Most people didn’t have an opinion about Taylor in early 2008 because even though she was popular -- having sold millions of copies of her debut self-titled record -- she wasn’t
mainstream. She was a country star, big on country radio and winner of country awards, but if you didn’t listen to country music, you could be safely ignorant about her whole deal. It was
Taylor's second album “Fearless,” released on Nov. 11, 2008, that transformed her from Taylor Swift "The Artist" into Taylor Swift "The Phenomenon."
In other words: "Fearless" was the last album Taylor released before she was Taylor Swift, a famous person you were legally required to know about who would be constantly involved
in incidents betraying the normalcy she purported to embody.
You don’t have to look further than the numbers associated with “Fearless” for proof of its domination. The most-awarded album in country music history and her first real pop crossover effort, it
debuted at No. 1 and became the best-selling album of 2009, making Taylor, who was 18 when “Fearless” was released, the youngest artist in history to have that distinction. At 20, she also became
the youngest-ever artist to win a GRAMMY for "Album of the Year", when “Fearless” won the night’s top prize, along with three other trophies, at the 2010 GRAMMY Awards. Of its five
singles, two became crossover hits, "Love Story" and "You Belong With Me,” which sold millions of copies each and firmly established her in the pop world. Before “Fearless,” Taylor had never
headlined a tour -- just months after its release, she was selling out arenas (and a stadium) on her "Fearless Tour".
On December 11, 2017, "Fearless" became only the 121st album in music history to achieve a Diamond certificationin the US, having sold over 10,000,000 copies in America.
“When the Fearless album came out in 2008 you could feel this tidal wave was coming. That led to the first headlining tour and our first overseas trips," Scott Borchetta, CEO of Big Machine
Records, said in 2018. "That "Fearless" era was the one that we were really going to do some big things.”
A CAREER DEFINING ALBUM AND ERA
“Fearless” wasn’t just an album for Taylor. It was an era, one that much of America likely still associates with her to some extent. "Fearless" is interesting because it was the first
time Taylor took her major themes mainstream, as well as the last time she could present herself as the girl next door, instead of the mega-famous person she was about to
become. “Fearless” established Taylor's persona of the wide-eyed, guitar-toting girl with her ball gowns and flowing blonde hair, who wrote her own songs about fairytales and
Shakespearean heroines and the occasional famous ex. In retrospect, it’s more than a little reductive. And while Taylor certainly participated in the princess-ing of her character during these
years, revisiting the reviews of “Fearless” reveal just how many of the critical takes used her status as a teenager almost as a genre signifier, that she was making teen music for teen
listeners, with more than one article containing some version of the line about her being broadly appealing, “though she’s a teenage girl.”
“Fearless” is not just an album for teenage girls, nor is it limited to being about the experiences of one. Don’t be fooled by its more juvenile-seeming settings -- “Fearless” is not, by any
means, a juvenile work. Upon listening to the album, it’s clear that Taylor’s skills for writing earworm melodies and spinning vivid imagery out of plainspoken storytelling are a remarkable
reminder of her talents as an artist.