It’s not a secret that Taylor Swift isn’t exactly country. But, she is probably one of the most consistent country artists when it comes to releasing songs that fit the template she’s created for herself: songs that are easy to relate to, creatively written, and stick to who she is as an artist. The singer’s Speak Now album has yielded three top five singles (“Mine,” “Back to December,” “Mean”) that stick to her template and the fourth, “Sparks Fly,” could just be the best of the four.
“Sparks Fly” is another adolescent themed song which Taylor’s writing turns into one that reaches beyond the teenage fanbase the singer possesses. Much like her previous songs about infatuation, this one includes many of the singer’s famous phrases from kissing in the rain and seeing fireworks and sparks when she sees her crush’s smile. The sheer fact that I enjoy this single shows just how much Swift has matured as a songwriter since her days of immaturely penned songs like “Picture to Burn” and “Our Song.”
Considering this is a Taylor Swift song, it’s easy to assume the vocal performance isn’t anything to brag about. Swift’s signature nasal vocal performance is one of her most mediocre, but it doesn’t need to be anything spectacular considering the song’s hook and melody are catchy enough on their own. This particular song’s “money” is found in its production.
With “Sparks Fly,” Taylor delivers her least country sounding single to date (but did we expect anything different?). What makes this pop driven song a standout in a catalogue filled with non-country songs is its production. “Sparks Fly” finds Taylor and producer Nathan Chapman experimenting with different dynamics during the song. From the verses which are filled with plenty of guitars and drums to the a cappella line of the chorus, the production goes from full-blown, to non-existent, then reverts back to full-blown. The varying production volume gives the song more life and emotion, something that previous Swift singles didn’t achieve.
In a generation where it’s hard to find decent and creative songwriting, it’s a bit of a surprise to see the genre’s least country artist being the one to step up and deliver. This will most likely be Taylor Swift’s next top five smash, but it’ll be interesting to see if it will become Speak Now‘s first number one single.