Image courtesy of DIYMag
By Noelia Veras
Throughout 2020 and during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic Taylor Swift, not only released one critically acclaimed album, but two. Now, Swift is beginning to release her re-recorded music.
When she was 15 years old, Swift signed with Big Machine Records with the help of Scott Borchetta who became a close family friend to the Swift family. In 2018, however, Swift switched labels and signed with Republic Records and Universal Music Group. Big Machine Records was best known for being an indie label based in Nashville. When Swift left, it was decided that the record label would maintain ownership of the masters of her first 6 albums.
In 2019 Big Machine Records was bought by Ithaca Holdings, a company owned by Scooter Braun. According to SALT, Braun is best known for managing Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber while also working with Karlie Kloss. When Big Machine Records was sold, Swift then fully lost the ability to own the masters to her first 6 albums.
“For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work,” Swift wrote according to NPR. “Instead I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and ‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in. I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future. I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past.”
As of November 2020, Swift was free to re-record her masters.
“The reason I’m re-recording my music next year is because I do want my music to live on. I do want it to be in movies, I do want it to be in commercials,” Swift said. “But I only want that if I own it.”
Her re-released music would not only be eligible for television and film appearances, but they would also be eligible for Grammy awards with the exception of any songwriting categories.
Swift re-released the song “Love Story” on February 12. The song was originally released 13 years ago but, despite the time, the new version is quite faithful to the original.
On February 11 Swift announced that her new version of “Love Story” would be released and that the new version of her album Fearless would be released soon. She also made sure to mention that there would be 26 songs in this new version, 6 of which have never been released.
The new version of “Love Story” is quite similar to the original version, but there are some slight changes. Remarkably, Swift’s voice sounds practically the same as it did when she was 16. Both Jonathan Yudkin, the original fiddle player, and Caitlin Evanson, the original backup vocalist, feature in the new version. Along with them, Swift had her touring band feature in the song too.
“I think it’s really really great that it’s a combination of the originals and people who have been sweating on stages with me for over a decade playing on this album,” Swift said according to Variety.
Although the song is faithful to the original, the song is overall slower and more contemplative than her initial product. There is something about the newer version that feels more mature, even though Swift herself sounds so similar to how she did as a teenager.
With the context of her not owning her masters, it’s impressive how much Swift has actually benefited from re-releasing “Love Story.” On the first day of its release, the song got 5.8 million streams.
Fans have also speculated that Swift’s re-release of Fearless holds some more significance than the original, based on the image attached to her announcement of the new version of the album. According to People, fans believe her Ulla Johnson blouse is a nod to the shirt Romeo wears in her original video for “Love Story.” Thus, many believe that Swift is making that case that she doesn’t need a Romeo figure in her life, but rather she is her own Romeo.
Although Swift once said that Braun stripped her of her life’s work, it seems Swift was not passive in her supposed defeat; rather, she has taken her art into her own hands by advocating for herself and other artists, all while providing listeners with glimpses of the past and reinventing the nostalgic experience of listening to her older music.
Fans predict that Swift’s version of the album Fearless will be available April 9.