Sweeter Than Fiction" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift for the soundtrack of One Chance. The song was written by Swift along with Jack Antonoff, best known as the guitarist for indie pop band Fun, and was released through Big Machine Records as the lead single from the soundtrack album on October 21, 2013.
Background and release
One Chance producer Simon Cowell approached Swift, whom he knew through her connection to One Direction member Harry Styles, with the idea of becoming involved with the project. Swift was reportedly "so moved" by the film's concept she was inspired to write a song for it. The song was co-written by Jack Antonoff, who claims "Sweeter Than Fiction" has a John Hughes vibe, and who tweeted he "[LOVED] working with" Swift.
Swift revealed in an interview with country music blog Taste of Country that she viewed the film as a love story in addition to a chronicling of a man's road to success, and approached the songwriting process from that perspective: "I’m very inspired by the concept of love. And this movie is, in a lot of ways, ... a story of the love his wife … has for him," Swift explained. "That was the story that hit me and really affected me. I wanted to tell a story musically from that perspective."
The song was released to digital retailers as the lead single from the upcoming One Chance soundtrack October 21, 2013. After its release, Swift admitted she had to fight her label to be allowed to release "Sweeter Than Fiction", as she tries to maintain a dormant period between album releases. Big Machine reportedly told Swift "no new music until the next album comes out", but Swift explained that after seeing the film, she insisted "I have to be a part of this."
"Sweeter Than Fiction" is a "rock-tinged" bubblegum pop song that also contains influences of synthpop and new wave music. Critics have deemed the song reminiscent of 80's pop. The song is musically and lyrically upbeat, with Swift singing from the point of view of a longtime friend or fan who has always believed in a performer's talents. "There you'll stand, ten feet tall", Swift sings in the chorus, "and I will say, 'I knew it all along.'"
Its first four verses are in the key of B major, and the rest of the song is in C# major. It has a tempo of 134 beats per minute and lasts three minutes and fifty-four seconds.
The song was well-received by critics. Entertainment Weekly praised Swift's approach to the subject matter - "The track ... is uplifting without being hokey and sweet without being cloying." - and described the song as "addictive". Rachel Mcrady of US Weekly felt "Sweeter Than Fiction" possessed "all the makings of another hit" in Swift's career. MTV blogger Jenna Hally Rubenstein summarized "Sweeter" as "a masterfully crafted pop song that should do a killer job of soundtracking any and all uplifting moments in "One Chance."" Carl Williott of Idolator called the song "pretty great", saying "it's a ... sweet song, but the confident synth-pop/New Wave stylings keep it from being an overly saccharine affair, resultingly in a surprisingly bold offering from Swift." Spin editor Larry Busacca gave a more mixed review. Though deriding the song for being "[not] the least bit groundbreaking", Busacca did admit the song was "too catchy and effortless-sounding to resist."
"Sweeter Than Fiction" debuted at number thirty-four on Billboard Hot 100, her forty-third top forty hit, thus tying with Aretha Franklin for the second-most top forty entries among women in the chart's history. It also Swift's fourth movie song to crack the top forty, following "Today Was a Fairytale" from Valentine's Day which reached number two in 2010 and two songs from The Hunger Games: "Safe & Sound" with The Civil Wars which reached number thirty in 2012, and "Eyes Open" which reached number nineteen in 2012. On Hot Digital Songs, "Sweeter Than Fiction" entered at number six with 114,000 downloads sold. It is Swift's twenty-eight song to reach the top ten of the said chart, thus tying with Rihanna for the most top ten hits among all acts.