This month marks the tenth anniversary of Taylor Swift’s self -titled debut album, which was released October 24, 2006. Throughout the month, we’ve been looking at all five of her studio albums. Her sophomore album, ‘Fearless,’ was released eight years ago next month, on November 11, 2008.
By Annie Reuter
Taylor Swift’s sophomore album, Fearless, more than lived up to its name. While most artists worry about the sophomore slump, Swift laughed in fear’s face as she delivered hit after hit on the 13-track album, which featured songs all written or co-written by the artist. She also co-produced the record with Nathan Chapman, who was at the helm of her self-titled debut in 2006.
Fearless was the best-selling album of 2009 with over 3.2 million copies sold, making a then 18-year-old Swift the youngest artist in history to have the year’s best selling release. To date, Fearless remains Swift’s biggest selling album. According to an article in Billboard last December, Fearless has surpassed 7 million in total U.S. sales and those numbers only continue to climb.
So what exactly is it about Fearless that had millions of people driving to the record stores in 2008 and 2009? It all comes down to her relatability. Her songs tug on emotions we’ve all felt. Whether you’re a 12-year-old girl crushing on a boy in class, a 21-year-old in college pining for that guy at the bar or even a 40-something looking back on early relationships, Swift’s songs transport you to that initial moment of first love, first heartbreak and has us recalling those feelings we’ve all had at least one point in our lives.
“I really try to write more about what I feel and guys and love because that’s what fascinates me more than anything else — love and what it does to us and how we treat people and how they treat us,” she said in a 2010 interview. “So pretty much every song on the album has a face that I associate with it.”
On lead single “Love Story,” Swift paints the picture of a modern day Romeo and Juliet but with a happy ending. The song was sparked after she got mad at her parents and stormed to her room because they disapproved of a boy she wanted to date when she was 17.
“That turned into something that I never expected to be our first No. 1 worldwide hit,” she later told VH1. “Songs happen in really weird, strange, quirky ways and to explore the start of them — where they were first brought into the world, where you got that first little idea — it’s wonderful to get to share that with the crowd.”
She saw success with the four remaining singles off the album: “White Horse,” “You Belong With Me,” “Fifteen,” and “Fearless.” Of those, “You Belong With Me” was the most successful. In fact, Billboard reports that the song quickly became the largest crossover hit at radio since Faith Hill’s “Breathe” in 2000.
No small feat, Swift described her rapid success as being “unreal” in an interview with the Oakland Press, citing her parents for her unyielding work ethic.
“I don’t think I expected to be played on pop radio. I don’t think I ever expected to go to the [MTV] Video Music Awards. I never expected to get played in genres that aren’t country and . . . I never expected the kind of success I’m having at country, either,” she said. “My parents raised me to believe that the most annoying thing in the world is people who feel they’re entitled to success or fame or whatever, so I’ve just never been that way. I think it’s just better to do the work and go out there on stage and show people you love doing this and it’s your favorite thing in the world.”
Throughout Fearless, much like her debut, relationships were at the forefront of the album. While the heartfelt “Fifteen” vividly discussed life as a freshman in high school and the beautiful “The Best Day” was penned as a thank you letter to her always supportive mom, boys still made up the majority of the album’s songs. And once again, she took to her liner notes to let the guys know who was boss: “And to the boys who inspired this album, you had fair warning,” she writes.
The breezy, feel good “Hey Stephen” was inspired by someone she was on tour with at the time — Stephen Barker Liles of country duo Love and Theft. “Forever and Always,” meanwhile, was written after an infamous 27-second break up call over the phone with Joe Jonas. Despite her various heartbreaks, Swift remained hopeful that she’d one day find true love.
“No matter what love throws at you, you have to believe in it. You have to believe in love stories and prince charmings and happily ever after. That’s why I write these songs. Because I think love is fearless,” she writes in the album’s liner notes.
And with legions of her fearless fans behind her, Swift continued her reign within the country and pop genres on her sophomore album and bombarded the radio airwaves with her unique tales that have proved to be long lasting staples still played today.