Every Song On Taylor Swift’s ‘Fearless’, Ranked
'Fearless' is often overlooked in the catalogue of Swift releases - but it really shouldn't be.
After months of clues and desperate fan sleuthing, Taylor Swift put us out of our misery today and announced that Fearless (Taylor’s Version), the first release of her re-recorded albums, would be arriving this April.
Swift vowed to re-record her first six albums following the acrimonious battle over her masters with former label head Scott Borchetta and industry heavyweight Scooter Braun. There’d been speculation by fans that Red, her fourth album, would be the first cab off the rank, but in a statement Swift said she wanted to “let you into the entire dreamscape that is my Fearless album”. The new version will contain 26 tracks, including six unreleased songs she wrote between the ages of 16 and 18.
Fearless, her second record, is curiously overlooked in the pantheon of Swift releases. This perhaps makes sense given the masterpieces that have landed in the time since its release in 2008. But Fearless is a masterpiece — one which sees Swift begin, in earnest, the journey from country princess to pop superstar. The songs on Fearless contain some of Swift’s best and most emotional songwriting, as well as some of her biggest commercial hits.
It’s a bit cruel to rank the Fearless tracks — there’s barely a bad apple in the bunch, and being a middling Taylor Swift song is by no means an insult. That being said, in preparation for the re-release of Fearless, we’ve done it.
— N.B. The songs listed below are featured on the Platinum Edition of Fearless.
Swift hits a lot of clichés in ‘Untouchable’ — she sings of dreams, heaven, a million little stars, of “burning brighter than the sun”. Usually that doesn’t matter, Swift can package up clichés well enough to trick us to believe they’re new, but ‘Untouchable’ doesn’t have enough of…anything else really…to push it along. The instrumentation and arrangement is a little flat, and you can’t help but wonder how this made the cut.
#17. ‘Come In With The Rain’
There are some wonderful flourishes on ‘Come in With The Rain’ — the banjo, the fiddles hovering in the background, the gently swelling chorus — but ultimately it fails to take flight.
#16. ‘The Best Day’
There’s nothing specifically offensive about ‘The Best Day’ — it’s pleasant, it drifts by without any ill will. But it is more of the most saccharine songs Swift has ever written, and if you’re not in the mood, it can leave a slight taste of cringe in your mouth.
Sure, it feels like ‘SuperStar’ is low on this list — but as we said in the intro, being a lower-tier Taylor song doesn’t mean much given the embarrassment of riches we have.
‘SuperStar’ is a heady rush, as Taylor pines and pleads for that heartthrob to take notice: “So dim that spotlight/Tell me things like “I can’t take my eyes off of you”/I am no one special/Just another wide-eyed girl/Who’s desperately in love with you/Give me a photograph to hang on my wall.”
Managing to turn that much teenage angst into something that doesn’t bear a hint of cringe? That’s a power to be reckoned with.
#14. ‘Breathe’ (feat. Colbie Caillat)
Perhaps nothing on this album screams 2008 more than the presence of Colbie Caillat. ‘Breathe’ is objectively a lovely song, if a little forgettable.
#13. ‘You’re Not Sorry’
A full-throated piano power ballad, there’s not much to criticise about ‘You’re Not Sorry’. If we were to nitpick, we’d say it plods along a bit, and it’s missing the classic lift of some of Taylor’s other ballads.
#12. ‘The Other Side Of The Door’
Sometimes it’s just nice to see Taylor dig in her rhinestone boots and carve out a perfect four minutes of country-pop.
There are plenty of ‘Taylor Whipping Up A Storm’ moments on Fearless, and ‘Change’, the album’s closer, is one of the biggest. Snarling electric guitars power this hurricane — a hurricane that was perfected on a later album, in the form of ‘Long Live’.
#10. ‘Jump Then Fall’
Thank god Swift released the Platinum Edition, otherwise it might have been years before we got to hear ‘Jump Then Fall’.
#9. ‘The Way I Loved You’
If you can’t feel the fury and love on “I miss screaming and fighting/And kissing in the rain/And it’s 2am and I’m cursing your name/You’re so in love that you act insane/And that’s the way I loved you” then honestly I’m not sure whether you’re capable of feeling anything at all.
#8. ‘Tell Me Why’
Fearless contains one of the best four-song runs in recent memory — ‘Tell Me Why’, ‘You’re Not Sorry’, ‘The Way I Loved You’, and ‘Forever & Always’ hit one right after the other, dunking you again and again under waves of angst and anger and pristine pop.
‘Tell Me Why’ is curiously overlooked in the Swift catalogue, and it deserves to be recognised for the power-punch it is. It’s a complete barnstormer — and the ascending melodic line of “makes me run for cover when you’re around” is one of the best moments on Fearless. (It’s also one of the best Swift songs for air-drumming, if that makes a difference for you.)
#7. ‘Hey Stephen’
You can tell when Swift is singing with a smile — every line is a little curled, a little bouncier. ‘Hey Stephen’ is, simply, a cheeky joy. It’s also worth listening closely to the arrangement — the classic ‘Be My Baby’ drum beat, the plucky guitar underlined by the sliding bass. There isn’t a note out of place.
#6. ‘White Horse’
Perhaps one of Swift’s most underrated heartbreakers, ‘White Horse’ is quietly devastating. There’s bucketloads of teenage angst, yes, but it’s tempered by Swift’s newfound maturity and, slightly absurdly for someone so young, wisdom. Please, just look at this chorus:
“I’m not a princess, this ain’t a fairy tale
I’m not the one you’ll sweep off her feet
Lead her up the stairwell
This ain’t Hollywood, this is a small town
I was a dreamer before you went and let me down
Now it’s too late for you and your white horse
To come around.”
Enough said, really.
#5. ‘Forever & Always’
A day before the final version of Fearless was due to be turned into her label, Taylor Swift– burned by her sudden breakup with Joe Jonas, who infamously dumped her over a 27-second phone call — armed herself with a guitar and bashed down the door to the studio to record ‘Forever & Always’. It retains that energy — it’s raw, it’s perfectly unpolished, a prime example of how Swift can channel her emotions.
While obviously not as punchy as the original, ‘Forever & Always’ (Piano Version) can happily sit in this position as well.
#4. ‘You Belong With Me’
There’s a lot to pull apart about ‘You Belong With Me’, one of Swift’s biggest early smashes. Reams of paper have been devoted to critiquing those questionable chorus lines, the setting up of the ‘other girl’ as the enemy, the inherent sexism therein. That criticism is valid, of course, but it’s also worth remembering that Swift was very much a teenager in the mid-2000s, famously not a time for ‘purposeful pop’ — and our hindsight is 20/20.
There’s no denying the power of ‘You Belong With Me’ — it’s as close to perfect a pop song as you could get, and it will blast you into the atmosphere with the strength of a million lovelorn teenagers.
From the moment that snare drum cracks through in the first second, ‘Fearless’ has completely got you within its grip. And if, by any chance, you haven’t been convinced, the first lines will get you: “There’s somethin’ bout the way/The street looks when it’s just rained/There’s a glow off the pavement/Walk me to the car/And you know I wanna ask you to dance right there/In the middle of the parking lot.”
Dancing in the rain. Trucks. Glowing pavements. Dresses. Boys. It’s a country-pop fever dream.
#2. ‘Love Story’
We’ve all wanted to rewrite Romeo & Juliet — after all, couldn’t he have waited another fucking second to have received the note about Juliet before he bounded off and poisoned himself?? — but Swift, in her endearing optimism, actually did it. The whole song is a tempest (ha ha), a water cannon loaded with strings, gleaming guitars, harmonies, the ever-faithful banjo tinkling in the background.
The build and release at the 3.15-minute mark will sweep you off your feet, whether you want it to or not. Just say yes, indeed.
Even all these years later, it feels nothing short of astonishing that a songwriter under the age of 20 could craft a song as gentle, perceptive, and wise as ‘Fifteen’. ‘Fifteen’ is a song all musicians would kill to be able to write, one that you’d sit down after composing and promptly think you’d achieved all that could be achieved. Swift’s ability to sketch out a whole world in a handful of stanzas has never been sharper, as she brings to life the vision of her adolescence and the unstoppable grip of friendship.
“I’ve found time can heal most anything/And you just might find who you’re supposed to be/I didn’t know who I was supposed to be/At fifteen,” she shrugs, happily, over a bed of soft, ringing guitars. Taylor, most of us still haven’t figured that out decades later.
Jules LeFevre is the editor of Music Junkee. Argue with her about this list on Twitter.