Home » Re-Recordings » 1989 (Taylor’s Version) » Sweeter Than Fiction

Sweeter Than Fiction

One Chance Soundtrack (2013) | 1989 (Taylor's Version) [2023]

“Sweeter Than Fiction” is a song Taylor contributed to the soundtrack for the British film One Chance (2013). It was written and produced by Taylor and Jack Antonoff and released as a promotional single from the album on October 21, 2013. As a song originally released by Big Machine Records, the song was included in the release of 1989 (Taylor’s Version) since it was written around the same time as much of the 2014 version of 1989.
“Sweeter Than Fiction” was the first collaboration between Taylor and Jack. At the time, he was best known as the guitarist for indie pop band Fun. Since then, Jack has become one of her most trusted friends and producers.
Table of Contents

Background and Release

One Chance is a biographical film about opera singer and Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts, directed by David Frankel and written by Justin Zackham. It was screened in the “Special Presentation” section at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

One Chance producer Simon Cowell approached Taylor with the idea of becoming involved with the project. Taylor was “so moved” by the film’s concept that she was inspired to write a song for it. She revealed in an interview with country music blog Taste of Country that she viewed the film as a love story in addition to the chronicling of Paul Pott’s road to success, and approached the songwriting process from that perspective:

«I think for me, writing a song for a movie as great as One Chance is almost a relief. To get to take the perspective off of yourself and kind of focus in on what someone elses motivations or feelings might be. I almost never do that. I'm a very confessional songwriter, so I usually write about things that I'm going through in my own life. There's a relationship that really inspired me in this movie. And it's the relationship between Paul Potts and his wife. Jules is her name. She always supported him throughout everything, even when he was at his lowest points in life. And I was inspired more by that relationship than this other incredible storyline that's taking place, which is of course that he achieved this almost impossible dream. I was inspired by the fact that she supported him along the way and would've loved him whether or not he had made it. And so I just got immediate melodies in my head, got my guitar, called up Jack Antonoff and said, 'Let's write a song.'»

Taylor said multiple times that she had to fight her former label, Big Machine, to be allowed to release “Sweeter Than Fiction” since they wanted her to maintain a “dormant period” between album releases. Big Machine reportedly told her, “No new music until the next album comes out”, but after seeing the film Taylor insisted, “I have to be a part of this.”

“Sweeter Than Fiction” was released to digital retailers as the lead single from the One Chance soundtrack on October 21, 2013.

Lyrical Theme

“Sweeter than Fiction” is a bubblegum pop song that also contains influences of synth pop and new wave music. It is musically and lyrically upbeat, with Taylor singing from the point of view of a loved one who has always believed in a performer’s talents. While promoting the song in fall 2013, Taylor said:

«Getting to see the struggles and triumphs of someone who never stopped chasing what he was after really inspired me. [...] I’m very inspired by the concept of love. And this movie is, in a lot of ways, a story of the love his wife has for him. That was the story that hit me and really affected me. I wanted to tell a story musically from that perspective.»

Additionally, Jack Antonoff hinted in a tweet that the song was inspired by the famous director John Hughes from the 1980s. “Very inspired by Taylor Swift & LOVE working with her,” he tweeted. “Hear the John Hughes in it?” Hughes was also an inspiration for several songs on Taylor’s fifth studio album, 1989 (2014), including “I Wish You Would“, which she also worked on with Jack.

Critical Reception

“Sweeter Than Fiction” was well received by critics. Entertainment Weekly praised Taylor’s approach to the subject matter and described the song as “addictive”. Rachel Mcrady of US Weekly felt “Sweeter Than Fiction” possessed “all the makings of another hit” in Taylor’s career. MTV blogger Jenna Hally Rubenstein summarised the song as “a masterfully crafted pop song that should do a killer job of soundtracking any and all uplifting moments in ‘One Chance’.” Carl Williott of Idolator called the song “pretty great”, saying “it’s a … sweet song, but the confident synth-pop/New Wave stylings keep it from being an overly saccharine affair, resultingly in a surprisingly bold offering from Swift.”

Commercial Performance

“Sweeter Than Fiction” debuted at No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100, her 43rd top forty hit, thus tying Taylor with Aretha Franklin for the second-most top forty entries among women in the chart’s history. It is also Taylor’s fifth movie song to crack the top forty, following “Crazier” from Hannah Montana: The Movie which reached No. 17 in 2009, “Today Was A Fairytale” from Valentine’s Day which reached No. 2 in 2010 and two songs from The Hunger Games: “Safe & Sound” with The Civil Wars which reached No. 30 in 2012, and “Eyes Open” which reached No. 19 in 2012. On Hot Digital Songs, “Sweeter Than Fiction” entered at No. 6 with 114,000 downloads sold. It was Taylor’s twenty-eighth song to reach the top ten of the Digital Songs chart, thus tying with Rihanna for the most top ten hits among all acts.

Golden Globe Nomination

“Sweeter Than Fiction” was nominated for “Best Original Song” at the 71st Golden Globe Awards. This was Taylor’s second consecutive nomination in the category, after “Safe & Sound” the previous year.

Taylor's Version

Taylor released a re-recorded version of the song, “Sweeter Than Fiction (Taylor’s Version)”, on her re-recorded album 1989 (Taylor’s Version), on October 27, 2023. It is available on the “Tangerine Edition” vinyl.

«'There you’ll stand ten feet tall, I will say ‘I knew it all along.‘' This song has always made me think of my friend Jack. It was the first song we made together and watching him challenge himself and make beautiful art over the years has been the thrill of a lifetime. How can he be 6 years older than me and also somehow still be my precocious young son? We may never know.»

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
Hit the ground, hit the ground, hit the ground, oh oh
Only sound, only sound that you hear is, “No”
You never saw it coming
Slipped when you started running
And now you’ve come undone and
I, I, I, I’ve seen you fall, seen you crawl on your knees, ay ay
Seen you lost in a crowd, seen your colors fade

[Pre-Chorus 1]
Wish I could make it better
Someday you won’t remember
This pain you thought would last forever and ever

[Chorus 1]
There you’ll stand, ten feet tall
I will say, “I knew it all along”
Your eyes are wider than distance
This life is sweeter than fiction

[Verse 2]
Just a shot, just a shot in the dark, oh oh
All you got, all you got are your shattered hopes
They never saw it coming
You hit the ground running
And now you’re onto something
I, I, I said, “What a sight, what a sight”
When the light came on
Proved me right, proved me right when you proved them wrong

[Pre-Chorus 2]
And in this perfect weather
It’s like we don’t remember
The rain we thought would last forever and ever

[Chorus 2]
There you’ll stand, ten feet tall
I will say, “I knew it all along”
Your eyes are wider than distance
This life is sweeter than fiction
There you’ll stand, next to me (Next to me)
All at once, the rest is history
Your eyes are wider than distance
This life is sweeter than fiction (Sweeter than fiction)

[Bridge]
I’ll be one of the many saying,
“Look at you now, look at you now, now”
I’ll be one of the many saying,
“You made us proud, you made us proud, proud”
I’ll be one of the many saying,
“Look at you now, look at you now, now”
I’ll be one of the many saying,
“You made us proud, you made us proud, proud”
And when they call your name
And they put your picture in a frame
You know that I’ll be there time and again
‘Cause I loved you when

[Pre-Chorus 3]
When you hit the ground, hit the ground, oh oh
Only sound, only sound that you heard was, “No”
Now in this perfect weather
It’s like we don’t remember
The rain we thought would last forever and ever (Forever)

[Final Chorus]
There you’ll stand, ten feet tall (Ten feet tall)
I will say, “I knew it all along” (I knew it all along)
Your eyes are wider than distance (Knew it all along)
This life is sweeter than fiction (Sweeter than fiction)
There you’ll stand next to me (Next to me)
All at once, the rest is history (Oh)
Your eyes are wider than distance (Knew it all along)
This life is sweeter than fiction (Sweeter than fiction)

[Outro]
It’s sweeter than fiction
It’s sweeter, yeah
Is sweeter, is sweeter
Sweeter than fiction

General Information
ArtistTaylor Swift
Album1989 (Taylor’s Version)
ReleasedOctober 21, 2013
Re-ReleasedOctober 27, 2023
Written2013
GenreNew Wave
Synth Pop
Length3:54
LabelsBig Machine Records
Republic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Jack Antonoff
ProducersJack Antonoff
Taylor Swift
1989 CHRONOLOGY
Is It Over Now?Sweeter Than Fiction
Song Artwork
Taylor & Jack in the Studio
Making of
Live Performance
Taylor's Version
Original Audio