Fearless is the second studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. The album was released on November 11, 2008, by Big Machine Records. As with her debut, Swift wrote or co-wrote all thirteen tracks on Fearless. Most of the songs were written as the singer promoted her debut album as an opening act for numerous country artists. Due to the unavailability of collaborators on the road, eight songs were self-penned by Swift. Other songs were co-written with Liz Rose, Hillary Lindsey, Colbie Caillat, and John Rich. Swift also made her debut as a record producer, co-producing all songs on the album with Nathan Chapman.
Five singles spawned from Fearless. The lead single, "Love Story", is known as Swift's signature song and is her best-selling song to date, selling more than 8 million copies worldwide (according to the IFPI). It was a phenomenal crossover hit that became one of the best-selling singles of all time internationally and was once the best-selling country song of all time. The succeeding single, "White Horse", also performed well in the US. "You Belong with Me" was an international success, becoming Swift's second best-selling single and her highest position on the US Billboard Hot 100 at the time. "Fifteen" and "Fearless" followed with both achieving a platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Fearless was an international breakthrough and huge commercial success for Swift. It debuted at No.1 in the United States and later, became the best-selling album of 2009, selling over 5.2 million copies. It gave Swift, 20 at the time, the distinction of being the youngest artist in history to have the year's best-selling album. It went on to sell 6.95 million copies in the United States, becoming the second biggest-selling album in the last six years. Internationally, Fearless topped charts in Canada and New Zealand and achieved multi-platinum status in six countries. In all, Fearless has sold more than 8.6 million copies worldwide. Fearless is also the most awarded album in the history of country music, winning Album of the Year at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, American Music Awards of 2009, Country Music Association, and Academy of Country Music Awards.
Title, packaging, and release
After completing the album's first track, Swift deeply deliberated her personal definition of the word "fearless". To her, "fearless doesn't mean you're completely unafraid and it doesn't mean that you're bulletproof. It means that you have a lot of fears, but you jump anyway." She then started contemplating the word to title the album, and to assure she was making the correct decision, applied to every song on the album. Finding a fearless element to the themes and messages behind the songs, Swift decided to title the album Fearless.
As with Taylor Swift, Swift was very involved with the album packaging. The album's images were photographed by Joseph Anthony Barker, Ash Newell, and Sheryl Niels while the cover and graphic designs were executed by Leen Ann Ramey for Ramey Design. Fearless was released on November 11, 2008, in the United States and Canada, and on November 15, 2008, in Australia. The album was then re-released on February 27, 2009, in Australia as a limited edition with bonus tracks originally from Taylor Swift and new artwork. An international edition was released March 2, 2009, in Spain, and numerous countries followed in the consequent weeks.
On the week ending November 29, 2008, Fearless entered at the summit of the United States' Billboard 200 with over 592,000 copies sold in its first week — the largest sum for a country album since the Eagles' Long Road out of Eden sold over 711,000 copies in a single week in November 2007. In the proceeding week, the album descended to number four with over 217,000 copies sold (a 63 percent decline from the previous week). Three weeks later, the album reclaimed the number one position with over 249,000 copies sold and was able to top the Billboard 200 for a total of 11 non-consecutive weeks. It became the longest chart-topper since Santana's Supernatural spent 12 non-consecutive weeks at number one between 1999 and 2000, and the longest reign on the Billboard 200 of the 2000s decade. Furthermore, Fearless became the longest chart-topper by a female country artist, third by a country artist overall, and sixth by a female artist, along with Mariah Carey's 1990 eponymous debut album. After completing its Billboard 200 reign in March 2009, the album continued to sell strongly throughout the remainder of 2009. It went on to sell over 5,217,000 copies in the year, becoming 2009's best-selling album in the US. Thus, Swift, at the age of 20, became the youngest artist to have the year's best-selling album and the only female country artist to have one as well. Fearless ' success extended years beyond its release. The week ending January 30, 2010, marked its 52nd week on the top ten of the Billboard 200, making Fearless one of 18 albums to remain on the top ten for a year or more, and the only one from the 2000s. The album logged a total of 58 weeks on the top ten, becoming the longest-running top ten albums by a country artist. On Billboard 's Top Country Albums chart, Fearless remained number one for 35 non-consecutive weeks. The album was certified six times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipments exceeding six million copies. As of July 2015, Fearless has sold 6.95 million copies in the US. It is ranked as the second biggest-selling album in the last six years and the sixth best-selling digital album in history. As of the week of September 12, 2015, the album has charted 242 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart.
In Canada, Fearless entered at number one on the albums chart with sales of over 27,000 copies on the week ending November 29, 2008. Although only spending one week at number one, the album charted in Canada for a total of 66 weeks and was certified quadruple platinum by the Music Canada for shipments exceeding 320,000 copies. The album also managed success overseas. In Australia, it debuted at number 50 on the week ending November 30, 2008, and dropped from the chart in the succeeding week. On the week ending January 25, 2009, it re-entered the Australian Albums Chart at number 42, and, nine weeks later, on the week ending April 26, 2009, peaked at number two. Fearless was certified quintuple platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipments exceeding 350,000 copies. In New Zealand, Fearless debuted at number two on the week ending March 16, 2009, and ascended to the top spot in the following week. It was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) for the shipment of 30,000 copies.
The album sold over 400,000 copies throughout all of Asia as of February 2011. In Japan, it debuted at number 22 with 4,945 copies sold in the first week of July 2009 and peaked at number eight. It was eventually certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) for the shipment of over 100,000 copies. In the Philippines, it was certified nine times platinum (its highest worldwide) by the Philippine Association of the Record Industry (PARI) for the sales of over 135,000 copies. In Europe, Fearless also performed well, charting at number eighteen on European Top 100 Albums. Achieving its highest peak in Europe, the album debuted at number five on the UK Albums Chart on the week ending March 21, 2009. Despite descending in the continuing weeks, the album remained on the UK Albums Chart for 63 weeks and was certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for the shipment of 300,000 copies. In Ireland, the album peaked at number seven and was certified double platinum by the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) for shipments exceeding 30,000 copies. Fearless saw less success in mainland Europe, charting within the top twenty in Austria, Germany, Greece, Norway, Russia, and Sweden. In total, Fearless has sold over 8.6 million copies worldwide.
Fearless received generally positive reviews, earning a collective score of 73 out of 100 on Metacritic. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic believed Swift abandoned teen pretenses, styling herself after Shania Twain and Faith Hill prior to becoming divas. He added that Swift presented herself as a "big sister instead of a big star", pointing "Fifteen" as a prime example of it. Despite noting the album's pop music elements outweighed its country music elements and calling it "one of the best mainstream pop albums of 2008", Erlewine said Fearless "never [felt] garish, a crass attempt at a crossover success". Ken Tucker of Billboard wrote, "Those who thought Taylor Swift was a big deal after the release of her first record be prepared: She's about to get way bigger. Though they're written by a teenager, Swift's songs have broad appeal, and therein lies the genius and accessibility in her second effort." James Reed of The Boston Globe believed Swift's charm was in her songwriting and that honesty is what separated her from other teenage starlets at the time who relied on "big-name producers, songwriters, and Disney shows for a music career." Drawing similarities between her ability to "blur the line between commercial country and Top 40 radio", Reed compared the singer to a younger version of the Dixie Chicks. Top music critic Robert Christgau graded the album an A–. He was not fond of the album's overall message, which he declared to be "You have to believe in love stories and prince charming's and happily ever after", but was immensely impressed with Swift's songwriting, calling her "an uncommonly-to-impossibly strong and gifted teenage girl". Adding that she imparted realism similar to that of a diary in all of Fearless 's songs, he believed set the bar too high for other teenage artists and role models. Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly stated, "A button-cute blond teen with a pocket full of hits — sounds like the early aughts all over again, no? But aside from sharing, possibly, a box of Clairol, there is nothing remotely Britney- or Christina-esque about Swift." Greenblatt presumed that at the time her fan base would remain young females due to her way of communicating with them, but would grow over time.
Alexis Petridis of the United Kingdom magazine The Guardian had mixed opinions about the album, for he thought it was certainly "bland and uninventive", yet executed incredibly well. Over the course of listening to it, he queried if more music of the sort was needed, and concluded that "the feeling that the world is going to answer your query in the affirmative swiftly overwhelms you." Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone called Swift "a songwriting savant with an intuitive gift for verse-chorus-bridge architecture that [...] calls to mind Swedish pop gods Dr. Luke and Max Martin." Rosen attributed Swift's particular charm to in how intertwined almost impersonal professionalism with intimate and real confessions. Jonathan Keefe of Slant Magazine believed Fearless pointed out that Swift was capable of having a long musical career. However, Keefe was disappointed in the album, for it did not showcase significant refinements as she did on Taylor Swift; but, with an immature voice and young age, to him, Swift still had enough time to perfect her craft and make a great album. Josh Love of The Village Voice wrote, "This remarkably self-aware adolescent's words don't falter, masterfully avoiding the typical diarist's pitfalls of trite banality and pseudo-profound bullshit." Chris Richards of The Washington Post said, "In Swift's world, every song is a radio-ready charmer, confirming the 18-year-old's ability to pen a gaggle of consistently pleasing tunes." He noted Swift's voice was only minimally "twang-ful" and her vocal delivery was sugary enough to receive heavy rotation on Radio Disney, yet poised enough to do the same CMT. He also felt Swift was a talented songwriter, but her consistency sometimes fell into uniformity.
|3. Love Story||3:57|
|4. Hey Stephen||4:12|
|5. White Horse||3:55|
|6. You Belong With Me||3:51|
|7. Breathe (ft. Colbie Caillat)||4:23|
|8. Tell Me Why||3:20|
|9. You're Not Sorry||4:22|
|10. The Way I Loved You||4:07|
|11. Forever and Always||3:46|
|12. The Best Day||4:07|
|Platinum Edition (Bonus Tracks)|
|1. Jump Then Fall||3:56|
|3. Forever and Always (piano version)||4:27|
|4. Come in with the Rain||3:58|
|6. The Other Side of the Door||3:57|