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This article is the second part of my three-part review of Taylor Swift’s third studio album, Speak Now. If you haven’t read part one, you can check it out by following the link I've included at the bottom of this article.
7. “The Story of Us”
One of my all-time favorite Taylor Swift songs, “The Story of Us” was another single during the magical Speak Now era. “The Story of Us” is a standout first of all due to its sound. It’s a bit more on the rock side of things as far as Taylor’s music goes, with lots of electrifying guitar riffs and a fun, danceable beat. The song is also a standout because of the writing, which should be obvious at this point. Taylor perfectly describes in “The Story of Us” the, well, story of a relationship that’s breaking down. When it all began it seemed perfect, like a fairytale; now the relationship is not doing well at all. It details that awkward phase in a relationship where communications are falling apart and no one quite knows how to approach a conversation that desperately needs to be had. Taylor wants the tension to end, and she’s willing to give up her arguments and negative feelings if her partner would just come back and make things right. “The Story of Us” excellently captures the feelings of tension and racing thoughts that occur in that type of relationship. And it’s a total bop.
Favorite lyric: “I’d tell you I miss you, but I don’t know how / I’ve never heard silence quite this loud.”
8. “Never Grow Up”
This song is a total tearjerker for anyone who has human emotions. In the first verse, Taylor is talking to a small child, wishing she could protect her forever and keep her from growing older and getting hurt. The second verse of “Never Grow Up” is about a 14-year-old who can’t wait to move out on her own and get away from her embarrassing mom. Taylor advises her to hold on to her mother and the simple things that won’t be part of her life later on. The bridge invites the listener to reminisce on their childhood home and family life… then it hits Taylor that all those little things she loves so much will only be a part of her past someday. Finally, Taylor moves into her own apartment in the city. She realizes she’s grown up now. Things have changed. Taylor heartbreakingly changes some lyrics in the final portion of this song, such as when she sings, “wish I’d never grown up.” This simple, acoustic track is a beautiful example of Taylor’s sentimental, soft side, and it may even bring a tear or two to the listener’s eye.
Favorite lyric: “Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room / memorize what it sounded like when your dad gets home / remember the footsteps, remember the words said / and all your little brother’s favorite songs.”
“Enchanted” is one of Taylor’s most popular non-singles among fans. The song starts off softly with just an acoustic guitar, then slowly builds up into an emotional, magical sound that just feels like magic. Taylor beautifully describes one of those brief encounters with someone where everything clicks. The experience is short-lived, but you carry it with you, “wonderstruck, blushing all the way home.” You think about them, imagine them showing up at your door and telling you they’ve been thinking about you too, and hope desperately that there’s no one else in the picture and that maybe it’ll work out someday. The lyrics are full of beautiful descriptions of a first meeting and the thoughts going through her mind afterward. And who can’t relate to the chorus, that feeling of practically floating on a cloud just daydreaming about some enchanting stranger you chanced to meet one evening? Taylor puts what might have just been a simple crush into the most beautiful and descriptive language, and she sets it to beautiful music. By the bridge of “Enchanted,” Taylor is desperately wishing over and over again, “Please don’t be in love with someone else / please don’t have somebody waiting on you.” “Enchanted” is undeniably a masterpiece.
Favorite lyrics: “This night is sparkling, don’t you let it go / I’m wonderstruck, blushing all the way home” and “My thoughts will echo your name / until I see you again.”
10. “Better Than Revenge”
So I’m going to completely ignore the fact that some people have issues with this song and get straight to the point… this song rocks. “Better Than Revenge” is a wild ride from start to finish. The guitar is insane on this track, and the lyrics are sharp. Some people think the song is immature, but anyone who’s ever been in a situation where your partner leaves you for another can probably say they’ve felt the sentiments of “Better Than Revenge” on some level. This song is Taylor venting her anger at another girl and wittily knocking her down to size. I always smile when I hear certain lyrics on this track, they’re so clever. “Better Than Revenge” is probably Taylor’s most rock ‘n roll track, and for that alone it’s a standout in my book. And, as everyone should have known at this point in Taylor’s career, this song points out the fact that you can mistreat Taylor, but she’ll “always get the last word.”
Favorite lyric: “She thinks I’m psycho ‘cause I like to rhyme her name with things.”
“Innocent” is one of the most emotionally mature songs Taylor has ever written. Not to say that her other songs are immature at all. By that I mean it’s surprising that Taylor was able to write this song so soon after the events that inspired it, and that the song turned out like it did at all. Several months after the Kanye West incident at the 2009 VMAs, Taylor wrote this beautiful song as a response. She chose not to hold a grudge or become bitter about what had been done to her. Instead, Taylor told the person who hurt her so deeply that although he’d made some mistakes, he was "still an innocent." He wouldn’t be defined by his mistakes. She believed that there was still good in him and that he could “be brand new.” Unfortunately Taylor’s kind gesture has proven in the long run not to have done much for Kanye’s true feelings toward Taylor, but writing “Innocent” was an incredibly sweet, wise, and loving thing for Taylor to do.
Favorite lyric: “Wasn’t it easier in your firefly catching days?”
My personal favorite Taylor Swift song, “Haunted” has everything—incredible lyrics, great guitar, an exhilarating drum intro, powerful vocals, and an entire string section. The song is about when one person in a relationship begins to drift away and the feeling of helplessness that overwhelms the other person. Taylor is left holding on to a relationship she’s terrified she won’t be able to get back again. Taylor’s decision to include a string section on “Haunted” was the perfect way to capture the intense emotions of the song, from the fear to the frustration to the desperation. It’s very emotional hearing Taylor pleading for her partner not to leave her. But he’s become cold toward her, and it’s beginning to look like he may be gone for good. Even Taylor’s vocals sound desperate as she relays these emotions. I could write a book on how amazing “Haunted” is, but I’ll leave it at this for now.
Favorite lyric: “Stood there and watched you walk away from everything we had / but I still mean every word I said to you / He will try to take away my pain and he just might make me smile / but the whole time I’m wishing he was you instead.”
Thank you so much for reading part two of this series of articles! Stay tuned for the final part, which includes the bonus tracks from the deluxe edition of Speak Now!