Nice Hits! is a Reverb column that unironically dissects, reviews, and appreciates the best songs of the current Top 40. It is unsnobbishly premised on>"/>
Nice Hits! is a Reverb column that unironically dissects, reviews, and appreciates the best songs of the current Top 40. It is unsnobbishly premised on the logic that just because a lot of the music on the radio is crap doesn't mean all the music on the radio is crap.
Current chart position: #53 on the Billboard Hot 100 (it peaked at #10 last week before making a significant drop); #68 on iTunes.
The team: Everyone knows that Swift writes all of her own music; on "If This Was a Movie," she shares credit with Martin Johnson, lead singer of the pop punk outfit Boys Like Girls (she's previously appeared on a song with his band). Tennesse native Nathan Chapman was the head producer on Speak Now; Chapman previously won an Album of the Year Grammy for producing Swift's second album, 2008's Fearless, and her 2006 self-titled debut was the first record Chapman ever produced. Since then, he's worked on country records for The Band Perry, Jewel, and Shania Twain.
Breakdown: I liked just about every song on Taylor Swift's last album, Fearless. Speak Now has been a bit more hit or miss for me--I loved the early singles "Mine" and "Mean," wasn't as hot on "Back to December" or "Sparks Fly." I'm also not completely sold on her newest single, "Ours;" I've given it a few listens and it just keeps sounding like a mess of mixed metaphors to me. Swift is shooting a video for "Ours," but earlier this month she also released "If This Was A Movie" as a promotional single--and since then it's been charting higher than "Ours" on both Billboard and iTunes. "If This Was A Movie" isn't lyrically perfect either--most people think she's singing "Come back to me, Eli" in the chorus when it's actually "Come back to me like..." And then there's the line "Stand in the rain/'Til I came out." Swift is an enormously talented songwriter and storyteller, but she puts in a line about standing in the rain in so many of her songs that I'm beginning to think she watches The Notebook every time she gets ready to sit down and write a song. Observe: "Fearless"--"There's something 'bout the way/The street looks when it just rains . . . And I don't know why but with you I'd dance/In a storm in my best dress, fearless." "Hey Stephen"--"Can't help it if I wanna kiss you in the rain so." "Forever and Always"--"It rains in your bedroom, everything is wrong/It rains when you're here and it rains when you're gone." "Sparks Fly"--"The way you move is like a full on rainstorm . . . Drop everything now/Meet me in the pouring rain."
I digress. "If I Was A Movie" has all of the right, lovable Taylor Swift elements. It's confessional in a way that's aimed at the hearts of her hordes of female fans--you can't think of a single girl who hasn't wished her love life was more cinematic. It's eminently, ingeniously relatable. The obvious reason young girls are so doggedly loyal and obsessed with Swift is because it makes them feel better about themselves to hear her songs about her own downfalls and heartbreaks than to hear Rihanna sing about S&M or Ke$ha sing about how drunk and fabulous her life is.
Swift's vulnerability is one of the biggest keys to her massive success, and "If This Was A Movie" is one of those intimately sad songs. It has the most basic of basic set-ups--Swift singing and playing guitar, non-confrontational drums and keys backing her up. It has a similarly basic, Swiftian structure of narrative verse-singalong chorus-narrative verse-singalong chorus-slowed down, emotionally pumping bridge-chorus on repeat. The simplicity of Swift's songs like this one are what make them so popular--they're really easy to remember. Pop songs should be memorable, and that's why I've always like how she chooses to leave her songs so uncomplicated. In the case of "If This Was A Movie," there's something undeniably poignant and poetic about how unembellished she chose to keep things.