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Hurt So Good: The Pain and Pleasure of Desire in Sparks Fly

The Basics:

Taylor Swift stands really close to a guy and fantasizes about making out with him in the rain. His smile makes her see “sparks fly”.

Literary Device: Metaphor

Taylor Swift opens Sparks Fly with a metaphor comparing the object of her desire to a rainstorm and herself to a house of cards:

The way you move is like a full on rainstorm

And I’m a house of cards

He is forceful and dangerous, while she is barely holding together. The surface implication is that contact between the two of them would shatter her. Upon closer inspection, however, a rainstorm has more nuanced connotations in a Taylor Swift song. Throughout her oeuvre, rain is sometimes sad and destructive, but it is sometimes cleansing or arousing. The ambiguity of this metaphor plays into the central theme of the song.


Sparks Fly revisits a theme from Teardrops on my Guitar: Swift’s dysfunction around her crush. In the first verse of Sparks Fly, she states “You’re the kind of reckless that should send me running / But I kinda know that I won’t get far.” Swift’s legs are unable to run! In the second verse, her “mind forgets to remind me / that you’re a bad idea.” While her mind knows he is a bad idea, it is unable to communicate that thought to… itself. Finally, when Taylor sees “sparks fly, whenever you smile” her eyes are seeing something that is not actually there.

In Teardrops on my Guitar, Taylor Swift was deeply distressed by the bodily dysfunction brought upon by desire. Young Swift couldn’t see, couldn’t breathe, and couldn’t walk, and the result was teardrops on her guitar. In Speak Now, Swift has come to enjoy the very same sensation. She cannot run and her vision is distorted, but instead of teardrops she produces a fantasy about kissing in the rain. Indeed, Swift leans into the discomfort and even asks for more: “give me something that’ll haunt me when you’re not around.”

In addition to the rainstorm in the open metaphor, Swift associates her crush with two other phenomena that are both beautiful and dangerous: sparks and fireworks. Like a rainstorm, sparks and fireworks can be a source of destruction, a beautiful spectacle, or both at the same time. Likewise, Swift has come to see desire as something that is not merely destructive, but fun.

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