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Change

Single | Fearless (2008) | Fearless (Taylor's Version) [2021]

“Change” is a song on Taylor’s second studio album, Fearless (2008). It was written about her hopes and aspirations in regards to succeeding in the music industry, despite being signed to the smallest record label in Nashville at the time. The re-recording of the song, “Change (Taylor’s Version)”, was released on April 9, 2021 on the album Fearless (Taylor’s Version).

Background and Lyrical Theme

At age sixteen, Taylor was signed to the emerging label Big Machine Records, which was the smallest record label in Nashville at the time. There were only about a dozen employees, and she was the only signed artist. At some point, she realized that it would be more difficult for her to achieve success through a small label, than in a larger label, constricting their contacts and making it nearly impossible to embark on concert tours and have presenter or performer slots on award shows. In addition, as the only signed artist, she could not ask for favors and only had herself to encourage the hope that scenarios would eventually change. Taylor described the scenario as an “uphill climb” and said:

«At one point, I began to understand that it would be harder for me on a smaller record label to get to the places and accomplish the things that artists were accomplishing on bigger record labels. I realized that I wouldn’t get favors pulled for me because there weren’t any other artists on the label to pull favors from. It was going to be an uphill climb and all that I had to encourage me was the hope that someday things would change. That things would be different. After so many times of just saying that to myself over and over, I finally wrote it down in a song.»

Taylor Swift
After writing the beginning of the song, Taylor let the track rest for a while, waiting for a significant moment in her life that could conclude it. That moment came in 2007 when she won the “Horizon Award” at the CMAs. After looking out into the audience and seeing her family and her label head, Scott Borchetta, crying, she felt like she could finally finish the song, and did so the following day.

«That’s when I finished it, because I knew I couldn’t finish it until something like that happened. It was absolutely the most amazing night of my life, getting to see the emotion of all the people who worked so hard for me.»

Taylor Swift

Release

“Change” was recorded in December 2007, when Taylor recognized it applied to more scenarios and had a “bigger meaning” than originally. American television network National Broadcasting Company (NBC) had asked Taylor to perform at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. However, an appearance could not be scheduled because Taylor was touring at the time. Instead, her father suggested using “Change” as a theme for the event. Therefore, “Change” was used during NBC’s daily video highlights in August 2008, prior to the release of Fearless. “I wrote the song ‘Change’ as an underdog story. It’s kind of crazy to think that the Olympics chose this as one of the songs to play during the Olympic Games”, Taylor commented. It was included on the AT&T Team USA Soundtrack (2008). The song was released as a promotional single on the iTunes Store on August 8, 2008. All proceeds were donated to the United States Olympic team.

After its digital release, “Change” was included on the track list of Taylor’s second studio album, Fearless, released on November 11, 2008.

Music Video

The music video for “Change” was directed by Shawn Robbins and features Taylor performing with a band in a ballroom. An alternate version of the video features footage of the United States Olympic team at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Live Performances

Taylor first performed the track on the AOL Sessions. Since then, she sang the track at the Studio 330 Sessions, the 2009 CMA Music Festival, the 2009 V Festival, and the Australian charity concert Sydney Sound Relief. Taylor’s first televised performance of “Change” was at the 2010 Academy of Country Music Awards, where she was joined by a teenage choir, and finished the performance by holding a note for 15 seconds and surfing the crowd afterwards.

Taylor regularly performed “Change” on the first North American leg of the “Fearless Tour” (2009-2010). She noted, “It’s been a tough year”, and commenced singing throughout the stage as images of victims of economic and natural disasters were projected on the video screens. As the song approximated, its last refrain, she said, “Things turn back around.” Then, scenes of triumph appeared on the video screens. She again performed the song in 2013 during the performance in Greensboro on her “The RED Tour,” and at the second show in Foxborough on her “reputation Stadium Tour,” in 2018.

Critical Reception

The song received generally mixed reviews from contemporary critics. Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone magazine considered the track to be vague. Dave Heaton of PopMatters compared “Change” and Taylor’s “Long Live“, both which ended Fearless and Speak Now (2010), respectively. He stated, “There’s something really generic about the song[s], but that quality becomes the cornerstone of an anthem.” Heaton also commented that the song was appealing to multiple audiences, as long as they felt restrained by any scenario.

Commercial Performance

The song’s original title was “Champions Tonight” and was later changed to “Change”. It was released on August 8, 2008, as part of the compilation album AT&T TEAM USA Soundtrack with all proceeds being donated to the United States Olympic team. It was also featured as the background music to the daily TV montage of the Olympic highlights, shown at the end of the show.

“Change” debuted and peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Taylor’s first song to reach the top ten on the chart.

Taylor's Version

Following a masters controversy, Taylor released the re-recorded version of Fearless, subtitled Taylor’s Version, on April 9, 2021; Fearless (Taylor’s Version) includes the re-recorded “Change (Taylor’s Version),” which was produced by Taylor and Christopher Rowe. Its lyrics have taken on a whole new meaning in light of Taylor’s fight for the rights to own her music. The song may have originally been written about Taylor’s hard work with Scott Borchetta and Big Machine — but is now about her winning her battles and emerging victorious over her adversaries — just as she has with the release of Fearless (Taylor’s Version). It didn’t escape fans that Taylor used a lyric from “Change” in her social media posts on April 9, 2021, announcing the album had finally dropped: “It was the night things changed. Fearless (Taylor’s Version) is out now.”

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
Well, it’s a sad picture, the final blow hits you
Somebody else gets what you wanted again
You know it’s all the same, another time and place
Repeating history and you’re getting sick of it

[Pre-Chorus]
But I believe in whatever you do
And I’ll do anything to see it through

[Chorus]
Because these things will change
Can you feel it now?
These walls that they put up to hold us back will fall down
This revolution, the time will come
For us to finally win
And we’ll sing hallelujah, we’ll sing hallelujah
Oh, oh

[Verse 2]
So we’ve been outnumbered, raidеd, and now cornered
It’s hard to fight when thе fight ain’t fair
We’re getting stronger now, find things they never found
They might be bigger but we’re faster and never scared

[Pre-Chorus]
You can walk away, say we don’t need this
But there’s something in your eyes says we can beat this

[Chorus]
’Cause these things will change
Can you feel it now?
These walls that they put up to hold us back will fall down
This revolution, the time will come
For us to finally win
And we’ll sing hallelujah, we’ll sing hallelujah
Oh, oh

[Bridge]
Tonight, we’ll stand, get off our knees
Fight for what we’ve worked for all these years
And the battle was long, it’s the fight of our lives
But we’ll stand up champions tonight

[Chorus Variation]
It was the night things changed
Can you see it now?
When the walls that they put up to hold us back fell down
It’s a revolution, throw your hands up
‘Cause we never gave in
And we’ll sing hallelujah, we sang hallelujah
Hallelujah

General Information
AlbumsFearless
Fearless (Taylor’s Version)
ReleasedAugust 8, 2008
Re-ReleasedApril 9, 2021
GenrePop Rock
Length4:40
LabelsBig Machine Records
Republic Records
SongwriterTaylor Swift
ProducersNathan Chapman (original)
Christopher Rowe
Taylor Swift
FEARLESS CHRONOLOGY
The Best DayChangeJump Then Fall
Single Certification
Hidden Message
You made things change for me
Single Artwork
Music Video
Making of "Change"
Live Performances
Lyric Video
Taylor's Version
Original Audio