Sunday, October 10, 2010

Taylor Swift, "Speak Now"

Taylor's new single finds her moving outside the high school hallways, and into a different setting - a church.  "Speak Now" - the second single from the upcoming album of the same name - plays off the commonly-heard declaration of a preacher performing a marriage:  "Speak now, or forever hold your peace."  The man Taylor loves is about to marry "the wrong girl."  As she casually slips in to observe the ceremony, despite not having been invited, she imagines herself speaking out to stop the wedding, and possibly persuading her love interest to elope with her.

In some ways, this song seems like classic Taylor.  It could even be considered a grown-up sequel song to "You Belong with Me."  But somehow Taylor actually makes me care about the story.  How does she do it?  Maybe it's through the ample attention she gives to detail, as evident in her mention of the bride's "snotty little family" and of her "yelling at a bridesmaid" in a back room.  Such lines hint at the reason why this man's bride is the wrong girl for him.  Another asset is the biting wit that Taylor weaves into the lyrics with descriptions of "a gown that's shaped like a pastry" and "a song that sounds like a death march."

Using humorously stiff and formal speech, Taylor walks us through the proceedings of the unfortunate occasion.  It all culminates in the moment when Taylor seizes the opportunity to voice her objections.  The lyrics let us practically see Taylor as she 'stands up with shaky hands, all eyes on [her].'

"Speak Now" is a marked improvement over songs like "Mine" and "Picture to Burn," though it doesn't pack quite as much lyrical punch as "White Horse" and "Fifteen."  This song could be seen as a snapshot of an artist making the transition between being a teen pop-country starlet and being a mature adult artist.  With this solid single release, Taylor once again demonstrates her talent in crafting well-contructed storytelling lyrics.  This only heightens our interest in seeing Taylor grow as a songwriter.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)