Los Angeles – Newly selected as a Grammy Award winner in 2010, Taylor Swift She released Speak Now, her third studio album and the first album without a single songwriting collaboration.
Her 2006 self-titled debut and 2008’s Fearless sparked both praise and criticism for her bold bridges and sharp lyricism. Critics claimed these were masterpiece country-pop songs, but teen idols certainly weren’t responsible for them. Swift proved her detractors wrong with Speak Now, an album that came just before she transitioned from country’s youngest hope to pop’s freshest voice.
The album served as a close document of her early fame and future career ambitions, and now, 13 years later, it’s back. “Speak Now (Taylor Version)” It was released on Friday and is the third of six albums to be released. Swift plans to re-record. The Taylor’s Version album was created in the wake of her music manager Scooter Braun selling an early catalog, and represented Swift’s efforts to control her own songs and how they were used, as well as her own. It’s a spirit worthy of “Speak Now,” a record made entirely of voices.
In preparation for “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version),” The Associated Press reached out to Taylor Swift researchers to discuss what listeners might and should think about the release.
from adolescence to adulthood
Before “Speak Now” became “Speak Now”, its working title was “Enchanted”, named after the power ballad of the same name. myth ( Folklore, anyone? ) Behind this change was Swift’s label president at the time and CEO of Big Machine Records, Scott Borchetta. told her She’s well into her twenties to move away from the whimsical, fairytale iconography, and this LP needed a more mature title.
Transitions create an interesting framework for thinking about this album. Written primarily between her 18th and her 20th years and released when she turned 21, ‘Speak Now’ is a song about growing up, gaining her fame, and working with her. is a collection of songs on the cliff of declaring ownership of . There are unrequited love (Superman, Sparks) and bittersweet breakups (Back to December, If it were a movie).
“You can hear youthfulness when you listen to these songs,” says musicologist Lilly, author of Can’t Stop the Grrrls: Confronting Sexist Labels in Music from Ariana Grande to Like Yoko Ono. Hersh says “It’s all about romantic relationships. It’s interesting to hear
Elizabeth Scala teaches a course on Taylor Swift’s Songbook as an introduction to literary studies and research methods at the University of Texas at Austin.
“‘Speak Now’ says, ‘I don’t have enough life experience at the ripe age of 18 to say something completely autobiographical, but I’m going to use what I’ve read and know.’ I think it’s in my thoughts, ‘I’ve heard it from other people,'” she said of the content of the song’s lyrics, which are still “really beautiful and coherent from the confusion and imprecision of our memories.” I have succeeded in creating things.
Conversations with her critics and celebrities
A year after Kanye West’s hiatus her acceptance speech “Speak Now” at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards was the moment in Swift’s career when she began using her celebrity as a mirror for herself.
A rock critic’s takedown, Mean is a banjo-driven treatise on all manner of antagonisms. The blues-tinged “Dear John” centers around the tumultuous relationship between a young woman and an older man.
“There’s insults all over music, but men don’t get the same blame for it,” Hirsch says of “Dear John” and “Mean.” “Especially the idea that women should take the royal road, turn the other cheek, and so on, and men can take the vulgar way, and they certainly do in music. It’s a kind of duality. It’s the norm: like “Dear John,” women are labeled “feline” in the face of bad behavior. ”
A common pastime among Swift fans is uncovering the identity of the subject of her songs. But for Skala, “the most boring way to think about Taylor Swift is in terms of her biography.”
At the Eras Tour’s recent stop in Minneapolis, Swift seemed to agree, playing “Dear John” live. 11 years ago After doing this introduction:
“I’m 33. I don’t care what happened to me when I was 19 but the memories I made with the songs I wrote. So what I’m saying is I’m releasing this album. Not that I should feel the need to defend myself on the internet against anyone who thinks I may have written a song about 14 billion years ago.”
Scala sees a line between this album and its successor, with “Dear John” as its predecessor. “Everything is too good” And “average” as a foresight “blank,” The song parodied how she was portrayed in the media.
many chatting online The re-recording of “Speak Now” centers on “Better Than Revenge,” a pop-punk song aimed at another woman rather than the man who wronged them. The song takes its cues sonically and thematically from her 2007 pop-rock hit “Misery Business” by Paramore. on the same subject. (In fact, on “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version),” Paramore singer Hayley Williams provides vocals for the “Vault” song “Castles Crumble.”)
In the original chorus of “Better Than Revenge,” Swift sings, “She’s an actress / She’s known for doing it on her mattress,” a rare lyrical lyric in her career. Mine (in the opener) is a failure, underscored by a poetic phrasal diversion,” she sings, “You’ve made a careless man’s prudent daughter rebel.”) In her 2023 version of “Better Than Revenge”, the lyrics become “He was a moth to the flame/She had a match.”
“If you think about 2010, there was definitely slut-shaming rhetoric in movies and shows. She certainly wasn’t the only one doing this back then,” Hersh claimed. But he was quick to point out that Swift has also been the target of sexist rants.
The song changes on Swift’s re-recording are in line with other pop stars doing the same. Riso and Beyoncé recently changed her lyrics For songs that are considered aggressive. Weird Al no longer parodies Michael Jackson. And Swift hasn’t played “Better Than Revenge” live in over a decade, so she didn’t have to approach this particular song in this particular way.
“We’re going to replace the older versions with Taylor’s because they’re the most exact replicas possible,” Scala insists. “If she did something different, it would be a different song.” Now a different song, owned by Swift.
art evolves over time
“From a literary historian’s perspective, when you first heard ‘Speak Now,’ you could only look back at her career up to that point. It meant something in her creative timeline.” I used to,” says Skala. “And now we have to compare it to the rest of her career, so it’s hard to listen to this record in the same way. You can compare it to older recordings, but it’s deeper and richer.”
Technology has changed since 2010. So does Swift. Her voice has matured and no more of her sweet self-control that colored her early releases.
Each release comes with several “From the Vault” tracks, which are currently reconstructed unreleased songs from each album’s era. They also give us a more complete picture.
Practice of artistic autonomy
Beyond musical and cultural considerations, the facts are: Taylor Swift is re-recording this album to own his own work, as he does on many records. However, this is the only album in her discography entirely selfish. The work was praised for its elimination of exploitative male characters and its poetic embrace of Girls’ Generation.
In fact, I can’t help but think of her “could have, should have, should have.” 2022 LP “Midnights” Here Swift introspects herself on “Speak Now” and sings, “Give me back girlhood, it was mine in the first place.” The track is a creative repurposing of the teen who wrote “Dear John” as an adult. “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” is a literal replay.
“Owning these masters, she decided to take back control of them,” says Hersh. “I love what this piece tells us. It’s that we all have power, and that we don’t have to just sit back and take these situations, especially when it comes to our voices.”
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