As we approach Taylor’s earlier albums in my Tay-Tay Top Five series, I feel I should mention that these were albums I discovered much later on following their release. While I was a fan of her songs that were in the charts, it wasn’t until I discovered 1989 that I realised I was missing out on so many more incredible songs of hers. I think I first discovered how amazing Speak Now as an album just after the Reputation era, when I decided to buy all of the previous Taylor Swift albums to listen to in my car. After just a few short weeks, I knew all of the tracks word for word. No regrets.
Speak Now was Taylor’s third studio album, which she wrote entirely by herself. She described it as focusing on confessions, inspired by her personal life, with lyrics relating to romance, heartbreak and forgiveness, all underneath a “fairytale” style theme. I’ll freely admit, that I was unaware of the brilliance this album possessed beyond Mine, which was the lead track, so when I listened to the whole album the entire way through, I was amazed. The songs are this incredible mix of catchy, emotional lyrics combined with gorgeous fairytale imagery, and to think that Taylor was just 21 when the album dropped, it’s just even more impressive. I mean, at 21, I was crying my eyes out because I didn’t get the first I’d worked my tits off and thoroughly destroyed my mental health for, but Taylor was releasing what went down to be ranked as one of the 100 greatest albums of the 2010s. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – she’s a goddamn queen.
Information correct at time of writing.
Release Date: 25th October 2010
Producers: Nathan Chapman, Taylor Swift
Label: Big Machine Records
Awards & Nominations:
Guinness World Records – Fastest Selling Album by a Female Artist 2010 (Won)
Guinness World Records – Fastest Selling Album in the US by a Female Country Artist 2010 (Won)
Academy of Country Music Awards – Album of the Year 2011 (Nominated)
American Country Music Awards – Album of the Year 2011 (Nominated)
American Music Awards – Favourite Country Album 2011 (Won)
Billboard Music Awards – Top Country Album 2011 (Won)
Billboard Music Awards – Top Billboard 200 Album 2011 (Nominated)
Canadian Country Music Association – Top Selling Album 2011 (Won)
Country Music Association Awards – Album of the Year 2011 (Nominated)
Juno Awards – International Album of the Year 2011 (Nominated)
Grammy Awards – Best Country Album 2012 (Nominated)
Sirus XM Indie Awards – International Album of the Year 2012 (Nominated)
My Top Five
- Long Live
- Dear John
- Never Grow Up
Honourable Mentions: Sparks Fly, Mean
I listed Enchanted as one of my all time favourite Taylor Swift songs, so it’s no surprise that it gets the top spot in my top five for Speak Now. Enchanted tells the story of an instant infatuation with someone and wondering if they reciprocate your feelings, written about someone who Taylor once met in New York City. Lyrically, this has to be one of her best songs. The imagery she creates through the lyrics is just the epitome of the “fairytale” theme of the album and the emotion that comes with the line “please don’t be in love with someone else, please don’t have somebody waiting on you” is just gut wrenching. It’s one of my favourite songs to belt out in my car. It may or may not have me thinking of Paul Mescal… I can neither confirm nor deny.
Long Live is the closing track on the album, and was described by Taylor as a “love song” to her fans and her team. I remember almost crying the first time I heard this song because it instantly has me thinking about friendships. It reminds me of the good times I had with my friends in sixth form – also the time Liam and I got together – as well as the good times I’ve had with Lillie over these last few years. Friendship is one of the first things I think of when I hear Long Live, and I don’t think I’ve ever listened to it without a smile coming across my face because it always ends up in me thinking back to some of my favourite memories with my favourite people.
I’m going to say something controversial – initially, I didn’t like Dear John. However, upon learning the context of it and really listening to the lyrics, I realised that it was – to be quite frank – a masterpiece. An open letter allegedly written to Taylor’s ex, singer John Meyer, the song addresses betrayal and manipulation by a former lover, with some pretty raw and emotional lyrics. The thing that impresses me the most about this song is how intense and honest the lyrics are, with the ending placing an emphasis on coming out of heartbreak on the other side and rising above that person’s toxicity – “I’m shining like fireworks over your sad, empty town.” Chills.
Never Grow Up
Never Grow Up is another song that made it on my ultimate list of my favourite Taylor Swift songs, so it’s no surprise I had to feature it in the Speak Now top five. In this acoustic ballad, Taylor addresses a young child and sings about the innocence of being young and how as kids we often have no idea of the heartbreak and difficulties life will inevitably throw at us. The final verse in particular gets me because it’s incredibly relatable and the whole idea of not knowing what to do now you’ve grown up:
“So here I am in my new apartment in the big city
They just dropped me off
It’s so much colder than I thought would be
So I tuck myself in and turn my night light on
Wish I’d never grown up”
It’s one of those songs that, if you’re feeling particularly emotionally fragile, it has the power to break you, and as her songs have done many times before, it illustrates the incredible power Taylor has with her songwriting.
Finally, we’ve got Mine, which I’ve chosen because it was a song that we played at our wedding, so it has just the perfect memory attached to it. While Lover would have 100% been our first dance had it been around in 2015 (I don’t care what Liam says, it would have been magical), I knew from the initial planning stage that I wanted to have at least one of her songs featured during the ceremony (I already had a big list submitted to the DJ for the evening reception). I couldn’t quite decide what to go for, whether I should go for something a little more obscure that not many people had heard of, or one of her more popular tracks. In the end, upon properly listening to the lyrics of Mine by Taylor Swift, I knew that was the one. My entrance music was reserved for Marry Me by Train (which I’d chosen before the possibility of a boyfriend was even a thing), but Mine was the perfect, upbeat track to have playing while we signed the register.
My first honourable mention has to go to Sparks Fly, which is yet another one of Taylor’s songs that’s just perfect for belting out while you’re driving on a sunny day. For me, it also has the memory attached of Swiftogeddon, which I’ve mentioned before that Lillie and I attended in 2019 – this was one of the songs that was playing during the first few minutes of us being there. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a nightclub where a good 200 or so people are belting out the Sparks Fly lyrics, but bloody hell, it was amazing. Just standing there waiting for your tequila shots to be poured while screaming “THE WAY YOU MOVE IS LIKE A FULL ON RAINSTORM AND I’M A HOUSE OF CARDS” is a moment I can’t wait to relive as soon as we’re out of the woods with all this covid shit. Mean is another song I feel deserving of an honourable mention because it’s the perfect song to chew out the haters and the bullies, and it’s just the beginning and one of many incredible songs she subsequently put out that addresses haters and rising above the shit that people throw at you.
Taylor Swift’s Speak Now is an amazing album with some beautiful lyrics and imagery, and the “fairytale” theme runs through almost every track. It features a mixed bag of tracks from catchy, up tempo numbers to some incredibly powerful and emotional songs with some of her finest lyrics. It’s an album I’m genuinely gutted I didn’t discover sooner, but I feel as though hearing it as a fully grown adult (ish) rather than an angsty 18 year old has meant that I appreciate the songwriting even more. In short, Speak Now by Taylor Swift is up there with my favourite albums of all time, and (let’s be honest, as with all of her albums) it’s one I will never tire of listening to.
What are your thoughts on Speak Now? Let me know your favourite tracks in the comments!