AND WE’RE UP TO DATE. I’ve finally caught up with my Tay-Tay Top Five series, just in time for the news that we’ll be receiving Red (Taylor’s Version) in November, which, at the time of writing, I only found out about an hour ago. I can’t wait and I’m not emotionally ready for the re-record of All Too Well. Also – 30 TRACKS? WHAAAT? Buzzing mate. Anyway, in the meantime, I’m taking an in-depth look at the first of Taylor’s re-recorded albums following the dispute over the masters of her first six studio albums. While I didn’t discover Fearless during its original release, it doesn’t mean that I was buzzing for the release of Taylor’s Version, especially given that over the last few years, I’d become more than familiar with the track listing. I’ll keep things simple in the intro by saying this (as I’m sure I’ll say in every subsequent Taylor’s Version posts): there were tears. A lot of tears.
Fearless (Taylor’s Version)
It was on the 21st February 2021 that Taylor announced the release of Fearless (Taylor’s Version), which would drop on the 9th of April, with Love Story being the lead single. The album features an amazing 26 tracks combining both the original track listing from the 2009 Platinum Edition of Fearless, as well as six bonus tracks “from the vault,” that never made the original 2008 release. While there are no major lyrical differences between Taylor’s Version and the 2008 release, Taylor stated in an interview that she took the re-recording of each song “line by line,” so as to keep to the original melodies, but also to create a “same but better” version of every track. Dear reader, I can tell you, that’s exactly what she does.
Information correct at time of writing.
Release Date: 9th April 2021
Producers: Taylor Swift, Christopher Rowe, Jack Antonoff, Aaron Dessner.
Label: Republic Records
My Top Five
- The Best Day (Taylor’s Version)
- Fifteen (Taylor’s Version)
- Mr Perfectly Fine (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)
- Love Story (Taylor’s Version)
- That’s When (feat. Keith Urban) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)
Honourable Mentions: Change (Taylor’s Version), Today Was a Fairytale (Taylor’s Version), We Were Happy (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault), Don’t You (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault).
The Best Day (Taylor’s Version)
Okay, so in the post I wrote about the 2008 version of Fearless, I said that my choices for my top five would be different. And they will be, as you’ll see throughout the rest of this post (once we get past Fifteen). However, the second I heard The Best Day (Taylor’s Version), I won’t lie – absolute tears. As we know, the song is a dedication to Taylor’s mother, Andrea (aka. Mama Swift), and for me, it brings about memories of my childhood growing up with my Mum and our Gilmore Girls-esque relationship. For that reason, this particular song will always be special to me, but listening to Taylor’s Version, it hit me even more in the feels than the 2008 recording. The maturity of Taylor’s voice compared to her 2008 album is present throughout the album, but in this particular song it shines through even more, and I can’t help but feel it would have been even more emotional for her to record, given her mother’s recent battle with cancer, which Taylor sung about in the heartbreaking Soon You’ll Get Better (featured on the Lover album). You can hear the love and the emotion in her voice through every single line, and it just adds to the poignancy of the song. Plus, if you take into account the context of this album as a whole, this is one song that will really hit you in the feels. I mentioned in my post on the 2008 release of Fearless that the second verse of this song hits me especially hard, but in this version, I was just an emotional wreck for the whole song, including the final lines:
“Now I know why all the trees change in the fall
I know you were on my side
Even when I was wrong
And I love you for giving me your eyes
For staying back and watching me shine
And I didn’t know if you knew
So I’m taking this chance to say that I had
The best day with you today”
Fifteen (Taylor’s Version)
I promise there will be some different songs when we get past this one. Honest. As much as I wanted to have five different songs in my top five, I couldn’t not include Fifteen. I loved the 2008 version, so it’s no surprise that Taylor’s Version had me weeping at my desk on the day the album was released. Fifteen brings with it those memories of me at that age, hugely bespectacled with horrific teeth and just desperate for any boy to notice me – and not in a “LOL IT’S BUGS BUNNY!” way. The song was originally written in Taylor’s freshman year of high school and even talks about her friendship with Abigail Anderson, referencing when they both fell in love for the first time. Of course, Taylor would have been 18 at the time the song was initially released, so the theme of naivety and innocence runs through the original recording, but listening to Taylor’s Version, again, you hear the maturity of her voice and it’s almost like she’s singing to her younger self, which adds the extra layer of emotion and nostalgia, instantly pulling you through the ringer. I love it.
Mr Perfectly Fine (Taylor’s Version)
See? I told you we’d get some different songs to the original release line up. The second I heard Mr Perfectly Fine I knew it would make my top five – it gives off a similar vibe to We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and I’m totally here for it. I love the word-play, the fast pace of the song and that classic key change for the final chorus which makes it the perfect song to belt out when you’re driving with the windows down. Even though the song was originally written in 2008, you get some subtle nods to her most famous break-up songs such as Dear John and of course, All Too Well (whether these were deliberately added in at the time of recording or pure coincidence, we’ll never know) and the result is this absolute banger. I for one can’t wait until the next Swiftogeddon when everyone screams “GOODBYE MR PERFECTLY FINE” at the top of their lungs.
Love Story (Taylor’s Version)
With this being the lead track on the album, Love Story (Taylor’s Version) was released on the 21st February 2021, and Swifties everywhere, including me, sobbed their goddamn hearts out. For me, Love Story was the first Taylor Swift song I ever heard before I became the obsessed fan I am now, so hearing this brand new version as a fully devoted Swiftie and knowing everything she had achieved and overcome since the initial release of the song made it even more emotional. The rich, enhanced sound of the song becomes instantly apparent, and this is another song on the album where you can really hear the maturity in Taylor’s voice, especially when you compare it to the 2008 version. Literally hearing the first few bars of the song had me welling up. I later read a Tweet that said there were going to be 16 year old girls everywhere listening to Love Story (Taylor’s Version) for the very first time that day, exactly the same as when we were 16 and hearing it for the first time, and that set me off once again.
That’s When (feat. Keith Urban) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)
I don’t really have any other reason why I liked this song so much other than it’s incredibly catchy, and it became an earworm after hearing it the first time. Lyrically, the song is about two lovers reuniting and it has this classic country song feel with a modern pop twist, both giving a nod to Taylor’s earlier country style while also fitting the “same but better” theme that runs throughout the album.
Where do I start? I think first of all, we have to talk about Change (Taylor’s Version). Originally, the song was written and left unfinished during Taylor’s early days at Big Machine Records, being completed after she won the 2007 Horizon Award at the Country Music Association Awards. You may think that a song written in the context of her old record label may be tinged with sadness given the subsequent dispute over the masters of her first six albums, but actually, when you listen to this updated version, it’s quite the opposite. The overall theme of the song is overcoming obstacles and ultimately succeeding, and that’s what shines through in this particular version – the fact that she’s singing it having overcome numerous obstacles over the last few years and has well and truly come out on top, and this album is 100% proof of that.
I also want to give an honourable mention to Today Was a Fairytale (Taylor’s Version), which featured on the soundtrack of 2010 movie Valentine’s Day (not a great movie, but the conclusion of Julia Roberts’ storyline genuinely made me cry happy tears). It may be a little sickly sweet for some, but I must admit to having a soft spot for it. I discovered the song through watching this movie, surprisingly, on Valentine’s Day itself which, at the time, was mine and Liam’s one year anniversary. I think that’s one of the reasons why I like the song so much, because it’s tinged with the memory of our first Valentine’s Day as a couple (also, I didn’t think he’d stick with me for a year. The poor bugger’s now been with me for 12 of them).
Anyway, to round off, there are also two From the Vault songs that I wanted to mention. First of all there’s We Were Happy (Taylor’s Version), which hits you right in the feels with its soft vocals and dreamy, stripped back sounding instrumentals. Then there’s Don’t You (Taylor’s Version), which is one of many songs showcasing Taylor’s storytelling talents in her songwriting.
I think we’re all agreed that Fearless (Taylor’s Version) is one of many albums that caused all Swifties, myself included, to become an emotional wreck. She’s stayed true to the underlying themes of the original Fearless era, but at the same time, she’s created this whole new version that without a doubt is far superior. Considering she initially recorded the tracks on this album when she was just 18, hearing her singing them years later combined with the enhanced instrumentals creates this amazing sense of nostalgia and overall it makes for this incredibly special record. I love it, and I can’t wait to hear Red (Taylor’s Version) when it’s released in November.
What were your favourite tracks on Fearless (Taylor’s Version)? Let me know in the comments!