A Recording Academy spokesperson says “Current eligibility guidelines would allow for the new performances and albums to be eligible if they were recorded within the last five years. However, none of the older songs would be eligible for songwriting awards.”
Fearless (Taylor’s Version) will include six “never-before-released songs from the vault." Would those songs be eligible?
According to the Academy, the new performances would be eligible in performance categories if they were recorded within the last five years. The songs would be eligible in songwriting categories if they are new songs (previously unreleased in any form).
There is some precedent for artists being nominated for new recordings of established hits.
Frank Sinatra won his third album of the year trophy in 1967 for A Man and His Music, a double album consisting of re-recordings of songs the singer had made famous over the years. Instead of using the original recordings, which he recorded for his previous labels, RCA, Columbia and Capitol, Sinatra used re-recorded versions that were culled from the previous albums he had recorded for his own label, Reprise Records. In addition, he re-recorded three songs specifically for the project: "I'll Never Smile Again," "Come Fly With Me" and "Love and Marriage."
Another legendary singer, Nat King Cole, was nominated for album of the year for a 1961 compilation, The Nat King Cole Story, a three-disc career retrospective. There, record label conflicts were not an issue: Both the old and new recordings were released on Capitol Records. The reason for the updates this time was to re-record the songs in stereo.
In recent decades, such albums have not been nominated in marquee categories. Voters generally favor new projects over ones that revisit past glories.
But some re-recordings have won Grammys in performance categories. Roy Orbison’s 1964 classic “Oh, Pretty Woman,” which he re-recorded for the HBO special Roy Orbison and Friends, A Black and White Night, won a 1990 award for best male pop vocal performance. Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind 1997,” a new version of his 1973 classic recorded following the death of Princess Diana, won a 1997 award in that same category. James Taylor’s new recording of his 1972 hit “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” for a Michael Brecker album won a 2001 award, also in that category.
Of course, Swift is doing just fine in amassing Grammy nominations and awards with her current projects. She is nominated in six categories at next month’s 63rd annual Grammy Awards, including album of the year (her fourth nod in that category) and song of the year (her fifth—the record for a female songwriter).
While Swift didn’t announce the release date of the re-recorded version of Fearless, strange capitalizations in her note spell out "April 9th"; a rep for Swift confirmed that Fearless (Taylor's Version) will arrive on April 9.
“It’s going to be fun, because it’ll feel like regaining a freedom and taking back what’s mine,” Swift told Billboard’s Jason Lipshutz in 2019 of rerecording her catalog. “When I created [these songs], I didn’t know what they would grow up to be. Going back in and knowing that it meant something to people is actually a really beautiful way to celebrate what the fans have done for my music.”