Speak Now

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This article is about the album. For the song, see Speak Now (song).
Speak Now
Studio album by Taylor Swift
Released October 25, 2010 (2010-10-25)
Recorded August 2009–July 2010
Genre
Length 67:29
Label Big Machine
Producer
Taylor Swift chronology
Fearless
(2008)
Speak Now
(2010)
Speak Now World Tour – Live
(2011)
Singles from Speak Now
  1. "Mine"
    Released: August 4, 2010 (2010-08-04)
  2. "Back to December"
    Released: November 15, 2010 (2010-11-15)
  3. "Mean"
    Released: March 7, 2011 (2011-03-07)
  4. "The Story of Us"
    Released: April 19, 2011 (2011-04-19)
  5. "Sparks Fly"
    Released: July 18, 2011 (2011-07-18)
  6. "Ours"
    Released: November 8, 2011 (2011-11-08)

Speak Now is the third studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was released on October 25, 2010, by Big Machine Records. Production for the album took place during 2009 to 2010 at several recording studios, and was handled by Swift and Nathan Chapman. Written entirely by Swift as the follow-up to Fearless (2008), Speak Now expands on the country pop style of her previous work, and features lyrical themes concerning love, romance and heartbreak. A deluxe edition was released on the same day exclusively to US Target stores; it contained three bonus tracks and two acoustic versions as well as a pop remix of "Mine". Internationally, another deluxe edition was released containing the same three bonus songs and acoustic songs, and three US versions. In 2012, the Target exclusive was released to a wider distribution in the US.

Speak Now received generally positive reviews from music critics, who complimented Swift's songwriting and themes. The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling approximately 1,047,000 units in its first week. Due to strong digital sales, all fourteen songs from the standard edition of the album charted on the Billboard Hot 100, with the lead single "Mine" having the highest peak of number three. Six singles were released from the album, including the US Country number-one hits "Sparks Fly" and "Ours". Speak Now was also an international success, charting within the top 10 in several countries, including Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Swift promoted the album with an international tour, Speak Now World Tour, throughout 2011. According to Swift's label Big Machine Records, as of September 2011, Speak Now has sold over 5.8 million copies worldwide.[2] The album has been certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and, as of October 2012, has sold 4.2 million copies in the United States.

Background[edit]

Swift released her second studio album, Fearless, in 2008. The album peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 for eleven non-consecutive weeks,[3] became the best-selling album of 2009 in the United States,[4] and was certified six times platinum by the RIAA.[5] Thirteen songs from Fearless charted within the top forty of the Billboard Hot 100, breaking the record for the most top forty entries from a single album.[6] Fearless also produced five singles. "Love Story" (2008), the first single from Fearless became Swift's best-charting song at the time, peaking at number one on the Australian Singles Chart and being certified triple platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association.[7][8] Fearless' third single, "You Belong with Me" (2009), became Swift's best-charting single in the United States, at the time; it peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA.[5][9] "Fearless" (2010), the fifth single from Fearless, became the first single released after being certified gold by the RIAA as a result of digital downloads.[10] Swift won the Billboard Music Award for Artist of the Year in 2009 due to the chart success she enjoyed on Billboard charts during the year.[11] She obtained her second-biggest debut on the Billboard Hot 100 at number two in 2010 with "Today Was a Fairytale" from the Valentine's Day soundtrack.[12]

Recording and title[edit]

Swift worked on the album for two years prior to its release.[13] Swift wrote all of the songs on the album without co-writers. Speaking on a live webcast on July 20, 2010, she said, "I actually wrote all the songs myself for this record. It didn't really happen on purpose, it just sort of happened. Like, I'd get my best ideas at 3:00 am in Arkansas, and I didn't have a co-writer around and I would just finish it."[14] In an analysis of Swift's lyrics, The Oxonian Review noted themes of regret and solitude, highlighting that "December is a month to get through so we can return to the beginning, and is certainly not a month to relish. Yet, Swift goes there—'all the time'—in 'Back to December' by delivering an apology to an ex-boyfriend, which she never did on her prior two albums."[15] Music writer Stephen Thomas Erlewine viewed that the album musically is "no great progression from Fearless but rather a subtle shift toward pure pop with the country accents [...] used as flavoring".[1]

Recording sessions for the album took place at several recording locations, including Aimeeland Studio, Blackbird Studios, and Capitol Studios in Hollywood, California, Pain in the Art Studio, and Starstruck Studios in Nashville, Tennessee, and Stonehurst Studio in Bowling Green, Kentucky.[16] Some of the songs feature live strings, and some, a full orchestra.[17]

According to Big Machine Records president/CEO Scott Borchetta, the album's original title was Enchanted. He explained: "We were at lunch, and she had played me a bunch of the new songs. I looked at her and I'm like, 'Taylor, this record isn't about fairy tales and high school anymore. That's not where you're at. I don't think the record should be called Enchanted." After the discussion, Swift then excused herself from the table at that point. By the time she came back, she had the Speak Now title, which comes closer to representing the evolution that the album represents in her career and in her still-young understanding of the world.[18]

Songs and lyrics[edit]

Swift wrote all of the songs by herself. The opening track, "Mine", is also released as the lead single from the album. Swift explained that the uptempo country-pop song is about her tendency to run from love.[19] Critics praised the song, although some calling it "formulaic" for resonating her earlier work.[20] "Sparks Fly" was composed by Swift when she was sixteen, prior her debut to the music scene,[21] and first performed during one of her concerts in 2007. The song has gone several revisions on its lyrics, and removed the banjo that originally has.[22] Swift explained that the song is “falling for someone who you maybe shouldn't fall for, but you can't stop yourself because there's such a connection and chemistry.”[23] "Back to December" is the third track from the album, and was released as the second single from the album. It received positive reviews from critics, who regarded it as one of the highlights of Speak Now. The song is one of two songs where Swift has first incorporated an orchestra on record,[24] and lyrically it is the first time that Swift ever apologizes to someone in a song.[25] Critics have speculated that the song is Swift's apology to her ex-boyfriend Taylor Lautner.[26] The title track followed, which released first as a promotional single.[27] The upbeat country-pop song relies on acoustic guitar and is a narration of from the perspective of a person who crashes her former love's wedding in attempt to win him back.[28]

"Dear John" is the longest track from the album which clocks six minutes and forty five seconds.[29] The song is an “open letter” to an ex-boyfriend, which is speculated to be John Mayer, whom Swift dated from late 2009 to early 2010.[30] The song is about being manipulated and betrayed by someone you loved.[29] The Grammy-winning song "Mean" is the sixth track of the album. Critics said that it is one of her most country-sounding songs.[31] The song's lyrical content addresses those who question Swift's ability to sing.[32] The pop-oriented song "The Story of Us" followed which narrates the awkwardness that takes place between two people after they break up.[33] The song contains an element of pop-punk with a vibrant beat, electric guitars and a fast-paced chorus.[34][35] "Never Grow Up" is a sweet ballad addressed to a young child from Swift feeling alone as she spends her first night in her new apartment of her own.[36] Swift explained that the song is about “the fact that I don't quite know how I feel about growing up”.[37]

The power ballad "Enchanted" serves as the ninth track of the album. The song starts with guitar strings and lyrically, it finds Swift singing about meeting a guy she's attracted to without knowing if her instant infatuation is at all reciprocated.[38][39] The song has a length of five minutes and fifty two seconds, thus making it the third longest song in the album.[39] “Better than Revenge” is one of Swift's vengeance songs aimed at Camilla Belle, the young actress Joe Jonas pursued after breaking up with Swift.[40] "Innocent" is written in response to last year's Kanye West contretemps on the MTV Video Music Awards.[41] The song is about someone who has lost his path their life, but whose "string of lights are bright to me."[42] "Haunted" is the most dramatic song on the album. It starts off with violins and other string instruments, and it is the second song in the album to incorporated an orchestra.[24] The song is about after a break up, and involves Swift demanding that the guy to “finish what he started.”[43]

“Last Kiss” is a country ballad song. Swift explained that the song “is sort of like a letter to somebody.”[44] The song is rumored to be about Joe Jonas.[30] The song clocks six minutes and seven seconds, making it the second longest song on the album. The closing track “Long Live”, which also known as "We Will be Remembered", is about her band and her fans. It is a look towards the future, to wonder what story will be told then about today.[39] Swift said that "this song for me is like looking at a photo album of all the award shows, and all the stadium shows, and all the hands in the air in the crowd. It's sort of the first love song that I've written to my team."[45]

Release[edit]

Speak Now was released worldwide on October 25, 2010 by Big Machine Records.[46][47] It was made available for digital download by the iTunes Store.[48] The album's official cover was premiered through Us Weekly on August 18, 2010.[49] It was also released on vinyl LP on November 22, 2010.[50] On December 20, 2010 a karaoke version of the album was released featuring the album as a CD+G and a DVD.[51]

Marketing[edit]

Swift performed the song "Innocent" at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards on September 12, 2010. Some of the tracks were previewed in advance of the release date: "Speak Now" on October 4, "Back to December" on October 11, and "Mean" on October 18, 2010.[52] These three were subsequently released to the iTunes Store the following day, respectively.[53] Additionally, "The Story of Us" was previewed October 22, 2010, through Comcast on-demand and XfinityTv.com.[53] "Speak Now" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number eight and on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart at number sixty the week of October 11, 2010, selling 217,000 digital downloads.[54][55][56] "Back to December" debuted at number six on the Billboard Hot 100, with 242,000 digital downloads.[57] "Mean" debuted at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 with 163,000 downloads.[58] All fourteen songs on the standard edition of the album have charted on the Billboard Hot 100, with ten tracks debuting the week of the album's release. The highest-charting of these was "Sparks Fly" at number seventeen with 113,000 downloads.[59][60]

On July 15, 2011, Swift's official website announced that she had partnered with Elizabeth Arden to launch a fragrance, which was released in October 2011. The fragrance's name, "Wonderstruck", is a reference to the song "Enchanted".[61] The fragrance made its in-store appearance on November 16, 2011.[62] On November 8, 2011, Swift released two more promotional singles from the album, "If This Was a Movie" and "Superman", both were made available for digital download by iTunes.[63]

"Haunted", along with the promotional releases, charted on the Billboard 100 at number ninety-eight[64] and Billboard Hot Digital Songs at number seventy-one.

Tour[edit]

Main article: Speak Now World Tour
Swift performing on the album's supporting tour

To promote the album – a tour – entitled the Speak Now World Tour was announced on November 23, 2010 by Billboard.[13] The tour began with a six-day leg in Asia, from February 9 to 21, 2011.[13] The tour then ventured in Europe during the month of March, before Swift began the North American leg of the tour on May 21, 2011. The North American leg ended in New York City on November 22, 2011, with a total of 80 shows.[65] The tour extended into 2012 in Oceania.[66]

Critics have praised the tour with Billboard.com claiming that "Swift’s two-hour production was an overwhelming experience. There's an enormous amount of detail that worked to make the Speak Now Tour a sort of next step in country concert presentation....it blended the pacing, the music and the artist's personality in a way that transfixed.” The Korean Focus Times praised it by saying, “Taylor Swift charms Korea in style, radiant...with pitch-perfect and sincere vocals. The dedication of the fans present was boundless, the cheers of the crowd were sometimes louder than the music itself.” The New York Times claimed the tour "went off, as did every number, with clockwork professionalism and thousands of voices singing along and screaming between the lines. Ms. Swift, 22, is their superstar....her songs are taut, tuneful narratives.”[67]

On August 10, 2011, Swift released a music video for "Sparks Fly", which featured clips taken from four different locations of the tour, which includes one from the show in Newark, New Jersey. The footage with the rain was captured during one of the summer shows in a stadium.[68] A live album of the tour was released on November 21, 2011. The DVD and Blu-ray included with the CD feature all seventeen song performances taken from the North American leg of the tour.[67]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau A–[69]
Entertainment Weekly B+[70]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[71]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[72]
Paste 7.1/10[73]
PopMatters 8/10[39]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[74]
Slant Magazine 3/5 stars[75]
Spin 7/10[76]

Speak Now received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 77, based on 20 reviews.[77] AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine commended Swift's mature lyrics and stated, "she writes from the perspective of the moment yet has the skill of a songwriter beyond her years".[78] Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times wrote that "she makes memorable music by honing [sic] in on the tiny stuff: the half-notes in a hummed phrase, the lyrical images that communicate precisely what it’s like to feel uncomfortable, or disappointed, or happy".[72] Rudy Klapper of Sputnikmusic called it "the best pop record of the year".[79] Jon Caramanica of The New York Times called Speak Now a "bravura work of nontransparent transparency ... the most savage of her career, and also the most musically diverse. And it's excellent too, possibly her best".[80]

MSN Music's Robert Christgau said that, although the songs are "overlong and overworked", they "evince an effort that bears a remarkable resemblance to care—that is, to caring in the best, broadest, and most emotional sense".[69] Dave Heaton of PopMatters observed "a richer array of narratives and even more songs about that process of turning your life into a narrative".[39] Theon Weber of The Village Voice perceived Swift's songwriting strength as "not confessional, but dramatic" and stated "Like a procession of country songwriters before her, she creates characters and situations—some from life—and finds potent ways to describe them".[81] Weber described the album's songs as "iceberg songs" and elaborated on how Swift's talent grows "in proportion" to her artistic freedom:

Swift enjoys slipping in and out of identities, and her best songs are constructed from multiple, superimposed points of view. She also likes using a tossed-off phrase to suggest large and serious things that won't fit in the song, things that enhance or subvert the surface narrative ... She's more comfortable inside these new songs, and cleverer ... She can still sound strained and thin, and often strays into a pitch that drives some people crazy; but she's learned how to make words sound like what they mean.[81]

In a mixed review, Allison Stewart of The Washington Post called the album "ridiculously entertaining [...] a lengthy, captivating exercise in woo-pitching, flame tending and score-settling", but found it "long: 14 wordy, stretched-thin, occasionally repetitive songs".[41] Slant Magazine's Jonathan Keefe found Swift's singing "technically poor" and her lyrics "generally lack[ing] the variety and sophistication of her compositions", which he called "expertly crafted pop music".[75]

Accolades[edit]

Several music critics and publications included Speak Now in their year-end list. The album was ranked number thirteen on Rolling Stone's year-end best albums list for 2010.[82] About.com listed Speak Now as the best pop album of 2010, calling it "a highly personal, intimate musical document that pulls listeners in with both humor and grace".[83] Allison Stewart of The Washington Post named the album the tenth best of 2010,[84] and The New York Times' Jon Caramanica rank Speak Now number two in his top ten albums list, stating that "her songs are more diverse, her images more severe, her blade sharper."[85] Jim Malec of American Noise rank Speak Now number six on his Top 10 Country Music Albums of 2010 and named it the "most courageous" release of 2010.[86] PopMatters ranked it at number five on its list of the best country albums of 2010,[87] while The Boot ranked it at number two on its top ten country albums of the year.[88] In June 2012, the album was included in the "50 best female albums of all time" list by Rolling Stone, ranking at number forty-five.[89]

Aside from critic polls, the album was nominated in 2011 Juno Awards for International Album of the Year, losing to Katy Perry's Teenage Dream. It received nominations in 2011 Billboard Music Awards, including Top Billboard 200 Album and Top Country Album in 2011 Billboard Music Awards and won the latter.[90] Speak Now was nominated for Grammy Award for Best Country Album at the 2012 Grammy Awards and won the Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song for her song "Mean".[91] The album is also nominated for Album of the Year in Academy of Country Music Awards,[92] Country Music Association Awards,[93] and American Country Awards,[94] and won the favorite country album in American Music Awards of 2011.[95]

Commercial performance[edit]

Speak Now debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, its sales of 1,047,000 copies making it just the 16th album in United States history to sell one million copies in a single week. It was the second biggest debut ever for a female artist — later pushed down to third biggest by Lady Gaga's Born This Way and then fourth by her own album, Red,[96]- the second biggest ever by a country album, the biggest in five and one half years, and the biggest of 2010.[97][98] Speak Now also set a new record for the biggest one-week sales tally for an album by a female country artist, surpassing Shania Twain's Up!.[98] It is Swift's second US number-one album.[97] In its second week on the Billboard 200, the album remained at number one and sold 320,000 copies.[99] It dropped to number two and sold 212,000 copies in its third week.[100] In its fourth week, Speak Now dropped to number nine and sold 146,000 copies.[101] In its fifth week, it rose to number four and sold 241,000 copies.[102] Speak Now returned to the top spot on its eight week with over 259,000 copies sold.[103] The album was able to top the Billboard 200 again on the succeeding three weeks, giving a total of six non-consecutive weeks at number one.[104] After only 10 weeks in release, Speak Now became the third best-selling album of 2010 in the United States, with sales of 2,960,000 copies.[105] The album had sold 681,000 digital copies as of January 2012, making it the tenth best selling digital album of all time.[106] On January 11, 2012, the album was certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA),[5] and, as of October 2012, it has sold 4,419,000 copies in the US.[107] It is Swift's third album to reached this plateau, following Taylor Swift and Fearless, making her the first female solo artist to top the 4 million mark with three studio albums in a row in a decade.[108]

All fourteen songs on the album and three bonus tracks have charted on the US Billboard Hot 100, eleven of them charted concurrently making Swift just the third artist in history and first female artist to have over ten concurrent Hot 100 hits. Speak Now is also the only album in history to spawn seventeen Hot 100 hits. It produced four top ten, seven top twenty, and nine top thirty hits.[109]

Speak Now also garnered success outside the US. The album entered at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling 62,000 copies.[110] It stayed at the top spot on its second week and was later certified triple platinum by the Music Canada for shipments exceeding 240,000 copies.[111] Speak Now also debuted at number one on Australian Albums Chart, became Swift's first number one album in Australia.[112] It was later certified triple platinum by Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA).[113] The album topped the New Zealand Albums Chart for two weeks and was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ).[112][114] Speak Now also charted within the top ten in five more countries including the United Kingdom where it debuted at number six on the Top 40 Albums chart and has been certified Gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).[112][115]

As of February 2012, "Mine" sold 2,081,000 copies, "Mean" sold 1,809,000 copies; "Back to December" sold 1,688,000 copies; "Ours" sold 1,224,000; "Sparks Fly" "The Story of Us" and "Speak Now" have sold approximately 841,000 and 500,000 respectively copies.[116]

Deluxe edition[edit]

A deluxe edition was released exclusively to the Target Corporation and features an alternate cover, with Swift in a red dress instead of the standard edition's violet. It was released on the same day as the standard edition and includes three additional tracks, two acoustic songs, a pop remix of "Mine", and 30 minutes of enhanced video content: the music video for "Mine", as well as behind-the-scenes footage of its production.[117][118][119] Released on her official website the Target deluxe edition was made available for digital download by Scattertunes.[120] A deluxe edition was also released internationally featuring the same three bonus songs, acoustic songs and behind the scenes feature from the deluxe edition at Target. The international deluxe edition contains the US versions of "Mine", "Back to December", and "The Story of Us", and the pop mix video for "Mine".[121][122][123] On November 8, 2011, the three bonus songs were released individually as singles on iTunes and Amazon.com[63][124][125] and the bonus remixes were released individually as singles on iTunes.[126] On January 17, 2012, the Target exclusive deluxe edition was released to other retail stores.[127]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Taylor Swift. All songs produced by Nathan Chapman and Swift, except where noted. 

Speak Now – Standard edition
No. Title Length
1. "Mine"   3:50
2. "Sparks Fly"   4:20
3. "Back to December"   4:53
4. "Speak Now"   4:00
5. "Dear John"   6:43
6. "Mean"   3:57
7. "The Story of Us"   4:25
8. "Never Grow Up"   4:50
9. "Enchanted"   5:52
10. "Better Than Revenge"   3:37
11. "Innocent"   5:02
12. "Haunted"   4:02
13. "Last Kiss"   6:07
14. "Long Live"   5:17
Total length:
67:03

Personnel[edit]

Credits for Speak Now adapted from liner notes.[131][132][133][134]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Country Certification
Australia 3× Platinum[113]
Brazil Gold[149]
Canada 3× Platinum[150]
Indonesia Platinum[151]
Ireland Gold[152]
Japan Gold[153]
New Zealand Platinum[114]
Philippines Platinum[154]
South Korea Platinum[151]
Taiwan Platinum[151]
United Kingdom Gold[155]
United States 4× Platinum[5]

References[edit]

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