Taylor’s version

Taylor Swift’s re-recording of ‘Fearless’ fights to own her music

Aubrey Rhoadarmer, Staff Reporter

Illustration by Micky Flores-Nieves

This is Taylor Swift’s world; we are all just living in it.

On Feb. 11, Swift made an Instagram post that confirmed a long rumored theory. To say her fans were ecstatic when they heard the news is an understatement. She has re-recorded her entire “Fearless” album, which she released originally in 2008.

“‘fearless’ was an album full of magic and curiosity, the bliss and devastation of youth,” Swift’s post read. “I’m thrilled to tell you that my new version of fearless is done and will be with you soon. It’s called fearless (taylor’s version).”

Just as Swift left secret messages in the lyric books for her albums, she left a similar secret message in her post. In true Taylor fashion, her message was typed out all in lowercase, with only 10 letters capitalized throughout: A-P-R-I-L N-I-N-T-H, the supposed release date of the album.

For longtime Swift fans, the announcement brought about a lot of excitement, but also a lot of questions.

Freshman english major Jessica Sheeres was ecstatic when she saw the post.

“I was so excited!” Sheeres said, “But also, I was like ‘what songs?’. Because there are some of my favorites that I want her to redo. Is she gonna do just her hits? Like just Love Story? Or are we gonna get a re-recording of Tim Mcgraw?”

Along with announcing the news about Fearless, and hinting at an April release date, Swift also dropped a re-recorded version of “Love Story”, called “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” to give fans a taste of what is to come. “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” is one of 26 songs that will be on the new version of Fearless; 20 from the original album and six brand new songs.

Although the lyrics of the song remained the same, Swift’s matured vocals and more complex instrumentals created a feeling that is entirely different from the original.

“Her voice sounds so much cleaner and more confident,” Sheeres said. “I watched a TikTok of a guy take out all the instrumentals so it was just Taylor’s voice, and in the original song she has vocalists harmonizing with her, but in the new one she doesn’t need it because her voice has aged so well.”

But why is Swift releasing an album that has already been out for almost 13 years?

Swift signed to the record label Big Machine in 2006 when she was only 16 years old. Back then, she wasn’t Taylor Swift, Artist of the Decade. She was just a kid; a kid who had no idea what the next 15 years would bring.

Over the past several years, Swift has been in an ongoing battle with Big Machine over the master recordings of her first six studio albums. And in 2019, Swift’s masters were sold for $300 million without her consent or permission. However, it was perfectly legal, because most artists don’t own the rights to their own music. Because of the contract that Swift signed as a teenager, Big Machine owns the rights to her first six albums.

“She was a very vulnerable young girl coming into the music scene, but in capitalism, people are only looking out for how they are going to make the most money, and they aren’t concerned with other people,” Sheeres said.

After her masters were sold, Swift publicly spoke out against Big Machine and their treatment of artists. She dropped them as her label and signed with Universal Music Group instead. Within her new contract, Swift owns the rights to all her master recordings going forward.

Whether artists should own the rights to their work has been a long time debate in the music industry. Without a label, it is almost impossible for musicians to reach any level of fame, which makes it easy for record labels to exploit their artists.

Luckily for Swift, she has become such a popular figure in the music industry that she is able to take control of her work.

“I feel like it’s so cool that she’s gotten to the point where she almost is the music industry,” freshman english major Emma Pagels said, “She can just do whatever she wants and it’s going to blow up. It doesn’t even have to be new music and that’s kind of crazy.”

Stream ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ on April 9 and let out your inner Swiftie.