Monday, July 11, 2011

Taylor Swift, "Sparks Fly"

Songwriter:  Taylor Swift

Truth be told, I would probably like "Sparks Fly" even better had its single release not come after I had been jamming to "Mean" for months prior.  It was a pleasant surprise to hear such a fun hoedown of a song so effortlessly country from an artist who typically favors polished pop-country sounds, but the overtly personal nature of the lyrics, combined with the tell-it-like-it-is attitude, were both classic Swift.

"Sparks Fly" could be considered a return to form for the pop-country superstar.  It's more of the kind of material we come to expect from her - a ode to youthful infatuation, polished with the most charming and catchy pop hooks.  In this instance, Taylor is falling for a handsome young man whom she known is "a bad idea," yet she 'sees sparks fly whenever he smiles.' 

Songs of this nature often succumb to dull lyrical content.  In Taylor's songwriting catalog, a "White Horse" or a "Fifteen" may occasionally be offset by a less-fortunate "Today Is a Fairytale" or "Picture to Burn."  But where she often succeeds is in supplying deeper hues of color to the scenes she portrays, as opposed to leaning on shallow cliche phrasing.  "Sparks Fly" utilizes some interesting imagery in telling its story, including engaging lines such as "The way you move is like a full-on rainstorm/ And I'm a house of cards."  That's fairly deep for a song whose foremost ambition is putting the listener in a good mood.  A nuanced and expressive lead vocal on Taylor's part finishes things off nicely.

Ultimately, "Sparks Fly" succeeds by staying true to what it is - a pleasant slice of pop-country in a similar vein to her 2010 hit "Fearless."  While "Sparks Fly" might not leave as deep a mark on one's memory as "Mean" before it, it achieves what it sets out to do.  Indeed, Swift has wholly succeeded in crafting a simple feel-good pop-country love song that's every bit as pleasant and infectious as it intends to be.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)