It’s release day for Taylor Swift’s highly-anticipated, Speak Now, and while she makes the media rounds, reviewers have been weighing in. The critical response has been positive, and it is expected that first-week sales will fall somewhere between the 700,000 and one-million mark.
At almost 21, Swift’s all grown up, but hasn’t tried to prove it by writing songs about sexual escapades or all-night partying. What she’s not afraid to write about is other celebrities. Swift won’t name names, but media speculation is in overdrive about her songs possibly aimed at John Mayer, Kanye West, Joe Jonas and the girl he dumped her for, actress Camilla Belle. She also offers a searing response to the critics who have questioned her vocal abilities.
Contest winners from will gather tonight for Swift’s first performance of release week. Speak Now: Taylor Swift Live From New York City will stream live on CMT.com, MTV.com and VH1.com beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET.
On Thanksgiving night, NBC will air the one-hour primetime special Taylor Swift – Speak Now. Tomorrow (10/26) she visits The Today Show (NBC) and The Late Show with David Letterman (CBS), followed by stops at Live! With Regis & Kelly (10/27) Dancing With the Stars (11/2) and an album release party on Ellen (11/1).
Here’s some of the press about Speak Now:
For pure star-on-star revenge, “Dear John,” from the new Taylor Swift album, “Speak Now,” will be tough to beat. Six and a half minutes long and flagrantly provocative, it’s a deeply uncomfortable song, its protagonist anguished and violated…It’s warfare on the level of Jay-Z versus Nas, Oasis versus Blur, Carly Simon versus whomever.
It’s the most savage [album] of her career, and also the most musically diverse. And it’s excellent too, possibly her best.
“Speak Now” also heralds the full arrival of her longtime collaborator Nathan Chapman as a first-rate producer, and not just of the pop-country that’s made Ms. Swift one of the most important new musicians of the decade. He sounds equally comfortable with the blues of “Dear John,” the rootsy sound of “Mean,” the pop-punk of “The Story of Us” and “Better Than Revenge,” and the bruised, anthemic arena-rock of “Haunted.”
The success of Taylor Swift flies in the face of seemingly every element it takes to be a female mega-star in today’s pop world. The singer-songwriter doesn’t have a sexualized image, she doesn’t make transparent bids for media attention, and her songs are introspective and confessional, not gimmicky and exhibitionist.
Yet by offering fans a more down-to-Earth image than most any major female pop star in the past decade, the 20-year-old Swift has become an unlikely rebel in her own way.
“Mean” isn’t just a song title on “Speak Now,” it’s the key operative term. This is a concept album through which Swift sends specific messages, one per song, to significant players in her young life — an interesting twist on the confessional songwriting model in which she filters memory through the lens of moral judgment.
Swift embodies the impeccable dignity of moral certitude. Her feistiness reminds me of Sandra Bullock playing Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side — another can-do blond using her vast reserves of sass to solve intractable problems.
The LA Times feature story is here.
Also check out USA Today correspondent Brian Mansfield’s look at Swift and the new album.