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Taylor Swift is dominating the year with not only the wildly successful "Eras Tour" and "Eras Tour" movie, but also her rolling out of "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)" and "1989 (Taylor's Version)," which dropped Oct. 27.
"1989" is the fourth album Swift has rerecorded from her discography. The "Taylor's Version" edition of the album featured updated vocals on hits like "Blank Space" and "Style" as well as tracks that didn't make it on the initial album. These songs are dubbed "From the Vault," otherwise known as her "vault tracks."
Some fans thought Swift would pull a fast one and release a "double album" with her "1989 (Taylor's Version)" launch. Others are convinced her rerecording of 2017's "Reputation" is imminent, as fans have already heard snippets of two "Taylor's Version" songs from the album.
But what exactly does "Taylor's Version" mean in a title, and why is she rerecording her old albums?
Here's everything you need to know about what "Taylor's Version" means and why it's so important to her and her fans.
Swift began her music career at Big Machine Records
In 2005 at only 15 years old, Swift signed a record deal with Big Machine Records, owned by music executive Scott Borchetta, and stayed with the group for over 10 years. The deal gave Big Machine Records ownership over Swift's master recordings. In other words, Big Machine Records owned the original recordings of each song or performance.
The following year, Swift released her first single "Tim McGraw." And, well, her career exploded.
In total, Swift recorded six albums with Big Machine Records: "Taylor Swift" (2006), "Fearless" (2008), "Speak Now" (2010), "Red" (2012), "1989" (2014) and "Reputation" (2017).
All about Swift’s feuds with Kanye West and Scooter Braun
In 2009, Kanye West infamously grabbed the mic out of a 19-year-old Swift’s hands during her MTV Video Music Awards acceptance speech and declared that Beyoncé should have won the award.
Swift and West appeared to make up later on, but the rift reopened when West made sexual references to Swift in a song.
“I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex,” he rapped on his 2016 track “Famous.” “I made that b---- famous, I made that b---- famous.”
He later released a music video for “Famous” that featured a naked mannequin made to look like Swift in bed with West.
The lyrics and video sparked immediate backlash, though West insisted that he had cleared the lyrics with Swift beforehand.
Further fanning the flames of the drama, West and now ex-wife Kim Kardashian leaked a Snapchat video recording in which Swift could allegedly be heard on the phone approving lyrics.
West’s manager at the time of all this was Scooter Braun, who Swift would later accuse of collaborating with West and another client of his, Justin Bieber, to bully her on social media. She highlighted this Instagram posted by Bieber of the men listed on a FaceTime call. Bieber initially called her out in the caption that has since been deleted.
In 2020, an extended clip of the video was leaked that revealed Swift was not informed about the lyric “I made that b---- famous,” nor was she told about the music video content.
After the extended video was released, Kardashian tweeted the following: “To be clear, the only issue I ever had around the situation was that Taylor lied through her publicist who stated that ‘Kanye never called to ask for permission…’ They clearly spoke so I let you all see that. Nobody ever denied the word ‘b----’ was used without her permission.”
Scooter Braun purchases Big Machine Records in 2019
Swift reacted strongly when she found out that Braun purchased Big Machine Records, thus owning her master recordings of her first six albums as a result, through his company, Ithaca Holdings.
She posted a lengthy message on her Tumblr account in June 2019 about the acquisition.
"For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work," she said. "Instead I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and ‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in. I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future. I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past. Music I wrote on my bedroom floor and videos I dreamed up and paid for from the money I earned playing in bars, then clubs, then arenas, then stadiums."
She revealed that she had learned about her catalog's sale to Braun when it was made public.
"All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years," she said. "Like when Kim Kardashian orchestrated an illegally recorded snippet of a phone call to be leaked and then Scooter got his two clients together to bully me online about it. Or when his client, Kanye West, organized a revenge porn music video which strips my body naked. Now Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy. Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it."
She went on to describe the sale as her "worst case scenario," and accused Borchetta of selling the label to Braun despite knowing she opposed it.
"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," she said.
After she spoke out against the sale, fellow singer Kelly Clarkson offered Swift some advice:
“just a thought, U should go in & re-record all the songs that U don’t own the masters on exactly how U did them but put brand new art & some kind of incentive so fans will no longer buy the old versions. I’d buy all of the new versions just to prove a point,” Clarkson said on Twitter, now known as X, in July 2019.
@taylorswift13 just a thought, U should go in & re-record all the songs that U don’t own the masters on exactly how U did them but put brand new art & some kind of incentive so fans will no longer buy the old versions. I’d buy all of the new versions just to prove a point 💁🏼♀️
— Kelly Clarkson 🍷💔☀️ (@kellyclarkson) July 13, 2019
In November 2019, Swift tweeted that Borchetta and Braun had blocked her from performing a medley of her hits at the American Music Awards, where she would be honored with the Artist of the Decade award.
"I feel very strongly that sharing what is happening to me could change the awareness level for other artists and potentially help them avoid a similar fate," she said.
She asked fans to continue spreading her message, and to reach out to Borchetta and Braun.
Swift also referenced her situation with Braun and the "toxic male privilege" of the music industry in her Woman of the Year speech in December 2019.
Braun spoke to Variety in 2021 at length about the experience, saying he was confused by how things played out.
"I regret and it makes me sad that Taylor had that reaction to the deal. … All of what happened has been very confusing and not based on anything factual," he said.
"I don’t know what story she was told. I asked for her to sit down with me several times, but she refused. I offered to sell her the catalog back and went under NDA, but her team refused. It all seems very unfortunate. Open communication is important and can lead to understanding. She and I only met briefly three or four times in the past, and all our interactions were really friendly and kind. I find her to be an incredibly talented artist and wish her nothing but the best."
As for Bieber, he posted a lengthy Instagram responding to her statement about the acquisition.
"Hey Taylor. First of all i would like to apologize for posting that hurtful instagram post, at the time i thought it was funny but looking back it was distasteful and insensitive," it reads.
"Scooter has had your back since the days you graciously let me open up for you.! As the years have passed we haven’t crossed paths and gotten to communicate our differences, hurts or frustrations. So for you to take it to social media and get people to hate on scooter isn’t fair. What were you trying to accomplish by posting that blog? seems to me like it was to get sympathy u also knew that in posting that your fans would go and bully scooter. Anyway, One thing i know is both scooter and i love you," it continues.
Swift begins again in 2020 with Taylor's Version
Braun sold the master recordings to a private equity company in 2020. In a statement published on Twitter on Nov. 16, 2020, Swift opened up about her music catalog's second sale and her plans to rerecord her albums.
Addressing her fans, Swift confirmed that she would be rerecording her previous albums.
“I have recently begun re-recording my older music and it has already proven to be both exciting and creatively fulfilling," she said in the statement. "I have plenty of surprises in store. I want to thank you guys for supporting me through this ongoing saga, and I can't wait for you to hear what I've been dreaming up."
In summary, to regain control of the rights to her older music without purchasing the original master recordings, Swift has to rerecord her first six albums.
She retained the rights to her more recent albums, including "Lover" (2019), "Folklore" (2020), "Evermore" (2020), and "Midnights" (2022), which were recorded under her record deal with Republic Records and Universal Music Group.
“This process has been more fulfilling and emotional than I could’ve imagined and has made me even more determined to re-record all of my music,” Swift wrote in the post. “I hope you’ll like this first outing as much as I liked traveling back in time to recreate it.”
"Fearless (Taylor's Version)" was released on April 9, 2021.
Swift released her next rerecorded album, "Red (Taylor's Version)" on Nov. 12, 2021. "Red (Taylor's Version)" also included six previously-unreleased bonus tracks.
In between releasing her "Taylor's Version" albums, Swift came out with “Midnights" in 2022, which featured new material.
She released "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)" on July 7, 2023.
Swift's "Taylor's Version" albums have received a warm welcome both from her fans and from the music charts. All of Swift's rerecorded albums so far — as well as "Midnights" — have debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
Swift became the first living artist in 60 years to have four albums simultaneously rank in Billboard's Top Ten.
Swift announced over the summer at her final show in the first leg of her "Eras Tour" that "1989 (Taylor's Version)" was on the way.
Swift’s official social media accounts shared the news a few minutes later.
Surprise!! 1989 (Taylor’s Version) is on its way to you 🔜! The 1989 album changed my life in countless ways, and it fills me with such excitement to announce that my version of it will be out October 27th. To be perfectly honest, this is my most FAVORITE re-record I’ve ever done… pic.twitter.com/JFYOWhBxhj
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) August 10, 2023
"The 1989 album changed my life in countless ways, and it fills me with such excitement to announce that my version of it will be out October 27," she posted. "To be perfectly honest, this is my most FAVORITE re-record I’ve ever done because the 5 From The Vault tracks are so insane. I can’t believe they were ever left behind. But not for long!"
Swift released "1989 (Taylor's Version)" Oct. 27. The the vault songs on that album are:
“Is It Over Now?”
“Now That We Don’t Talk”
“Say Don’t Go”
Swift now only has two albums left to rerecord: "Reputation" and her debut album, "Taylor Swift."
After the release of "1989 (Taylor's Version)," Clarkson shared that Swift sent her flowers, years after the "Since U Been Gone" singer first suggested that Swift rerecord her discography — though Clarkson said the pop superstar likely would have come up with that solution, anyway.
“She’s a very smart businesswoman," Clarkson told "E! News." "So, she would have thought of that. But it just sucks when you see artists that you admire and you respect really wanting something and it’s special to them. You know if they’re going to find a loophole, you find a loophole. And she did it and literally is, like, the best-selling artist I feel like of all-time now.”
This article was originally published on TODAY.com