‘Love Story (Taylor’s Version)’ Cover,
When Taylor Swift’s Fearless album was released in 2008, there was something enchanting about a teenage girl rewriting an infamous Shakespearean tragedy into a happy ending.
Now, years later, ‘Love Story (Taylor’s Version)’ becomes something else altogether. This time it rewrites a very different kind of story—which, in the eyes of many, is a tragedy in itself—and becomes the ultimate display of ownership.
Following Swift’s promise to rerecord her first six albums, a surprise announcement this month revealed that Fearless will be the first, with a hidden message hinting towards an April ninth release date. She also announced that the album will include 6 brand new and unreleased songs from the Fearless era vault that previously had to be left behind. ‘Love Story (Taylor’s Version)’ was to be the first single, dropping that same night.
It was at this point that twenty-somethings around the globe realised they’ll get to experience guitar-wielding, curly-haired, cowboy booted Swift for the first time again. But this time, they’ll have good-quality speakers, a bottle of red wine, and heartbreak to rival Joe Jonas breaking up over text.
Within its first day in the world, ‘Love Story (Taylor’s Version)’ hit over 7,000,000 streams and already outperforming the original.
The rerecording is wonderful. As Swift has grown and drifted from her Nashville origins, it seemed possible that country roots might be forgotten. However, Swift stays true to her beginnings with the banjo and strings still peeking their way through. Her enunciation is enhanced, with a crisper sound that reflects the version of Swift’s vocals that we’ve seen in the past few years.
The similarities are clear, and the differences are subtle. It showcases the maturity and growth of her as an artist, whilst still being the same song that we repeated on our iPod Nano’s as we walked to school.
This was entirely the aim. Unlike a lot of rereleases, Swift does not want to radicalise and update her old work into something unrecognizable. ‘Love Story (Taylor’s Version)’ is enough to give people what they want, and ultimately encourage people to remove the original version from their playlists.
Perhaps the biggest question is why is this rerecording such a big deal?
Back in 2019, Swift released a public statement revealing what was going on behind the scenes with Scooter Braun (manager to stars such as Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande) and Big Machine Records CEO Scott Borchetta (Swift’s previous label). The Tumblr post claimed that the men were preventing her from performing any of her older music, or from using any old footage for the then-upcoming Netflix documentary about her life. This led to a very public debate, with artists such as Lily Allen, Halsey, and Gigi Hadid taking to Twitter to show their support for Swift.
Swift later announced on Good Morning America that she planned to (and had every right to) rerecord her old work starting in November 2020. In a powerful move towards artist ownership, Swift has fought back by creating new versions of her songs that she legally owns. New versions of her songs that will no doubt devalue her original life’s work—a difficult decision for any artist to have to make.
With this context in mind, no matter how wonderful the rerecording is it can’t help but stir up feelings of anger. We are living in the 21st century, yet we are witnessing first-hand a female singer/songwriter rereleasing over a decade of her music in an attempt to regain ownership.
That a man was able to purchase her masters in the first place whilst she was refused the opportunity to buy her own life’s work should infuriate everyone—Taylor Swift fan or not. The likes of Scooter Braun are simply one cog in the wheel that is the incredibly corrupt and undeniably capitalist music industry.
‘Love Story (Taylor’s Version)’ is far more than just a great song. To witness someone as successful and influential as Taylor Swift take this huge step towards ownership is monumental in paving the way for future artists. Ownership is power. Ownership is an artist’s right.
And in this case, ownership is a feminist rebellion that will rattle the music industry at its core. With every decision she makes, Swift proves she is history in the making. Just as the title suggests, Swift proves that ‘Love Story (Taylor’s Version)’ is a statement; this is her art, this is her story, and this is her version.