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Download and Enjoy Speak Out, a Song by Opayaufar from the Album Speak Out

So, as you read the following issues of our storytelling magazine, Speak Out!, celebrate with me the stories of how God is at work. And at the same time, think about how you, too, can speak out about the love and goodness of God!

Speak Now is the third studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, released on October 25, 2010, through Big Machine Records. Swift wrote the album entirely herself within two years while touring to promote her second studio album, Fearless (2008).

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Inspired by Swift's transition from adolescence into adulthood, Speak Now is a loose concept album consisting of confessional songs mostly about love and heartbreak. Some tracks were inspired by her rising stardom and public experience, and they have lyrics about confrontation against her critics and adversaries. Produced by Swift and Nathan Chapman, the album combines country pop, pop rock, and power pop. Its songs incorporate prominent rock stylings, and their melodies are characterized by acoustic instruments, dynamic electric guitars, strings, and drums.

American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift released her second studio album Fearless through Nashville-based Big Machine Records in November 2008. The album spent 11 weeks at number one on the US Billboard 200, the longest chart run for a female country music artist.[2] It was the best-selling album of 2009 in the US and then-20-year-old Swift the youngest artist to have an annual best-seller since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking album sales in 1991.[3] Two of the album's singles, "Love Story" and "You Belong with Me", performed well on both country and pop radio and brought Swift to mainstream prominence.[4] "Love Story" was the first country song to reach number one on the Mainstream Top 40 chart and "You Belong with Me" was the first country song to top the all-genre Radio Songs chart.[5][6] At the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards in February 2010, Fearless won Album of the Year and Best Country Album, and its single "White Horse" won Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song.[7]

The success of Fearless made Swift one of country music's biggest stars to crossover into the mainstream market.[8][9] At the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, where Swift won Best Female Video for "You Belong with Me", rapper Kanye West interrupted her acceptance speech; the incident received widespread media coverage and became known as "Kanyegate".[10][11] At the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, Swift sang "You Belong with Me" and "Rhiannon" with Stevie Nicks; some critics commented Swift performed with weak vocals.[12] MTV News commented the MTV Awards incident transformed Swift into a "bona-fide mainstream celebrity",[13] and The New York Times said it was refreshing to see a talented singer-songwriter like Swift "make the occasional flub".[14] Swift began writing for her third studio album immediately after she released Fearless and continued during her Fearless Tour in 2009 and 2010.[15]

Because of her extensive touring schedule, Swift wrote her third album alone: "I'd get my best ideas at 3:00 a.m. in Arkansas, and I didn't have a co-writer around so I would just finish it. That would happen again in New York and then again in Boston and that would happen again in Nashville."[15] Inspired by her growth into adulthood, she conceived Speak Now as a loose concept album about the things she wanted to tell certain people she had met but never had a chance to.[15] As with her songwriting on previous albums, Swift strove to convey emotional honesty with details as specifically as possible, believing it is important for a songwriter to do so.[15] She described her songs as "diary entries" about her emotions that helped her navigate adulthood.[16][17] Swift chose not to follow the trend of making increasingly sexualized music by artists of her age and believed such a path would be incongruent with her artistic vision.[note 1]

Departing from Fearless's theme of fairy tales and starry-eyed romance, Speak Now explores introspection and backward-looking reflections on relationships.[15] Its songs expanding on Swift's romantic tropes are mostly about monogamous relationships without sexual references, keeping her "good-girl" image intact.[note 2] Many were inspired by Swift's public experience, including past relationships with high-profile celebrities, which received media attention during the album's promotional rollout.[20][21] The confessional lyrics of Speak Now are more direct and confrontational than those on Swift's past albums.[22] On "Back to December", she asks an ex-lover to forgive her wrongdoings.[23] "Dear John" narrates a devastating relationship of a 19-year-old female narrator who accuses a much-older man of manipulating her with "dark, twisted games".[20] Swift's encounter with an ex-lover at an awards show, where they ignored each other despite Swift feeling a need to speak to him inspired "The Story of Us".[24] On "Better than Revenge", Swift affirms vengeance against a romantic rival who is known for "the things she does on the mattress".[20][25]

Besides love and romance, Swift wrote about self-perception; "Never Grow Up" is a contemplation of her childhood, adulthood, and future.[25][31] The self-aware "Mean", in which Swift sings about facing a man who had tried to take her down, was inspired by her detractors.[32][33] Because of her confessional songwriting, the media became invested in Swift's personal life and believed each song is about a real person: an ex-lover, a friend, or an enemy.[18][20] Although Swift was interested to hear the response from the people to whom she dedicated the songs, she did not publicly name them and believed they would realize this themselves.[18][20] She did reveal that Kanye West, who interrupted Swift's acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, was the subject of "Innocent".[24] In the track, Swift sings about forgiving a man who wronged her; according to Esquire, the track can be interpreted as "a simple lament of a lost love, or a former friend being forgiven".[34] Swift wrote the title track after hearing a friend's ex-boyfriend was marrying another woman; in the lyrics, the protagonist crashes the ex-boyfriend's wedding and tries to halt it.[20][31]

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Swift wrote as many as 25 songs and by early 2010, she had begun to select songs for the album.[15][26] To ensure the album would be coherent, she played the songs to her family, friends, and producer Nathan Chapman,[15] who had produced for Swift since the recording of her self-titled debut album in 2006.[35] Swift chose Enchanted as a working title but Big Machine Records executive Scott Borchetta recommended Swift choose a different title, deeming Enchanted unfit for the album's mature perspective.[note 3] She settled on the title Speak Now because she thought it best captures the album's essence: "I think it's such a metaphor, that moment where it's almost too late, and you've got to either say what it is you are feeling or deal with the consequences forever ... And this album seemed like the opportunity for me to speak now or forever hold my peace."[20] Swift finalized the track list by June 2010.[16]

Speak Now follows the country pop production of Fearless and incorporates prominent elements of mainstream pop music, more so than Fearless.[40][41] Critics debated the album's genre. Paste described the album as a blend of country and radio-friendly pop tunes with climatic build-ups and catchy hooks.[42] Entertainment Weekly classified the album as pop and commented the only country elements are its "smattering of banjo pluck and dainty twang".[43] According to BBC Music, Speak Now veers towards pop rock.[44] Ann Powers, in a review for the Los Angeles Times, found the album borderline alternative rock and bubblegum pop with its songs experimenting with styles from "lush strings of Céline-style kitsch-pop to Americana banjo to countrypolitan electric guitar".[21] Now described Speak Now as "slickly produced power pop".[45]

Critics noted the banjo-led bluegrass track "Mean" as the album's pure country song.[9][25][46] Much of the album consists of uptempo country pop melodies, exemplified by the opening track "Mine".[41][47] Many tracks explore rock stylings that draw from rock music of the late 1970s through the 1980s.[48] "Sparks Fly" has an arena rock production with dramatic fiddles and guitars.[49] The title track is an acoustic guitar-driven country pop song with a 1950s rock chorus.[41][50] "The Story of Us" and "Better than Revenge" are electric-guitar-driven pop punk songs;[51] the former contains influences of dance-pop and new wave.[52][42] The arena-rock and goth-rock-inspired "Haunted" incorporates a dramatic recurring string section.[28][51][53] The closing track "Long Live" is a heartland rock song featuring girl-group harmonies and chiming rock guitars.[28][29]

The remaining tracks of Speak Now are ballads. "Back to December" is a gentle, orchestral, string-laden ballad.[31] Speak Now's longest track, "Dear John" at six minutes and 43 seconds, is a slow-burning, bluesy, country-pop song with electric guitar licks.[9][54] The guitar ballad "Never Grow Up" incorporates an understated production that accompanies its wistful lyrics.[28][41] On "Enchanted", the acoustic guitar crescendos after each refrain and leads up to a harmony-layered coda at the end.[28][30] The tracks "Innocent" and "Last Kiss" incorporate sparse instruments; the latter is a slow-tempo waltz with breathy vocals.[30][41][53] "If This Was a Movie", a bonus song on the deluxe edition and the only song not written solely by Swift,[note 4] is a fast-paced ballad with a recurring guitar riff and simple harmonies.[56]

Swift announced Speak Now on July 20, 2010, in a live stream on Ustream.[35] Big Machine Records released the lead single "Mine" to US country radio and digital download sites on August 4, 2010.[57] The single peaked at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100[58] and was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).[59] It reached number six in Japan,[60] number seven in Canada,[61] and number nine in Australia.[62] On August 18, Swift released the album's cover art, which depicts Swift with curly hair and red lipstick twirling in a deep-purple gown.[63] On September 15, she announced a Target-exclusive deluxe edition whose cover art is identical to that of the standard edition but the gown is red instead of purple.[64] Starting from October 4, 2010, Big Machine released one Speak Now track each week on the iTunes Store as part of a three-week countdown campaign; the title track was released on October 5, followed by "Back to December" on October 12 and "Mean" on October 19.[65] On October 22, Xfinity premiered a preview of "The Story of Us".[65]


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