The Speak Now Era
At the beginning of 2010, Taylor was still establishing herself not only as a country singer but as a world-renowned artist. She already had a few GRAMMYs under her belt, she had just wrapped up her first headlining tour, and her music was climbing the charts. “Speak Now” finally cemented Taylor as an artist that would stick around. It was truly her golden era: the album was released on October 25, 2010, and was a commercial success, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, with opening week sales of one million copies, only the 16th album in history to do so.
THE BREAKUP SONG ARTIST
“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.
TWO MORE GRAMMY AWARDS AND OTHER ACCOLADES
“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 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. Taylor 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” SONGS AND RAP COLLABORATION
Taylor contributed two original songs to the “The Hunger Games” soundtrack album — “Safe & Sound”, co-written and recorded with The Civil Wars and T-Bone Burnett, and “Eyes Open”. The former was awarded the Grammy Award for “Best Song Written for Visual Media”. Taylor also provided vocals for B.o.B’s “Both of Us” in May 2012, making it her first collaboration with a hip hop artist.
SPEAK NOW WORLD TOUR
The expanded resume didn’t hurt her day job though: “Speak Now” sold multiple million copies in the United States, and the tour that followed the release grossed $123.7 million from 110 shows. More than 1,6 million fans came out to see her on the “Speak Now World Tour“, which wrapped in March 2012, in Australia. It was a highly theatrical event, one that saw Taylor in numerous vignettes on a collection of elaborate sets. The tour took nearly nine months to plan, Taylor said, noting that she was concerned because the set list was devised so far prior to the release of the album, before knowing which songs would be hits or fan favorites. In November 2011, she released her first live album, “Speak Now World Tour: Live”.
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.
Overall, 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 was just like us”. All of these things transformed Taylor into the iconic brand she is today.
THE QUINTESSNTIAL TAYLOR ERA
A decade later, some claim that “Speak Now” sort of became the “forgotten Taylor Swift era” – after all, it didn’t produce uber 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 HUGE, lifelong fan (called Swiftie).