Sparks Fly (song)

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"Sparks Fly"
Single by Taylor Swift
from the album Speak Now
Released July 18, 2011 (2011-07-18)
Format CD single
Recorded 2008–10
Aimeeland Studio, Blackbird Studios, Capitol Studios
(Hollywood, California)
Pain in the Art Studio, Starstruck Studios
(Nashville, Tennessee)
Stonehurst Studio
(Bowling Green, Kentucky)
Genre Country pop
Length 4:22
Label Big Machine
Writer(s) Taylor Swift
Producer(s) Nathan Chapman, Taylor Swift
Certification Gold (US)
Taylor Swift singles chronology
"The Story of Us"
(2011)
"Sparks Fly"
(2011)
"Ours"
(2011)
Music video
"Sparks Fly" on YouTube

"Sparks Fly" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift for her third studio album Speak Now (2010). It was written and produced by Swift, with additional production helmed by Nathan Chapman. Swift wrote the song when she was 16 years old, prior to the release of her debut single "Tim McGraw" in 2006. Following a 2007 live performance of the song, "Sparks Fly" grew in popularity among Swift's fanbase. While Speak Now was under production, she received requests from fans to include the song on the album. The song was serviced to country radio in the United States by Big Machine Records on June 18, 2011, as the fifth single from Speak Now. A CD single was released on Swift's official store for a limited time on August 10, 2011.

"Sparks Fly" received generally positive reviews by music critics, who praised it for its upbeat tempo. Others praised Swift's lyrics of the song and have claimed that the song is a crossover between country and pop. Following the release of Speak Now, the song debuted at number 17 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and at number 28 on the Canadian Hot 100, due to strong digital sales. After the song was released as a single, it re-entered the US Billboard Hot 100 at 84. It peaked at number one at the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over 1,000,000 copies. "Sparks Fly" was used as the opening song for the Speak Now World Tour (2011–12). A music video for the song was released, featuring clips of various performances during the Speak Now World Tour.

Background and release[edit]

Swift began work on her third studio album Speak Now two years prior to its release in 2010.[1] "Sparks Fly" was written by Swift when she was sixteen years old, prior the release of her eponymous album in 2006.[2] She performed the song live during several bar shows "of forty and fifty people".[2] A recorded live performance of the song during one of her concerts made its way onto the internet in 2007.[3] The song became a favorite among Swift's fans, leading Swift to rework the song and include it on Speak Now after having so many requested for it to be included on the album.[2][4] Of the song, Swift said that: "This is a song I wrote a few years ago and I have been working on it ever since. It's been awesome to see it change over the years. The fans have heard it before in concert, but there have been some really cool changes that I am very proud of and can't wait for them to hear."[5]

The song was sent to country music radio stations on June 18, 2011,[6] as the fifth single from Speak Now.[7][8] An exclusive package was released to Swift's official store including a "Speak Now" necklace and an individually numbered "Sparks Fly" CD single. Only 2,500 copies of the CD single were made and the package was made available for a limited time.[9] The single was later included in another package that is exclusive to Swift's official store. The package included the Target exclusive deluxe edition of Speak Now, a free pair of headphones, and the choice between either the "Sparks Fly", "The Story of Us", or the "Mean" CD single.[10] The song was featured on a promotional trailer for the CW show, Hart of Dixie.[11] It was also featured on the annual "Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Show" last 2012. The song was released on Now That's What I Call Country Volume 5.[12][13]

Music and lyrics[edit]

A sample of Taylor Swift's "Sparks Fly", featuring the electric guitar-backed chorus and Swift's a capella "Drop everything now".

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Sparks Fly" is a country pop[6] song with a length of four minutes and 22 seconds.[14] The song, written solely by Swift,[15] is in the key of D minor with Swift's vocals spanning two octaves, from F3 to C5.[16] Johnathan Keefe claimed that "the a capella "Drop everything now" exclamation simply commands attention, with the desperation in Swift’s call-to-action answering the common criticisms that her work is sexless and chaste."[17] Bobby Peacock stated that "I wouldn't mind if the banjo from the 2007 version were left in, but its omission is hardly make-or-break. Perhaps my biggest problem is that the song's chorus undermines itself in the second half – it starts out emphatic and anthemic as usual, but there's just no "oomph" on the hook. It almost feels as if she's trailing off mid-sentence."[3] Blake Boldt of Engine 145 stated ""Sparks Fly" centers around a simple but effective hook—"I see sparks fly whenever you smile"—that further cements Swift’s reputation as one the craftiest songwriters in popular music."[18] Amanda Hensel of Taste of Country commented on the chorus of the song stating, "Though Swift implies that this particular crush is a "bad idea," she still insists that they should try to make it work in the chorus: "Drop everything now, meet me in the pouring rain / Kiss me on the sidewalk, take away the pain / ‘Cause I see sparks fly / Whenever you smile," she sings insistently."[6]

According to Swift, the song is about "falling for someone who you maybe shouldn't fall for, but you can't stop yourself because there's such a connection and chemistry."[6]

Critical reception[edit]

"Sparks Fly" generally received positive reviews from music critics. Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone praised Swift's vocals on "Sparks Fly", commenting that her voice in such an upbeat song is unaffected enough to mask how masterful she has become as a singer.[19] Rahul Prabhakar of The Oxonian Review considers it "dopamine-infused, hair-whipping stuff".[20] Jonathan Keefe of Slant Magazine calls the song "the purest iteration of Swift’s template and repertoire", also saying that it "could turn things around for Swift, as it’s perhaps the most perfectly constructed single in a career built on tracks that are marvels of pop production and songwriting." He concluded by stating that the song "proves how evocative those turns-of-phrase can be in the right context. To that end, “Sparks Fly” plays as a template as much as it does as a standalone single, and it’s a testament to everything Taylor Swift gets right."[17] Bobby Peacock of Roughstock claims that he gets "a sense that Taylor is starting to experience a little burnout at radio. Her songs drop like rocks once they peak, and she's currently 0 for 3 on hitting the top of the Billboard charts. While I don't think this song has that je ne sais quoi to get her another 'You Belong with Me'-level hit, I still think that even a slightly lesser effort from her is a worthwhile listen."[3] Blake Boldt of Engine 145 praised Swift, saying "Her infusion of individual lines with urgency (“Drop everything now,” she insists) and earnestness (“Take away the pain,” she pleads) are a tribute to her talent, not so much as a distinguished vocalist but as an excellent communicator. Each frazzled note is freighted with meaning. Should I stay or should I go now?, she wonders, wiling [sic] away the hours before he calls her again."[18] Amanda Hensel of Taste of Country claimed the song is "just another one of those so-Swift tracks that continually toes the line between country and pop to create a genre that is 100% Taylor Swift."[6] Erin Thompson of Seattle Weekly stated he wasn't to "hot on" the song and compared the song to Swift's earlier works, "Fearless", "Hey Stephen", and "Forever and Always", and stated that Swift "puts in a line about standing in the rain in so many of her songs that I'm beginning to think she watches The Notebook every time she gets ready to sit down and write a song."[21] Mikael Wood of Spin considered it a bubbly tune along with Swift's song, "Long Live".[22]

Commercial performance[edit]

Following the release of Speak Now, on November 4, 2010, "Sparks Fly" debuted at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 due to strong digital sales of 113,000 downloads[23] making it one of the songs to make Swift the first act to have ten songs debut on the Billboard Hot 100 in the same week. With the addition of "Mine", Swift had a total of 11 songs charting in one week, making Swift the female act to have the most songs charting on the Billboard Hot 100 in the same week.[24] The song made a Hot Shot Debut on the Hot Country Songs at number 49.[25] Billboard included the song in their Five Potential Pop Hits for 2011 list.[26] The song jumped from 39 and settled on 31 on the Hot Country Songs on the week ending August 6, 2011.[27] After its single release, the song re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 84 on the week ending August 27, 2011.[28] On the week ending October 8, 2011 the song jumped from 13 to 10 on the Hot Country Songs.[29] The song has peaked at number 24 on the Billboard Radio Songs Chart.[30] It peaked at number one on the Hot Country Songs in the week of November 26, 2011.[31] The song became Swift's first single in two years to reach atop the aforesaid chart since "You Belong with Me" in 2009.[32][33] On November 29, 2011, the song was certified Gold by the RIAA.[34] The song was number 37 on the 2011 year-end chart of Hot Country Songs.[35] As of August 2012, "Sparks Fly" has sold over a million copies in the United States.[36] In Canada, "Sparks Fly" debuted at 28 on the week of November 13, 2010.[37]

"Sparks Fly" was nominated for "Favorite Song" on the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards 2012.[38] The song won the award for "Choice Music: Country Song" on 2012 Teen Choice Awards.[39]

Live performances and music video[edit]

The live performance that was uploaded to YouTube was captured at the Gold Country Casino in Orville, California on May 30, 2007.[40] The song was, at the time, unreleased and was performed using banjos and violins and contained different lyrics than the album version.[3] "Sparks Fly" was the opening song of the Speak Now World Tour.[41] The performance begins with an opening montage about how people should "speak now" about how they feel, and Swift then raises from a cloud of smoke and sings "Drop everything now" before starting the actual song performance. Swift also uses a longer interlude into the final chorus of the song.[42] Fireworks were also used during the performance.[43] The performance uses electric guitars instead of banjos[42] and was released on Swift's first live album, Speak Now World Tour Live.[44] In his review of Speak Now World Tour Live, Matt Bjorke of Roughstock cited Swift's perforation of "Sparks Fly" a standout during the concert.[45] Swift has also performed the song at the CMA Music Festival. Before beginning the performance Swift walked through the crowd to the stage and began singing.[46]

"Sparks Fly" was the first song Taylor Swift performed on her debut in the iHeart Radio Music Festival 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. As introduced by Nina Dobrev, Swift appeared from the audience and opened the performance of the song's imminent hook, "Drop everything now", as she walks through the crowd to the stage.

A music video for the song was announced on August 8, 2011 on Swift's official website.[47] It premiered on August 10, 2011 on her official website at 4:30 pm CDT.[48] It is directed by Christian Lamb.[49] The video features clips of various performances from her Speak Now World Tour, such as "Speak Now", "Back to December", "Better Than Revenge", "Mean" and other performances, as well as never before seen footage at beginning.[50] Many of the footage for the video was captured at four different tour date locations including one from the show in Newark, New Jersey. The footage with the rain was captured during one of the summer shows in a stadium.[51] Billy Dukes of Taste of Country praised the video saying, "The magic and theatrics she’s able to capture on stage rival what almost anyone else is able to dream up for a more Hollywood-like “produced” music video."[51] During the week of its release, the music video had over 400,000 views and helped push Swift up the Billboard's Social 50, moving her from number nineteen to ten.[52] Jocelyn Vena of MTV News praised the footage of the video saying that it "perfectly encapsulates the tour's high-octane energy including theatrical set changes, dancers, aerialists, fireworks, pyrotechnics, costume changes and the occasional rainstorm."[53] The video was number one on the week's most streamed videos on August 27, 2011 for Yahoo! Music.[30]

Track listing[edit]

  • Limited Edition CD single[9]
  1. "Sparks Fly" – 4:20

Charts and certifications[edit]

Preceded by
"Crazy Girl"
by Eli Young Band
Billboard Hot Country Songs
number-one single

November 26, 2011
Succeeded by
"Country Must Be Country Wide"
by Brantley Gilbert

Release history[edit]

List of radio and release dates with formats and record labels
Country Date Format Label
United States June 11, 2011[6] Country radio Big Machine Records
August 10, 2011[9][48] Limited edition CD single

References[edit]

  1. ^ John, Christopher (July 21, 2010). "Taylor Swift Sets Release Date for New Album 'Speak Now' – Speakeasy — WSJ". The Wall Street Journal (Les Hinton). Retrieved July 22, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c Taylor Swift (September 1, 2011). "YouTube Presents Taylor Swift". YouTube. Google Inc. Retrieved September 8, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Taylor Swift – "Sparks Fly"". Bobby Peacock. Roughstock. August 8, 2011. Retrieved August 8, 2011. 
  4. ^ Swiftie13 (August 22, 2011). "Fans Responsible For Getting "Sparks Fly" On Taylor Swift CD « Nashville Music Scene". Nashville!. Retrieved June 20, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Taylor Swift Music and Lyrics". TaylorSwift.com. October 25, 2010. Archived from the original on November 25, 2011. Retrieved August 11, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Taylor Swift, 'Sparks Fly' – Song Review". Taste of Country. Townsquare Media. July 4, 2011. Retrieved August 11, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Watch the "Sparks Fly" Beginning Next Week". Country AirCheck. June 28, 2011. Retrieved June 27, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Taylor Swift confirms 5th single off Speak Now". Alejandro. Shuffleme.net. July 7, 2011. Retrieved June 27, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c CD Single Reference:
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  11. ^ Bricker, Tierney (January 9, 2012). "Taylor Swift Makes "Sparks Fly" in New Hart of Dixie Clip—Check It Out Now!". E! Online. Retrieved January 20, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Now That's What I Call Country, Vol. 5 - Various Artists : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved June 2, 2012. 
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  15. ^ Sparks Fly (CD single). Taylor Swift. Big Machine Records. 2011. 4393000542. 
  16. ^ "Digital sheet music – Taylor Swift – Sparks Fly". Musicnotes.com. Alfred Publishing. October 25, 2010. Retrieved July 25, 2011. 
  17. ^ a b "Single Review: Taylor Swift, "Sparks Fly"". Jonathan Keefe. Country Universe. July 12, 2011. Retrieved August 8, 2011. 
  18. ^ a b "Single Review: Taylor Swift – "Sparks Fly". Blake Boldt. Engine145. July 18, 2011. Retrieved August 15, 2011. 
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  26. ^ "Ask Billboard: Readers' 2010 Top Picks, Continued". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. January 7, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2011. 
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  30. ^ a b "Sparks Fly – Taylor Swift|". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
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  39. ^ "Teen Choice Awards Nominees 2012: Taylor Swift & Blake Shelton Lead the Country Pack". The Boot. May 21, 2012. Retrieved May 26, 2012. 
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  41. ^ Speak Now World Tour References:
  42. ^ a b Speak Now World Tour Live (CD/DVD). Taylor Swift. Big Machine Records. 2011. BMRTS0340B. 
  43. ^ Reviewed by Melissa Maerz (July 27, 2011). "Speak Now Tour review - Taylor Swift Review". Entertainment Weekly. Time Warner. Retrieved June 20, 2012. 
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  45. ^ "Album/DVD Review: Taylor Swift - Speak Now: World Tour Live". Matt Bjorke. Roughstock. November 21, 2011. Retrieved May 31, 2012. 
  46. ^ "Taylor Swift Makes 'Sparks Fly' on 'CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock'". Taste of Country. Townsquare Media. August 11, 2011. Retrieved May 31, 2012. 
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  50. ^ "sf on Vimeo". Vimeo. August 10, 2011. Retrieved August 10, 2011. 
  51. ^ a b Billy, Dukes (August 10, 2011). "Taylor's New 'Sparks Fly' Video Features Fans and Concert Theatrics". TasteofCountry.com. Retrieved August 11, 2011. 
  52. ^ Kyle Bylin (August 18, 2011). "Taylor Swift Rockets Up Social 50 with 'Sparks Fly' Video (Watch)". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved August 19, 2011. 
  53. ^ "Taylor Swift Gives Fans Front-Row Seat In 'Sparks Fly' Video". Jocelyn Vena. MTV News. Viacom. August 11, 2011. Retrieved September 7, 2011. 
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External links[edit]