October 25, 2010
“Speak Now” debuted at no. 1 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 no. 3.
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.
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” 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.
In June 2012, “Speak Now” was included in the “50 Best Female Albums of All Time” list by Rolling Stone, ranking at number 45. In 2019, Billboard ranked the album at number 51 on its “The 100 Greatest Albums of the 2010s” list, while Cleveland.com placed it at number 71. Billboard also named “Speak Now” the best country album by a female artist of the 2010s decade, and second overall, and stated that the album was “as raw as she [Swift] ever got”. “Speak Now” was named the fourth-best country album of the 2010s by Taste Of Country, and the fifth-best by PopMatters. In 2020, Spin placed the album at number 37 on its list of “The 101 Best Albums of the 2010s”.
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.
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.
|Released||October 25, 2010|
|Length||67:29 (Standard Edition)|
|Label||Big Machine Records|