Speak now, Music Mixers: Taylor Swift says her fourth album will be 'very different' -- which direction should she go next? | EW.com

Music | The Music Mix

Speak now, Music Mixers: Taylor Swift says her fourth album will be 'very different' -- which direction should she go next?

CMT Taylor Swift

(Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

She may not have released an album, but Billboard’s Woman of the Year still had a pretty awe-inspiring 2011. This past weekend, Swift gave a little tease about her new album, most likely due to drop sometime in late 2012.

“[My records] all seem to have a theme to them,” she explained, ” and this one is no different. It’s very different in what it’s about, but it’s no different in the fact that it has its own name.”

I wonder how how outside the box pop-country’s reigning queen is prepared to go after her chart-topping third release. Now that her Speak Now tour has wrapped, and she’s presumably working on album number four fulltime, let’s help her brainstorm. Where does she go from here?

One of the things I’m personally most curious about is where the inspiration is going to come guy-wise for this release. I assume Swift won’t sway too far from her wheelhouse (although she has shown a recent affinity for hip-hop) so that means more storytelling and love songs. It’s no secret Swift is pretty literally inspired by her real-life romances (Speak Now alone featured “Dear John,” “Back to December,” “Enchanted,” and “Last Kiss,” among others – all of which were eventually linked, correctly or not, to her past celebrity paramours).

But she’s now been publicly single for most of 2011, telling Ellen last month, “I don’t have a boyfriend. I don’t have, like, even kind of a boyfriend. There’s like nothing going on right now.” Props to her for being both up-front and goofy, but seriously: Are we going to have a love story-free album? She can, as she has in the past, rely on friends’ relationships as well as general crazy-in-love themes (although high school crushes and diaries may begin to grow stale, now that she’s only a week away from her 22nd birthday), but fans seem to prefer piecing together her own true stories as opposed to fictional or metaphorical ones. Part of her appeal is that you feel you are getting the full, real Taylor; taking her experiences that you’ve read about and connecting them to your own life and love woes.

In the same vein, how PG13 is her love content going to go this time around? She’s admired by many for allowing Rihanna, Katy, and the rest to prove sex sells—a smart strategy when, although she has a ton of fans all ages, her main base is still impressionable teens only a few years younger than her. But they’re growing up as well. Love and sex are quite intertwined, and I’m curious how she’s going to deal with what is going to become a larger and larger elephant in the room if the lady who emotionally bares all suddenly goes lyrically mum.

She went from no sex references on Taylor Swift and Fearless to just a few subtle sexual lyrics on Speak Now (“better known for what she does on a mattress”). Will number four be another grown-up step in that direction? How will the songstress balance her own emerging adult sense of self with her younger fans – and their concerned parents?

A video for “Ours” premiered this week and it’s certainly some evidence America’s favorite perpetual teenager may be growing up. No sex, but rather than a fantasy about Romeo and Juliet, the new vid shows Swift perfecting her best office-drone ensemble, complete with a 9-5 schedule and a long-distance military beau. Love may still conquer all, but it’s also getting a lot more complicated.

Complicated adult relationships are certainly the stuff of number ones—just look at Adele’s recent success turning breakup heartbreak into chart gold. Music Mixers, you tell us: Do you think grown-up Swift will be able to employ the same strategy? What themes do you hope Swift tackles this time around?

Read more:
Taylor Swift is the girl in the cubicle next door in her new video for ‘Ours’: Watch it here
Taylor Swift gets great bangs, begging the question, which stars actually pull them off?
Taylor Swift wraps her Speak Now tour in New York City, sings with James Taylor and Selena Gomez