Taylor Swift has done it again. She can't go wrong when it comes to writing songs that appeal to teens and preteens all over the world. The country star's much-anticipated third album hit stores this fall with a bang. In its first week, the album accounted for 18 percent of all record sales. Sales broke the 1 million mark, which, according to the Nielsen ratings, makes it the fastest-selling new record in five years.

The 14-track album, "Speak Now," continues her tradition of personal songs reflecting past relationships or times in her life. In her two previous albums, people have speculated about the source and emotion behind the song, but this album makes things somewhat clearer. Swift has included a coded message in each of the songs on the album. To discover the message, look for the capital letters in her lyrics. These messages allude to, but don't come right out and say, for whom or what the song was written. Swift doesn't like to talk about her personal life, but she's fearless when it comes to writing tell-all songs. Her sophomore album, aptly titled "Fearless," focuses on living in spite of fear and doubts, and this album has a similar theme. As fans can tell from the title, Swift chose to focus on words and how much they mean. In the CD booklet, Swift writes a prologue describing the theme.

She says, "In real life, saying the right thing at the right moment is beyond crucial. So crucial, in fact, that most of us start to hesitate, for fear of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. But lately what I've begun to fear more than that is letting the moment pass without saying anything."

The songs tell their own story, each one written solely by Swift.

Swift says in her prologue, "These songs are open letters. Each is written with a specific person in mind, telling them what I meant to tell them in person."

Almost every one of her songs can be put into three categories: heartbreak, anger and celebration. This album features more sad songs than happy, but even the sad songs are catchy. She looks back at her childhood, longing to be little again in "Never Grow Up." The upbeat "Speak Now" has many people singing along with her catchy, fun lyrics. The first single off the album, "Mine," released earlier than planned because of an Internet leak, describes Swift's tendency to run away from love, and her determination to overcome it. Swift's listeners can relate to her emotional songs, and that's what makes her sound so versatile. She doesn't limit herself to one genre of music, but instead chooses to tackle adolescent problems while experimenting with different sounds.

In the past year, Swift has won four Grammys, wrote all the songs on her album, dealt with public breakups and moved into her own apartment. And no one can forget Kanye West's outburst at the MTV Video Awards last year as she was accepting an award for Best Female Video.

All in all, Taylor Swift has taken the pop and country worlds by storm, and this album should reinforce her hold on the music industry for a long time.


"Speak Now" by Taylor Swift

Lee Haggerty is a sophomore at Mount Mercy Academy.