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You Belong With Me

Single | Fearless (2008) | Fearless (Taylor's Version) [2021]

“You Belong With Me” is a song on Taylor’s second studio album, Fearless (2008). Being one of her signature songs, she tells the story of a boy who is too wrapped up in an unhappy relationship to see how much another girl likes him. The re-recording of the song, “You Belong With Me (Taylor’s Version)”, was released on April 9, 2021 on the album Fearless (Taylor’s Version).

Background and Release

Taylor became inspired to write “You Belong With Me” after she overheard a male friend of hers speaking to his girlfriend on the phone. 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.” Out of the sympathy she felt towards him in the situation, Taylor developed a concept for a song. In a writing session with co-writer Liz Rose, she 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.” Together, they developed a story line, which described Taylor being in love with the male friend and her having the desire for him to break up with his current girlfriend for her.

“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. Big Machine Records released the song to US country radio on April 20, 2009, as the third single from Fearless. The track was released to US contemporary hit radio on May 18, 2009, by Big Machine in partnership with Republic Records.

Lyrical Theme

Taylor recalled, “It was really fun for us to write the line, ‘She wears short skirts, I wear T-shirts’.” She described the song’s concept as:

«This song is 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.»

Taylor Swift
Co-writer Liz Rose said that “You Belong With Me” was written at the very end of the recording sessions for the Fearless album: “Taylor said, ‘I’m finishing the record on Monday. Let’s write an uptempo song.’ We wrote ‘You Belong With Me’ in one or two hours. It’s amazing to go back to the work tape and listen to it, because you wouldn’t believe the nuances that show up in the album version, too. When she’s writing something, she’s already producing in her head. She hears it all.”

Music Video

The song’s accompanying music video was directed by Roman White. The video features Taylor 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.

Live Performances

Taylor’s first televised performance of “You Belong With Me” was at a free outdoor concert on May 29, 2009, broadcast by The Today Show. Notably, she performed the song at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards on September 13, 2009, the same day in which Kanye West interrupted her acceptance speech. She later performed the song on The View and Saturday Night Live. In the fall of 2009 and winter of 2009 through 2010, Taylor commenced promotion for “You Belong With Me” countries outside of the United States; she performed the song on the United Kingdom channel GMTV, the Australian charity concert Sydney Sound Relief, and the Japanese talk show The Sukkiri Morning Show.

Taylor performed a medley, which included “You Belong With Me” at the 52nd Grammy Awards. The song was performed as the opening number on all 2009 and 2010 dates of Taylor’s first headlining tour, the “Fearless Tour.” The song was also performed on the “Speak Now World Tour” (2011-2012) and “The RED Tour” (2013-2104), but was not featured on the regular set list for “The 1989 World Tour” (2015), making it the first tour set list to do so. However, in several venues, she performed the song, acoustically, in place of “You Are in Love“. In 2018, “You Belong With Me” returned to the regular set list during the “reputation Stadium Tour” as part of a medley with “Style” and “Love Story”.

Critical Reception

“You Belong With Me” received prositive reviews from music critics.  Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone commented, “It’s hard not to be won over by the guilelessness”. 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”. Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly said Taylor’s vocals fit the song’s melody and instrumentation, which, according to her, is “slick” and “radio-friendly”.

“You Belong With Me” featured on 2009 year-end lists by Pitchfork at No. 69 and The Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop critics’ poll at No. 10. The song was ranked among the greatests songs of the 2000s decade by CMT (No. 8) and VH1 (No. 50). Billboard included “You Belong With Me” in their 2017 list of the “100 Greatest Choruses of the 21st Century”, writing: “There were about a dozen moments … you could point to as proof that Taylor Swift would one day become the biggest pop star in the world, but maybe none bigger than the immaculate chorus of [‘You Belong With Me’].” It ranked first on Teen Vogue’s 2020 list of the “91 Best Songs About Unrequited Love”.

Commercial Performance

“You Belong With Me” debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart dated November 22, 2008, after its promotional single release. Following its single release, it peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was Taylor’s first No. 1 single on the all-genre Radio Songs chart. With this achievement, “You Belong With Me” became the first country crossover single to top the Radio Songs chart since Billboard began incorporating Nielsen BDS-monitored data in 1990. It stayed at number one for two consecutive weeks and spent 49 weeks in total. The single was certified seven times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for sales and streaming exceeding seven million units. By July 2019, “You Belong with Me” had sold 4.9 million copies in the United States.

“You Belong with Me” peaked within the top ten on singles charts in Canada (No. 3), Australia (5), New Zealand (5), and Japan (10). The single peaked within the top 40 in Ireland (12), Slovakia (17), the United Kingdom (30), Hungary (31), and Denmark (32). In Canada, the song reached No. 1 on three airplay charts: Canada Country, Canada CHR/Top 40, and Canada Hot AC. The single was certified Platinum in Japan and Platinum or multi-platinum in the English-speaking countries including Australia (four times platinum), Canada (double platinum), and New Zealand and the United Kingdom (both platinum).

Accolades

The song 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; in the United States, the song became Taylor’s highest-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100 at the time, at No. 2. It managed to gain the largest crossover radio audience since Faith Hill’s “Breathe” did in 2000. It has since sold over 10 million copies in the US, making it eligible for a rare diamond certification from the RIAA.

The video won the MTV Video Music Award for “Best Female Video” at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, but during Taylor’s acceptance speech, rapper Kanye West interrupted, protesting in support of Beyoncé. The incident caused a reaction in the media, with many coming to Taylor’s defense. It was also the origin of a more than decade long feud between West and Taylor and is one of the most talked about pop culture moments of the century.

Taylor's Version

On February 11, 2021, Taylor announced on Good Morning America that a re-recorded version of “You Belong With Me”, titled “You Belong With Me (Taylor’s Version)”, would be released on April 9, 2021 as the sixth track from Fearless (Taylor’s Version), the re-recorded version of the 2008 Fearless. After the album’s release, Taylor told a radio station:

«'You Belong With Me' just absolutely changed my life. It was one of those songs that I had written about unrequited love and crushes at school. And I never would have imagined how many people I would see in a crowd one day screaming, 'She wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts,’ or there would be think pieces about it, or that it would be this thing that launched me and my career into this place that I never imagined it would go to. It was this song and 'Love Story’ that really, really changed my life in a huge way. And I’ve had so much fun with the fans singing this into crowds over the years. So, getting to re-do it was really a joyful experience. Cause I kind of was looking back on all of those memories and thinking, 'Wow, I’m really lucky.’»

Taylor Swift

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
You’re on the phone with your girlfriend, she’s upset
She’s going off about something that you said
‘Cause she doesn’t get your humor like I do
I’m in the room, it’s a typical Tuesday night
I’m listening to the kind of music she doesn’t like
And she’ll never know your story like I do

[Pre-Chorus]
But she wears short skirts, I wear T-shirts
She’s Cheer Captain and I’m on the bleachers
Dreaming about the day when you wake up and find
That what you’re looking for has been here the whole time

[Chorus]
If you could see that I’m the one who understands you
Been here all along, so why can’t you see?
You belong with me, you belong with me

[Verse 2]
Walking the streets with you and your worn-out jeans
I can’t help thinking this is how it ought to be
Laughing on a park bench, thinking to myself
Hey, isn’t this easy?
And you’ve got a smile that could light up this whole town
I haven’t seen it in a while since she brought you down
You say you’re fine, I know you better than that
Hey, whatcha doing with a girl like that?

[Pre-Chorus]
She wears high heels, I wear sneakers
She’s Cheer Captain and I’m on the bleachers
Dreaming about the day when you wake up and find
That what you’re looking for has been here the whole time

[Chorus]
If you could see that I’m the one who understands you
Been here all along, so why can’t you see?
You belong with me
Standing by and waiting at your back door
All this time how could you not know, baby?
You belong with me, you belong with me

[Bridge]
Oh, I remember you driving to my house
In the middle of the night
I’m the one who makes you laugh
When you know you’re ’bout to cry
And I know your favorite songs
And you tell me ’bout your dreams
Think I know where you belong
Think I know it’s with me

[Chorus]
Can’t you see that I’m the one who understands you
Been here all along, so why can’t you see?
You belong with me
Standing by and waiting at your back door
All this time how could you not know, baby?
You belong with me, you belong with me

[Outro]
You belong with me
Have you ever thought just maybe
You belong with me?
You belong with me

General Information
AlbumsFearless
Fearless (Taylor’s Version)
ReleasedNovember 11, 2008
Re-ReleasedApril 9, 2021
GenreCountry Pop
Length3:51
LabelsBig Machine Records
Republic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Liz Rose
ProducersNathan Chapman (original)
Christopher Rowe
Taylor Swift
FEARLESS CHRONOLOGY
White HorseYou Belong With MeBreathe
Single Certification
Hidden Message
Love is blind so you couldn’t see me
Single Artwork
Music Video
Live Performance
Lyric Video
Taylor's Version
Original Audio