Hello! After wiping away my tears I am now ready to write this little love letter to Fearless (Taylor’s Version).
It is a pretty great time to be a Taylor Swift stan—she released 2 albums and 2 films in 2020, is finally back on Twitter again, has shook off many of the haters, and today, on the first Friday of the year with a date that adds up to 13 (4 + 9), the much-anticipated Fearless (Taylor’s Version) is out!!!
Fearless is the one album whose songs are practically etched into my DNA; I’ve been listening to Fearless almost nonstop since it came out in 2008, when I was 11 years old in Hong Kong and single as a pringle. Today, in 2021, Fearless is still my favorite album of all time, though I’m now married and live in California. How things have changed! But how things have also stayed the same.
The best thing about Fearless (Taylor’s Version) is that it’s *the same,* and also ~new~—we get the same beloved tunes, but with a voice that has matured and glowed up since 2008. You can tell on certain songs (e.g. You Belong With Me) that Taylor just doesn’t get breathless anymore when she hits the high notes. You can especially tell how much she’s grown musically, as an artist, when listening to the “From the Vault” songs, which have Fearless-era lyrics and melodies but are produced in folklore/evermore-era fashion (Jack Antonoff’s thumbprint is particularly visible on “Don’t You”). While Taylor has more or less replicated her 2008 tone, it’s cool to notice the minuscule differences that crop up any during the re-recordings: the drums at the beginning of “The Other Side of the Door,” the guitar notes at the start of “The Best Day,” the short, perfect laugh in “Hey Stephen” (2:55), the “but” that’s in the new “Fifteen” at 3:58 (this change is particularly great because she does add the “but” when performing “Fifteen” live), etc. (I could go on).
Listening to Fearless (Taylor’s Version) today doesn’t just feel nostalgic—it feels triumphant. Taylor owns every song on this album (take that, Sc**ter Br**n) and a new generation of Swifties have the chance now to enjoy an album release that was iconic then and continues to be iconic now. Most of all, listening to Fearless (Taylor’s Version) feels warm and fuzzy because 2021 Taylor has found the “Romeo” she sings about in “Love Story.” A few songs on Fearless are about a particular Joe (Jonas) who broke her heart (including the new bop “Mr. Perfectly Fine”) BUT, funnily enough, Taylor is now with a Joe (Alwyn) who actually treats her well (on “White Horse,” she sings, “I’m gonna find someone someday who might, actually treat me well”). She knew at fifteen that she’d do “greater things than dating the boy on the football team,” and she indeed has. The song “Change,” about revolution and overcoming the odds, has actually never felt more timely, especially given that the very reason Fearless (Taylor’s Version) came to be is Taylor’s ongoing fight to reclaim ownership of her music. Listening to 2021 Taylor sing lyrics from 2008, one gets the feeling that Taylor has manifested her destiny—and that’s why the arc of these songs is so powerful today, 13 years after their debut.
Fearless has been by my side for every important life event, every sad and happy moment. I’m glad that I get to carry Fearless (Taylor’s Version) forward with me now, going through life the way Taylor taught me—headfirst, fearless. *cries in country*