A Psychoanalysis of You Based on Your Favorite Speak Now Song

Graphic by Crystal Leung

Good evening, good morning, and good day to all you Swifties and spiteful little fans of escapism! Almost immediately following the smashing success of her sophomore album Fearless, questions were raised about how much weight Taylor Swift was pulling in songwriting sessions for the album. Obviously, now-31-year-old Taylor would have a very different response to these kinds of statements, and we all know now that these questions were rooted in misogyny. But 19-year-old Taylor is a different breed. Instead of just ignoring these statements and continuing to be a perfect talented incredible icon, she decided to write this entire album by herself. And won a Grammy for it, no less. Speak Now is some of Taylor Swift’s best work, and a classic album loved by many die-hard fans and casual listeners alike. Many of us grew up with her and this album, and for me and many others, a lot of nostalgia is tied to it as well. And it makes sense; Taylor Swift was only 19 when she wrote this album, and she’s just as big a fan of escapism and making life a high camp experience as any of us.  So this one’s for everyone else out there who, when their group mates won’t talk in the breakout room, takes matters into their own hands and writes a Grammy-winning album themselves, no thanks to any of them.


Mine – If you’ve actually found one of those “happy and stable relationships” that people keep telling me about, good luck! Genuinely! I hope it lasts. You seem happy. But if that’s not you, consider actually working up the courage to ask them out instead of “flirting” by telling them you like their hair, then spending the next few weeks planning your hypothetical wedding to your Starbucks barista.


Sparks Fly – Stop dating mediocre white boys named Josh who say they’re socially liberal but fiscally conservative and maybe a real live healthy relationship that- get this- doesn’t suck the life out of you (!!!) will finally come to you. I promise you, someone who “doesn’t even know what gaslighting is I guess your friends are teaching you made-up words now” will not be the same person you’d sing this song about.


Back to December – Hey, no need to blame yourself for your most recent breakup. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Or maybe you’re actually in a happy relationship right now but you listen to this on repeat when you can’t sleep and sob to it in the dim light of your computer screen because you’re terrified of messing up what you have. Stability is fun, though! Consider it!


Speak Now – Call me when you actually work up the courage to crash a wedding and object to a union. I don’t care if a guy you liked sophomore year of high school got together with some random girl named Emily. Please, god, invest in some self-respect because if they’ve gone through with dropping a few thousand on a wedding with another person, you were likely not their first, or second, or third choice. Maybe fourth. 


Dear John – I’m glad you got out of that bad relationship. You deserve way better than whatever scumbag you were with. Or maybe you just hate John Mayer, and that’s cool, too. However, this song is out of your vocal range and I think it would be in everyone’s best interest if you refrained from singing it anymore. Your neighbors are worried for your safety. You may hear the voice of an angel when you belt out that last high note in the bridge, but Miss Partridge from down the way just hears violent screeching coming from inside of your Toyota 4-Runner barreling down a residential road at 11 p.m. and she’s about to call the cops. Or worse, write a Nextdoor post about you.


Mean – Remember what I was saying about spite? This is what I’m talking about. There is no concept more representative of the American dream than gaining success and notoriety purely out of spite. Because why not exist to be better than people who suck? That’s a pretty worthy cause, if you ask me. 


The Story of Us – Your last relationship failed because of communication issues. One of you was a libra and the other one lacked any trace of emotional intelligence. Together, y’all screwed it up! Big time! These are all avoidable problems, but hey, I’ll cut you some slack. You probably said “I love you” by the third date and were planning your wedding by the fifth. So what if you got a little ahead of yourself? Lesbians aren’t perfect, either. 


Never Grow Up – Growing up is scary. Taking care of yourself and being the sole person responsible for your actions? Petrifying. But Jesus Christ, what are you, like 16? Calm down. There is no excuse for mental illness that debilitating. Just remember, for now, you only have to be terrified of the prospect of growing up. You can put off actually having to do it for I’d say at least five years. 


Enchanted – Taylor’s magnum opus on compulsory heterosexuality. Yeah, maybe that’s not what this song is actually about, but I don’t care. This song is the equivalent of Niall being your favorite member of One Direction, and then 8 years later you come out as lesbian. Aww, you met someone that you thought you really liked but they haven’t communicated that they liked you back? Guess you have to pine after them for years until you realize they were a conveniently unattainable crush so you didn’t have to confront your sexuality. 


Better Than Revenge – If this is your favorite song because you actually relate to it, congratulations! It’s time for you to address your internalized misogyny. But if you like it because it is a BANGER and you like to drive around and scream the words to it, you’re super cool and let’s be best friends. Bonus points if it’s on a playlist titled anything like “feminism on pause” and is accompanied by Misery Business by Paramore.


Innocent – You’re predisposed to look for the best in people. And then make everything about you. Maybe someone got up on stage at the 2008 VMAs during some speech you were making. And maybe you capitalized off of that for the next few years of your career. Or maybe it was something a little less nationally televised, like someone made a grave mistake and you’re gonna find it in your heart to forgive them because that’s just the kind of person you are, but it turns out they’re exactly who you worried they were so then you go into hiding for a year and come out with a smash hit album and go on the highest-grossing US tour of all time. Or something.


Haunted – Your ex is the worst and you deserve better. And I know you feel like you can’t be without him and you’ll probably get back together on at least one occasion, but consider this: HE’S THE WORST. And he probably uses 4-in-1 shampoo. And doesn’t wash his legs in the shower. Do better. 


Last Kiss – Okay, so yeah this song is absolutely heartbreaking and maybe you relate to it because you’re absolutely heartbroken or something like that. But something tells me that you probably listen to a little too much Phoebe Bridgers, and your idiot gay self is worried that you’ll never find love in the same capacity that straight people do and you’ll be alone forever. But you are in high school and have more than enough time to figure everything out. This album is about growing up, and I suggest you do the same, you horribly sad little high-schooler. 


Long Live – Congrats on your First in Fitness participation trophy from fifth grade! But no one cares enough about the arbitrary award you won 10 years ago to validate your massive ego. You know what, you’re probably a theatre kid, aren’t you? Gross. I hope your community theatre production of Hairspray goes off without a hitch. And that you stop complaining about being in the ensemble.