Why Did Taylor Swift Remake Fearless? & Differences Between the Versions

When Taylor Swift remade Fearless, many were left wondering why she did it. She already had a new record deal, and she could easily record new songs instead of spending time on older ones. So why did she do it? We reveal all below.

Why Did Taylor Swift Remake Fearless?

In short, Taylor Swift remade Fearless because someone else owned the masters. They got paid every time someone wanted to use her music, and Taylor wanted to regain control of her early songs.

The longer version:

Scooter Braun, a manager in the music industry, bought Swift’s masters from Big Machine Records. That was her first record company; she signed with them in 2005 and left in 2018.

Swift left because her contract expired, so she signed a new deal with Republic Records. However, Scooter Braun owned all the songs from her first six studio albums. This arrangement meant that anyone who wanted to license her music had to get Braun’s permission—and pay him a fee. Swift lost all control over her music and earning potential for her early work.

You may still wonder, “Why did Taylor Swift remake Fearless?” when she’s continually making new music with different ownership constraints. Plus, she’s already incredibly wealthy, as you can see with her net worth in the hundreds of millions However, it’s not just about money with Swift. She didn’t want someone else to have such control over her music.

Taylor Swift’s Releases With Big Machines Records

With that in mind, it’s understandable that Swift would want to re-record the music and retain ownership for herself. Since Scooter Braun owned all six of her previous albums, she’d need to record everything before 2019’s Lover, which was her first release with Republic Records.

The albums Swift recorded for Big Machine Records include:

  • Taylor Swift (2006)
  • Fearless (2008)
  • Speak Now (2010)
  • Red (2012)
  • 1989 (2014)
  • Reputation (2017)

She has already re-recorded Fearless, Red, and Speak Now. Her contract with Republic Records also states that she owns all the songs she records under that agreement. So, as Swift re-records her previous songs, she will regain ownership over her entire creative catalog.

This ownership means she will work directly with people who want to license her songs for TV shows, movies, and ads. She’ll have control over who uses her music and how. She’ll earn royalties for that usage, too, instead of the money going to Braun, who had no hand in the creation of the music.

Taylor Swift Fearless Version Differences

Taylor Swift Fearless Version Differences

Fearless was her second album, released in 2008. When she re-recorded it in 2021, she named it Fearless (Taylor’s Version). Re-recording songs she originally wrote 13 years earlier was strange because she was much older and more mature. However, she didn’t want to completely change the original songs that her fans loved.

Before we compare, here's the original:

And here's Taylor's Version:

Overall Sound Changes in Fearless

Basically, Swift wanted to capture the same essence of each song but improve the musical quality in any way possible. That meant the producers used more advanced recording technology, considering the massive improvements from 2008 to 2021.

While music industry experts laud the album for being nearly an identical copy, which is hard to pull off with live musicians, there are many purposeful changes. For example, die-hard fans noticed that her laugh on some tracks sounded different in the 2021 version compared to 2008. She would hum a section different from the original.

Swift did this on purpose after listening to every song and dissecting each line. She wanted to stay true to the overall feel of Fearless without simply making a copy of what was already out there.

Taylor Swift’s Vocal Changes

It’s also just a fact that your voice sounds different at 18 than it does at 31, especially with so many years of recording albums and performing live. Swift sings at her live concerts, going for up to three hours while dancing and playing guitar and piano. That’s certainly a strain on her voice, in addition to the natural aging process.

But the vocal maturity doesn’t mess with the feel of the album. You don’t feel like an older woman is trying to recapture the glory of her teenage years. There’s just more tonal richness to Swift’s voice, which adds emotion to the songs. They sound fuller, which is just as much due to Swift’s vocal cords as it is to the advances in musical technology.

Since Swift’s voice is more robust, there’s less need to layer background vocals as in the original. Humming sounds less breathy on “Fearless,” and laughs are deeper and last longer on “Hey Stephen.” These changes could be Swift’s conscious choices, or they could be side effects of having a stronger voice due to years of practice.

Fearless Instrument and Production Changes

With Swift’s voice becoming richer and fuller, production was able to make comparable changes to the instruments and production. They could go for lower tones with the overall sound of the album to play up her voice.

The original version of Fearless had high, bright instruments to match the youth of Swift’s voice. They also had more of a country sound, while producers wanted to capture a low frequency from these instruments to suit Swift’s mature vocal cords. She’d also progressed from a young country musician to a mature pop star, so the production reflects that.

The instrumental changes come through in certain songs. Did you notice:

  • The tambourine is louder in “Change”
  • The electric guitar in “Fearless” is more pronounced
  • The cymbal hits in “Hey Stephen” is louder

The producers put the microphones close to the acoustic guitars in “Breathe” and “Today Was a Fairytale,” making them stand out from other instruments on the track. They used the same approach to the string section in “You’re Not Sorry.”

The production also recorded the instruments with full frequency. When you listen to music on headphones, you may notice that some instruments seem to come through the right speaker and others on the left. With the remake of Fearless, everything is more balanced, so you can hear the song fully with any speaker setup.

While casual listeners may not notice the difference between the original Fearless tracks they’ve heard on the radio and streaming services for years, fans know.

Why Did Taylor Swift Remake Fearless? Final Thoughts

Fearless original vs Fearless Taylor's version

You now understand why Taylor Swift remade Fearless and will continue re-recording her earliest releases. When you listen to any album or song with the subtitle (Taylor’s Version), you’ll know you’re supporting Taylor Swift instead of a music industry mogul.

If you’re interested in comparing the differences between both versions of Fearless, you might want to check out more of the best Taylor Swift songs.

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