Speak Now, Taylor's third studio album, was initially released on October 5, 2010. With 14 tracks and 2 extra tracks on the deluxe album, she wrote this album completely alone during her Fearless tour — her second studio album. "Mean", the sixth track on the album, won two Grammy awards, and the album won Favorite Country Album at the American Music Awards 2011 and the Billboard Music Award for Top Country Album the same year.
On the 6th of May, Taylor took to her social media to announce Speak Now (Taylor's Version)'s release date: July 7th 2023! Streams of the original album were through the roof after this announcement.
She also announced it on 5th May at the first Nashville show of the Eras tour. It will include not only the original tracks on the album but also 6 never-seen-before vault tracks.
After some digging, Swifties realised that 7th July is National Koi Fish Day, and the representation of Koi Fish in Taylor's Lavender Haze music video was a massive Easter Egg for this announcement! After so many hints through not only the Lavender Haze video but also the Bejeweled video, and comments she made before singing Speak Now as a surprise song at one of her shows, this announcement had been anticipated for a long time.
I'm going to re-visit the original album and discuss some of my favourite songs on it here, as well as talk about the buzz this announcement has created among fans and the industry!
One of the most hilarious reactions to this announcement was that of Taylor Lautner. Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift dated each other for a few months in 2009, with their relationship coming to an end in December the same year. 'Back to December' on Speak Now is heavily speculated to be about him too. After the Speak Now (Taylor's Version) announcement, he took to Tiktok and posted a video of him praying for John Mayer, who dated Taylor Swift between 2009 and 2010. He was 32, while Taylor was 19 years old, and is seen as one of Taylor's "bad exes".
Speak now: Lyrics Breakdown
Here is a lyric breakdown of a few songs on the album to give you an idea of the theme of this Taylor Swift era. Taylor has always been known as an artist and a storyteller, and the songwriting on this album is no different. With vivid imagery and excellent narration, it stands shoulder to shoulder with much of her recent work.
The opening track of the album is nothing less than a masterpiece. It is about a girl who doesn't believe in love with lyrics like:
I was a flight risk with a fear of falling / Wonderin' why we bother with love if it never lasts
She ends up meeting someone who changes her mind about love, and makes her feel more secure in the relationship despite fights and problems:
Braced myself for the goodbye/ 'Cause that's all I've ever known / Then you took me by surprise / You said, "I'll never leave you alone"
The flow of the song along with the production delivers the exact message that it intends to, and the bridge is my favorite, which is the very moment when she knows that he's here to stay.
Back to December
When Taylor Swift wrote "Back to December" as an apology to Taylor Lautner. 😢 "This is about a person who was incredible to me, just perfect in a relationship and I was really careless with him. This is a song full of words that I would say to him that he deserves to hear." -TS https://t.co/KbZmtBQUgO pic.twitter.com/TnyM42Vymx— Anonymous Galore 🌸 (@AnonymousGalore) May 12, 2023
This song is said to be about Taylor Lautner, and is one of my favourites on the album. It's an apology to her ex for breaking off the relationship, and how great he was through the relationship.
So, this is me swallowing my pride/ Standing in front of you saying, "I'm sorry for that night"/ And I go back to December all the time
She seems to be re-visiting this relationship after quite some time, thinking about her regrets and wanting to go back to what the relationship was like. She accepts that it was her fault and also respects and understands if he didn't want to hear from her.
Maybe this is wishful thinking / Probably mindless dreaming / But if we loved again, I swear I'd love you right / I'd go back in time and change it, but I can't / So, if the chain is on your door, I understand
The song was a promotional single, released on October 12, 2010 and was incredibly successful!
The title track of the album is a fictional story of a girl who crashes her ex's wedding to prevent him from marrying the wrong girl. It's a well-built narrative supported by the production of the girl arriving at the wedding, disapproving of the bride, expressing the wish to run away from the wedding and meet her ex somewhere else, with the climax of the story arriving at the bridge of the song:
I hear the preacher say/ "Speak now or forever hold your peace" / There's the silence, there's my last chance / I stand up with shaky hands, all eyes on me / Horrified looks from everyone in the room / But I'm only lookin' at you
The song comes to an end with the groom happy to get out of the marriage and wants to meet her too.
I'll meet you when I'm out / Of my tux, at the back door / Baby, I didn't say my vows / So glad you were around / When they said, 'Speak now'"
This song is one of my favorites because of how well the story has been told, making it almost believable, with the climax coming at just the right time.
Better Than Revenge
Better than revenge IS awesome pic.twitter.com/ZTx4IkKEDv— evil Ella (@daisyradlett) May 13, 2023
This song is about the jealousy and bitterness that young girls, especially teenagers, may often experience if they feel like their man has been "stolen" from them by another girl. While there are people who believe that the lyrics should be changed in the re-released song to be feminist and not represent such toxic ideas, I, along with many other fans, feel like it should be as it is, and it does not mean that Taylor is promoting a toxic narrative.
The lyrics are about a girl demeaning another girl who she thinks only has a "good girl" facade but is actually evil and fake.
She's not a saint and she's not what you think/ She's an actress / She's better known for the things that she does / On the mattress
There have been many theories regarding the purpose of the song, or what inspired it, but my favourite one is that this song is from the perspective of the bride who gets left at the altar in Speak Now. This theory was brought up especially after we saw the fictional love triangle that Taylor wrote about on her 2020 album, folklore.
SOMEONE SAID THAT BETTER THAN REVENGE IS FROM THE “SPEAK NOW” BRIDE’S PERSPECTIVE???? IM GAGGED??— CLOSED (@youreinIcve) May 11, 2023
The last song I'll be getting into is Enchanted, which is perhaps the most popular one on the album considering the Tiktok audio of this song that went viral as well as the fact that it's the only song from Speak Now that Taylor plays on the Eras Tour as a part of the regular setlist.
💜| Tonight’s “Enchanted” outfit pic.twitter.com/o6yUOJhOMl— The Swift Society (@TheSwiftSociety) May 20, 2023
The song has a fairytale aesthetic to it, not only in terms of the song, but also the visuals that accompany it. It's about the simple feeling of being obsessed with someone and loving them. It represents a magical feeling that someone gets when they feel deeply for a person, with simple little things like blushing while thinking about them and wanting to stay in the moment.
This night is sparkling, don't you let it go / I'm wonderstruck, blushing all the way home / I'll spend forever wondering if you knew / I was enchanted to meet you
The way she sings the bridge is absolutely gut-wrenching, and is an incredibly accurate way of describing what it feels like to wonder if someone you love is really in love with someone else.
This is me praying that / This was the very first page / Not where the storyline ends / My thoughts will echo your name / Until I see you again / These are the words I held back / As I was leaving too soon / I was enchanted to meet you / Please don't be in love with someone else / Please don't have somebody waiting on you
Where does Speak Now Stand?
While I'm more fond of Taylor's music after 2016, this album is one of my favourites because of the lyricism, production, themes of the songs, and the simplicity as well and complexity of the concepts she talks about throughout this album. It's crazy to think that it was written when she was 18-20 years old, and I can't wait for what Speak Now (Taylor's Version) has in store. I'm especially looking forward to hearing songs like Enchanted and Back to December in a more mature Taylor voice, along with what the vault tracks are going to be like.