Taylor Swift’s new album will break records
Taylor Swift, the young, innocent face of country-pop, returns to the music scene with her highly anticipated third album, Speak Now. Since her previous two albums easily went multi-platinum, we’re thinking this one is going to be a big deal too.
Swift’s first single, “Mine,” is a catchy guilty pleasure about that storybook romance that everyone associates with her. Maybe it’s not the story of everyone’s life, but you’re probably hitting repeat after it’s over.
“Sparks Fly” might be the quintessential Taylor Swift song. There are lyrics about love and a catchy hook, and she sings like a page of her diary has been torn out. Fun fact: Swift was the sole writer for all 14 songs on the album. Not a single co-writer!
The album’s first ballad, “Back to December,” has incredible lyrics. Her voice is a bit deeper than on the other tracks, which might come as a shocker to some listeners. Essentially, though, it’s a song of regret, and it’s a pretty dramatic ballad — one of Swift’s staples.
With “Speak Now,” the lyrics in the verse can seem a bit cheesy at first, but listeners can come to like them as they get lost in the catchiness of the charming song about making one’s voice heard when a preacher says, “Speak now or forever hold your peace.”
Don’t be wary about “Dear John” just because it’s 6:44 long. It feels like a long song, but it’s not boring. Swift sings a victim’s cry, listing the faults and misdeeds of her wrongdoer. This heartbreaking tale, with some bluesy guitar tossed in, is allegedly about John Mayer.
Listen to “The Story of Us.” Swift’s dishes out another song from her strongest suit: upbeat songs about love. She knows how to write well; she’s a fresh, modern artist; and she can put together a great piece of music. This is definitely one of the album’s better songs, if only for its picking up the pace from the numerous lengthy ballads.
“Enchanted” is almost six minutes long, but it doesn’t feel drawn out at all. The lyrics flow quite smoothly on top of the beat, and the gentle verses crescendo into a bold chorus where Swift showcases a higher vocal range.
“Innocent” is a classy jab. It’s her response to the 2009 Video Music Awards incident with Kanye West (“Imma let you finish…”), but it doesn’t outright bash him. Lyrically, the song’s a true gem. The beautifully dramatic tune tells how West is still immature, but she’s able to forgive him for his interruption. (Still not convinced it’s about West? How about this lyric: “It’s okay, life is a tough crowd — 32 and still growing up now.” West was 32 years old at the time of the VMAs).
The music of “Haunted” sounds like it’s taken from a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert. Maybe it doesn’t work as a Taylor Swift song because it’s not what listeners are used to, but abandon the mindset that she’s a one-trick pony and we can appreciate the song for the song itself.
“Last Kiss” is definitely another gentle ballad in the vein of “Enchanted,” but it never really picks up the energy. Still, though, it’s a nice piece of music. Though many of Swift’s songs make you want to curl up in a state of depression beside a window and watch the rain fall, they’re great standalone tracks — this one included. This is one of five songs on the new album that’s over five minutes long and one of two that’s longer than six minutes.
Thematically, “Long Live” is a perfect closing song. It sounds a bit like “Change,” Swift’s song for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team. It’s a great song to end a dramatic romance film, when the two lovers realize that everything is right when they are together.
Listen up: “Mine,” “Dear John,” “The Story of Us”
The verdict: The third time’s a charm. Though it would be tough to pit Swift’s three albums against each other and pick a clear-cut winner, you surely won’t be disappointed here. She provides an even bigger range of songs and styles on this album, so it’d be safe to say that this is Swift’s most mature and creative album. Oh yeah — and the songs are great too.
“Speak Now” is a cute, catchy number that entertains the fears every girl has about the man she loves marrying the wrong girl, and what she should do about it. Speaking out is a clear theme across the album.
At 6:44, “Dear John” can feel a little long, especially when you’re multi-tasking and you lose track of the song, only to come back and realize it’s still going. It’s a slow ballad about the naiveté of a 19-year-old and an older man taking advantage of it. The song is a good one, but it would’ve been better if it were shorter.
“Never Grow Up” is a sad tale of a girl who wishes she had never grown up. Swift starts the song by projecting the story onto someone else and, midway through the song, loops it back to her. The idea is nice, but the song itself is not worth listening to.
“Enchanted” is a great song many girls can relate to about the rush that follows meeting a boy for the first time. It’s neither slow nor pop-y, settling on a middle ground that keeps the song both moving and interesting.
“Better Than Revenge” is a fun song about getting revenge on a girl who stole a boy. Swift is sassy and uses many clever lines in this song.
Despite the fact that “Innocent” is a song Swift probably had to do, since she always writes about important moments in her life, it’s not a song that will have a high play count in your library. She forgives West in this song, telling him that he’s still an “innocent.” It’s another slow ballad, one of a few on this album, but it’s easily one of the less memorable ones.
“Last Kiss” is another slow song that tells the heartbreaking tale of a girl losing a boy she never thought she’d lose. She reminisces about the time they spent together and wonders why he left.
“Long Live” is powerful and fun. It’s about a boy and a girl making a difference together, breaking through walls set by others. Swift sings, “I had the time of my life fighting dragons with you.”
Listen up: “Enchanted,” “Last Kiss,” “Long Live”
The verdict: Swift pulls out another cohesive album filled with great songs. Some of the songs are sub-par, and others are not memorable, but the good ones are brilliant, and there are more than a few of those.