If you’re a person who uses social media, it’s likely that you’ve heard the good news: Taylor Swift, country’s girl-next-door turned pop’s female icon is re-releasing her hit album “Fearless.” This news comes following a few years of dramatics following the legal rights to Swift’s masters. In November 2020, per a legal agreement, she was given the green light to re-record her original. On January 12, she dropped the first teaser single “Love Story (Taylor’s Version).”
With all the excitement surrounding this re-release, I thought I might kick off the countdown to April 9 by reviewing 2008’s “Fearless.”
The opener and title track “Fearless” is full of nostalgia for a first love, and it follows a naive and pure mutual affection that makes someone less afraid to be fully immersed in the relationship. The track’s lighthearted and fluffy lyricism and soft pop guitar add to the youthful feeling. Lines like, “I don’t know how it gets better than this / you take my hand and drag me headfirst / Fearless,” cement the bubbly feeling. This song screams 2008, and the second-grade version of me performed it in the car on the way to school. Chef’s kiss. Immaculate.
This blissful, juvenile vibe is continued into the following tracks “Fifteen,” “Hey Stephen” and “The Best Day.” Swift was 19 at the time of the original release, and fresh out of high school. You can definitely tell by the innocent nature of her lyrics in “Fifteen” that she is an expert on being girlish and easy to take advantage of, lamenting, “When you’re fifteen / and somebody tells you they love you / you’re gonna believe them.”
In “Hey Stephen” she sings in a way that screams schoolyard crush, “Of all the girls throwing rocks at your window / I’ll be the one waiting there / even when it’s cold.” And you know what? That line gives me butterflies all these years 13 years later. Like most young girls who grew up daydreaming scenarios to this soundtrack, if “Hey Stephen” comes on in the car, you can bet I’ll be blushing all the way home.
The ever classic “You Belong with Me” stands the test of time, too, with strong pop-punk influences and driving guitar and emotional lyrics. It gives me flashbacks to watching music videos on a Dell desktop computer in my family’s office room before being called to dinner. Swift in those glasses that made everyone steal 3-D movie glasses and pop out the lenses to match… she was the influencer before influencers.
Heartbreak was no stranger to Swift, either, with sad songs also peppering the listing, as well. “White Horse” about the fairytale of first love fading into the nightmarish reality that not every beautiful boy is Prince Charming, and “You’re Not Sorry” a vague but crushing moment relaying that sometimes your lover is not what they seem. “Forever and Always” — side note, this one is about Joe Jonas, which the real ones reading this already knew — goes into a love that is slowly fading away and not worth holding onto but is more upbeat and furious in its composition.
Overall, this album is the soundtrack that put me to sleep in my childhood twin size bed, and it’s also the record that helped shape my view of relationships, both the good and the bad. Swift wrote these tracks with a personal touch that I don’t think has been replicated by a young artist since. Her control of her lyrics and her tone on this album is that of a master and has translated into her work from then on after. Swift in a word: legend. “Fearless” in a word: legendary. I am looking forward to April 9 and to a new era of Swift that is all her own.