"Speak Now" is the third studio album by Taylor. 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 Taylor and Nathan Chapman. Written entirely by Taylor as the follow-up to "Fearless", "Speak Now" expands on the country pop style of her previous work, and features lyrical themes including love, romance and heartbreak.
"Speak Now" received generally positive reviews from music critics, who praised Taylor's songwriting and themes. It received a GRAMMY Award nomination for "Best Country
Album", making it her second consecutive nomination in the category, following her 2010 victory for "Fearless". Several music critics and publications included "Speak Now" in their year-end
lists. Six singles were released from the album, all of which have either received a platinum or multi-platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of
America (RIAA). Taylor promoted the album with the "Speak Now World Tour", grossing over $123 million.
"Speak Now" debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, giving Taylor her second consecutive chart-topper in the U.S. Its first-week sales of 1,047,000 copies
was the fifth-biggest debut in history for a female artist, the third biggest ever by a country album (the first being Taylor's own "RED" album later released in 2012), the biggest in five and a half years, and the biggest first week sales of 2010. The album also made music history for claiming the biggest
one-week sales tally for an album by a female country artist. 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.
As of 2014, "Speak Now" is ranked 17th in United States history to sell one million copies in a single week. As of December 2018, the album has sold over 6 million copies in the United
States and 10,6 million copies worldwide. It is also the tenth best-selling digital album of all time.
"Speak Now" was included on Rolling Stone's list of "50 Best Female Albums of All Time" in 2012, ranking at number forty-five. This gave Taylor, age 22 at the time of publication, the
distinction of being the youngest artist across all genres to be included on the list.
BACKGROUND AND RECORDING
Taylor worked on the album for two years prior to its release. She 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." In an analysis of Taylor'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." 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".
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. Some of the songs feature live strings, and some, a full orchestra.
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 fairytales and high school anymore. That's not where you're at. I don't think the record should be called 'Enchanted'." After the
discussion, Taylor 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.
WRITING AND LYRICAL CONTENT
Taylor wrote all of the songs by herself. The opening track, "Mine", was also released as the lead single from the album. She explained that the uptempo country-pop song is
about her tendency to run from love. Critics praised the song, although some calling is “formulaic” for resonating her earlier work.
"Sparks Fly" was composed by Taylor when she was sixteen, prior her debut to the music scene, 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 was heavily featured on the track. She 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."
"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 Taylor has first incorporated an orchestra on record, and lyrically it is the first time that she ever apologizes to someone in a song.
Critics have speculated that the song is Taylor's apology to her ex-boyfriend Taylor Lautner.
The title track followed, which was released first as a promotional single. 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.
“Dear John” is the longest track from the album which clocks six minutes and forty five seconds. The song is an “open letter” to an ex-boyfriend, and it is speculated that the song is written
to John Mayer, whom Taylor has dated from late 2009 to early 2010. The song is about being manipulated and betrayed by someone you loved.
The GRAMMY-winning song "Mean" is the sixth track of the album. Critics said that it is one of her most country-sounding songs. The song's lyrical content addresses those who question Taylor's
ability to sing.
The pop-oriented song "The Story of Us" followes which narrates the awkwardness that takes place between two people after they break up. After Taylor finished this song, she knew the album was
complete. The song contains an element of pop-punk with a vibrant beat, electric guitars and a fast-paced chorus.
“Never Grow Up” is a sweet ballad addressed to a young child from Taylor feeling alone as she spends her first night in her new apartment of her own. She explained that the song is about “the
fact that I don't quite know how I feel about growing up”.
The power ballad "Enchanted” serves as the ninth track of the album. The song starts with guitar strings and lyrically, it finds Taylor singing about meeting a guy she's attracted to without
knowing if her instant infatuation is at all reciprocated. The song has a length of five minutes and fifty two seconds, thus making it the third longest song in the album.
“Better than Revenge” is one of Taylor’s vengeance songs aimed at the young actress Joe Jonas pursued after breaking up with her. The song contains punk rock elements and is one of the more
pop-oriented songs from the album.
“Innocent” is written in response to previous year's Kanye West contretemps on the MTV Video Music Awards. The song is about someone who has lost his path their life, but whose "string of
lights are still bright to me."
“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. The song is about
after a break up, and involves Taylor demanding that the guy to “finish what he started.”
“Last Kiss” is a country ballad song. Taylor explained that the song “is sort of like a letter to somebody.” The song is rumored to be about Joe Jonas. The song clocks six minutes and
seven seconds, making it the second longest song on the album.
The closing track “Long Live” is about Taylor's band and her fans. It is a look towards the future, to wonder what story will be told then about today. She 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.”
Taylor 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. These three were subsequently released to the iTunes Store the following day, respectively. Additionally, "The Story
of Us" was previewed October 22, 2010, through Comcaston-demand and XfinityTv.com.
"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. "Back to December" debuted at number six on the Billboard Hot 100, with 242,000 digital downloads. "Mean" debuted at number 11 on the Billboard Hot
100 with 163,000 downloads. 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.
On July 15, 2011, Taylor'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". The fragrance made its
in-store appearance on November 16, 2011. On November 8, 2011, Taylor released two more promotional singles from the album, "If This Was a Movie" and "Superman", both were made available for
digital download by iTunes.
"Haunted", along with the promotional releases, charted on the Billboard 100 at number ninety-eight and Billboard Hot Digital Songs at number seventy-one.
A deluxe edition was released exclusively to the Target Corporation and features an alternate cover, with Taylor in a red dress instead of the standard edition's purple. 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. Released on her official website, the Target deluxe edition was made available for digital download by Scattertunes. 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". On November 8, 2011, the three bonus songs were released individually as singles
on iTunes and Amazon.com and the bonus remixes were released individually as singles on iTunes. On January 17, 2012, the Target exclusive deluxe edition was released to other retail stores.