Swift wrote the song in 2007, while supporting Brad Paisley on his Bonfires & Amplifiers Tour. A recorded performance of the song uploaded onto YouTube launched its popularity among Swift's fan base. At the time, it was one of the most popular of her unreleased songs. The performance contained lyrics and instrumentation that were different from those that appear on the Speak Now album. The song was sent to country radio on July 18, 2011, as the fifth single from Speak Now. An exclusive package was released to Swift's official store including a "Speak Now" necklace and an individually-numbered "Sparks Fly" CD single. Only 2,500 copies of the CD single were made and the package was made available for a limited time. "Sparks Fly" is a country pop song with a length of four minutes and twenty-two seconds. The song, written solely by Swift, was written in the key of D minor.
Taylor Swift "Spark Fly" Song
Swift's vocals in the song span two octaves, from F3 to C5. Johnathan Keefe claimed that "the a capella "Drop everything now" exclamation simply commands attention, with the desperation in Swift’s call-to-action answering the common criticisms that her work is sexless and chaste." Bobby Peacock stated that "I wouldn't mind if the banjo from the 2007 version were left in, but its omission is hardly make-or-break. Perhaps my biggest problem is that the song's chorus undermines itself in the second half — it starts out emphatic and anthemic as usual, but there's just no "oomph" on the hook. It almost feels as if she's trailing off mid-sentence." According to Swift, the song is about "falling for someone who you maybe shouldn't fall for, but you can't stop yourself because there's such a connection and chemistry. This is a song I wrote a few years ago and I have been working on it ever since. It's been awesome to see it change over the years. The fans have heard it before in concert, but there have been some really cool changes that I am very proud of and can't wait for them to hear."
Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone Magazine praised Swift's vocals on "Sparks Fly", commenting that her voice in such an up-beat song is unaffected enough to mask how masterful she has become as a singer. Rahul Prabhakar of The Oxonian Review considers it "dopamine-infused, hair-whipping stuff". Jonathan Keefe of Slant Magazine claims the song is "the purest iteration of Swift’s template and repertoire" on Country Universe. Keefe also claimed that it "could turn things around for Swift, as it’s perhaps the most perfectly constructed single in a career built on tracks that are marvels of pop production and songwriting." Bobby Peacock of Roughstock claims that she gets "a sense that Taylor is starting to experience a little burnout at radio. Her songs drop like rocks once they peak, and she's currently 0 for 3 on hitting the top of the Billboard charts.
While I don't think this song has that je ne sais quoi to get her another "You Belong with Me"-level hit, I still think that even a slightly lesser effort from her is a worthwhile listen." Blake Boldt of Engine 145 praised Swift, saying "Her infusion of individual lines with urgency (“Drop everything now,” she insists) and earnestness (“Take away the pain,” she pleads) are a tribute to her talent, not so much as a distinguished vocalist but as an excellent communicator. Each frazzled note is freighted with meaning. Should I stay or should I go now?, she wonders, wiling away the hours before he calls her again." Amanda Hensel of Taste of Country claimed the song is "just another one of those so-Swift tracks that continually toes the line between country and pop to create a genre that is 100% Taylor Swift." Following the release of Speak Now, on November 4, 2010, "Sparks Fly" debuted at number seventeen on the Billboard Hot 100 due to strong digital sales of 113,000 downloads making it one of the songs to make Swift the first act to have ten songs debut on the Billboard Hot 100 in the same week. .
With the addition of "Mine", Swift had a total of eleven songs charting in one week, making Swift the female act to have the most songs charting on the Billboard Hot 100 in the same week. The song made a Hot Shot Debut on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart at number forty-nine. Billboard included the song in their Five Potential Pop Hits for 2011 list. When "Sparks Fly" jumped from thirty-nine and settled on thirty-one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs on the week ending July 25, 2011, it marked for the first time, since January 1990, that the top thirty of the aforesaid chart is bereft of songs by solo females or duets with top-billed women. After its single release the song re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number eighty-four. Internationally, "Sparks Fly" has debuted at twenty-eight on the Canadian Hot 100. The song was first performed live on May 30, 2007 in Oroville, California. The song was, at the time, unreleased and was performed using banjos and violins and contained different lyrics than the album version. "Sparks Fly" is the opening song of the Speak Now World Tour. The performance begins with an opening montage about how people should "speak now" about how they feel, and Swift then raises from a cloud of smoke and sings "Drop everything now" before starting the actual song performance. Swift also uses a longer interlude into the final chorus of the song. The performance uses electric guitars instead of banjos.
A video for the song was announced on August 8, 2011 on Swift's official website. It premiered on August 10, 2011 on her official website at 4:30PM CDT. It is directed by Christian Lamb. The video features clips of various performances from her Speak Now World Tour such as "Speak Now", "Back to December", "Better Than Revenge", "Mean" and other performances, as well as never before seen footage at beginning. Many of the footage for the video was captured at four different tour date locations including one from the show in Newark, New Jersey. The footage with the rain was captured during one of the summer shows in a stadium. Billy Dukes of Taste of Country praised the video saying, "The magic and theatrics she’s able to capture on stage rival what almost anyone else is able to dream up for a more Hollywood-like “produced” music video." The video has had over 400,000 tracking views during the week of its release and has pushed Swift up the Billboard's Social 50 from nineteen to ten.