If you grew up in the 2000s, chances are at one point you hated Taylor Swift. It became akin to hating Justin Bieber or One Direction, a rejection of mainstream culture to create your “cool person” persona. I know that I proudly wore my ‘Belieber’ and’ Directioner’ badge, but for some reason, I found it hard to become a die-hard ‘Swiftie’. I liked some of her classic sing-alongs, like “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me,” but I still found myself disliking the singer. Internalized misogyny paired with a misogynistic industry created the perfect storm to make Taylor Swift seem like the enemy.
Through a very complicated and long process filled with naive record deals and terminated contracts, in 2019, Scooter Braun became the owner of Swift’s original 6 albums of work. She had been signed with Big Machine for 13 years until Braun got hold of Big Machine. This is where it gets messy.
All Swift wanted was to own her original albums. Despite her approximately $365 million net worth, she was not allowed to buy back her work. Instead, she was told she could earn her albums back by releasing new ones.
Despite the effort Swift has put into building her career, even releasing two albums amidst a pandemic (listen to Folklore and Evermore), she still doesn’t own the rights to her original work. Instead of letting the patriarchal society take hold of her and her image once again, Swift took things into her own hands, as she’s done many times before. She made the decision to re-record all of her old albums she doesn’t own anymore, starting with her iconic Fearless album.
Although this decision may seem insane, filled with too many recording sessions and singing the same songs over and over again, it didn’t come as a surprise to many of her fans who know her well. Swift isn’t one to shy away from a challenge in order to make her career continue to thrive as it has for the last 10 or so years. In fact, Swift is well known for reinventing herself time and time again through her different eras. Starting with her self-titled Taylor Swift, through her Reputation, Lover and most-recently Evermore era, instead of conforming to the industry and letting the industry phase her out after one or two successful albums, as it does for many female artists, she decided to become a different person every time to keep it interesting.
These “eras”, as her fans affectionately call them, showcase just how talented Swift is. After releasing Reputation, a badass, empowering and dark album, Swift follows it up with Lover, an album that is as if she took cotton candy and squeezed it into music. Next, she surprise drops Folklore and Evermore, taking another stance again of braids, fields and cottagecore.
These eras have come full circle in 2021. With Swift’s decision to re-record her old music in order to take a hold of her life, her fans get to witness just how much she’s grown as an artist and a person. Taylor Swift is returning to her roots, after album cycle after album cycle of different outfits, haircuts, music videos and personas. The actual sound differences between her two versions of “Love Story” represent just how much she has grown.
The original “Love Story” was recorded when Swift was just 18. This song is known across the board in our generation, becoming the ultimate car jam and even a viral TikTok trend this summer with a remix and a dance. It is hard to believe this country-twang-filled masterpiece could get better. The Romeo and Juliet spinoff that builds up into one of the most satisfying sing-alongs of the early 2000s, is an impossible classic to live up to.
Unsurprisingly, Swift manages to one-up herself. Her maturity shines through in the first word you hear her sing. Although the country accent is less prevalent and Swift’s now 30-year old voice is deeper, the song holds the same charm it did 13 years ago. The beautiful story of a young girl finding forbidden love has evolved into a beautiful story of Taylor Swift finding self-love.
Swift’s evolution is one for the textbooks. Through her 17 year career (and still counting), she has dealt with being villainized, taken advantage of and forced to change herself to please others. By re-recording her music and releasing it, making it similar but different, Swift is finally able to take back herself and her career.
Swift’s story is one of a young country girl making a career for herself and maturing into an icon of a woman. Her determination is inspiring, as she is finally receiving the respect she has deserved for her entire career. Once a scapegoat for the misogynistic industry, she is now a symbol of feminine power. Taylor Swift is fighting the patriarchy one song at a time.