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Track Review

The latest from Taylor Swift is a far cry from the bouncy, bubbly teen romance ditties we're used to hearing from the country superstar. "Safe & Sound" is instead a slight and wispy thing, produced by the famed T Bone Burnett and featuring Grammy-nominated alt-country folk duo The Civil Wars. Together, they deliver an ethereal whisper of hope amid the darkness of The Hunger Games. It's a song that wouldn't have felt out of place on any of the  Twilight soundtracks.

Against the backdrop of quietly finger-picked acoustic guitar, Swift begins to spin a desperate tale: "I remember tears streaming down your face/ … When all those shadows almost killed your light/I remember you said, 'Don't leave me here alone.'" Likewise, the second verse hints at The Hunger Games' war zone: "Don't you dare look out your window, darling/Everything's on fire/The war outside our door keeps raging on."

But we're not left in the dark here. "Hold on to this lullaby/Even when the music's gone," Taylor sings. "Just close your eyes/The sun is going down/You'll be all right/No one can hurt you now/Come morning light/You and I'll be safe and sound."

Taken literally, the song offers the promise of better things tomorrow. Taken metaphorically, or if wrapped up in the terrifying trappings of Suzanne Collins' books, you can shift the focus on nightfall to death, with the rising of the sun symbolizing the peace of the afterlife.

Either way, we're reminded that the sun will rise again—on this world or the next, in reality or supernaturally—no matter how agonizingly long it takes for its first shafts of hope to pierce the black.

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No. 1 iTunes pop song.

Record Label

Big Machine




December 26, 2011

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