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A nostalgic review of ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ (Ella’s Version)

| Wednesday, April 14, 2021

It’s a rare and special moment when a piece of media can instantaneously catapult you back 12 years in the past, and that’s exactly what “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” did to me this weekend. Once I heard the first few chords of the titular track, I reverted completely to third-grade mode. I remembered in great detail how each of the songs from the standard release of “Fearless” made me feel at the age of eight, and I also felt a strong compulsion to wear Crocs and knee-length pink plaid shorts. I was compelled by the re-release to articulate these vivid childhood memories, and to see if they hold up at all next to my present-day opinions.

“Fearless” — This is a solid first track. I remember my favorite line being “Capture it, remember it!” I do have a gripe with the line “It’s the first kiss, it’s flawless, it’s really something” for giving me some unrealistic expectations. Once my first kiss with someone happened right after they ate a Quarter Dog. It was very flawed.

“Fifteen” — I remember liking this one because I had a best friend who was a redhead. Listening back now, I’m a little disappointed, because I did have my first kiss when I was 15, but it didn’t make my head spin round. It was during “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.”

“Love Story” — I have a very distinct memory of making up a parody of this one which contained the line “I love cheese, and that’s all I really know.” It’s a bop for sure, but the narrative could use a little strengthening, since all of the tension between Juliet and her strict father throughout the pre-chorus is explained away with “I talked to your dad.” But hey, she was 18 when she wrote this, so I’ll cut her some slack. If you asked me to revisit anything I wrote when I was 18 I would literally never speak to you again.

“Hey Stephen” — This was one of my favorites on the album. I love that little sentiment of “The way you say my name,” and I’m pretty sure her little laugh before that last chorus awakened something in me. This song also contains the first of numerous misheard lyrics that I sung for years — I used to think she said “They’re dimming the street lights, you’re perfect for meat light, aren’t you here tonight?” What is a meat light? Why did I believe that was the lyric?

“White Horse” — I remember disliking (and frequently skipping) this one because of how slow it was. Another misheard lyric: “Holding on, the daystrap on.” What is a daystrap? Huh? I don’t know.

“You Belong With Me” — Inarguably a banger both in 2008 and 2021. It absolutely blew my mind when I found out that Taylor Swift was playing both herself and the mean girl in the music video for this song. And the video still rocks! That scene where she tries on all those different outfits in her bedroom is a perfect exploration of the relationship between female identity and perceived desirability. Unfortunately, it does sound like she’s saying “laughing on a fart bench” in the re-release.

“Breathe” — Another song I would skip because it was slow. Listening to it now, I can appreciate the disheartening realization that you’ve established your self-identity around another person in a way that I couldn’t when I was but a young child of eight.

“Tell Me Why” — I remember liking this one alright, and I think it definitely has “Picture to Burn” vibes. It’s a solid song; I think the lyric “You could write a book on how to ruin someone’s perfect day” is great.

“You’re Not Sorry” — This falls into roughly the same category as “Breathe” as a song that I didn’t really vibe with then and still am rather lukewarm toward now. I used to think she said “And you’ve got your Sarah secrets” because I thought the man in question had cheated on Taylor with a girl named Sarah. If anyone can tell me what’s wrong with my auditory processing skills, I’d be happy to find out.

“The Way I Loved You” — I definitely used to pretend like I had screamed and fought and kissed someone in the rain when I sang this one. It holds up — I think her inflection on “perfectly fine” and “comfortable” at the end of each verse is fantastic. I also like how the intensity of the backing track mirrors which guy she’s singing about.

“Forever & Always” — Yet another fave, both then and now! I think the vibes here are comparable to “The Story of Us.” I used to say “Were you just kidding?” and “scared little boy” with all the derisiveness I could muster. I still can’t believe that this song was about 2008-era Joe Jonas.

“The Best Day” — This is one that I absolutely did not appreciate as much as I should have when I was eight. I remember liking the line “I’ve got my big coat on,” because I, too, wore a big coat. To be honest, this song makes me tear up a little bit. It hits different now, having lived through all the ages that she sings about. Also I think that “God smiles on my little brother” is a neat little unintentional reference to Austin Swift going to Notre Dame.

“Change” — I remember listening to Taylor Swift go from “These walls they put up to hold us back will fall down” to “fell down” in the final chorus and being like “dang, that’s so deep.” This is not a particularly remarkable song; it also has the most Christian rock vibes out of any on the album. That being said, I still think it’s a decent song to end on.

Ella Wisniewski is a junior studying English and economics. She tries her best not to take herself too seriously. You can reach her at [email protected] or @ellawisn on Twitter.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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