Every Song On Taylor Swift’s ‘Speak Now’, Ranked
Taylor Swift is re-releasing her 2010 album Speak Now, and I’m tickled purple about it.
Taylor Swift’s turned up the nostalgia dial to 11 in recent years, and it’s working a treat. The re-recordings of Fearless and Red have been huge successes. Special mention goes to the epic 10 minute version of ‘All Too Well’, which not only featured in everyone’s Spotify Wrapped and workout playlists last year, but also became the longest song in history to go no.1 on the Billboard Hottest 100. Her third endeavour into owning control over her music and the third (Taylor’s Version) album, Speak Now, is set to drop on July 7.
Taylor’s version of Speak Now will feature 22 tracks: 16 from the original album (not including ‘If This Was A Movie’, which was recently re-released), and six tracks From The Vault. When it was originally released, Taylor’s third album marked her most personal work to date, with each song written by Swift — the first time she’d done this on an album. “I first made Speak Now, completely self-written, between the ages of 18 and 20,” Taylor shared. “The songs that came from this time in my life were marked by their brutal honesty, unfiltered diaristic confessions and wild wistfulness. I love this album because it tells a tale of growing up, flailing, flying and crashing… and living to speak about it.”
Speak Now was an evolution of Taylor’s writing style, and it became a blueprint for how we, as fans, view her compositional approach. The tracks are longer and feature more memorable hooks; the lyricism is adventurous as she experiments with different perspectives and narratives; and there is this intrinsic introspection and maturity to Speak Now that we were yet to see in Taylor’s earlier work.
So charge up your iPod Nano and put on a purple peplum: it’s time to rank the tracks from Taylor Swift’s 2010 release Speak Now. This tracklist is from the deluxe version of Speak Now, and the ranking doesn’t include the acoustic versions or pop mixes. Also, I’ll revisit and update this list to include the new From The Vault tracks when they drop, too.
At the bottom of my list is ‘Superman’; a track that has our protagonist yearning for a guy who has the personality equivalent of the dude who you show your friends a picture of and say ‘he looks so much better in person!’. Don’t get me wrong, ‘Superman’ still carries a lot of my favourite Taylor traits: a super catchy melody in the chorus, metaphors and vibrant storytelling and a few Country Accent Moments to remind us of her roots. But it lacks thematic cohesion and ultimately tells a tale that I just didn’t feel compelled enough to get behind. In short: it’s no ‘The Story Of Us’. If you’re someone who finds themselves unsatisfyingly surrounded by bouquets and love notes from your many suitors, while longing after the attention of someone else who is complex and unattainable, ‘Superman’ might strike a chord, but for me, this Taylor Swift track doesn’t leave a lasting impression.
#16. ‘Better Than Revenge’
Misogynistic era Taylor enters the chat with the charged-up energy of ‘Better Than Revenge’. This ferocious track almost sounds like it could have been written by Hayley Williams (who is actually making an appearance in a Vault release for Speak Now, FYI) — the 2000s slut-shamey lyrics would sit perfectly next to similar controversial banger ‘Misery Business’. It’ll be interesting to see if the new wave of Olivia Rodrigo-adjacent pop-punk fans will enjoy the re-release of ‘Better Than Revenge’, or if its outdated message will fall on deaf ears. Either way, feminism may need to leave the building for this track, because “she’s better known for the things that she does on the mattress” goes hard.
#15. ‘Never Grow Up’
Speak Now is speckled with songs that seem like love letters to a past self, and ‘Never Grow Up’ certainly falls into this category. The sincerity of this track is certainly there, though we think that the re-release of this song will tug on our emotional heart strings more than the original, simply because the maturity in Taylor’s voice will feel more akin to a message about nurturing your youthful spirit.
The syrupy melody and love-sick lyrics of ‘Ours’ echo the song’s message to a tee: don’t give a fuck about what anyone thinks when you’re in love. Much of modern music is obsessed with short sweet hooks and a lyric sheet that could fit on the back of a business card.
But, Taylor’s early music is a reminder that there’s something really fun about learning a lot of lyrics that combine to offer a deep exploration of a love story. The best songwriting of ‘Ours’ is, in typical Taylor Swift fashion, saved for the bridge: “And it’s not theirs to speculate if it’s wrong and/Your hands are tough, but they are where mine belong and/I’ll fight their doubt and give you faith with this song for you”.
The midway point of Speak Now brings us to ‘Innocent’, a song that could have been written directly to Fearless-era Taylor as a bit of a big-sister hug. Taylor wrote ‘Innocent’ as a letter to herself and a reminder to be courageous in the face of adversary from the industry and the wider media, speaking directly to her experience at the 2009 VMAs.
Taylor has been through a lot since Kanye’s infamous interruption, and we can only hope she harnesses the frustration of over a decade’s worth of industry fuckery to deliver an emotive and newly energised performance for the stunning re-release of ‘Innocent’.
‘Haunted’ packs all the power and punch necessary to process love as it fades away, and it’s one of the songs I point to when people dare question Taylor’s skill as a vocalist. Swifties will be quick to tell you that the live version of ‘Haunted’ is the version worth hearing, and that power from Taylor’s voice is unmatched when blended with the energy of a cheering crowd and the chimes of church bells. I have to agree: the nature of this charged track lends itself perfectly to the unfiltered passion felt in a live setting.
#11. ‘Last Kiss’
‘Last Kiss’ feels like a lonesome slow dance; a waltz you’d usually share with another. Taylor reminisces on the supercut of an ended romance, reflecting on a long list of candid moments that made up the tapestry of the former relationship. It’s gutting, melancholic and lonely — the perfect Taylor Swift song to blast as you stare out the window and pretend to be in a music video.
#10. ‘Sparks Fly’
‘Sparks Fly’ soundtracks the cinematic sprint towards the person you should leave alone; the person who draws you in, no matter the consequence. Despite your flammable demeanour, the sparks are way too strong and they feel worth bursting into flames for. The track captures this desperate fantasy perfectly, and encourages you to let go, and get lost in the moment: “Meet me in the pouring rain/Kiss me on the sidewalk/Take away the pain”.
#9. ‘Speak Now’
In her documentary, Miss Americana, Taylor talks about storytelling being her “niche specialty. “Everybody in music has their own sort of niche specialty thing that they do, that, you know, sets them apart from everybody else. And my storytelling is what it is for me. I know that without me writing my own songs I wouldn’t be here.”
‘Speak Now’ feels like another early picture Taylor, the storyteller, painted for us. The album’s title track ventures into one of her most visceral imaginations, transporting us to… what seems to be the most cookie cutter boring wedding ever.Among the mundanity lies Taylor, waiting for her moment to strike. She wants to whisk the groom-to-be away to live happily with her, instead (remember, it’s 2010.) Groom-stealing aside, ‘Speak Now’ is deeply charming, and its bouncy melodies and sweet lyricism feels like an apt graduation from ‘You Belong With Me’ from Fearless. However, it’s a bit too whimsical for me — and isn’t one of my standout tracks from the album.
#8. ‘The Story Of Us’
Featuring the lyrics “sparks fly” within the opening lines, ‘The Story Of Us’ intuitively acts as the downfall of the grand love story we were introduced to in the album’s second track. The emotional drive of this song feels pointed and precise — we see less of the raw anger from ‘Better Than Revenge’ and ‘Haunted’. Here, Taylor draws a throughline between a relationship’s rise and fall, offering a list of facts, which allows the listener to draw their own conclusion as to what the hell happened here. I also love that we get a bit of an introduction to the synthetic sounds that Taylor goes on to explore in later albums; her explosive chorus moves atop a buzzing bass that feels unrecognisable next to her country musings.
#7. ‘Back To December’
Swifties are well acquainted with Taylor’s ability to detail the depths of her yearning, and the intensity of her heartbreak (hello, All Too Well) but a perspective she seldom explored up to this point in her career was the maturity of understanding one’s own shortcomings. ‘Back To December’ serves as a sincere apology to a lover you’ve done wrong by – in this case, the track refers to her relationship with Taylor Lautner.
Incidentally, the Shark Boy and Lava Girl star has expressed his affection for what he believes is the best Taylor album, and requests that any sympathy, thoughts and prayers should instead be directed to John Mayer at this time. #PrayForJohn. (Don’t worry, I’ll get to his messy depiction on Speak Now imminently.)
#6. ‘If This Was A Movie’ (Taylor’s Version)
‘If This Was A Movie’ strays away from simple guitar strums, instead featuring glimmering arpeggios. The track presented a new challenge to beginner guitar-playing Swifties, giving them something special to add to their busking spots. The re-recorded version of this deluxe addition to Speak Now has actually already been released, and works as a great example of how subtle production flourishes can elevate a song’s message – especially when that song’s dazzling melodrama is already bursting from its lyrical seams. “Last night I heard my own heart beating/Sounded like footsteps on my stairs/Six months gone and I’m still reaching/Even though I know you’re not there.”
Speaking from experience, ‘Mean’ equipped young people in primary schools everywhere with scathing insults to sling at bullies in the schoolyard. Of all the songs on Speak Now, this track best represents Taylor’s country roots, and has stood the test of time as probably the most singable track of the entire album. Its jovial banjo and intoxicating harmonies create an irresistible temptation to join in — again, I’m speaking from experience.
#4. ‘Long Live’
If ‘Good Riddance’ by Green Day had a more feminine twin, it would be ‘Long Live’. The graduation vibes are off the charts in this nostalgia-drenched love letter of gratitude to Taylor’s bandmates and fans. Working as the original closing track of the album, ‘Long Live’ was a true celebration of Taylor’s career up til that point, and with countless accolades since its release, we’re excited to see if the re-recorded version will be a fitting update for the prolific artist.
#3. ‘Dear John’
What better way to jab at your muso ex than to release a song that not only name drops them, but uses their signature guitar tone, and calls them a cradle robber? ‘Dear John’ stands as one of the best Taylor Swift break-up songs from her entire discography. It’s also gotta be her most savage. An unapologetic exploration of her scandalous relationship with John Mayer, ‘Dear John’ sent tabloids into a flurry upon its release 10 years ago. “Dear John, I see it all now, it was wrong/Don’t you think nineteen’s too young/To be played by your dark, twisted games when I loved you so?”
While ‘Dear John’ doesn’t quite reach the level of sucker-punch heartbreak felt in ‘All Too Well’, ‘Dear John’ has cemented itself as a go-to breakup song for gaslit Swifties everywhere. The humiliation of John Mayer is a delicious bonus.
The dreamy and lyrically dense opening track ‘Mine’ was chosen as the hit single for Speak Now at the time. Unlike some other questionable choices Taylor’s made along the way (ahem, ‘Me’) ‘Mine’ was an inspired choice for a lead single.
While the majority of the songs on Speak Now explore a few different musical flavours, there is something so distinctly Taylor Swift about ‘Mine’: her visceral descriptions that trick you into thinking you were there sitting by the water; her anthemic chorus melody that you can’t help but sing along to; her ability to fit a three act play in less than four minutes. “You made a rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter” has been rightfully recognised as an all-time iconic lyric from Taylor.
Experiencing recent resurgence on TikTok, ‘Enchanted’ is by far one of the most highly anticipated Taylor songs for the Speak Now re-release. It’s served as a strong fan favourite even a decade after the album’s release.
Back in 2010, we assumed ‘Love Story’ harnessed the maximum amount of fairytale energy possible in a song, but ‘Enchanted’ came and swept us off our feet with its theatrical and shimmering composition.
Some of Taylor’s best melody writing is on full display in ‘Enchanted’, from its simple verses, to its sweeping chorus, and finally with a bridge that will break your heart over and over again. I can’t help but chant along to the lyric “please don’t be in love with someone else”. Hopefully Taylor’s musical generosity will manifest as a version of ‘Enchanted’ that extends the track’s beloved and much-celebrated bridge a la ‘All Too Well’. Hey, a girl can dream.
Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) is out on July 7. Taylor Swift’s set to play stadium shows in Sydney and Melbourne in February 2024. If you’re as stressed about getting tickets as we are, then get the lowdown on how you can best prepare to nab yourself a ticket here.
Hero Image: Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), Taylor Swift