Top 40 Singles of 2008: Taylor Swift - White Horse (# 15)

Over the past two and a half years country fans have seen Taylor Swift morph from 16 year-old teen star into the young adult star she is now.  It's a transformation that is complete as songs like "White Horse" announce the true arrival of a songwriting tour-de-force.

It’d be easy to continually dismiss Taylor Swift’s success as simply capturing the teen and tween audience’s attention and while they’ve undoubtedly impacted her ability to sell albums, it is songs like “White Horse” which give the parents of those teens and tweens cause for celebration as this song might just be the best song she’s written to date.  While her other songs have dealt with love at the High School level, “White Horse” is a song that goes deeper and touches on larger, more universal emotions.

While the melody and instrumentation of the song are actually the most ‘pop sounding’ of any song Taylor’s released to radio (this song will not need to be remixed for pop airplay), it also is her most mature song and the soft piano and orchestral touches actually suit Taylor’s wispy voice. This type of melodic structure helps drive home the lyric about a woman who has finally gotten the courage to leave a bad relationship. The man she gets enough courage to leave has made life and the relationship difficult.  Taylor sings about the way she saw through his bad stuff and believed his lies.  For any woman who has been battered and abused, they’ll relate to the song.
The song can also serve a broader purpose for anyone who feels stuck in a rut or is constantly told they can’t do something and that they’ll always need someone else’s help.  This is a song of empowerment, courage and just plain spoken therapy.  It’s a song that is the proof of Taylor Swift’s songwriting acumen and ability to relate to more than her teen audience.  That alone is enough to make it a great song, the fact that the melody matches the mood of the lyrics and never gets bombastic only helps to make it one of 2008’s (and 2009’s) greatest singles of the year.  This song is the song that will make Taylor Swift a world-wide star, the likes of which Country music hasn’t seen since Shania Twain exploded internationally a decade ago.