Taylor Swift’s “Fearless”: Why Dismissing the Pop Star’s Art Is More Than Just “Casually Cruel”

Ask Media Group with photos courtesy of: folklore: the long pond studio sessions via Disney+; Feature China/Barcroft Media/Getty Images; Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images; Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Back in 2008, then-18-year-old Taylor Swift released Fearless, her history-making and Grammy-winning sophomore album. Thanks to the album’s country-pop hits, like "Love Story" and "You Belong With Me," Swift rose to mainstream superstar status. Not to mention, her first six albums, and the corresponding sold-out stadium tours, proved to be incredibly lucrative — not just for Swift, but also for her then-label, Big Machine Records. In short, the 11-time Grammy winner, now 31, has proven herself to be both an adept businessperson and an influential artist. But it’s that second moniker — artist — that Swift’s critics still seem to balk at, often because of her earliest hits.

Thirteen years after its initial debut, Fearless is getting a re-release on April 9, 2021, under the reworked title Fearless (Taylor’s Version). In fact, Swift plans to re-record all six of the albums she released while under contract with Big Machine, which, in addition to Fearless, include Taylor Swift, Speak Now, Red, 1989 and reputation. The goal, at least in part, is to own the master recordings of her work.

Recently, the act of regaining control of the narrative has come up quite a bit for the musician. So much of Swift’s image was once shaped by her former label and managers: In the Netflix documentary Miss Americana, she recalled the "Don’t be like The Chicks" warnings she received from seasoned industry professionals. And then, of course, there was all of that prying media, which presented a narrow (and often misogynistic) view of Swift and her love life.

In recent years, Swift has taken her image and her music into her own hands. Under Republic Records, Swift has released three albums since 2019: the dreamy, synth-pop Lover; the Grammy-winning cottagecore hit folklore; and the "folkloreverse" follow-up evermore. Despite her success, Swift’s struggle to regain control of her art has underscored several truths about how we value not just artists, but their fans as well.