Speak Now (song)
|Promotional single by Taylor Swift|
|from the album Speak Now|
|Released||October 5, 2010|
"Speak Now" is a song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. The song is produced by Swift and Nathan Chapman, was released as a promotional single on October 5, 2010, by Big Machine Records from her 2010 album of the same name. Swift wrote the song about interrupting a wedding, after conversing with her friend, whose ex-boyfriend would soon wed someone else, and having a dream about one of her own ex-boyfriends marrying another girl. The song relies on acoustic guitar and is a narration from the perspective of a person who crashes her former love's wedding in an attempt to win him back.
The song opened to critical acclaim for its lyrical detail. "Speak Now" had successful commercial outcomes in Canada and the United States, debuting and peaking at number eight on both the Canadian Hot 100 and the Billboard Hot 100. Its appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 marked Swift's sixth top ten debut, which made her the artist with the most top ten debuts in the history of the chart. "Speak Now" also managed to garner enough airplay to chart on the Hot Country Songs chart.
"Speak Now" was written by Swift, as were all the tracks for the album. The song was inspired by the story of her friend and her high school boyfriend. The couple went their separate ways after high school – with the idea that they would get back together. One day, Swift's friend informed Swift that her high school boyfriend would soon wed. "He had met this girl who's just this horrible, mean person who made him completely stop talking to all of his friends, cut off his family. She had him so completely isolated," said Swift. She asked her friend if she would "speak now." Perplexed, her friend asked for an explanation, and she answered, "You know, storm the church. 'Speak now or forever hold your peace.' I'll go with you. I'll play guitar. It'd be great." Swift's friend found this to be humorous, laughing at the idea.
After speaking with her friend, Swift became deeply fixated on the idea of how tragic it would be for the person one loved to wed someone else. That night, Swift experienced a dream where one of her own ex-boyfriends married another girl. To her, this signaled that she had to compose a song about interrupting a wedding. In retrospect, she concluded, "For me, I like to think of it as good versus evil. And this girl is just completely – just the evil one." Swift entitled the album after "Speak Now" because it fit the album's concept, with each song being a different confession to a person. "It's called Speak Now, and that pertains to the album as a concept and as an entire theme of the record more than I can even tell you," she said. The song was released as a promotional single on October 5, 2010, as part of Countdown to Speak Now, an exclusive campaign launched by the iTunes Store. During the opening week of Speak Now, Swift performed "Speak Now" on the Late Show with David Letterman.
"Speak Now" is a country pop track with a length of four minutes and two seconds. It has a predominant pop music composition, intertwined with various country elements. The song is set in common time and has a moderate tempo of 120 beats per minute. It is written in the key of G major and Swift's vocals span two octaves, from A3 to D5. Swift's vocals begin in a hushed tone, then gradually grow until, at one point, she belts out the song's title. The song features different twangy, up-and-down vocal hooks might, in similarity to "You Belong with Me". It follows the chord progression G–D–Am–C. The song's instrumentation is based on acoustic guitar; it eventually has its own gentle solo.
In the lyrics of "Speak Now", Swift sings about crashing her former love's wedding in attempt to win him back. The opening lines acknowledge that, although out of character, Swift is still in love with her ex-boyfriend and wants to make sure he does not marry the wrong girl. Throughout the song's verses, Swift sneaks in the wedding and describes her observations, such as the bride-to-be's wearing of a poofy wedding gown shaped like a pastry, her cumulative family, and an organist playing "Bridal Chorus". In "Speak Now"'s refrains, Swift pleads her ex-boyfriend to not say his vows in order to run away with her. The bridge has Swift responding to the priest's calling of "Speak now or forever hold your peace" before repeating the opening lines. The last refrain is altered, with Swift narrating from the groom's perspective and inform Swift they will indeed run away together.
The song received critical acclaim. Simon Vozick-Levinson of Entertainment Weekly deemed "Speak Now" one of Swift's best songs yet. He also said, "Her expressive delivery of the lyrics makes up for any shortcomings as a technical vocalist" and that it was "expertly catchy". He concluded that he was unable to stop playing the song after he heard it. Bill Lamb of About.com said the song was "brilliant". He continued, "The song is sweet, funny, bratty, and edgy all at the same time. Taylor Swift remains one of our most gifted young lyricists." Jonathan Keefe of Slant Magazine thought that "Speak Now" exemplified Swift's inability to "write authoritatively about anything other than how great boys are or how much boys suck or how dreams about boys will take her somewhere better than where she is now."
"Speak Now" entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number eight due to the sales of 217,000 digital downloads. With that week's appearance on the chart, "Speak Now" became Swift's sixth top ten debut and, therefore, set the mark that made Swift the artist with most top ten debuts in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, surpassing the five top ten entries earned by Mariah Carey from 1995 to 1998. Elsewhere in North America, the track debuted at number eight on the Canadian Hot 100. In Australia, "Speak Now" debuted at number twenty.
Credits and personnel
- Taylor Swift – vocals, songwriter, producer, acoustic guitar
- Nathan Chapman – producer, acoustic guitar, digital piano, banjo, bass guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, organ, synthesizer
- Bryan Sutton – acoustic guitar
- Amos Heller – bass guitar
- Tim Marks – bass guitar
- Tommy Sims – bass guitar
- John Gardner – drums
- Nick Buda – drums
- Shannon Forrest – drums
- Grant Mickelson – electric guitar
- Mike Meadows – electric guitar
- Paul Sidoti – electric guitar
- Rob Hajacos – fiddle
- Tim Lauer – Hammond B3
- Al Wilson – percussion
- Eric Darken – percussion
- Smith Curry – steel guitar
The song was performed as part of the regular setlist on the Speak Now World Tour. Clips of the performance can be seen in the music video for Swift's single "Sparks Fly". According to Jocelyn Vena of MTV.com, the performance was "a very theatrical moment" in which "Swift acted out crashing a wedding. She eventually stole the groom away, as she sings in the song, and the pair ran through the crowd together." Swift performed the song on September 22, 2018 as the acoustic surprise song at the New Orleans stop on the Reputation Stadium Tour.
"Speak Now" was covered by Seohyun of Girls' Generation as a solo stage at the Romantic Fantasy concert on January 1, 2013. Prior to this, she played a part of the song on September 21, 2011 episode of the Big Brother TV program as an example of a song which she enjoyed when practicing the guitar and the English language. Seohyun's former labelmate, Wendy of Red Velvet, also did a short cover version of the song, as part of the pre-debut training team SM Rookies.
- Digital download
- "Speak Now" – 4:02
Charts and certifications
|Australian Singles Chart||20|
|Canada (Canadian Hot 100)||8|
|New Zealand Singles Chart||34|
|US Billboard Hot 100||8|
|US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)||58|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||500,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
|United States||October 5, 2010||Digital download||Big Machine|
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