May 19, 2009
Oh, the irony of this review. The self-appointed Taylor Swift detractor is assigned the one and only song in Swift’s catalogue that moves her to tears. I think that’s what they call karma?
In all seriousness, “The Best Day” is a beautiful, curious illustration of the artist underneath the pop star that is Taylor Swift. Honest and youthfully elegant, it’s not the kind of song that shot Swift to superstardom, but it may just be the kind of song that perpetuates her career after the hype of teen angst and pop-remixes subsides.
“The Best Day” is filled with stories so very simple that they could easily be mistaken for unsubstantial. Recounting the “best days” she’s had with her mother over the years, Swift describes a childhood that seems to be the stuff of sitcoms and storybooks, as she grew up comfortably in a “pretty house” with a close-knit, four-person family. This isn’t the gritty material country purists are used to, but there’s nothing wrong, from an artistic standpoint, with Swift telling her story, because it’s just that – hers. She sings about pumpkin patches, finger painting and window shopping with such sincerity –such raw and acute appreciation for the mother who provided these simple blessings and an underlying solace– that you can’t help but empathize.
And that’s Swift’s greatest strength as an artist: adeptly conveying universal emotions through stories that are tailored to her life and her perspective. You don’t have to be 13 to understand this sentiment: “I don’t know who I’m gonna talk to now at school/But I know I’m laughing on the car ride home with you/Don’t know how long it’s gonna take to feel okay/But I know I had the best day with you today.” If you’re lucky enough to have or have had a mother who offered these indescribable moments of relief when nothing else made sense, then you get this.
It should also be noted that, as she rarely manages to do, Swift seems to have found a musical sweet spot with the folksy, understated arrangement of the song, which complements rather than highlights her imperfect voice. Vocal acrobat she is not, but with the right songs (at least in the studio), this becomes less of an issue.
I never thought I’d be commending Taylor Swift, but I am happy to do so – because it’s a fabulous thing for country music when the most recognizable mainstream country artist shows potential for her talent to catch up with her success.
Written by Taylor Swift
Listen: The Best Day