I never thought Taylor Swift would feature on this blog. It's not that I hated her, she just wasn't on my radar at all. I remember hearing her debut album a couple of years ago and mentally filed it away in my "crap country" drawer next to Kellie Pickler and Carrie Underwood. I didn't even bother listening to "Fearless" when it was released and basically forgot all about Taylor until "Love Story" swept all that came before it. That modern day interpretation of Romeo & Juliet was pretty hard to resist. Admittedly, the lyrics are cheesy enough to raise your cholesterol but you'd have to be made of stone not to be sucked in by all that teenage longing and heartache. More impressive was the song's ability to seamlessly blend country and pop elements in a way that hasn't been seen since the glory days of Shania Twain. As much as I enjoyed "Love Story", I thought it might have been a fluke until I heard "You Belong With Me". Has Shania finally been replaced as the Queen of country-pop?
Don't get me wrong, I love vintage Shania and I'm sure the old girl still has a few new tricks up her sleeve but it would be a miracle if she could come back from the career destroying "Up" debacle. That world music bonus disc is quite possibly the most heinous recording in the history of music! Thankfully, Taylor's here to fill the country-pop void left by the Canadian superstar. And she's doing it with ease if "You Belong With Me" is any indication. I love everything about this song. It's cute, catchy and totally authentic. I'm so sick of teenagers singing material that was clearly intended for 30 year olds. You can tell "You Belong With Me" was written by a teenage girl ("She wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts, she's cheer captain and I'm on the bleachers") and that's a large part of what makes it so endearing. I also love the winning country-lite production. If you took away that jangly banjo line (not that you'd want to), I doubt this would even classify as country music.
I can't write about "You Belong With Me" without mentioning the amazing video clip (below). It's basically an 80s teen movie set to music. John Hughes would be proud of the storyline, which pits the school nerd against the popular girl (both played with surprising skill by Taylor) as they fight over the affections of the golden haired jock. Sure, it's a bit clichéd but the video is beautifully done and ranks as one of my favourite of the year. I've even been known to get a bit teary over the finale - this fabulous shit rivals "Pretty In Pink" in the downtrodden girl comes good stakes! "You Belong With Me" is already a top 5 hit in Australia. Download it now from iTunes or pick up the physical single from Chaos.