This is a warning to all boys: If you date Taylor Swift, expect a song to be written about you.

Taylor Swift

Speak Now
Big Machine

When country princess Taylor Swift pens lyrics about her past relationships, she’s ruthless. And her third album Speak Now is no exception. Swift takes a stab at the boys she’s kissed through bittersweet lyrics that will make you think twice about how sweet this sugar-pop singer really is.

Since the release of 2008’s Fearless, Swift has gone through a lot. Though many musicians of Swift’s celebrity stature may hide their public humiliations, she chooses to sing about all of them. Swift’s candy-coated voice laces every track of Speak Now, though some of her lyrics may be lined with acid. On the album, listeners take a journey through Swift’s diary, complete with intense detail and beautiful sounds.

Her songwriting skills on Speak Now are at their best. She tells meaningful, autobiographical stories fans can relate to. Whether she’s singing about underdogs, letters to old loves or apologizing to people she’s hurt, the Nashville native is not afraid of telling the truth. Bottom line, this girl’s had a lot of boy trouble in the last few years.

The gutsiest of all boy-troubled tracks is “Dear John,” a six-and-a-half-minute overview of her brief relationship with the infamous John Mayer. She sings “Dear John / I see it all now that you’re gone / Don’t you think I was too young to be messed with / The girl in the dress / Cried the whole way home / I shoulda known.” The inclusion of Mayer-esque guitar riffs in the beginning of the track makes the song that much more sassy.

Another ode-to-ex-boyfriend track is the apologetic “Back to December.” Most likely a tribute to her ex-beau Taylor Lautner, “December” is graced with a string section reminiscent of a cold, December night. On the track, Swift showcases her vocals, which, compared to previous albums, have clearly progressed. The track, like the album as a whole, exhibits strength and growth for the singer/songwriter.

On Speak Now, Swift steers away from her pop-tart princess mold and venture into different genres. The rocking “Better Than Revenge” is scornful and bitter — and it totally works. Swift channels her inner Hayley Williams (Paramore) with snarky lyrics (“She’s not a saint and she’s not what you think / She’s an actress / She’s better known for the things that she does / On the mattress”) and hard-hitting drums — well, at least hard hitting for her. The rock star sound may not be her forte but she pulls it off.

Still, fans of Swift’s quintessential pop persona need not fear: Speak Now still holds those country-twang acoustic tunes Taylor Swift devotees know and love. The title track stays in Swift’s plucky guitar-stringed comfort zone as she sings lyrics about a lover marrying the wrong girl. She uses her gift of evocative storytelling as she sinisterly describes a wedding gone wrong: “The organ starts to play a song that sounds like a death march.”

Speak Now, however, isn’t just one big “love story” — Swift shows definite maturity. The album offers peeks into the darker side of Swift’s mind, as she complains about losing her innocence on “Never Grow Up” and takes the high road in the Kanye West VMAs conflict by assuring West that “Who you are is not what you did / You’re still an innocent.”

Though Taylor Swift may not be regarded as the most talented musician on the planet, one thing’s for sure: This girl can hold her own. The once-silly teenage starlet who got her big break by professing her love for Tim McGraw is now venturing into the reality of love and the hardships that go with it. Speak Now warns the world that Taylor Swift will not back down no matter how many boys break her heart — because when they do, she’ll just write a hit song about it.

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