ryan Reynolds.

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