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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Criticism: Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)

“Speak Now” is Taylor Swift’s latest drop in her era of re-recording her first six albums and is filled with just as much angst as in 2010.
Cover via Taylor Swift/Twitter

“Speak Now” is Taylor Swift’s latest drop in her era of re-recording her first six albums and is filled with just as much angst as in 2010.

Rating: 6/10

There is no secret to who Taylor Swift is and what an album means when the words “Taylor’s Version” is seen in parentheses while streaming the pop artist’s take on romance and heartbreak. On July 7, Swift re-released her third album, “Speak Now,” as a continuation of repossessing her six albums that were signed away to Big Machine Records in 2005.

The Pennsylvania-born singer started her career at 16 with the release of her self-titled album in 2006. With songs like “Teardrops on My Guitar” and “Picture to Burn,” the blonde songwriter left a mark on this generation that is seared into our upbringing like a tattoo. The acoustic guitar that follows Swift’s country song lyrics was something I remembered enjoying in middle school, singing along as if I had experienced the feeling of heartbreak myself from a picture perfect man.

“Speak Now (Taylor’s Version),” re-released 13 years after its original debut, is a time capsule that has been dug up from the depths of the 2010’s hit music with clarity and maturity from the 32-year-old Swift. The songs are no longer delivered in that young and fresh tone that was heard the first time around from 18-year-old Taylor. The wisdom of Swift’s experience within the industry, mixed in with the talent of the same band members from 2010, has rebranded her third album to a nostalgic listen that closely resembles the feeling of opening a childhood photo album.

Swift is known to be cryptic with her release dates; this album was no different. July 7 was only two days short of the lyric,“That July ninth, the beat of your heart” in the song “Last Kiss.” While in the newest music video, viewers can count the tallies on the wall of the “room” Swift is trapped in and add it up to the number of days between the album’s first release to the most recent release. 

As a passing Taylor Swift fan, I am not as aware of the “lore” behind the once-country singer as much as my surrounding loved ones. I give credit to the devoted fans that have been following the millennial artist as she takes on the world with her current Eras Tour and versions of her first six albums she now calls her own. 

At first glance, from the outside of the obsessive fandom, I did not mind for the re-releasing “era,” only knowing that Swift was doing it to gain control over the beginning part of her career. Taylor Swift battling the industry that has been known to be unkind to female artists that write about their emotional views on love and romance gave me a “good for her” moment. It deserves the attention it is receiving. 

With that being said, listening to “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version),” was as if I had been transported to the person I was years ago, listening to “Mean” outside at the Houston Rodeo with my aunt and thinking I could live in a “big ole’ city” soon enough. Or listening to “Never Grow Up” while my mother picked my brother and I up from school and took us home.

I felt I had grown with Swift herself as we both relived the teen angst-filled album that was released when I was eight-years old, almost like a universal bond that we experience as strangers growing with age. Everyone goes through that angsty age that is perfectly encapsulated in those acoustic guitar riffs that are consistent throughout the album. 

By the end of the album, with never before heard releases that came “From The Vault,” it had begun to flow into one big, overplayed heartbroken story that I could not pay mind to anymore now that I am at the age of twenty-one. The only thing I could remember was the play on the phrase “From the Vault” as a concept for her latest music video, “I Can See You” which starred Joey King and Taylor Lautner, Swift’s ex-boyfriend from 2009, as two heroic characters saving the kidnapped Swift from a golden vault using purple gadgets. It had been rumored, and proven true by the songwriter, that a song off this album called  “Back to December” was about the pair’s relationship. 

 While it was surprising to hear the duet of Paramore’s Hayley Williams’ voice with Swift in “Castles Crumbling,” or the mashup with Fall Out Boy in “Electric Touch,” it didn’t stray from the fact that the only reason this album has been this influential is because of how large the fan base is from the years Swift has under her songwriting belt. 

The chords of the guitars, the lyrics of the girl who lost herself, it was all a great fit for the 2010s and the audience of listeners who played this during the early morning car rides to school or the afternoon hangout sessions with the closest friends. But this album is not as timeless as I had anticipated. It is a teen angst album, no matter how old Swift is when she performs them or how many tweaks she makes to the lyrics for relevancy, like in “Better Than Revenge” where the lyric goes from a sensual “She’s better known for the things that she does on the mattress” to a more feminist approach with they lyric, “He was a moth to the flame / She was holding the matches.” Swift continues to leave easter eggs for her fans to gather as she strolls down her career based memory lane and reconnects with her younger self. With songs like “Timeless” and lyrics like “Time breaks down your mind and body / Don’t let it touch your soul,” the relationship the songwriter has with time seems to make a frightening appearance in her writing. 
“Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” is available on all music streaming platforms. Swift is still currently touring with her upcoming show being in Denver, Colorado on July 14 and recently added 14 more stops to the European leg of the Eras Tour, leading it to finish in August of 2024.

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