Taylor Swift, “Love Story”

This is essentially a love theme for a cheesy teenybopper movie, minus the movie.   The clunky songwriting isn’t encouraging, given this is the lead single from her upcoming album.

It’s a series of been there, done that lyrics, with a particularly forced Romeo and Juliet reference throughout.   I can only imagine that she didn’t read the play, given that a fairy tale ending is tacked on at the end.  Awkward literary allusions aside, Swift’s single is further derailed by a cluttered production that highlights her limitations as a vocalist, rather than disguising them.

Swift has put out a couple of good singles before this, but this is one of her weakest efforts to date.   Hopefully, “Love Story” is not representative of her sophomore effort.

Grade: C

Listen: Love Story

Buy: Love Story


  1. Kevin… i kind of agree with your review, you are always nice with the girls when you make your reviews that i thought you would give this song a B+, i like Taylor but i kind of miss the raw passion that her first two single had,she is playing safe and this song will probaly do well.
    imo this song is C+, far from being her best.

  2. Yikes. All things considered, I think this is her weakest offering yet. I still think she’s a talented writer, but this song is definitely a throwaway. A tasteful producer would have vetoed it altogether, and here it is as a lead single. That’s the problem with being at the top; it’s easy to get lazy and release any ol’ thing because you know it’ll do well.

  3. I agree that the song is lacking in many departments (I am no Shakespeare buff and I HATE Romeo and Juliet, but the misconstrued allusion kills me), but let me be the first to say that the melody is rather catchy. I can’t for the life of me remember any of the words, but the song is catchy.

  4. I agree with this review and Dan. Now, if she wouldn’t beso darn charming everytime I see her in an interview, I might be able to give up on her…

  5. I totally agree Leeann. The girl is pretty hot and she’s extremely cute (I’m 16, leave me alone haha), so it’s no wonder she has SO many fans.

  6. I suppose it just is a coincidence that the theme of Carrie’s current single is more like a Shakespeare tragedy, involving the dream wedding turning into a nightmare.

    Along comes Taylor with a jolly little fantasy love story that seems to be heading towards the perfect wedding.

    I quite like this song by Taylor although I think it is one I might tire of pretty quickly.

  7. I listened to this song again and I think she may have written this before an English exam. I just heard a reference to The Scarlet Letter. At least we know Taylor is well educated.

  8. There’s SO much to like about Taylor Swift. She’s sweet and well-spoken, and from what I’ve heard, has a great personality on-stage. However, her music still sounds really amateur, and it’s slightly painful to think about the fact that she is the number one selling artist in country music right now. And this song will go to #1. (Don’t hate me!)

  9. I am continuously amazed at how Taylor achieved such success from songs that are very teenagerish. But then again, she has catchy songs with enjoyable melodies and really, I like a song for that reason more than the lyrics, and I’m definitely not a teenager. (Case in point, I hate Kelly Clarkson’s “My December” album ’cause most of the songs lack melody despite having very honest lyrics.)

    As for “Love Song,” I really like the opening music. But the music production got a little too heavy during the chorus. Melody is pretty good. I have no problem with the lyrics. I still wish should improve her vocals. She really needs a new singing technique.

  10. Taylor Swift is a fairly eloquent teenager, no doubt. Her music has yet to catch up to her personality, though. Given 3-4 more years of experience, I hope she will break out of this template as she is capable of some incredibly catchy hooks. Let’s hope she uses her stardom and chooses to polish all of her crafts.

    I’ve said this a few times about the song, but it reminds me of something that would be played on Grey’s Anatomy—that moody power pop that’s so popular nowadays.

  11. Blake, it’s funny you said that. Taylor Swift’s song “Change” was being played over a commercial for Grey’s Anatomy tonight. :)

  12. I must say Taylor Swift’s album is really addictive to listen to! You can tell immediately from listening to the album that they are honest with truthful lyrics. And I’m really happy that I bought the album! In my opinion, she is one of the best country singers out there and she’s only 18! I can’t wait to hear her next album, I’m sure it’ll sound GREAT!!! :)

  13. I think Taylor has to groww alot, maybe should have taken more time befor this ne album, only because she says she writes everything from experience. she is a very good writter,but at 18 how much experience with love, break up, and revenge could you possibly have and pretty much althought addictive all her songs have been about the same things. i think if she would have waited especially to mature in her vocal area which i agree with kevin is weak she would probably got a wider audience. but she does have the kids and teen to keep her going.

  14. Matt B.,

    I myself am a fan of “moody power pop” (Hey, let’s spread the term like wildfire!) and pretend to my friends that it’s the only reason I watch Grey’s

    But seriously, I love music of that ilk as well, but Taylor Swift is not an active member of that genre. Although country music takes on any number of disguises, this type of production/song/music is not one of them. Calling it country is a huge stretch.

  15. “I listened to this song again and I think she may have written this before an English exam. I just heard a reference to The Scarlet Letter. At least we know Taylor is well educated.”

    But Stephen, it’s a reference that makes no sense! He’s Romeo and she’s…a scarlet letter? Does that mean that Juliet is actually Hester Prynne, a tragic heroine branded with an “A” for adultery? Or that being with Juliet will somehow brand the guy as an adulterer though this song actually has Romeo/Arthur Dimmesdale making an honest woman of Juliet in time to avert tragedy? The song would be a lot more interesting (and blasphemous) if either were the intended interpretation. But it’s more likely, I think, that this is just a case of literary allusions gone awry.

    The passivity of the protagonist also bothers me. It seems her life is completely dependent on the decisions of the men/boys in her life. I know it’s teenage fantasy but I just don’t have it in me to find it quaint.

    For the sake of saying something nice the song does seem to be entirely within Taylor’s achievable vocal range and there are moments in the verses where I like her phrasing and tone. They may not last long but that’s not something I could say about any of Taylor’s last three singles or that song “Change.”

  16. Dan, I’m one of those folks with a barrel of jokes. Learn to take one.

    This section of the discussion has given me an Open Thread idea, though. Thanks, Taylor!

    I do still love moody power pop. I even enjoy saying “moody power pop” in my head.

    dudley, I think you made some very valid points. The whole concept doesn’t seem to mesh, and I hope it’s not an indication of the album because I generally give Swift props for her writing talent, especially for her age.

  17. Thanks, Blake. I meant to respond to this comment from you earlier, too:

    “Given 3-4 more years of experience, I hope she will break out of this template as she is capable of some incredibly catchy hooks.”

    That’s probably true but I’m a little put off by the multiple instances in which hooks from her songs have borne strong resemblances to previously released pop hits. I’m talking about straight-up melodic resemblances, not stylistic resemblances. To Taylor’s credit, this isn’t a major issue for her biggest hits (or, at least, not that I can tell). Well, except for “Should’ve Said No,” whose chorus bears a striking resemblance to Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day.”

    Consider the bonus track “I’d Lie” from her debut album era (it can streamed on YouTube). The verse melody is exactly the same as the 2000 Evan & Jaron pop hit “Crazy for This Girl” while the melody during the chorus is exactly the same as the 2005 Saving Jane pop hit (later covered by Julie Roberts), “Girl Next Door.” I’ve read several of her fans expressing disappointment that the song, which they seemed to think would be on her sophomore album, didn’t make the tracklisting (which was very recently pared down from 13 to 11 songs). I wonder if the song was left off because it is a plagiarism lawsuit waiting to happen.

    Ditto another song that Taylor has performed in concert, “Permanent Marker.” Again, Taylor fans seemed to think that song would be on her sophomore album. Trouble is, the main guitar hook on that song is exactly the same as the main guitar hook of Sheryl Crow’s 1994 hit “Leaving Las Vegas.” There’s a bit of similarity in the way the titles are sung in the songs’ respective choruses, too (though it isn’t an identical melody). In “Love Story,” the banjo melody sounds a whole heck of a lot like the instrumental hook behind the Police hit, “Every Breath You Take.”

    Also consider her Olympic soundtrack song, “Change.” The chorus of the song has the exact same melody as the chorus of 2007 pop hit “Pictures of You” by the Last Goodnight.

    And although this song won’t be appearing on Taylor’s album, Taylor co-wrote a song called “Best Days of Your Life” with Kellie Pickler for Kellie’s sophomore album, and the melody borrows heavily from the Wham song “Last Christmas.”

    I believe Taylor Swift has displayed a good eye for detail, especially for someone her age, and that makes her an effective lyricist. For me, the jury is still out on her ability to discover hooks. That said, when Kid Rock can sample Lynyrd Skynyrd and Warren Zevon to such successful commercial effect, I don’t know if people consider borrowing melodies and hooks a big deal anymore. Me, I think they should. But I’m guessing the public doesn’t care as much.

  18. I agree that artists and songwriters have to be very careful to not blur the line between influence and, well, theft when it comes to incorporating sounds previously made famous. I remember the mini-controversy when Miranda Lambert’s “Kerosene” was compared to “I Feel Alright” by Steve Earle (and rightfully so). She eventually gave him songwriting credit for it. It is impossible, I believe, to not subconsciously be influenced by your previously listening experiences.

    With time, I think Taylor will be able to create her own distinctive hooks and not be so reliant on what she’s heard in the past. I agree that she has a decent storytelling ability, but she has a lot of room for growth.

  19. I think Taylor Swift is amazing and this is not a “bad” song. Personally, this review was very harsh and I bet that this song is going to be a big hit. I’d like to see you do better before criticizing brilliant songwriters and their music.

  20. Dudley, I totally agree with you. The allusion to The Scarlet Letter throws this song’s lyrics into the trash for me. This song is stuck in my head (the melody is, at least – and I see your comparison between it and “Every Breath You Take”), but the horribly allusions make me question what she was thinking when she wrote this song.

    I say we blame the English teacher. Clearly, she’s at fault. :P

  21. Well, she at least got the gist of the Scarlet Letter…she, like Hester Prynne, is involved in a “forbidden affair”, so to speak. A little melodramatic? Most certainly, but not COMPLETELY off the mark.

    As for the song itself, it’s definitely catchy. And she’s writing like an 18 year old, which she is! I don’t know if it’s as country as I wish it was, but I still like it.

  22. Kevin and Leeann, I never understood that either. I convinced myself that she says “low,” but when I found this blog, my confusion rekindled. WHY DOES SHE TAUNT US WITH THAT?!?!?

  23. personally, I think this song is way better than “Should’ve said no”, but its not my ultimate fav., she should go back to the songs like “tim Mcgraw” and “teardrops” o.O

  24. I personally think that this is one of Taylor’s best songs. It mixes a mondern love to timeless tragedy. You may disagree but I love this song and think it’s an unbeleivable single and I can’t wait to see the video.
    A forsure!

  25. Personally, I don’t see the connection between Taylor’s songs and “Bad Day,” “Last Christmas,” “Pictures of You” and all the other ones that were listed. At some point in time, though, you’re gonna get music thatsounds similar considering how many years music has been around.

    And “Love Story” is a SONG. A song that a girl wrote herself. It doesn’t mean it has to have the same ending as the play, Romeo and Juliet. If she wants a scarlet letter in the song, fine. If she wants a marriage proposal, fine. It’s a song she wrote herself…I think she is entitled to say what she wants. That’s what’s cool about songwriting – you say what you want

    I think it’s an incredibly cute song with the way it mixes ‘a modern love with a timeless tragedy’ and I have no doubt that it’ll go to #1.

    No offense to anybody in particular :-) I just don’t really believe in trashing something just because you don’t like it. If you’re not into it, just don’t listen to it, you know? And if you are, blast it in your stereo.

  26. Random factoid: I just found out that the boy in Taylor Swift’s video for this single is Justin Gaston (“underwear boy”) from Nashville Star. Just thought I’d share… :)

  27. I’m a little miffed at the blindness of the reviews i’ve been reading. I personally think the song is amazing. Yes, it does mention Romeo and Juliet, but it wasn’t alluding to the plot of the play. It was referring to the love that the two characters shared. I really can’t believe that no one else has seen this. Also, just because it sounds like a “love theme for a cheesy teenybopper movie,” (which, by the way, she IS a teenager, in case you forgot) doesn’t mean it can’t be a good song. The awesome thing about songwriting is you get to choose what to say, and how to say it. If you’ve seen the video, you will have caught the allusion to the movie, Pride and Prejudice. So, you see, this song really isn’t about following literary pieces to a ‘T’-it’s about portraying the love that all the major romance epics have portrayed. =]

  28. There are a couple things people seem to be missing about this song. First the reference to Romeo and Juliet have no relevance to the play. Taylor has said in a recent interview she was writing about forbidden love, which does fit the play. Also in the song, Romeo won’t come see her; she references the scarlet letter as if people aren’t supposed to go around her. Make sense? The song is quite catchy. The music video is tremendous. I am dissapointed that it isn’t as personal as her songs usually are. Also, Miranda Lambert seems to have copied a song, whereas because Taylor’s may sound like parts of another, but i don’t think that is necessarily bad. Take for instance you said the verse sounds like one song and the chorus sounds like another. Well, yeah many songs do that.

  29. actually, contrary to what you said about taylor having never read the play, she has and is actually one of her favourites. she didn’t like the ending and so she changed it to how she wanted it to be. check out this interview at the premiere of another cinderella story. she says so herself.

  30. Wow, some of you guys are so harsh! Taylor is a young artist. She writes cute songs that people her age can relate to, and who cares if she doesn’t have a voice like Mariah Carey? She’s a good role model and sings good music.

    p.s. Love story may not go along with how Romeo and Juliet really went, but who cares? It’s just a song. A cute song.

  31. I agree with a lot of the comments, both good and bad, but I do happen to like the song and I respect the fact that she has written a pretty good crossover song. I mean, as we have said, she is a teenager, so if she can have music on both (or several) charts at once, what’s wrong with that? Sounds to me like she knows her audience. Matter of fact, she’ll probably end up with better album sales and I cant think of that ever hurting anyone’s career…

  32. “I’m just going to come right out and say it so the good CU readers don’t have to wonder anymore: I hate Blake.

    is that true? That’d be rad. Blogger disdain/in-fighting/and resentment are awesome.

  33. For the life of me I cannot understand why so many people are so quick to be critical of Taylor Swift. She has a great voice, writes great lyrics (unlike a lot of other musicians who have other people write their songs for them), and plays an excellent guitar. I know the majority of her fan base consists of teenage girls but she has a lot of other fans that aren’t teenagers or even females for that matter. There is not another person’s music that I enjoy listening to right now more than Taylor Swift. I preordered her cd (Fearless) which is coming out next week and I look very foward to listening to it. She is only 18 and I look forward to enjoying many many more years of her continuing to make wonderful music.

  34. Love the fiddle solo on this song. Overall, I think it does a good job telling the story. I actually don’t mind the fact that she gave “Romeo and Juliet” a happy ending. I was never a big fan of the real ending. Besides, this song is not meant to have all the social commentaries of the original play – it’s just a pleasant tune that tells a story.

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