Taylor Swift Quietly Changed the Lyrics of a Rerecorded ‘Speak Now’ Track — And Fans Aren’t Happy

Shake It Off lawsuit
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Shake It Off lawsuit
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Photo Credit: Jana Zills / CC by 2.0

Taylor Swift has quietly rewritten a potentially controversial lyric on one track of her newly released Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) reissue – spurring conversations about the long-term effects of modifying existing art to avoid offending contemporary audiences.

More than a few diehard Swifties have taken to social media to celebrate the debut of Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), the Republic Records-signed artist’s third rerecorded album.

Within this tidal wave of overexcited posts – “do not tell me you don’t like taylor swift because I do not care let me listen to speak now in peace!” exclaimed one fanatic – certain perceptive listeners pinpointed the initially noted lyric pivot.

When “Better Than Revenge” released as the 10th track on 2010’s Speak Now, the relevant portion of its chorus was penned and recorded as “She’s better known for the things that she does/On the mattress, woah,” per the song as well as lyrics displayed on Genius.

Now, however, the same component of the 2023 rendition of the effort – on which Swift is the sole songwriter – has been written and performed as “She’s an actress, woah/He was a moth to the flame,” according once again to the track and the lyrics database.

At the time of this writing, Taylor Swift, who’s on the road as part of her record-breaking Eras Tour, didn’t appear to have addressed the lyric change on social media or via a formal statement. But as highlighted, fans are weighing in on the matter with all manner of tweets.

“taylor swift not putting the mattress line in better than revenge (taylor’s version) should be a crime,” tweeted one Swiftie.

“Okay but Taylor swift changing her iconic lyrics in better than revenge was a mistake … I said what I said,” echoed a different irked supporter.

While the precise reasons behind the change are unclear – now 33, Swift was, of course, around 20 years old when Speak Now became available – it bears mentioning that the singer-songwriter isn’t a stranger to altering her work.

To be sure, October of 2022 saw the Pennsylvania native somewhat astonishingly edit the music video for “Anti-Hero” in response to “fatphobic” accusations, according to reports. Though Swift presumably opted to retool “Better Than Revenge” of her own accord, one needn’t stretch the imagination to identify a multitude of older music releases that could be susceptible to mob-provoked censorship.

In a day and age when profit-hungry IP owners are irresponsibly changing novels’ text and artificial intelligence is pumping out an abundance of soundalike songs, it goes without saying that the music industry must strongly resist both public calls for retroactive alterations and any revenue-driven urges to desecrate art.