Taylor Swift Delivers Big F-You to Scooter Braun With Re-Recorded ‘Love Story’
The 31-year-old released her first single from her newly recorded sophomore album “Fearless” in a bid to have outright ownership over all her music.
Taylor Swift had her first taste of freedom when she released her re-recorded song “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” at midnight Thursday.
Now a bona fide force within the music world, Swift’s voice comes off stronger, more controlled, and with a hint more confidence than the 18-year-old who first belted out lyrics about Romeo and Juliet, as the music swelled behind her.
While the new version is not wildly different from its original, the difference is still clear and the passion behind it palpable.
It marks the first step toward 31-year-old Swift reclaiming ownership of her sophomore album Fearless, which was initially released in 2008 under her former label Big Machine Records.
The singer-songwriter dropped the news on Thursday morning that she had completed recording “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).” In true Swift form, she left a clue in her announcement, capping up random letters that spell out “April Ninth.”
The album has an impressive 26-song list, including anthems “Fifteen,” “You Belong With Me,” and “Forever & Always,” that collectively bring back the spirit of teenage love and nostalgia which first captured the hearts of Swifties, her devoted fan base. There are also six never-before-heard tracks on the album.
“I’ve decided to add songs from the vault, which are songs that almost made the original ‘Fearless’ album,” Swift wrote in her announcement. “I’ve now gone back and recorded those, so that everyone will be able to hear, not only the songs that made the album, but the songs that almost made it. The full picture.”
Swift explained that the previously unreleased songs were written when she was between the ages of 16 and 18. Songs that she “absolutely adored” and had “killed [her] to leave behind.”
“I’ve decided I want you to have the whole story, see the entire vivid picture, and let you into the entire dreamscape that is my ‘Fearless’ album,” she added.
Re-recording Fearless is significant because it was the first time Swift pushed the boundaries of what type of artist she was. She originally came on the scene as a country singer-songwriter, but Fearless was considered more of a pop album. As Swift matured in her artistry, she didn’t allow herself to be typecast.
Swift’s new album does not come as a shock. For the past year and a half, she’s been in a very public feud with her former label Big Machine, its former owner Scott Borchetta, and Scooter Braun, an entrepreneur and manager for Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande.
Swift originally signed with Big Machine when she was 15 years old, with the deal expiring in November of 2018. She claims that for years she had pleaded for a chance to own the six albums she made there: Taylor Swift (2006), Fearless (2008), Speak Now (2010), Red (2012), 1989 (2014), and Reputation (2017).
But she ended up walking away “because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future,” Swift wrote in a Tumblr post in June of 2019.
Instead, she signed with Republic Records and Universal Music Group in a deal that secured ownership of all future masters she made. And in a momentous win for all artists under the label, she negotiated that if Republic Records and Universal Music Group made money off of selling its shares in Spotify, all artists under the label would get a cut of the equity.
But things came to a head when it was announced in late June of 2019 that Braun’s company Ithaca Holdings had acquired Big Machine Label Group from Borchetta in a deal estimated to be worth $300 million.
“Never in my worst nightmares did I imagine the buyer would be Scooter,” Swift wrote, as she claimed she first learned of the deal in the news.
“Any time Scott Borchetta has heard the words ‘Scooter Braun’ escape my lips, it was when I was either crying or trying not to. He knew what he was doing; they both did. Controlling a woman who didn’t want to be associated with them. In perpetuity. That means forever.”
Swift accused Braun of “incessant, manipulative bullying” and referenced Kim Kardashian infamously leaking a phone call of Kanye West ringing Swift to ask if he could reference her in his song “Famous.” He would later rap in the track, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/ I made that bitch famous.”
“Now Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work… Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it,” Swift wrote.
The deal was made even murkier by the fact that Swift’s father Scott was a shareholder in Big Machine, which was revealed by Borchetta in a long post of his own in reaction to Swift’s statement.
Back in 2012, Borchetta claimed Scott Swift owned 3 percent of the label, but it’s not certain what his stake was in the company when it sold.
“I truly doubt that she ‘woke up to the news when everyone else did,’” Borchetta wrote.
He claimed both Scott Swift and his lawyer were included in a shareholder call that informed shareholders of the sale to Braun’s company, as well as a final call in which the “transaction passed with a majority vote and 3 of the 5 shareholders voting ‘yes’ with 92% of the shareholder’s vote.”
Then, in November of 2020, it was announced that Braun had sold off Swift’s masters to an investment fund for upwards of $300 million. It was “the second time my music had been sold without my knowledge,” Swift wrote.
She explained she had turned down a deal with Shamrock Holdings when she learned Braun would still profit off her work. “I simply cannot in good conscience bring myself to be involved in benefiting Scooter Braun’s interests,” Swift informed the company in a letter.
In a further statement, Swift revealed she had started the process of re-recording those albums that she had walked away from in 2018. Now it has come to fruition.
“This process has been more fulfilling and emotional than I could’ve imagined and has made me ever more determined to re-record all of my music,” Swift wrote.
“I’ve spoken a lot about why I’m remaking my first six albums, but the way I’ve chosen to do this will hopefully help illuminate where I’m coming from.”
“Artists should own their own work for so many reasons, but the most screamingly obvious one is that the artist is the only one who really *knows* that body of work,” she added.