vulture investigates

Who Is Each Song on the New Taylor Swift Album About?

Back in September, Vulture — armed only with a track list and the knowledge that Taylor Swift never, ever makes up anything up for her tales of young love and heartbreak — tried to guess what each song on Swift’s new album, Speak Now, was about. We were way off! (For example: “The Story of Us” is not even a little bit about late-nineties Bruce Willis–Michelle Pfeiffer rom-com The Story of Us. Go figure.) But the album is officially out today, so we’re giving this deciphering thing another shot. With a lot of help from the rest of the Internet, here’s Vulture’s guide to who each song on the Taylor Swift album is most likely about. Print it out, laminate it, keep it in your wallet.

1. “Mine”
MTV reports the lead single was inspired by “a boy Swift wasn’t willing to take the next step with in their relationship,” and theorizes that that’s either Glee’s Cory Monteith or Lucas Till, who was in the “You Belong With Me” video. Now here comes the Da Vinci Code part: In her CD booklets, Swift will capitalize letters in each songs’ lyrics to spell out a “hidden” message, and for “Mine” that message is TOBY. Swift’s current boyfriend is Toby Hemingway, star of the “Mine” video. So is that maybe a hint the subject of “Mine” is fellow music-video-star Till? And is starring in a Taylor Swift music video the easiest way to date her?

2. “Sparks Fly”
A narrative of a dramatic bit of falling in love (“drop everything now / meet me in the pouring rain,” etc.), but there are no signifiers to suggest it’s about any of her famous paramours. The booklet’s message for this one is PORTLAND OREGON, so maybe it’s just some dude Swift met on tour.

3. “Back to December”
Safe to say that this apology-jam is for Taylor Lautner. EW has the actual chronology breakdown, plus the secret message is TAY.

4. “Speak Now”
Here, Swift imagines barging in on the wedding of an ex-boyfriend to break things up before it’s too late. Seeing as neither Joe Jonas, John Mayer, Taylor Lautner, Cory Monteith, nor Lucas Till have gotten married, we’ll assume this one’s also about some anonymous, non-famous guy Swift dated.

5. “Dear John”
Yep, it’s still about John Mayer! The Times thinks that “something loud can be expected of the logorrheic Mr. Mayer, who is probably already working on his cover version of ‘Dear John,’ or maybe even an answer song.” Yes, please.

6. “Mean”
Swift has said explicitly that this is about her critics. (But only the ones who are, you know, mean.) With lines like “drunk and rambling on about how I can’t sing,” it’s safe to assume “Mean” stems directly from the post–Stevie Nicks backlash.

7. “The Story of Us”
Swift on “Us”: “I was at an awards show, and there was a guy there, obviously — it all starts there, doesn’t it?” The reasonable assumption was that this one was about Lautner, too, but the secret booklet message is CMT AWARDS, and as best as we can tell, Lautner wasn’t at the CMT Awards this year. At first we just assumed Swift was singing about David Spade, but then Yahoo’s Chris Willman came up with a much better answer: This one’s about John Mayer, too!

8. “Never Grow Up”
The secret message is MOVED OUT IN JULY, and it sounds like Swift is addressing her younger self. So it’s a song for her parents? Borrrring.

9. “Enchanted”
Another early love song, again too generically detailed (“it was enchanting to meet you”) to guess as to its subject. The secret message is ADAM, and Willman thinks it’s about Owl City singer Adam Young, but the evidence there is scant. We’re going to assume, then, that Swift is singing to former Gonzaga Bulldog sharpshooter Adam Morrison.

10. “Better Than Revenge”
Arguably even more scandalous than the John Mayer stuff, general consensus is that “Better Than Revenge” is aimed at Swift’s ex-boyfriend Joe Jonas’s girlfriend, Camilla Belle, (“She’s an actress / she’s better known for the things she does on the mattress”). Belle apparently stole away Jonas, but here Swift swears she’ll have her revenge yet. What’s beef?!

11. “Innocent”
Kanye. And while we’re on the subject: It’s pretty clear that, while apologetic, ‘Ye still thinks Beyoncé should have won the award (as he said last week: “I didn’t want to let them say that the aliens built the pyramids”), and that’s awesome.

12. “Haunted”
The booklet message, STILL TO THIS DAY, suggests it’s a past romance. Who was “Tim McGraw” about? Let’s say it’s that guy again.

13. “Last Kiss”
The line “I’ll watch your life in pictures like I used to watch you sleep” made us think Lautner, but as Willman points out, the secret message is FOREVER AND ALWAYS, which was the name of the Joe Jonas song from the last album. So, Joe again, huh? We have been totally underestimating the appeal of the middle Jonas!

14. “Long Live”
Sample lyrics: “We stood with our shaking hands / the crowds in stands went wild / we were the kings and the queens / and they read off our names.” Sounds like an appreciation of the team behind her as she’s escalated to superstar status, which is nice. There’s also a part where she sings “I’ve had the time of my life fighting dragons with you,” and we’re going to choose to take that literally.

Who Is Each Song on the New Taylor Swift Album About?