Sparks Fly (Single Review) – Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift just announced Sparks Fly as the upcoming single off her 3x platinum album: Speak Now.

The song, which has existed for a few years now, was given a slight makeover and included, due to overwhelming fan demand, on Taylor’s newest album: Speak Now.

The song opens: “the way you move is a full on rainstorm and I’m a house of cards…”, a line that I think is lyrical gold. It also sets the bar very high for the song to have such a line open it, add to that the very catchy music to which this line goes.

Taylor then proceeds: “you’re the kinda reckless that should send me running but I kinda know that I won’t get far… and you stood there in front of me, close enough to touch, close enough to hope you couldn’t see what I was thinking of.”

Sparks Fly is a song about falling for someone you shouldn’t fall for: be it someone older, someone younger… but at the same time, you can’t but be mesmerized by that person.

“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. Get me with those green eyes, baby as the lights go down. Give me something that’ll haunt me when you’re not around” Taylor sings on the chorus. And the chorus is very heartfelt and raw. You feel on it the helplessness of Taylor as she tries to get away but she’s too tangled by him.

“My mind forgets to remind me you’re a bad idea”, she sings on the second verse, on which lies most of the change from the original version of Sparks Fly, which was sung live at a concert a few years back. She declares: “I’m on my guard with the rest of the world but with you, I know it’s no good. And I could wait patiently but I really wish you would drop everything now, meet me in the pouring rain…”

And then comes the song’s bridge. Up to this point, Sparks Fly could have easily been on Taylor’s previous albums. It has the rhythm, the catchy tune and the lyrics that would have definitely worked with the theme adopted by Taylor for her previous album Fearless. But then she reworked the bridge to make it sound like this:

I run my fingers through your hair
And watch the lights go wild
Just keep on keepin’ your eyes on me
It’s just wrong enough to make it feel right
And lead me up the staircase
Won’t you whisper soft and slow
I’m captivated by you baby
Like a firework show

And this is where the song rises. Some might think these lyrics are corny but think about it this way. If Sparks Fly plays out in real life with these lyrics in the bridge, you know what will happen after being led up the staircase. It’s that simple. This is a theme that Taylor wouldn’t have tackled on her previous album.

Ultimately, Sparks Fly will be the song off Speak Now that will be Taylor’s smash hit on the charts, possibly recreating the monster success of “You Belong With Me” and “Love Story“. Why so? because it manages to merge together two key elements: the authentic Taylor sound that she had with Fearless, along with the maturity that is present throughout Speak Now. It is definitely not the best song on the album on which it is found but for its purpose of giving Taylor a sure radio hit, Sparks Fly will excel. After all, this is a song that sustained years of being put on a shelve and that is a testament on its power. Don’t be surprised if sparks fly when this comes on the radio.

Listen to Sparks Fly here:

Country Strong – Movie Review

Country Strong

In Country Strong, Gwyneth Paltrow stars as Kelly Canter, a country music star struggling with substance abuse. Taken out of rehab a month prematurely by her manager/husband James, portrayed by country star Tim McGraw, for an encore tour, the movie is supposedly about her struggling with her addiction, life, resurrecting her career, etc.

Throw into the mix Beau Hutton, played by Garrett Hedlund, a rehab worker who also happens to be a aspiring to become a country music star, as well as Leighton Meester starring as Chiles Stanton, a girl who also wants to become a country star and you’re set for Country Strong.

So basically, you have four storylines in the movie being developed simultaneously, and while the prospect of these four storylines is compelling and promising, they fall flat in a movie that I hoped would be far better.

While the acting is quite good, this overload in the movie’s plot undermines it. Within each storyline, you have a bunch of other things going on as well. Kelly’s storyline serves as a vehicle for tackling issues with the entertainment industry as a whole, Beau’s storyline is used to introduce romance into the movie, etc…

At one point in the movie, Leighton Meester’s character is described as “the next Carrie Underwood”. I like Leighton but to equate her vocal talents with half of Carrie’s would be an abomination. She has limited range and while enjoyable as a singer, she is nowhere near a vocal powerhouse. So being the Carrie Underwood fan that I am, this served as another point I have against the movie.

A positive thing I can say about the movie is that even though the handling of the plots is full with cliches, the ending is not. I was hoping fifteen minutes into the movie that they would risk ending it the way they did. And I got my wish.

What also helps the movie is the soundtrack. Featuring many songs that I have become familiar with, I couldn’t help but smile whenever they started to sing something that I know. Notable tracks include: Country Strong (lead single from the movie’s soundtrack, made it to the top 30 on country radio), Coming Home (nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for best original song), Me and Tennessee (current single by Tim McGraw) and A Little Bit Stronger (current single by Sara Evans).

Overall, the cast give it their all. But Country Strong falls flat for tackling too many issues in, what ultimately becomes, a shallow and rushed manner. If they had stuck with the storyline of Kelly reclaiming her career, this movie and Paltrow’s acting would have gotten award recognition, akin to the similarly themed-movie Crazy Heart, which earned Jeff Bridges his first Academy Award for best actor.