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Sparks Fly

Single | Speak Now (2010)

“Sparks Fly” is a song Taylor released on her third studio album, Speak Now (2010). She sings about falling for someone despite knowing that she shouldn’t. But she can’t deny the immediate connection.

Background and Lyrical Theme

Taylor began work on Speak Now two years prior to its release in 2010. “Sparks Fly” was the oldest song that made it on the album. Taylor wrote it when she was just sixteen years old, prior the release of her eponymous album Taylor Swift in 2006. She performed the song live during several bar shows “of forty and fifty people”. A recorded live performance of the song during one of her concerts made its way onto the internet in 2007. The song then became a favorite among Taylor’s fans, leading her to rework the song and include it on Speak Now after having so many requested for it to be included on the album. Of the song, she said that: “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.” As reported by Taste of Country, Taylor said:

«The song ‘Sparks Fly’ is about falling for someone that you maybe shouldn’t fall for, but you can‘t stop yourself because there’s such a connection, there’s such chemistry. This is a song that I wrote a few years ago and had been working on it ever since in the last two years and just honing in on little lyrics and changing them, so it’s really been awesome to see it change over the years.»

Taylor Swift

Release

“Sparks Fly” was sent to country music radio stations on July 18, 2011, as the fifth single from Speak Now. An exclusive package was released to Taylor’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. The song was featured on a promotional trailer for the CW show, “Hart of Dixie.” It was also featured on the annual “Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Show” in 2012.

Music Video

A music video for “Sparks Fly” was announced on August 8, 2011 on Taylor’s official website. It premiered on August 10, 2011 on her official website. The video is directed by Christian Lamb and features clips of various performances from Taylor’s “Speak Now World Tour,” such as “Speak Now“, “Back to December“, “Better Than Revenge” and “Mean“, as well as never before seen footage at the beginning. Much 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 at Gillette Stadium. The video was temporarily removed from Taylor’s YouTube channel on April 3, 2020, but returned the next day in a previously unseen HD format. 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.”

Live Performances

The original live performance that was uploaded to YouTube was captured at the Gold Country Casino in Oroville, California on May 30, 2007. The song was, at the time, unreleased and was performed using banjos and violins and contained different lyrics than the album version. “Sparks Fly” was the opening song of Taylor’s “Speak Now World Tour” (2011-2012). The performance began with an opening montage about how people should “speak now” about how they feel, and Taylor then rose from a cloud of smoke to start the concert by singing “Drop everything now.” Taylor also performed the song at the 2011 CMA Music Festival. The song was a regular part of the set list on Taylor’s “The RED Tour” (2013-2014), and was performed acoustically at her “The 1989 World Tour” show in Vancouver. In 2018, she performed the song acoustically on her “reputation Stadium Tour” as the surprise song for her show in Columbus.

Critical Reception

“Sparks Fly” received positive reviews from music critics. Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone praised Taylor’s vocals on the song, commenting that her voice in such an upbeat song is unaffected enough to mask how masterful she has become as a singer. Jonathan Keefe of Slant Magazine called 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.” In 2019, Insider named “Sparks Fly” one of the fourteen best songs written by teenagers.

Commercial Performance

Following the release of Speak Now, on November 4, 2010, “Sparks Fly” debuted at No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 due to strong digital sales of 113,000 downloads, making it one of the songs to make Taylor the first act to have ten songs debut on the Billboard Hot 100 in the same week. With the addition of “Mine“, Taylor had a total of 11 songs charting in one week, making her the female act to have the most songs charting on the Billboard Hot 100 in the same week. The song made a “Hot Shot Debut” on the Hot Country Songs at No. 49. Billboard included the song in their “Five Potential Pop Hits for 2011” list. After its single release, the song re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 84 on the week ending August 27, 2011. The song peaked at No. 24 on the Billboard Radio Songs Chart. It peaked at No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs in the week of November 26, 2011. The song became Taylor’s first single in two years to reach atop the aforesaid chart since “You Belong With Me” in 2009. The song was No. 37 on the 2011 year-end chart of Hot Country Songs. In Canada, “Sparks Fly” debuted at No. 28 on the week of November 13, 2010.

Accolades

“Sparks Fly” was nominated for “Favorite Song” at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards 2012. The song won the award for “Choice Music: Country Song” at the 2012 Teen Choice Awards.

Lyrics

General Information
AlbumSpeak Now
ReleasedOctober 25, 2010
Written2006
GenreCountry Pop
Length4:22
LabelBig Machine Records
SongwriterTaylor Swift
ProducersNathan Chapman
Taylor Swift
SPEAK NOW CHRONOLOGY
MineSparks FlyBack to December
Single Certification
Hidden Message
Portland, Oregon
Single Artwork
Music Video
Live Performance
Official Audio
Official Live Version