The Speak Now Era
Table of Contents
Songs From the Heart
There’s something beautiful about the rawness that comes from knowing Taylor’s heart during the Speak Now era. It was special, and intimate, and magical. Nothing was hidden, as she wore it all on her sleeve in songs like “Dear John,” “Last Kiss,” and “Back to December”. There was no stopping the force of Taylor and her brave and brilliant mind. While she had released two albums prior, Speak Now was arguably the most defining albums of Taylor’s country music career.
Speak Now was also the point in Taylor’s career when she began making headlines for her celebrity romances and friendships. Yes, she had recently dated a handful of attractive young stars (Joe Jonas, John Mayer and Taylor Lautner) and had also feuded with a few notable celebrities (first and foremost: Kanye West). But instead of speaking on those matters publicly, Taylor addressed them in her music. Even though her songs had always been about her personal experiences, they eventually took on a new form as fans and the media scoured the lyrics for clues about which celebrity she was singing about. Taylor’s beautifully written and emotional lyrics about heartbreak and growing up made it clear that despite growing out of her teen years, her music still struck a chord with teenage girls around the world – she became known as the quintessential “breakup song artist”, for better or worse. The guessing game may have been trivial at the time, but it was also super entertaining and piqued the interest of many in her hidden Easter eggs.
Speak Now became the fastest-selling digital album by a female artist, with 278’000 downloads in a week. For this feat, Taylor received a listing in the 2010 Guinness World Records; she earned another entry in the book after ten of Speak Now’s tracks debuted on the Billboard Hot 100, making her the first female to achieve the feat. Three of the album’s singles — “Mine”, “Back to December”, and “Mean” — peaked within the Top 10 in the US and Canada.
The song “Mean” won “Best Country Song” and “Best Country Solo Performance” at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards. Taylor also performed the song during the ceremony. She won various other awards for Speak Now, including “Songwriter/Artist of the Year” by the Nashville Songwriters Association (2010 and 2011), “Woman of the Year” by Billboard (2011), and “Entertainer of the Year” by the Academy of Country Music (2011 and 2012) and the Country Music Association in 2011. At the American Music Awards of 2011, she won “Artist of the Year” and “Favorite Country Album”.
The Hunger Games and Rap Collaboration
Speak Now World Tour
Beyond the music and the media headlines, the Speak Now era was truly magical. Taylor became known as “America’s sweetheart”, and she appeared on the cover of every American teenage magazine. Her style was still whimsical but started to become increasingly more feminine (flowy, vintage dresses, cardigans, kitten heels etc.). That, as well as the commercials for her first perfume line (Wonderstruck and Wonderstruck Enchanted) made her seem like a real life princess.
It’s fair to say that during the Speak Now era people started differentiating Taylor from other country – and pop – artists. Her sound, which combined both genres, became instantly recognizable. In her interviews she started to talk more about baking, her cat (then kitten Meredith) and her unglamourous life off the road (watching Law & Order SVU in the evenings, ordering Chinese food etc.). It gave people the sense that “Taylor Swift is just like us”. All of these things transformed Taylor into the iconic brand she is today.
The Quintessential Taylor Era
Nowadays, some claim that Speak Now sort of became the “forgotten Taylor Swift era” – after all, it didn’t produce über hits like “You Belong With Me” or “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. However, it is all the more popular in her fandom, one of the main factors being that Taylor wrote the album entirely on her own. People who have followed Taylor since the beginning of her career often regard Speak Now as the album that turned them from being a fan into being a lifelong fan.
Speak Now has become one of the best albums in country music, and one of the most brilliant. It’s a piece of art that will stand the test of time with its brave emotion, skillful songwriting, and Taylor’s fearlessness to wear her heart on her sleeve. There was something magical instilled into the Speak Now era: Taylor’s songs were full of hope, love, and a sense of bravery. She encouraged us all to not wait, but to speak now. Speak Now was wistful, nostalgic, and enchanting. It will be remembered.