Over the past few years, as Taylor's re-recorded masters have reached a whole new batch of young Swifties, it has come to my attention that Speak Now may have been woefully underrated by the, dare I say, youths of the internet.
What I discovered in recent years - much to my shock and delight - was that a whole bunch of folks on TikTok are just now hearing the Speak Now discography and songs like Enchanted for the very first time and it is blowing. my. mind.
I hate to be one of those icky millennials that's like "I can’t believe you didn't know that song," but I can’t believe you didn't know that song (or those songs). And not because I'm a gatekeeping witch.
Hello, I lived through the 2016 'snake' fiasco as an entertainment journalist - I want EVERYONE to bask in the glow of some Taylor appreciation with me! But because it was an entire moment and I want you to feel the sheer joy that is Speak Now.
Speak Now was when Taylor Swift became Taylor Swift. As she said in her statement, she was 18-20 years old when she recorded most of the songs, wrote the entire album by herself, and it's somehow filled with banger after absolute banger.
I welcome you all into the world of almost-seven-minute ballads about John Mayer, soul-destroying songs about Taylor Lautner and the pure serotonin that is the Mine video clip.
There were major celebrity break-ups being sung about for the very first time. There was an entire fragrance line that I absolutely would repurchase today. There was a section of her Speak Now concert where she would sing a cover of a different song every night while sitting on a tree, and the sound of her rapping to Eminem and belting out Bon Jovi is still seared into my brain.
So, in honour of this recent reveal that Speak Now (Taylor's Version) is coming later this year, here's my ranking of the songs on the album.
And let's just note,it's hard to rank an album where every single song is 10/10 perfection and I'm aware it won't be to every single Swiftie on the planet's personal taste. But... taste is subjective and it's just a ranking. Onwards!
14. Better Than Revenge
Before you come for my NECK, I was obsessed with this break-up bop as the first revenge-style song by Miss T Swift. But since Taylor herself has expressed regret over the lyrics and no longer performs the song, we're ranking it in last place. It's a diplomatic last place.
The song was widely known to be about Camilla Belle, the actress and woman who Joe Jonas allegedly "dumped Taylor for." So, everyone knew who the pointed lyrics were about.
"I was 18 when I wrote that. That's the age you are when you think someone can actually take your boyfriend. Then you grow up and realise no one can take someone from you if they don't want to leave," Taylor said in a 2014 interview with The Guardian.
13. Speak Now
Putting the title track in second-last place is controversial, sure. But let's be honest: this is an album of SUPREME Taylor Swift songs and Speak Now just doesn't take the wedding cake on an album where she also wrote the line: "But I took your matches before fire could catch me / So don't look now, I'm shining like fireworks over your sad, empty town."
This peppy song about interrupting a wedding was fun - and arguably one of her most enjoyable live performances during the Speak Now tour itself - but it's no Dear John.
Mine was the most beautifully up-beat little country-pop track, envisioning a cookie-cutter happy future for a "careless man's careful daughter."
She sang about "taking on the world together" and reflecting on the sweet moments when life was "hard to take." I would rank it higher in my heart, but when compared to the rest I have to admit it's not AS significant.
When I tell you the video clip is the sweetest thing, I mean it. Watch it here.
A post-VMAs song about her experience with Kanye West, Innocent was Taylor's first foray into a celebrity diss track - featuring her signature soft vocals of the time. It's not my personal favourite, but I can admit it's an epic song.
The song took aim at Kanye, calling out: "It's okay, life is a tough crowd / 32 and still growin' up now / Who you are is not what you did / You're still an innocent."
Taylor would later tell New York Magazine she did not mean the lyrics to appear patronising but rather wanted to write "a letter to Kanye" as a means of putting the controversy behind them. Of course, we all know that didn't last but hey, she tried.
10. Never Grow Up
This song makes me cry. A sweet song about - you guessed it - growing up. The lullaby-esque song dove deep into some of Taylor's own experiences, once she had grown through her teen years and into the spotlight (including references to being hurt by the world).
She offers up lyrics like "It could stay this simple / And no one's ever burned you / Nothing's ever left you scarred / And even though you want to / Just try to never grow up."
9. The Story Of Us
Now, we're getting somewhere. This song is so aggressively fast-paced and brimming with cutting lyrics. It would have you jumping, scream-singing, and out of breath in 4 minutes and 26 seconds. Believed to be about John Mayer, the lyrics chart the breakdown of a relationship from sparks flying, to ignoring each other in public.
Fans believe the lyrics about "not speaking" while being in a "crowded room" apply to the CMT Awards in 2010 – when John presented Taylor with an award, despite rumours of their split having begun to surface over the previous months. Read more here.
6. Long Live
A song written for her band, Taylor often closed her concerts to this track - belting out "long live the walls we crashed through, I had the time of my life, with you."
This track holds a special place in the hearts of many Swifties, so complain if you will that it's only ranked six, but the other tracks I'm about to mention have some SERIOUS production and song-writing power.
While Taylor began experimenting with pop sounds on Speak Now, this track kept her firmly planted in her country roots. With a heavy banjo - that she herself played on tour - Taylor addressed her nasty critics and bullies in Mean.
She sang to the critics: "You with your words like knives / And swords and weapons that you use against me / You have knocked me off my feet again / Got me feeling like I'm nothing."
Meanwhile, the line "Someday I'll be big enough so you can't hit me / And all you're ever going to be is mean / Why you gotta be so mean?" is so iconic I can barely speak about it. Now, go and watch her performance at the ACMAs here for some snazzy country joy.
The song of the moment! Enchanted went viral on TikTok in 2021, as people were belting out "please don't be in love with someone else" - arguably the best line in the 5:52 song. Yeah, this is when Taylor got into the hefty play times.
About meeting a beautiful stranger, Enchanted takes us on the journey from developing a new crush to praying dear god PLEASE don't be in love with someone else. Taylor belts out in the bridge: "This is me praying that / This was the very first page / Not where the story line ends / My thoughts will echo your name, until I see you again / These are the words I held back, as I was leaving too soon / I was enchanted to meet you."
Ahh, yes. Taylor in her Evanescence era. An orchestral power ballad, Haunted saw Taylor exploring the depths of her dark and moody soul with lyrics like "something keeps me holding onto nothing" and dramatic strings that would make an ex-boyfriend shudder.
"Come on, come on, don't leave me like this / I thought I had you figured out / Something's gone terribly wrong / You're all I wanted," Taylor sings out in her dramatic flair.
4. Sparks Fly
Imagine the joy of hearing an actual version of Sparks Fly after listening to that one terrible (likely illegal) recording for ages. It was epic.
If you don't know, an early version of Sparks Fly was ~around~ on the internet for a while before Speak Now was released, but it was very low quality. This was actually one of the first times that the force of Taylor's fandom could be felt as the song finally made it onto the album by sheer - let’s call it enthusiasm and not bullying – from her fans.
The most recent example of that kind of "enthusiasm" would be the fact that Taylor has finally released the 10 minute version of All Too Well after years of demand from Swifties. We love you, Tay.
3. Dear John
6 minutes and 43 seconds of absolutely soul-destroying lyrics. Dear John is about a relationship gone wrong with an older man dating a 19-year-old girl. Yeah, you see what this is about.
"Dear John, I see it all, now it was wrong / Don't you think nineteen is too young / To be played by your dark twisted games, when I loved you so? / I should've known," Taylor sings.
"You are an expert at sorry, And keeping the lines blurry / Never impressed by me acing your tests / All the girls that you've run dry have tired, lifeless eyes / 'Cause you burned them out / But I took your matches before fire could catch me, / So don't look now, I'm shining like fireworks over your sad, empty town."
Wow. John Mayer called it "cheap songwriting." You know what we'd call it? A masterpiece.
2. Back To December
Imagine. One of Taylor's most gut-wrenching tracks, written about the guy who said "Bella, where the hell have you been loca?" in Twilight. We really lived through it.
Yes, Back To December was the song where Taylor begged Taylor Lautner for forgiveness after their split. The pair first met while filming Valentine's Day and quickly became a fan-favourite celebrity couple.
So, why does the song deserve our top spot?
For one, it's got one of Taylor's top-tier bridges as she sings: "I miss your tan skin, your sweet smile / So good to me, so right / And how you held me in your arms that September night / The first time you ever saw me cry
Maybe this is wishful thinkin' / Probably mindless dreamin' / But if we loved again, I swear I'd love you right."
For another, her live performances of the song truly showed her emotional investment in the lyrics as she teared up.
And, finally, it was one of the first times we really heard Taylor sing about causing a split rather than being broken-up with. It was the other side of the coin, and her lyrics captured it so perfectly (of course).
1. Last Kiss
I literally listened to this song and stared out the window any time it rained, feeling extraordinarily heartbroken even though I had never dated anyone at this point in my life. It's that kind of break-up song.
Last Kiss is about Joe Jonas and how Taylor felt in the wake of her unexpected heartbreak. "You told me you loved me, so why did you go?" Taylor asks.
You'll need to listen to the entire song and really pay attention to the lyrics because they are THAT good, but the one that always gets me is the gentle bridge:
"And I hope the sun shines and it's a beautiful day / And something reminds you you wish you had stayed / You can plan for a change in the weather and time / But I never planned on you changing your mind."