Taylor Swift Album Add: Fearless
Fifteen years ago, Taylor Swift became a household name with the success of her second album, Fearless. The original release of Fearless was met with commercial and critical success, and in 2021, the album was ostensibly replaced with Fearless (Taylor’s Version), which was the first of Taylor Swift’s promised rerecordings to be released.
To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the original Fearless, I’m going to continue my Taylor Swift Album Add project I launched last month on the anniversary of the Taylor Swift debut album. You can read the first installment here.
Fearless is another album that focuses on the adolescent years, with a touch more confidence and openness. Present are all of the fast and big feelings of experiencing something for the first time ("Fearless," "Jump Then Fall"), and the crushes are more confessional, as if Taylor is daring the object of her affection to hear her and respond ("Hey Stephen", "You Belong with Me"). A lot of high school imagery is incorporated, from setting scenes in classrooms and football games, to referencing literature often taught to high schoolers ("Fifteen," "Love Story"). The biggest common thread in Fearless is the experience of disillusion, of realizing that a loved one isn’t the person they appeared to be, and moving on from that person ("Tell Me Why," "White Horse"), while still holding on to hope they may come back ("The Way I Loved You," "The Other Side of the Door").
Taylor Swift - Cold As You
“So I start a fight ‘cause I need to feel something
And you do what you want ‘cause I’m not what you wanted”
In Fearless, Taylor sings a lot about fighting with someone who treated her callously, yet she still really cares about. “Cold As You” can relate to the most painful moments of this dynamic.
Speak Now - Sparks Fly
“Get me with those green eyes, baby, as the lights go down
Give me something that will haunt me when you’re not around”
With it’s bold declarations, “Sparks Fly” has the gutsiness that’s emblematic of the Fearless album.
Red - Stay Stay Stay
“I’m pretty sure we almost broke up last night, I threw my phone across the room at you
I was expecting some dramatic turn away, but you stayed”
In the will they/won’t they threads found all throughout Fearless, we get the impression that the central relationship may not be the healthiest. We get the same impression in the opening lines of “Stay Stay Stay,” but those hints are overwhelmed by the same passionate affection found in Fearless.
1989 - How You Get The Girl
“Remind her how it used to be, of pictures in frames of kisses on cheeks
Tell her how you must have lost your mind
When you left her all alone and never told her why”
Instead of simply wishing for someone to come back and make amends, “How You Get The Girl” is an explicit manual on how to do so, delivered with a boldness that places it perfectly in Fearless.
reputation - Don’t Blame Me
“Don’t blame me, love made me crazy
If it doesn’t, you ain’t doing it right”
The big, passionate romances in Fearless have a touch of recklessness to them. “Don’t Blame Me” also throws caution to the wind in the name of love.
Lover - I Think He Knows
“I want you, bless my soul
I ain’t gotta tell him, I think he knows”
Fearless Taylor is ready to make a move and to let her crushes know she exists, with the same confidence found in Lover’s “I Think He Knows.”
folklore - betty
“Betty I won’t make assumptions about why you switched your homeroom but I think it’s ‘cause of me…
The worst thing that I ever did was what I did to you.”
We’re back to the high school tableaus with James’s apology to Betty. The song’s impassioned plea is full of youth, and if you ask me, James’s earnest honesty is pretty fearless.
evermore - coney island
“Lost again with no surprises
Disappointments close your eyes”
In spite of all the gusto with which Fearless is delivered, eventually there is the let down and loneliness that is also found in “coney island.”
Midnights - The Great War
“All that bloodshed crimson clover, sweet dream was over
My hand was the one you reached for, all throughout the great war”
Fearless references literature read by high schoolers in classrooms all over, like the love story of Romeo and Juliet. Likewise, “The Great War” evokes the feelings of literature read by high schoolers outside of the classroom, such as Katniss and Peeta’s story of love and survival in The Hunger Games.
Thanks for reading, I will be back soon to continue this series with Speak Now!