You Need to Listen to “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)”

Caroline Wilking, Co-Editor

The year is 2008: Barack Obama has just been elected as president, Marvel’s “Iron Man” (the first movie in the MCU) is smashing the box office, and the world is fighting through the Global Financial Crisis — but you’re too young to understand any of that.

The year is 2008, and Taylor Swift’s “Fearless” debuts at number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Though its songs lend themselves to a teenage audience, it’s an album you grow up listening to, whether that is in its entirety on your new iPod Shuffle or as a select group of hits playing on every radio station. Songs like “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me” become anthems that will still be played over a decade later.

“Fearless was an album full of magic and curiosity, the bliss and devastation of youth. It was the diary of the adventures and explorations [of] a teenage girl who was learning tiny lessons with every new crack in the façade of the fairytale ending she’d been shown in the movies.” — Taylor Swift (2021)
Singer Taylor Swift performs during an appearance on MTV’s Total Request Live, Wednesday, Feb.27, 2008 in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Flash forward to 2019 — Taylor Swift has had unpredictable success as an artist and she’s in the controversial era between the release of “reputation” and “Lover.” Public spats with celebrities aside, Swift’s primary battle is one with Scooter Braun and Ithaca Holdings over the rights to her first six master tracks. When Braun acquired Big Machine Records (Swift’s former label) and consequently her masters, Swift released a statement on tumblr, addressing the sale and alleged bullying behind the scenes: “All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at [Braun’s] hands for years…Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it.”

Swift would soon announce her intentions to rerecord her first six albums, and two years later, on April 9, 2021, she released “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).” As the only rerecording of an album to hit number 1 on the charts, “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” includes twice the number of tracks on the original (the 13 originals, six from “Fearless Platinum Edition,” her 2010 single “Today Was a Fairytale,” and six songs “from the vault”). The album features a number of artists — Keith Urban, Maren Morris, and the returning Colbie Caillat, as well as DJ Elvira on a remix of “Love Story.” Though Swift stayed true to the original melodies and lyrics of her songs, improvements in sound and tone combined with her more mature, richer voice makes “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” a rerecording worth listening to for both older fans in search of a nostalgic experience and newer fans just looking for good music.

“We really did go in and try to create a ‘the same but better’ version…We kept all the same parts that I initially dreamed up for these songs. But if there was any way that we could improve upon the sonic quality, we did.” — Taylor Swift (2021)
NEW YORK – AUGUST 27: Taylor Swift performs at Madison Square Garden on August 27, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage for New York Post) (WireImage)

Standout Tracks

Each track from “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” offers its own unique qualities, but for casual listeners who may not have the time to listen through all 26 songs, five of them stand out as particularly special:

“Love Story (Taylor’s Version)”

As the first single released before the rerecording, “Love Story” is one song that has retained notable popularity since its original release. A few pronunciation and inflection differences in 31-year-old Swift’s voice are a great introduction to the ever-so-slightly different new sound of “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).” The lyric video includes a slideshow of pictures and videos of Swift with her fans back when she was on tour for the original album, instantly dialing up the nostalgia factor.

“Mr. Perfectly Fine (From the Vault)”

Paralleling “Forever & Always” in theme, “Mr. Perfectly Fine” is another upbeat anthem for the heartbroken (and everyone else). It was released just two days before the full album and has become a major hit. “Mr. Perfectly Fine” encompasses the feeling of the original “Fearless” and ends with a key-changed final chorus with an uplifting spin on the previous lyrics.

“Forever & Always (Piano Version) (Taylor’s Version)”

The original “Forever & Always (Piano Version)” pales in comparison to this new recording; Swift improved upon her vocals and the instrumentals, as well as reworking and reharmonizing the bridge to completely outdo her former self. Overall, the change from a thin, underwhelming sound in the original “Forever & Always (Piano Version)” to a drastically fuller and well-rounded tone makes this rerecording the most improved song on the album.

“You Belong With Me (Taylor’s Version)”

This staple of middle school talent shows and homemade music videos is as unmistakable as ever, but “You Belong With Me (Taylor’s Version)” has subtle production changes that make the sound cleaner and smoother than the original. Its new “grown-up” version fits as a song for early Taylor Swift fans that have, likewise, changed and matured over the past decade.

“The Best Day (Taylor’s Version)”

“The Best Day” has always been enough to make anyone cry, but Swift singing this song at 31 as opposed to 18 adds another layer of love and nostalgia. Like “Love Story,” the lyric video includes old photos and video footage — this time a collection of Swift’s childhood photos and family home videos. In the midst of iconic break-up songs like “All Too Well,” it’s easy to underestimate the powerful emotion behind “The Best Day” in its beautiful simplicity.


The year is 2021: With “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” Taylor Swift was able to tap into 2008 nostalgia while simultaneously crafting an album that feels fresh and meaningful. You’re about to listen through all 26 tracks and hear old songs that you already loved with richer vocals, rounded-out instrumentals, and a touch of wisdom and reminiscence from an artist you’ve seen grow and change over the past 13 years — and you’re going to love it.



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Meredith, Karenna. “Hear How Taylor Swift’s Rerecorded Fearless Album Subtly Differs From the 2008 Original.” POPSUGAR Entertainment, 10 Apr. 2021,