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Roundtable: Taylor’s Version

There are some sports related lyrics, right?

Fearless (Taylor’s Version) Album Cover

After a few members of our staff hosted a (socially distanced) listening party for the album release, we had to share our thoughts on the new Fearless (Taylor’s Version). Did the album live up to the hype? How far can we stretch to make this article somehow sports-related?

Read our takes below.

Claire Kuwana: Listening to this album being released again made me more emotional than watching Northwestern football blow a first-half lead against Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. And watching them (as a top-10 team) go down by 17 points against unranked Michigan State, in the same season. As Taylor would say, “I was a dreamer before you went and let me down,” Northwestern football.

Fearless being re-recorded and released again let me relive my memory of growing up. The first version came out in 2008, so this spring really could have been an exact replica of my childhood — if Kansas basketball had been good enough this year and made a run to the title game. But here we are, and I only have Fearless (Taylor’s Version) to take me back in time.

I’m not complaining. I loved every second of it, every subtle change and every new vault song (especially “That’s When”). Moving forward, I can assure you I will only be listening to the new version, not only to spite Scooter Braun, but also because it is amazing to listen to and is a perfect example of how timeless Swift’s music is.

Jack Izzo: I have a very weird relationship with the original Fearless. My younger sister was very into Taylor Swift around when Fearless and Speak Now came out, so I hated it. I also have a very weird relationship with covering the Northwestern men’s basketball team. Apologies to editors-in-chief both past and present for this, but everyone here is very invested in NUMBB, while I sometimes don’t have a single clue what’s going on with them.

With that said, this album is really really really good. The vault songs don’t detract from the album, and I’m very surprised by how much more polished everything sounds, especially given how similar the first rerecorded single, “Love Story,” was to the original recording. I’d like to give a special shoutout to this version of “Fifteen,” which sounds like it could only be produced after 12 years of time:

“But in your life you’ll do things/Greater than dating the boy on the football team”

That’s a sports reference! Anyways, the metaphor I’ve set up requires NUMBB’s 2021 campaign to be more polished, so that I can finally enjoy following along.

Colin Kruse: In piece I wrote last summer ranking Northwestern’s rivals, I managed to sneak in a little anecdote about how I spurned an opportunity to go to the 2019 Rose Bowl between Ohio State and Washington to instead watch Taylor Swift’s Netflix documentary Reputation Stadium Tour. So naturally, anytime someone brings Taylor Swift up, I think about the time I was sprawled out on my couch on New Year’s Day angry that Northwestern didn’t beat the Buckeyes a few weeks prior.

As for Fearless (Taylor’s Version), I thought it was pretty solid. “Breathe” is an underrated song, and its chorus, although in the context of a dying friendship, according to Genius, parallels the lives we choose to lead as fans of Northwestern athletics: “And we know it’s never simple, never easy.”

Daniel Olinger: My taste in music is what you would expect from someone who spends nearly the entirety of each day breaking down basketball game film while also listening to either basketball or football-centric podcasts — it’s bad. I could not name for you any of the top 10 artists and or songs out right now, and I would have been completely unaware to this album released if it had not been brought to my attention in the Inside NU group chat by Jack and Claire.

The only time I listen to music is during my daily runs, and given that I once transitioned from “Jessie’s Girl” to “X Gon Give it to Ya” (RIP DMX) mid-sprint down the lakefill, you could say my combination of tune preferences is a bit eclectic.

So as far as it goes with Taylor’s new album ... uh ...

Sarah Effress: I’m one of those Taylor fans who basically boycotted everything post 1989 because I simply couldn’t handle the fact that country Taylor was long gone. However, when she rejoined the Spotify ranks in the summer of 2017, I remember the intensity with which I listened to her old songs on the way to cover my high school’s football games the upcoming fall. In sum, it is impossible for me to disconnect the cultural icon that is Taylor Swift from my love of covering sports.

While I associated her old songs with my life back home, I can now confidently say that as I listened to Fearless (Taylor’s Version) from the murky depths of Bobb, I have brought her to Northwestern with me as well. And if you were wondering—yes folks, she did it again. Her voice may have changed with the times (in an absolutely beautiful way), but what hasn’t changed is the fact that I will have “The Way I Loved You” on repeat just like I did in the old days.

With that, I will conclude with this one simple question: who in their right mind would leave “Mr. Perfectly Fine” off of the original Fearless album? I would like a word with them (don’t test me Scooter). That is all.