There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Taylor Swift is one of the defining voices of modern music. With ten albums, countless awards and accolades, and a ravenous legion of loyal fans at her beck and call, Swift has spent much of the last two decades writing the stories of a generation, four minutes at a time.
One of the projects that best encapsulates Swift's widespread musical influence is 2010's Speak Now.
In her own words, Swift has described Speak Now as "an album [she] wrote alone about the whims, fantasies, heartaches, dramas and tragedies [she] lived out as a young woman between 18 and 20".
Marking her third record and one of the defining eras in her career, a 21-year-old Swift masterfully bottled up the feelings and experiences of transitioning from adolescence to adulthood while also beginning to cross over from the world of country to pop.
Guiding a generation of young women and girls through their tumultuous transformative years, Speak Now provided the soundtrack for an abundance of life experiences ranging from coping with harsh judgement, young love and brutal heartbreak, to debilitating grief, hard-earned forgiveness and the weight of past decisions.
With six singles, including two number ones at country radio ('Sparks Fly', 'Ours'), the record spent six weeks atop the Billboard 200 upon its release and has been certified six-times Platinum by the RIAA. It was also nominated for Best Country Album at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards.
In 2019, Swift announced that she would be re-recording her first six albums, starting with Fearless (Taylor's Version) and followed by Red (Taylor's Version). On July 7, 2023, Speak Now (Taylor's Version) was the third album to re-join the family.
Solely written by Swift, the 2023 version of Speak Now contains all 16 of the album's original songs as well as six previously unreleased "From the Vault" tracks.
Now, with the full 22-song record out into the world, here is Holler's ranking of Speak Now (Taylor's Version).
We start off our Speak Now journey with 'Electric Touch,' which is where we also meet our first of the Vault Tracks.
Featuring one of the biggest rock bands in modern music, 'Electric Touch' is mostly forgettable when it's sat next to some of her other vault tunes. With the same feel of your generic pop-punk love song, the tune stomps along with Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump screeching his way through for nearly four and a half minutes.
In this upbeat, fanciful take on DC's high-flying hero, Taylor Swift serves as our Lois Lane of sorts, as she draws parallels between her love interest and Superman.
Compared to the other 21 tracks on this third record, it feels like the least mature and refined, but it does capture the youthful, country-tinged sound of the 21-year-old Swift who originally recorded it.
Starting off with some cut throat intensity, 'Innocent' piles on the dramatics as we wade our way though some heavy feelings of regret, shame and eventually deliverance.
In the original recording, a younger Swift sings "32 and still growing up now", which is fitting as, 13 years later, she's now reached that milestone and would likely agree that she's still figuring it out, too.
Our second Vault song pops up at No. 19, in the form of this piano-driven diddy. Reportedly about award-winning actress Emma Stone, the bright tune depicts what happens to Swift's longtime friend when love comes and goes her way, while also loosely comparing Swift's own love affairs to hers and wishing she could emulate Stone.
'When Emma Falls In Love' got quite the special welcome when it entered the world on July 7, notably being played during the Surprise Song section at Swift's show in Kansas City only hours after its release.
Here we find another Vault song, this time with the frontwoman of Paramore, Hayley Williams. A slow-rolling ballad, Swift paints the picture of her once shimmering empire falling to pieces, and we're thinking there's some hidden meanings in here.
It's likely that this song, originally written in 2010, is chock full of references to the state of her career at the time. One of the defining moments of this period was the infamous 2009 VMAs, which saw rapper Kanye West storm the stage during her acceptance speech for Best Female Video of the Year. Around this time, Swift was also in the spotlight, as she made her transition from country golden girl to pop princess. Not to mention that her dating life was under some pretty harsh scrutiny as well.
Our 21-year old songstress took all of those things and mixed them together, resulting in 'Castles Crumbling.' And, boy, is it a sobering one.
Taking the 17th spot is 'Foolish One,' another Vault tune that demonstrates Swift's newest battle with unrequited love.
Taking on the voice of reason with a young girl, we quickly discover that she's being dragged along by a boy who she swears is the love of her life. As the song progresses, Big Sister Taylor implores with the girl that he isn't her one true love and explains that he's just playing her for the fool as he already has a girlfriend.
Speak Now helped an entire generation of young women get through a plethora of teenage plights and heartbreaks in the 2010's and 'Foolish One' is exactly the five minute therapy session that we needed.
If you've listened to Taylor's Version, then you've definitely noticed that this song doesn't quite hit the same as it used to...
Upon its release in 2010, 'Better Than Revenge' had heads rolling and vengeful Swifties screaming about a girl who was "better known for the things that she does on the mattress". You can read between those lines if you'd like, but the point is that it was the musical equivalent of female rage.
After 13 years of getting Swifties through countless cheating breakups, Swift changed the lyrics for the 2023 version which now references moths, flames and matches. Lyric change or not, we'll still be violently screaming this one for years to come.
Another precious love song, 'Ours' finds Swift tackling a familiar topic in her discography: the weight of being in a relationship with her.
Being in the limelight at such a young age, Swift encountered her fair share of scrutiny when it came to her love life as a 20-something. This song serves as an encouraging promise that though "the stakes are high [and] the water's rough", their love is no one's business but theirs.
The music video adds an extra layer of sentiment as it portrays Swift's love interest coming home from serving overseas in the military.
What can we say, we can't help but feel a little giddy when 'Ours' comes on.
With the same energy of other beloved Swift tunes, like 'The Best Day', 'Today Was A Fairytale' and even 'Ronan', this tear-jerker follows a young child through their birth all the way through to moving into their first apartment in a big city by themselves.
One part depicting the ferocious love of a mother and another part ruminating on the joys and simplicity of being a kid, 'Never Grow Up' has taken on an even more special meaning as fans that have grown up with Swift are now having their own children and likely singing this song over them.
Pass the tissues, please.
Apparently inspired by Swift's grandparents, this vault track digs up some forgotten love stories from an old antique shop.
Swift sings of a pair of love birds who believe that they were destined to be together, no matter where or when they would've met. Whether it was back in 1944 like the shop's old photos or in the 1500s in a foreign land, Swift explains that these two star-crossed lovers will always end up together.
It's a sprawling five-and-a-half minute love story for the ages.
Picture this: The love of your life is at the altar about to marry the wrong girl. What is there to do except crash the wedding and (very publicly) make your objections about their union.
A 21-year-old Swift had absolutely no business singing about this topic, but thank god she did. Lives were changed and the title of her award-winning third album was born.
If you're new to the Taylor Swift universe, then you might not realize that July 9 is a sanctioned Swiftie holiday, and it all started with this song.
This tale of love lost takes us step by step through the end of a relationship and cuts down to the bone. In true Taylor Swift fashion, she saved up all the heart-stopping ammo for the bridge which enjoyed a bit of TikTok virality ahead of the release of Speak Now (Taylor's Version).
Swift has claimed that this six-minute-long weeper is the saddest song she's written and, as we write this through tears, we'd have to agree.
As you listen through Speak Now, it's pretty obvious that it doesn't sound anything like your traditional country record and that especially applies to 'The Story Of Us'. This insanely catchy and clever tune mixes elements of pop and rock into her still-country storytelling that's told one chapter at a time.
Swift's already impressive writing skills were on full display with this smash hit as she chronicled a relationship headed towards its close with two soon-to-be ex-lovers caught in a stalemate of who "can act like they care less".
It's a 10... literally.
'Mean' is one of those songs that transcends just Taylor Swift fans. Even if you're a staunch hater of the megastar, you know this tune and it probably lived in your head for much of 2010 and 2011.
The genesis for the song came from Swift's own critics, namely one who chastised her following her performance at the 2010 Grammy Awards. She noted that while some of their criticism was constructive, others were just attacking her and her music for the hell of it.
The winner for Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song at the 2012 Grammy Awards, 'Mean' is probably the most true-to-country songs on the record, led by a trusty banjo and featuring plenty of fiddle along the way.
We don't care what the naysayers think, it's a downhome good time.
As we mentioned earlier, Speak Now was criticized for not being "country" enough, and it all reaches a fever pitch with 'Haunted'.
This cinematic masterpiece features a full orchestra and hinges on some serious rock energy. With an utterly sinister feel, Swift easily sells the intensity behind this heartbreak song, while the bridge provides some downright eery vocals to further portray the overwhelming feelings of betrayal.
'Haunted' blew open the doors for our genre-agnostic queen, who was beginning to experiment with different sounds and styles in her music. For that, we say thank you!
'I Can See You' is the undeniable standout when it comes to Speak Now's newly minted Vault Tracks. So much so that it got its own music video with some cameos from Taylor Lautner, Joey King and Presley Cash.
The bluesy-pop tune provides a sexy little mystique, as Swift sings about all the places she can see her and her love interest if he only knew. Conversely, the accompanying video takes things in a different, more criminal direction.
Setting the scene for an art heist, Swift and her gang of guest stars work to break Speak Now out of a vault, giving a perfect visual for what Swift is doing by re-recording her first six albums.
Self-directing a video from a song on her self-written album... blondie's brain never stops.
The sixth spot finds the album's opening track and one of the album's most well-known standards.
'Mine' tells the tale of a girl from a broken home and no example of real love, but finding just that in a little under four minutes. In a coming of age sort of way, the song finds the girl reflecting on the ups and downs of her relationship and chronicles her journey to happily ever after.
She said: "You made a rebel of a careless man's careful daughter / You are the best thing that's ever been mine" You know it and you love it, don't lie!
Before there was 'All Too Well (10 Minute Version),' there was our No. 5 song: 'Dear John'.
This near seven-minute ballad was the first of her soberingly autobiographical, long-form hits, and this one's crosshairs was set on John Mayer. Sharing details behind their relationship, Swift sheds light on the mind games, passive aggression and other woes she experienced during their courtship.
A notable fan favorite that's masterfully written, it also cleverly takes the shape of a Dear John letter. The term was coined during WWII as women back home wrote to their husbands and romantic partners overseas to inform them that their relationship was over.
We think this John probably got the message...
'Sparks Fly' is synonymous with Speak Now and it's a certified bop.
Young (forbidden) love and infatuation is something that Swift does well, something that's demonstrated perfectly here with an added flavor of danger sprinkled in.
While it may not be the most seminal lyrically, it's one of the strongest and most defining songs on the record. Since 2010, Swifties everywhere have gladly promised to "drop everything now" and have often met Swift "in the pouring rain" just like the songs says.
'Long Live' is the epitome of Speak Now, it's as simple as that.
It's a song that perfectly captures the feelings of youth, adventure and taking on the world as a hopeful teenager. Written almost like a graduation speech, 'Long Live' brings in elements of fantasy while also drowning listeners in waves of nostalgia of the glory days.
When asked for a list of Holler's best Taylor Swift bridges, this one has to be in the top five and it gets us teary just about every time.
"Will you take a moment? / Promise me this / That you'll stand by me forever / But if, God forbid, fate should step in / And force us into a goodbye / If you have children someday / When they point to the pictures / Please tell them my name / Tell them how the crowds went wild / Tell them how I hope they shine".
It's songs like this that have made us lifelong Swifties.
When looking at the tracklisting for Speak Now, 'Back To December' is the third one on the list and shows the first breath of maturity on the record.
In just under five minutes, Swift signalled to everyone just how much she had developed as a songwriter since Fearless, and the song now serves as somewhat of a baseline as to how far she has come since then.
'Back To December' takes an introspective look at one of Swift's relationships where she was in the wrong and had some decisions to reckon with. Written about her partnership with Taylor Lautner, it serves as a public apology for how things ended between the two and is hands down her greatest heartbreak anthem.
Considering Lautner stars in the 'I Can See You' music video and popped on stage during her Kansas City show on the night that Speak Now (Taylor's Version) was released, we can assume that he accepted the apology and the two seem to be pretty good friends these days.
When you look up the word "enchanted", the definition you'll more than likely find is "to be filled with great delight". Synonyms for this include captivate, charm, dazzle, enthrall, spellbind, mesmerize, engross and transfix, and all of those are perfect descriptors for the effect 'Enchanted' has on the Taylor Swift universe.
Written about a fateful first meeting of two hopeful lovers, the whimsical song serves as the universal fan-favorite of Speak Now and is the clear frontrunner for our list. With Swift's signature brand of fantasy brought to the forefront, she paints a picture of a larger-than-life love that has had Swifties wonderstruck for over a decade.
If you needed further proof that it's the best song on Speak Now, it's worth noting that up until the release of Taylor's Version on July 7, 'Enchanted' was the sole song from this era included on Swift's career-spanning The Eras Tour.
Regardless of where your favorite song is on this list, we can all agree that this record is sparkling and we won't let it go... especially now that we have Taylor's Version.
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