Welcome to Throwback Thursday, a weekly series showcasing an album, single, music video or performance of a bygone era and its personal and/or cultural significance.
As Taylor Swift‘s impending Reputation era looms ⎯⎯ her yet-unidentified new single drops at midnight ⎯⎯ what better way to celebrate her catalog than by revisiting one of her career-best deep cuts? “Enchanted,” nestled between “Never Grow Up” and “Better Than Revenge” on her third studio album, 2010’s Speak Now, is a twinkling reminder of chance encounters. With a running time of nearly six minutes (but it really doesn’t feel like it, tbh), the sweeping, wonderstruck ballad is one of her darker compositions: from the blustering upheaval of violins and guitar to the stalwart anchors of polished percussion and a glittery, otherworldly hook.
“There I was again tonight / Forcing laughter, faking smiles / Same old tired, lonely place / Walls of insincerity, shifting eyes and vacancy / Vanished when I saw your face / All I can say is / It was enchanting to meet you,” the singer, who wrote the song alone, empties on the first verse. In lieu of the traditional verse-chorus-verse structure, she then unpacks the second stanza immediately: “Your eyes whispered ‘have we met?’ / Across the room your silhouette / Starts to make its way to me / The playful conversation starts / Counter all your quick remarks / Like passing notes in secrecy / And it was enchanting to meet you / All I can say is / It was enchanting to meet you…”
Reportedly, the fairytale tune is about Owl City singer/performer Adam Young. “It was about this guy that I met in New York City, and I had talked to him on email or something before, but I had never met him,” Swift dished. “And meeting him, it was this overwhelming feeling of: I really hope that you’re not in love with somebody.”
In the album’s booklet, Swift included his first name, hidden in the song’s lyrics. Young later responded in song form and admitted to feeling sparks fly, too: “I’ll be the first to admit I’m a rather shy boy and since music is the most eloquent form of communication I can muster, I decided to record something for you, a sort of a ‘reply’ to the breathtaking song on your current record. You are a true princess from a dreamy fairy tale, and above all, I just want you to know…I was enchanted to meet you, too.”
Swift defies convention. That’s what has taken her from adorable girl-next-door to global juggernaut, who appears to be having her Blackout moment with Reputation. Her well-crafted narrative, often portraying the resident damsel-in-distress (i.e. victim), has come under fire, especially over the course of the past year. She’s slinked away from the spotlight, when other times she would have stepped out fearlessly. Judging by the new album’s cover, splashed with her name in various newspaper fonts, she might be owning up to her part in the story ⎯⎯ sheepishly not the victim at all but the unapologetic heroine, akin to a Sigourney Weaver or Jamie Lee Curtis archetype. Love her or hate her, she is a savvy, brash and all-knowing business woman, and her presence is all over the mystery.
Spin “Enchanted” below: