This week, Taylor Swift’s re-released album Fearless hit number one on U.K. charts, becoming her third album to hit number one in a row— her first two being Folklore and Evermore— all within the span of 259 days. This feat has broken the record held by none other than The Beatles themselves, who had three albums in a row reach number one within just 364 days— a record that hasn’t been broken in 54 years, according to Paper Magazine.
This is yet another win for a musician that has had an extremely successful year, and has seemingly proved all of her critics wrong, while decisively striking back at the industry forces that have attempted to take more than just her creativity away. Indeed, Swift’s re-release of the 2008 album stands as the creative culmination of the lasting legal battle that the star has been embroiled in with her former business manager Scooter Braun. A legal battle that has robbed her of control over the master recording of her first six albums, as well as all of the sales and commercial licenses attached to these masters, according to Slate. This is a battle that is all too familiar in the music industry, and it is a battle that has confronted artists for decades now. However, unlike other marginalized musicians, Swift has the ability and the resources to fight back— which is exactly what she did.
Instead of just letting her creative property get stolen from her, Swift decided to fight back the best way that a musician can— in the studio. Relying on the solidarity of her fans, Swift re-released her 2008 classic Fearless, this time, with the words (Taylor’s Version) attached to it. And indeed, this album really is her own. The album is jam packed with content, including re-recordings of the 19 original songs, as well as six new songs and a bonus song entitled “Today was a Fairytale.” For fans who have been there since the original Fearless recording, which was released almost 13 years ago, the re-recording offers a unique experience— a chance to relive the feelings that the original album conjured, as well as reflect on the past decade of life and its experiences.
For Taylor Swift, this album really is personal, and it stands as her most public attack in her ongoing legal battle with her former record label, Big Machine Records. This album should be recognized for what it is. It is Swift’s way of showing the world that her music is her own, and that no amount of legal jargon can take it away from her. It is her way of fighting against a music industry that is constantly trying to turn her creativity into a corporate machination. In an Instagram post last month, Swift spoke publicly about musician ownership. “Artists should own their own work for so many reasons,” she wrote. “But the most screamingly obvious one is that the artist is the only one who really knows that body of work.”
While one artist may not be able to overturn the conventions of an entire industry overnight, the overwhelming success of her latest album showcases the power of the musician. Swift has shown us that her fans are far less interested in her brand, but in Taylor Swift herself— the woman behind the art. And she has shown the music industry that there is no Taylor Swift without Taylor Swift, there is no art without the artist.