You Belong with Me

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"You Belong with Me"
Single by Taylor Swift
from the album Fearless
B-side "Love Story"
Released April 18, 2009[1]
Format CD single, music download
Recorded 2008
Genre Country pop
Length 3:52
Label Big Machine, Universal Republic[2]
Writer(s) Taylor Swift, Liz Rose
Producer(s) Taylor Swift, Nathan Chapman
Taylor Swift singles chronology
"Crazier"
(2009)
"You Belong with Me"
(2009)
"Fifteen"
(2009)
Music video
"You Belong with Me" on YouTube

"You Belong with Me" is a country pop song performed by American recording artist Taylor Swift. The song was co-written by Swift and Liz Rose and produced by Nathan Chapman with Swift's aid. It was released on April 18, 2009, by Big Machine Records as the third single from Swift's second studio album, Fearless (2008). Swift was inspired to write "You Belong with Me" after overhearing a male friend of hers arguing with his girlfriend through a phone call; she continued to develop a story line afterward. The song contains many pop music elements and its lyrics have Swift desiring an out-of-reach love interest.

Critical reception for "You Belong with Me" was middling to positive. The song won Favorite song at 2010 Kids' Choice Awards,and received nominations for the Grammy Awards for Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. "You Belong with Me" enjoyed commercial success as well; it became a top ten hit in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. In the United States, the song became Swift's second best-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100 to date and Swift's third best-selling single. It managed to gain the largest crossover radio audience since Faith Hill's "Breathe" did in 2000. The single was certified 6× Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).The song is one the best-selling singles worldwide, with worldwide sales of more than 5.1 millions of units (according to the IFPI).

The song's accompanying music video was directed by Roman White. The video featured Swift portraying two characters, a nerd (the protagonist and narrator) and a popular girl (the antagonist and girlfriend), while American actor Lucas Till portrayed the male lead. The video's plot centers on the protagonist secretively loving the male lead, although he has a girlfriend. The video won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, but during Swift's acceptance speech, rapper Kanye West interrupted, protesting in support of Beyoncé Knowles. The incident caused a reaction in the media, with most people coming to Swift's defense. The song was performed live at numerous venues, including the 2009–10 Fearless Tour, where it was the opening number. It was covered by various artists, including Butch Walker and Selena Gomez & the Scene, and parodied by "Weird Al" Yankovic.

Background[edit]

Swift became inspired to write "You Belong with Me" after she overheard a male friend of hers speaking to his girlfriend through a phone call.[3] He acted defensive as his girlfriend yelled at him, and said to her, "No, baby...I had to get off the phone really quickly... I tried to call you right back... Of course I love you. More than anything! Baby, I’m so sorry."[3] Out of the sympathy she felt towards him in the situation, Swift developed a concept for a song.[3] In a writing session with co-writer Liz Rose, Swift explained the situation along with her idea and conceived the song's opening line, "You’re on the phone with your girlfriend / she’s upset / she's going off about something that you said."[3] Together, they developed a story line, which described Swift being in love with the male friend and her having the desire for him to breakup with his current girlfriend for her.[3] Swift described the song's concept as "basically about wanting someone who is with this girl who doesn't appreciate him at all. Basically like 'girl-next-door-itis.' You like this guy who you have for your whole life, and you know him better than she does but somehow the popular girl gets the guy every time."[4] Swift recalled, "It was really fun for us to write the line, 'She wears short skirts, I wear T-shirts'."[3] "You Belong with Me" was first released as a promotional single from Fearless on November 4, 2008 as part of Countdown to Fearless, an exclusive campaign by the iTunes Store;[5] the song was then released as the third single from Fearless on April 18, 2009.[6]

Composition[edit]

Taylor Swift's "You Belong with Me" portrays many pop music elements.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"You Belong with Me" is a country pop song with a length of three minutes and 52 seconds.[7] According to Kate Kiefer of Paste magazine, it is "a straight-up pop song."[8] The song is set in common time and has a moderate tempo of 130 beats per minute. It is written in the key of G♭ major and Swift's vocals spans a little below two octaves, from G♭3 to D♭5. Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly felt Swift's vocals were light and twangy while the melody was "lilting".[9] It follows the chord progression G♭–D♭–A♭m-C♭.[10] The instrumentation consisted of clucking banjos alongside new wave electric guitars.[11]

The lyrics to "You Belong with Me" alternate between narrative modes, where she speaks of herself, a male friend whom she has an unrequited crush on, and his girlfriend. Greenblatt described Swift's role as a storyteller, the song being a narrative set to music, which describes concerning about love and boys "just [being] very hard to catch".[9] Craig Rosen of The Hollywood Reporter believes "You Belong with Me"'s plot is "confessional" and regards scenarios themed with high school, while Swift "is the girl next door who's had her heart broken and takes refuge in music".[12] Lucy Davies of the BBC noted, "Swift deals in the prosaic imagery of high school boys".[13] In one verse, Swift contrasts herself with her friend's girlfriend and states, "She wears high heels, I wear sneakers / She's cheer captain, I'm on the bleachers", which Davies interpreted as the song's protagonist feeling envy towards cheerleaders, in particular, the one dating her male friend.[13] In the choruses, Swift attempts "to persuade some boy to come to his senses and submit to her everygirl charms".[11]

Critical reception[edit]

A young woman with blond, curly hair looks up while being dressed in a black cocktail dress and standing on a taxi cab.
Swift performing "You Belong with Me" at rehearsals for the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.

"You Belong with Me" received positive to mixed reviews from critics. For instance, Sean Dooley of About.com labeled "You Belong with Me" as one of the "best songs on Fearless",[14] while Johnny Davis of The Observer believed some parts of the song "may needle British ears", although he felt that it was better than single releases by pop singer Hilary Duff.[15] Lucy Davies of the BBC was not impressed by the song's theme being similar to those of other songs on Fearless or on her eponymous debut album, Taylor Swift.[13] She opined that "You Belong with Me"'s "lyrical palette has few colours [...] and it's repetitive".[13] Jonathan Keefe of Slant Magazine said, "'You Belong with Me' isn't her best-written song by a long shot, but it's hard to fault its construction."[16] Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone commented, "It's hard not to be won over by the guilelessness".[17]

A Times Editor review from The St. Petersburg Times also described it as sounding similar to other hits: "She hankers for a boy who either doesn't love her back or wants to ditch this small town."[18] Josh Love of The Village Voice thought "preternatural wisdom and inclusiveness" shined through the lyrics and theme of "You Belong with Me"; Love also mentioned that it was one of Fearless' "great songs".[19] Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly said Swift's vocals fit the song's melody and instrumentation, which, according to her, is "slick" and "radio-friendly".[9] Rob Sheffield of Blender magazine recommended for readers to download "You Belong with Me",[20] and Jeniffer Webb, also from About.com, predicted that the song would reach different age groups.[6] Webb said, "It continues the artist's tradition of having a little something for everyone, so it's no wonder she has such a large fanbase."[6]

Awards and nominations[edit]

At the 52nd Grammy Awards, "You Belong with Me" received nominations for three awards. The song received a nomination for the Grammy Award for Song of the Year but lost to Beyoncé Knowles' "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" (2008), for the Grammy Award for Record of the Year but lost to Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody" (2008), and for the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance but lost to Knowles' "Halo" (2009).[21] "You Belong with Me" won Favorite Song at the 2010 Kids Choice Awards and was nominated for Song of the Year at the 45th Academy of Country Music Awards, but lost to Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" (2009).[22][23]

Chart performance[edit]

North America[edit]

Driven by non-country radio airplay, "You Belong With Me" established the largest crossover radio audience since Faith Hill's "Breathe".

Upon its release as a promotional single, on the week ending November 22, 2008, "You Belong with Me" debuted at number twelve on the Billboard Hot 100 due to sales of 172,000 digital downloads, tying her with the Jonas Brothers for most top twenty debuts in 2008, a record which she later beat; the song fell from the Billboard Hot 100 in the following week.[24][25] Following its single release, the song re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number eighty-seven on the week ending May 16, 2009.[26] "You Belong with Me" moved to number three on the Billboard Hot 100 on the week ending August 15, 2009, thus making the song Swift's second highest-charting effort, surpassing her previous second best-charting effort "Love Story", which peaked at number four in January 2009.[27] Driven by non-country radio airplay, the song established the largest crossover radio audience since Faith Hill's "Breathe" (2000).[27] The following week, it peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, being blocked at the top spot by The Black Eyed Peas's "I Gotta Feeling".[28] The song is one of thirteen songs from Fearless charted within the top forty of the Billboard Hot 100, breaking the record for the most top forty entries from a single album.[29] The single was certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments exceeding four million copies.[30] As of November 2014, "You Belong with Me" has sold 4.5 million copies in the United States.[31]

"You Belong With Me" became Swift's first song to reach Billboard Radio Songs summit with 117 million all-format audience impressions.[32] It also became the first country crossover single to rule Radio Songs since Billboard began incorporating Nielsen BDS-monitored data in 1990.[32] It stayed at number one for two consecutive weeks.[33] On Billboard Hot Country Songs, the single debuted at number thirty-two.[34] On the week-ending June 13, 2009, it jumped from number thirteen to ten in the chart, scoring Swift's eight consecutive top ten hit.[35] "You Belong With Me" became Swift's fourth number one song on Billboard Hot Country Songs after it reached the summit on the week-ending August 22, 2009.[36] It stayed on the top for two weeks and fell at number six afterwards.[37] The single charted in Billboard Hot Country Songs for a total of twenty weeks. On Billboard Pop Songs, it debuted at number forty.[38] It jumped at number twenty six of the following week and on its fifth week, on the week-ending July 25, 2009, it entered the top ten at number ten.[38][39] It reached its peak at number two of the week-ending September 5, 2009 and held from the top spot by Black Eyed Peas's I Gotta Feeling for five weeks.[40] It also reach the top spot on Adult Contemporary for fourteen weeks while reaching number two in Billboard Adult Pop Songs.[41][42]

In Canada, "You Belong with Me" entered at number eighty-four. It jumped at the top ten at number nine and peaked at number three for three non-consecutive weeks.[42] It charted in Canada for forty-five weeks.[43] It also reached number one on Canadian Country Radio after only eleven weeks at radio.[44] It was also certified double platinum by Music Canada for sales of 160,000 digital downloads.[45]

Europe and Oceania[edit]

"You Belong with Me" debuted at number ninety-nine on the week ending July 18, 2009, in United Kingdom.[46] It reached its peak in United Kingdom at number thirty on the week ending September 26, 2009.[46] In Ireland, it peaked at number twelve and spent a total of six weeks on the chart.[47] In mainland Europe, "You Belong with Me" peaked at number sixty-one on the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles Chart,[42] number eleven in Belgium (Flanders),[48] and number thirty-two in Denmark.[49] "You Belong with Me" experienced similar commercial outcomes throughout the rest of Europe; it became a top forty hit in Belgium (Wallonia) and a top fifty hit in Sweden.

"You Belong with Me" was a success in Australia and New Zealand. On the week ending May 24, 2009, the song entered in Australia at number fifty.[50] On the week ending July 5, 2009, the song reached its peak at number five, a position it maintained on for three non-consecutive weeks.[50] "You Belong with Me" was placed at number eighty-eight on the decade-end Austrian Singles Chart.[51] It was certified double platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association for shipments exceeding 140,000 copies.[52] On the week ending May 25, 2009, "You Belong with Me" debuted at number twenty-eight in New Zealand and, after two weeks of ascended positions, it peaked at number five.[53] The single was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand for shipments exceeding 15,000 copies.[54]

Music video[edit]

Swift portrays both the protagonist, a shy, blonde nerd with glasses (top), and the antagonist, a popular, brunette cheerleader (bottom), in the music video for "You Belong with Me"

"You Belong with Me"'s accompanying music video was directed by Roman White. In the video, Swift portrays both the protagonist and antagonist, which she respectively described as "the nerd, who is pining away for this guy that she can't have" and "the popular girl."[4] Swift described the popular girl's persona as "horrible and scary and intimidating and perfect".[55] Her love interest is portrayed by American actor Lucas Till; Swift met Till while acting on the set of Hannah Montana: The Movie in April 2009. She later asked him to act in the video, as she was intrigued by his "cool look", embodying a "dreamy guy".[55] In regards to his acting on the video, Swift said, "He's absolutely perfect for the part and really fun to be around, too."[4] According to her, the video's plot is "charming"; she also said that, "the whole video, I'm just sitting there pining away, wishing I could be in her position."[55] In regards to the video's conclusion, White explained that Swift "becomes who she really is", while Swift thought it was a happy ending.[55] Swift commented, "One of my favorite things about this video is that there wasn't a standard performance scene. This video was pretty much all story line and I'm narrating it in the moment, basically narrating while all this is happening around me."[55]

The video was shot in two days in Gallatin and Hendersonville, Tennessee.[4] On the first day of filming, Swift used a body double in order for both Swift, as the protagonist and antagonist, to appear in one shot.[55] In a scene where she appeared dancing, White replaced Swift's routine with a one having no rhythm; she recalled, "It was some of the most fun I'd had in a long time, just freaking out and doing the dumbest moves."[55] On the second day, they first filmed a prom scene and, lastly, the football game, both being filmed at Pope John Paul II High School. The school supplied many students as extras, including football players, band members, cheerleaders and students for the final prom scene. When filming for a touchdown, Till was unable to catch the ball, furthering the length of the shoot.[55] "You put a lot of good solid effort in it and it looks good", Swift stated about filming.[55]

The video commences with Till arguing with his girlfriend through a phone call. As soon as Swift, as the protagonist, notices, they begin to communicate by holding up signs through their bedroom windows. Till closes his curtains, and Swift holds up a sign saying, "I love you". As the song's chorus approaches, Swift starts to sing and dance in front of a mirror, changing to different clothing multiple times. Afterward, Swift is sitting in a bench while reading a book. Till arrives and the two converse. Then, Swift, as the antagonist, arrives in a red convertible car and Till gets in it; Swift, the antagonist, kisses him and gives a hostile look towards the protagonist. Suddenly, she is seen cheerleading at a football game while Swift's other persona is in the bleachers, performing in the school band. After scoring the winning touchdown, Till moves toward his girlfriend and finds her flirting with a teammate, resulting in a heated argument which results in their breakup. Meanwhile, Swift, the protagonist stares in amazement. Back in their bedroom windows, they again communicate through signs, Till asked Swift, the protagonist, if she was attending prom and she responded, "no, studying". Swift, however, notices Till has a dejected expression as he leaves and changes her mind. Shortly after, Swift is seen entering prom with a white dress, no longer looking like a nerd, while all her peers stare in amazement. When Till spots her, he walks towards her and Swift, the antagonist in a red dress, attempts to impede him, but he ignores her. Ending the video, Till and Swift reveal folded signs saying "I love you" and kiss.

Video reception[edit]

A young woman with blond, curly hair, in left profile, holds up an award. She is dressed in a red dress while standing on the red carpet.
Swift with her MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video at the 2009 MTV Music Video Awards.

The video premiered on May 2, 2009, on CMT.[56] Chris Ryan of MTV commented, "'You Belong With Me' was a teen rom-com wrapped up in a music video, wherein Taylor plays two roles.[57] See Dooley of About.com believed Swift worked "doubly hard", playing two roles.[58] A Times Editor review from The St. Petersburg Times compared the large glasses Swift wore to those of Clark Kent.[18] Michael Deacon of The Daily Telegraph felt the video suited the song, "in that they’re equally sappy and dull".[59]

At the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, the video won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video. During Swift's acceptance speech, rapper Kanye West interrupted Swift, grabbing the microphone and stating, "Yo Taylor, I'm really happy for you and I'ma let you finish, but Beyoncé [Knowles] had one of the best videos of all time", regarding her video for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)".[60] According to Jayson Rodriguez of MTV News, Knowles "looked on from the crowd, stunned".[60] Later in the evening, during her acceptance speech for winning the MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year, Knowles told about her first experience winning her first Video Music Award with Destiny's Child and how much it meant to her. She then called Swift from backstage to complete her acceptance speech.[61] Numerous critics, celebrities, and fans criticized West's actions, including the President of the United States, Barack Obama, who called West a "jackass".[62] At first, West made no effort in contacting Swift, but he later issued an apology, which Swift accepted.[63] The video was nominated for Video of the Year at the 45th Academy of Country Music Awards.[23] At the 2010 CMT Music Awards, the video received nominations for the CMT Music Award for "Video of the Year" and "Female Video of the Year", but lost to Carrie Underwood's "Cowboy Casanova" and Miranda Lambert's "White Liar", respectively.[64] The video was nominated for the MuchMusic Video Award for Best International Artist Video and the MuchMusic Video Award for People's Choice: Favourite International Video, but lost to Miley Cyrus' video for "Party in the U.S.A." and Adam Lambert's video for "Whataya Want From Me" at the 2010 MuchMusic Video Awards, respectively.[65]

Live performances[edit]

Swift performing "You Belong with Me" during the Fearless Tour in 2010.

Swift's first televised performance of "You Belong with Me" was at a free outdoor concert on May 29, 2009, broadcast by The Today Show.[66] Following promotion for the song, she performed it on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,[67] Studio 330 Sessions,[68] at the 2009 CMA Music Festival,[69] at the 2009 CMT Music Awards,[70] and at the 2009 V Festival,[71] in the summer of 2009. Swift performed "You Belong with Me" at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards on September 13, 2009, the same day in which Kanye West interrupted her acceptance speech. She began the performance in a subway station, dressed in a brown trench coat and black beanie, and continued it in a subway, taking off the trench coat and revealing a red cocktail dress. Once the subway docked at a stop, Swift completed the performance atop a yellow taxi cab.[72] Swift later performed the song on The View and Saturday Night Live.[73][74] In the fall of 2009 and winter of 2009 through 2010, Swift commenced promotion for "You Belong with Me" countries outside of the United States; she performed the song on the United Kingdom channel GMTV,[75] the Australian charity concert Sydney Sound Relief,[76] and the Japanese talk show The Sukkiri Morning Show.[77]

Swift performed a medley, which included "You Belong with Me" at the 52nd Grammy Awards. Wearing casual white blouse and black skinny jeans, Swift performed "Today Was a Fairytale" and then announced, "Its a fairly tale and an honor to share the stage with Stevie Nicks". Following, the two performed a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon" (1976). Swift then grabbed her acoustic guitar for the third and final part in her medley, jumping into a twangy version of "You Belong with Me". Nicks stood back, tapping her tambourine and nodding, every so often stepping up to the microphone to sing with Swift.[78] Eric Ditzian of MTV News was disappointed at Swift's and Nicks' harmonies, but said the two "made for a compelling twosome".[78] The performance followed much backlash in regards to Swift's off key singing,[79] which caused Scott Borchetta, CEO of Big Machine Records, to issue a statement defending the performance.[80]

"You Belong with Me" is performed as the opening number on all 2009 and 2010 dates of Swift's first headlining tour, the Fearless Tour.[12] Before Swift or the dancers entered the stage, a video played on the overhead screens; it showed various celebrities, including Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Faith Hill, Lucas Till and Swift herself, sharing their definitions of the word "fearless".[81] Following the video's completion, the band and backup dancers appeared, dressed in yellow cheerleading uniforms. Swift, dressed in a white marching band uniform, then emerges from the bottom of the stage and commences singing. Swift roams around the stage singing and backup dancers perform cheerleading routines while projections of cheerleaders are shown on the stage.[81] Midway through the performance, the backup dancers removed Swift's marching band uniform to reveal a sparkly cocktail dress; she is then handed a rhinestoned acoustic guitar and finishes the performance.[81] Craig Rosen of The Hollywood Reporter believed Swift's performance of "You Belong with Me", coupled with the performance of "Should've Said No", at the May 22, 2009, concert in Los Angeles at the Staples Center made the show a success.[12] The song is also performed on the Speak Now World Tour and The Red Tour.[82][83][84]

Cover versions and media usage[edit]

Kidz Bop Kids recorded "You Belong with Me" for a digital single release in October 2009, which is included on the seventeenth installment of Kidz Bop.[85] In November 2009, American rock singer Butch Walker covered "You Belong with Me" for a digital single release.[86] James Christopher Monger of Allmusic said the cover was infused "with the same karaoke glee that fueled previous installments".[87] Bill Lamb of About.com described the composition as a "folksy almost honky-tonk sound" and "a bit more country than Taylor Swift's original".[88] According to Mikael Wood of Billboard, the cover's instrumentation is fueled by banjo; he claimed it was an "online success".[89] Jonathan Keefe of Slant Magazine described the cover's arrangement as "fantastic" and, to him, it "emphasized the terrific melody and structure that are the song's real selling points".[90] After hearing Walker's cover, Swift posted via her official Twitter account, "I'm losing my MIND listening to it! Blown away."[88] Band Hero for consoles features "You Belong with Me" as one of sixty-five songs from "mainstream acts".[91][92] American pop band Selena Gomez & the Scene covered "You Belong with Me" live on their Selena Gomez & the Scene: Live in Concert Tour (2009–10) and A Year Without Rain Tour (2011).[93] A parody entitled "TMZ" was included on "Weird Al" Yankovic's studio album Alpocalypse (2011).[94] A music video for the parody, directed by Bill Plympton, was filmed in October 2010, and was included on the album's DVD.[95] The music video was released on "Weird Al"'s Vevo on June 24, 2011.[96] It was also covered by For All Those Sleeping in the compilation album Punk Goes Pop 4.[97]

Track listings[edit]

Chart[edit]

Chart procession and succession[edit]

Order of precedence
Preceded by
"Alright" by Darius Rucker
Billboard Hot Country Songs number-one single
August 22 – 29, 2009
Succeeded by
"Big Green Tractor" by Jason Aldean
Preceded by
"The Climb" by Miley Cyrus
Billboard Adult Contemporary number-one single
October 31, 2009 – January 23, 2010
Succeeded by
"Haven't Met You Yet" by Michael Bublé
Preceded by
"I Gotta Feeling" by The Black Eyed Peas
Billboard Radio Songs number-one single
October 3 – 10, 2009
Succeeded by
"Down" by Jay Sean

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[121] 3× Platinum 210,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[122] 2× Platinum 160,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[123] Gold 100,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[124] Platinum 15,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[125] Silver 200,000^
United States (RIAA)[126] 6× Platinumdagger 4,500,000[31]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

dagger Since May 2013 RIAA certifications for digital singles include on-demand audio and/or video song streams in addition to downloads.[127]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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