It's 2010. A 20-year-old Taylor Swift has released her third studio album "Speak Now," a 14-song work written solely by the singer that became the fastest-selling digital album by a female artist. She's about to go on a world tour that will end up grossing millions.
But actually, it's 2023. A 33-year-old Taylor Swift has just released her third re-recorded album "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)," a 22-song work written solely by the singer that became No. 1 on iTunes in 125 countries after eight hours, breaking the all-time record for reaching No. 1 in the platform's history. She's currently on a world tour that has already grossed millions.
It's a story Swift has made familiar with each release of her re-recorded albums, with "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)" being the latest to reach heights her younger self sang about — take "Mean," for example, on this record. And the album is expected to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, which would give her the third-most No. 1 albums of all time for any artist.
The album, released July 7, marks Swift's halfway point in her re-record project, which began in Nov. 2020 after music manager Scooter Braun and label Big Machine wouldn't allow the singer to buy the masters of her back catalog.
There are three more to go, but for now, the spotlight is shining purple. Here's everything you need to know about "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)" and what's ahead for the singer.
What's new with "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)?"
With every re-recorded album so far, Swift has added songs "From the Vault," and they're expected with the three albums still to come. She's described these tracks as songs that she wrote during the initial albums' production but for whatever reason didn't make the actual albums. "Red (Taylor's Version)" featured nine of these songs, while "Fearless (Taylor's Version)" and "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)" have six each.
This album's vault songs include a Fall Out Boy feature, and another with Paramore's Hayley Williams.
Besides the six additions and Swift's matured voice, the only standout change in Taylor's Version that seems to have fans up in arms is a lyric change in track 10's chorus.
In the original "Better Than Revenge," Swift sings, "She's better known for the things that she does on the mattress." And on the 2023 re-record, she has changed the line to, "He was a moth to the flame, she was holding the matches."
Fans theorized about the change on social media days before the official release, with leaks and lyric searches on iTunes seeming to tease the change. When the song was initially released, many viewed the line as a form of "slut shaming," but according to Twitter, some have either changed their tune or were planning to look past the line.
One Twitter user wrote, "Better Than Revenge has the same lyrics if you just scream over her." But others are okay with Swift's change as long as she owns the song, with one writing "Better than Revenge Taylor's Version is better than stolen," referring to the "stolen" masters.
Which re-recorded album is being released next?
Swift's re-record project includes her first six albums — as she already owns the other four — and so far, she's found great success with the series.
Her second album became her first re-recorded album, "Fearless (Taylor's Version)," in April 2021. It was the first re-recorded album to top Billboard charts and performed better than the original, according to Billboard.
Her fourth album became her second re-release, "Red (Taylor's Version)," in November 2021. Its final track, "All Too Well (10 Minute Version)" became the longest song in history atop the Hot 100 and its Swift-directed music video/short film won the MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year.
With the release of "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)," Swift now has three left to re-record: Her debut album, "Taylor Swift;" her fifth album, "1989;" and her sixth album, "Reputation."
Though Swift hasn't said which is being released next, fans haven't stopped speculating. Many believe "1989" is coming next because of Swift's blue nails during a recent promotional video for "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)" along with Swift's recent use of polaroids, an image that reminds Swifties of the "1989" album cover.
And since Swift announced "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)" as the next re-record during an Eras Tour show, many are hoping the next announcement comes at an upcoming show.
But for now, it's all just fan theory.
What's next for the Eras Tour?
On the day of the "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)" release, Swift is playing her first show in Kansas City, Missouri.
It's the next stop on the Eras Tour, which has broken a multitude of records with each show and announcement.
As of now, when the Eras Tour ends in August 2024, it will have included 131 shows across five continents, making it Swift's largest tour yet.
Swift will wrap the American leg of the tour in Los Angeles on Aug. 9. She'll head to Mexico later that month and will end the year with shows in Brazil and Argentina. Then she'll head overseas for next year's 64 dates, bringing the tour to a close on Aug. 17, 2024.
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