Speak Now is the third studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was released on October 25, 2010, by Big Machine Records. Production for the album took place during 2009 to 2010 at several recording studios, and was handled by Swift and Nathan Chapman. Written entirely by Swift as the follow-up to Fearless (2008), Speak Now expands on the country pop style of her previous work, and features lyrical themes concerning love, romance and heartbreak.
Speak Now received generally positive reviews from music critics, who complimented Swift's songwriting and themes. It received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Country Album, making it her second consecutive nomination in the category, following her 2010 victory for Fearless. Several music critics and publications included Speak Now in their year-end lists. Six singles were released from the album, all of which have either received a gold or platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Swift promoted the album with the Speak Now World Tour, which became the third highest grossing tour of all time by a country artist, grossing over $123 million.
Speak Now debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, giving Swift her second consecutive chart topper in the US. Its first week sales of 1,047,000 copies was the fifth biggest debut in history for a female artist, the third biggest ever by a country album (the first being Swift's own Red album later released in 2012), the biggest in five and a half years, and the biggest first week sales of 2010. The album also made music history for claiming the biggest one-week sales tally for an album by a female country artist. As of 2014, Speak Now is ranked 17th in United States history to sell one million copies in a single week. It was also an international success, charting within the top 10 in several countries, including Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The album has been certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA and, as of January 2015, has sold 4.5 million copies in the United States. It is also the tenth best-selling digital album of all time.
Speak Now was included in the "50 Best Female Albums of All Time" list published by Rolling Stone in 2012, ranking at number forty-five. This gave Swift, 22 at the time of publication, the distinction of being the youngest artist across all genres to be included on the list.
Speak Now was released worldwide on October 25, 2010 by Big Machine Records. It was made available for digital download by the iTunes Store. The album's official cover was premiered through Us Weekly on August 18, 2010. It was also released on vinyl LP on November 22, 2010. On December 20, 2010 a karaoke version of the album was released featuring the album as a CD+G and a DVD.
Speak Now debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, its sales of 1,047,000 copies making it just the 16th album in United States history to sell one million copies in a single week. It was the second biggest debut ever for a female artist — later pushed down to third biggest by Lady Gaga's Born This Way and then fourth by her own album, Red,- the second biggest ever by a country album, the biggest in five and one half years, and the biggest of 2010. Speak Now also set a new record for the biggest one-week sales tally for an album by a female country artist, surpassing Shania Twain's Up!. It is Swift's second US number-one album. In its second week on the Billboard 200, the album remained at number one and sold 320,000 copies. It dropped to number two and sold 212,000 copies in its third week. In its fourth week, Speak Now dropped to number nine and sold 146,000 copies. In its fifth week, it rose to number four and sold 241,000 copies. Speak Now returned to the top spot on its eight week with over 259,000 copies sold. The album was able to top the Billboard 200 again on the succeeding three weeks, giving a total of six non-consecutive weeks at number one. After only 10 weeks in release, Speak Now became the third best-selling album of 2010 in the United States, with sales of 2,960,000 copies. The album had sold 681,000 digital copies as of January 2012, making it the tenth best selling digital album of all time. On January 11, 2012, the album was certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and, as of January 2015, it has sold 4.5 million copies in the US. It is Swift's third album to reached this plateau, following Taylor Swift and Fearless, making her the first female solo artist to top the 4 million mark with three studio albums in a row in a decade.
All fourteen songs on the album and three bonus tracks have charted on the US Billboard Hot 100, eleven of them charted concurrently making Swift just the third artist in history and first female artist to have over ten concurrent Hot 100 hits. Speak Now is also the only album in history to spawn seventeen Hot 100 hits. It produced four top ten, seven top twenty, and nine top thirty hits.
Speak Now also garnered success outside the US. The album entered at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling 62,000 copies. It stayed at the top spot on its second week and was later certified triple platinum by the Music Canada for shipments exceeding 240,000 copies. Speak Now also debuted at number one on Australian Albums Chart, became Swift's first number one album in Australia. It was later certified triple platinum by Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). The album topped the New Zealand Albums Chart for two weeks and was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ). Speak Now also charted within the top ten in five more countries including the United Kingdom where it debuted at number six on the Top 40 Albums chart and has been certified Gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).
Speak Now received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 77, based on 20 reviews. AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine commended Swift's mature lyrics and stated, "she writes from the perspective of the moment yet has the skill of a songwriter beyond her years". Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times wrote that "she makes memorable music by honing [sic] in on the tiny stuff: the half-notes in a hummed phrase, the lyrical images that communicate precisely what it's like to feel uncomfortable, or disappointed, or happy". Rudy Klapper of Sputnikmusic called it "the best pop record of the year". Jon Caramanica of The New York Times called Speak Now a "bravura work of nontransparent transparency ... the most savage of her career, and also the most musically diverse. And it's excellent too, possibly her best".
MSN Music's Robert Christgau said that, although the songs are "overlong and overworked", they "evince an effort that bears a remarkable resemblance to care—that is, to caring in the best, broadest, and most emotional sense". Dave Heaton of PopMatters observed "a richer array of narratives and even more songs about that process of turning your life into a narrative". Theon Weber of The Village Voice perceived Swift's songwriting strength as "not confessional, but dramatic" and stated "Like a procession of country songwriters before her, she creates characters and situations—some from life—and finds potent ways to describe them". Weber described the album's songs as "iceberg songs" and elaborated on how Swift's talent grows "in proportion" to her artistic freedom.
In a mixed review, Allison Stewart of The Washington Post called the album "ridiculously entertaining [...] a lengthy, captivating exercise in woo-pitching, flame tending and score-settling", but found it "long: 14 wordy, stretched-thin, occasionally repetitive songs". Slant Magazine's Jonathan Keefe found Swift's singing "technically poor" and her lyrics "generally lack[ing] the variety and sophistication of her compositions", which he called "expertly crafted pop music".
|2. Sparks Fly||4:20|
|3. Back to December||4:53|
|4. Speak Now||4:00|
|5. Dear John||6:43|
|7. The Story of Us||4:25|
|8. Never Grow Up||4:50|
|10. Better Than Revenge||3:37|
|13. Last Kiss||6:07|
|14. Long Live||5:17|
|Deluxe Edition (Bonus Tracks)|
|2. If This Was a Movie||3:54|
|4. Back to December (acoustic version)||4:52|
|5. Haunted (acoustic version)||3:37|
|6. Mine (US version)||3:51|
|7. Back to December (US version)||4:53|
|8. The Story of Us (US version)||4:26|
|9. On the Set: Behind the scenes "Mine" Music Video||30:21|
|10. Mine (music video)||3:55|