So What is Taylor’s Version?

Taylor Swift’s Rerecordings Explained

Nicha Bruce

To the unassuming, Taylor Swift’s recent rerecordings of her older records may seem like an attempt to catapult herself back into the public eye and draw in listeners, old and new. However, these rerecordings mark the culmination of a long-standing legal battle between Swift’s old record label and herself over the ownership of the original copies of her music. These rerecordings represent Swift’s journey to regain her autonomy over her musicianship and expose the corrupt practices within the music industry. 

Understanding the intent behind these rerecordings includes understanding what led Swift to leave her old record label “Big Machine”. After “Big Machine” was sold to Scooter Braun, all of Swift’s music was under the ownership of people she claimed to be “incessant, manipulative bullies”. This came after her highly publicized scandal regarding Kanye, and was one of the driving forces behind her decision to switch to “Republic Records”. In her contract with the new label, she negotiated the ownership of all her master recordings. Unfortunately, this only applied to any new music produced under the label and none of her previous works under “Big Machine”. Each time one of her older songs is played, all profits go towards “Big Machine” and support individuals who’ve exploited the works of others, rather than supporting the artist herself. 

Taking control of her musical legacy, Swift came to the decision to re-record her old material to own some versions of her songs. This decision was lauded by listeners and other artists as a bold move and is indicative of her business savvy. Rerecording her previous work with the now iconic “Taylor’s Version” after each song and album title gives her the ability to navigate the music industry on her terms. 

While “Taylor’s Version” relies mostly on her loyal fan base for success, it is not to say these rerecordings are without their own merits. With many songs boasting new productions and unreleased songs “From The Vault”, these revamped albums keep dedicated “swifties” interested and appeal to new listeners. Some examples of this include the complete makeover of “Girl at Home”, a song from Red that originally featured a country twang and was considered boring and out of place in a pop-focused album that now matches its tone, fit for a night out with synth-heavy sounds. Perhaps the most anticipated release in the “Taylor’s Version” universe is “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)”, a longtime urban legend amongst fans and scathing ballad towards one of Swift’s past relationships.

While her music was borrowed and her heart blue, Swift has now regained power over her musical legacy and paved the way for other artists seeking autonomy over their work. This rerecording era signals a shift for Swift as she visits her past albums and performs them with new affection and intention.