"Fifteen" is a song written and recorded by Taylor Swift. It was released on November 11, 2008, as the second track her second studio album, Fearless, and the eighth track on the re-release, Fearless Platinum Edition. "Fifteen" was released as the album's fourth single on August 30, 2009. It was inspired by Swift's freshman year of high school and her best friend.
The song was a critical success, with reviewers commending its thoughtful and effective lyrics concerning teenage relationships and adjusting to high school, and became a top forty hit for Swift in both the United States and Canada. "Fifteen" was released as a single internationally on November 23, 2009.
You take a deep breath and you walk through the doors
It's the morning of your very first day
You say hi to your friends you ain't seen in a while
Try and stay out of everybody's way
It's your freshman year and you're going to be here
For the next four years in this town
Hoping one of those senior boys will wink at you and say
"You know, I haven't seen you around before"
Because when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You're going to believe them
And when you're fifteen feeling like there's nothing to figure out
Well, count to ten, take it in
This is life before you know who you're going to be
You sit in class next to a redhead named Abigail
And soon enough you're best friends
Laughing at the other girls who think they're so cool
We'll be outta here as soon as we can
And then you're on your very first date and he's got a car
And you're feeling like flying
And your momma's waiting up and you're thinking he's the one
And you're dancing 'round your room when the night ends
When the night ends
Because when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You're going to believe them
When you're fifteen and your first kiss
Makes your head spin 'round
But in your life you'll do things greater than
Dating the boy on the football team
But I didn't know it at fifteen
When all you wanted was to be wanted
Wish you could go back and tell yourself what you know now
Back then I swore I was going to marry him someday
But I realized some bigger dreams of mine
And Abigail gave everything she had to a boy
Who changed his mind and we both cried
Because when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You're going to believe them
And when you're fifteen, don't forget to look before you fall
I've found time can heal most anything
And you just might find who you're supposed to be
I didn't know who I was supposed to be at fifteen
La la la la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la la la
La la la la la la
Your very first day
Take a deep breath girl
Take a deep breath as you walk through the doors
"Fifteen" is a ballad written in the key of G major. The song is set in common time with a moderate tempo of 96 beats per minute. It is heavily backed by an acoustic guitar. Swift's vocals span around one-and-one-half octaves, from G3 to C5. At six seconds short of five minutes, it is the longest song on the standard edition, and the second longest on the re-release, behind "Untouchable".
The lyrics to "Fifteen" were inspired by Swift's eventful freshman year at Hendersonville High School, during which she met her best friend, Abigail Anderson, experienced her first date and first kiss, and supported her best friend through a broken heart. Swift said, "I just decided I really wanted to tell that story about our first year of high school because I felt in my freshman year, I grew up more than any year in my life so far." While writing the lyrics, she began with the line "... [she] gave everything/She had to a boy/Who changed his mind", which eventually became the song's bridge. "[I] wrote everything else from that point, almost backwards," Swift commented. Swift says the song is sung "sort of as advice to another fifteen year old." The highly personal song caused her to cry while recording it.
|“||I wrote this around the story line of my best friend from high school, Abigail. I started everything with the line "Abigail gave everything she had to a boy who changed his mind" and wrote everything else from that point, almost backwards. I just decided I really wanted to tell that story about our first year of high school because I felt in my freshman year, I grew up more than any year in my life so far.||”|
"Fifteen" enjoyed generally positive critical reception, particularly for its thoughtful lyrics and meaning. Rolling Stone magazine's Jody Rosen wrote that "Swift is a songwriting savant with an intuitive gift for verse-chorus-bridge architecture" and that "Fifteen" seemed to have been "scientifically engineered in a hit factory — with confessions that are squirmingly intimate and true." Rosen compared Swift's songwriting to the talents of "Swedish pop gods Dr. Luke and Max Martin." James Reed of The Boston Globe wrote that Fearless' "most interesting songs are the ones Swift wrote alone. You can practically see the lyrics for "Fifteen" scribbled in a diary, chronicling Swift's freshman year in high school." Slant Magazine's Jonathon Keefe called the bridge "a great, revealing line about a friend's lost innocence" and considered it one of the nicer moments of the album. Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic found "Fifteen" to be the most personable of songs on Fearless, in which Swift seems like "a big sister instead of a big star", and marked it as one of the best tracks from the album. Billboard magazine called it an "insightful" song that would "connect with teens looking for hope and with adult women looking back." The New York Times' Jon Caramanica believed "Fifteen" is "one of the best songs Taylor’s written". Entertainment Weekly reviewer Leah Greenbelt stated, "When she sings about sexuality, she sounds like a real teen, not some manufactured vixen-Lolita". Josh Love of The Village Voice called "Fifteen" the album's "standout" song and found it a refreshing contradiction to typical, idealistic country songs. Rob Sheffield, reviewing for Blender magazine, said the song was the most mature featured on Fearless. Alexis Petridis of The Guardian called "Fifteen" a "fantasticly good" song that broadened "her potential market from teenage girls to anyone who used to be a teenage girl." Petridis continued, "You applaud her skill, while feeling slightly unsettled by the thought of a teenager pontificating away like Yoda". \he song #46 on their annual year end 100 Best Singles list in 2008. San Francisco Chronicle pop music critic Aidan Vaziri named it one of the top twelve singles of 2009, commenting, "Damn it if this song isn't too sweet, too vulnerable and just too real to ignore."
Due to the release of Fearless, "Fifteen" appeared on the U.S. Hot Digital Songs chart and eventually peaked there at number 15. The song debuted at number 79 on the U.S. singles chart Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending November 29, 2008 due to the album release. "Fifteen" reappeared on the chart for the week ending February 28, 2009, when it reached a peak at number 65. "Fifteen" fell off the chart again the following week and did not appear again until October, when the song was released as a single. For the week ending October 3, 2009, the song re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 94. From there, It ascended to number 62 for the week ending November 7, 2009, defeating its previous peak set nine months earlier. Following the re-release of Fearless, "Fifteen" rose to 46 the week of November 14, 2009. Combined with "Jump Then Fall", "You Belong with Me", "Untouchable", "The Other Side of the Door", "Superstar", "Come in with the Rain", and "Forever & Always", "Fifteen" helped Swift break the record for the highest number of charting Hot 100 songs for any female artist in history. When the song reached #38 on the chart week of November 21, 2009, it became her thirteenth Top 40 single from Fearless, further extending the record for the most top 40 hits from one album.
The song also appeared on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, where it debuted at number 41 for the week ending September 12, 2009. "Fifteen" reached its peak on the chart the week of December 12, 2009 at number seven. On the Canadian Hot 100, the single debuted at number 63 before falling off the chart. It re-entered at number 93 in the week ending October 24, 2009.
The music video for "Fifteen" was directed by Roman White, who had previously directed the music video for "You Belong With Me". White began with the intention of making the video distinct from anything Swift had done before and taking the video "outside of high school." He explained the concept to CMT:
|“||"The idea is that there's a place where you can go back and revisit your memories. She's in this void and memories are manifesting around her. The story evolves and she walks across this dream world. When she walks through those doors and people fade in and out, she just has this amazing sense of innocence."||”|
The video begins with Swift, barefoot and clad in a little white dress, approaching a tall, arched doorway which materializes in the middle of a barren landscape. Swift looks at a photograph of herself and her friend tucked into the arch and then passes through the doors. On the other side of the arch, animated flowers and vines grow across the scenes. People and objects from Swift's high school fade in and out of view, creating a surreal montage of scenes from Swift's freshman year. Swift walks through the memories and begins to play her guitar beneath a tree. The video transitions to her friend sitting at a desk before a chalkboard in the field of flowers. Swift sits down beside her and two begin to whisper and laugh to each other. In the next scene, Swift plays her guitar while her friend goes on her first date; she kisses her date, but pushes him away when he tries to go further. The boy, his car, and the animated background dissolve to the girl sitting alone on a stone bench. Swift approaches her and hugs her tightly as the field around them turns dark and stormy. The video then alternates between Swift singing in the rain and hugging her friend. Abruptly, the storm clouds merge over the scene, clearing to reveal the tops of several dark grey umbrellas. Swift finds herself in the real world, wearing a black rain coat and standing in the rain across the street from a high school. With a look of concern, she watches a fifteen year old (portrayed by a girl about to enter her own freshman year) speaking to her friend outside the school, saying "take a deep breath girl... as you walk through the doors." Swift tells CMT that the song "is kind of sung as advice to the fifteen year old."
The music video premiered on October 7, 2009 through Country Music Television. It first became available for streaming on its website, CMT.com. The video then premiered on television the same day within a 90 minute special titled CMT Fifteen Swiftly-Made Videos on CMT.
Swift selected "Fifteen" to perform at the 51st Grammy Awards, where she sang it as a duet with Miley Cyrus. The performance began shortly after the announcement of Song of the Year. The duo sat on simple bar stools for the acoustic performance with Swift, wearing a baggy white dress layered over a tight black outfit, playing the guitar. "Fifteen" is featured in the set list of Swift's Fearless Tour, which commenced on April 23, 2009, and is expected to last until June 2, 2010. For the tour performances, Swift dresses in a short pastel dress and cowboy boots. She walks through the crowd to sing and play the guitar atop a platform positioned in the middle of the audience. After finishing, Swift hugs the fans closest to the platform before beginning "Tim McGraw".
On October 13, 2009, Swift played the guitar and sang "Fifteen" at the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tennessee for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum benefit concert, "We’re All For The Hall". She wore a wearing a glittery belted purple dress and was accompanied by three harmony singers. Swift has performed "Fifteen" twice in the United Kingdom, once on Later... with Jools Holland in May 2009, and once on The The Paul O'Grady Show in November 2009. At the 2009 Country Music Association Awards on November 11, 2009, Swift performed "Fifteen" as her second performance of the night. Once again, Swift sang while playing an acoustic guitar atop a bar stool in the center of the crowd. The crowd, which included approximately half the 300 Hendersonville High School students Swift had invited to see the ceremony free of charge, sang along.
Swift partnered with electronics retailer Best Buy for @15, a program that allows teens to help decide how Best Buy's "@15 Fund" will be distributed among various charities. Swift taped a Public Service Announcement, called a "Teen Service Announcement" by Best Buy, for @15. Within the PSA, which was released on on February 9, 2009, scenes of Swift encouraging reminiscing on high school and encouraging originality and uniqueness were intercut with scenes of her singing "Fifteen". In June 2009, @15 became a partner for Swift's Fearless Tour. Swift's PSA was shown at each North American stop of the tour. At 15 stops, @15 donated 40 concert tickets and a guitar autographed by Swift to local teen-focused charity groups, such as chapters of Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Hidden message: I cried while recording this.
|Australian ARIA Singles Chart||48|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs||7|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||23|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks||12|
|Canadian Hot 100||19|
|Canadian Radio & Records Country Singles||4|
|Canadian Radio & Records Adult Contemporary Singles||22|
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