Give Me One Chance, It Was a Moment of Weakness and You Said Yes
Her Best Costume Change, A Fan Favorite Performance, and a Live Show Classic
Any Swift fan worth their salt has watched this performance at least a dozen times, but in case you’ve never seen it, we’ll be referencing it throughout this post:
We’re throwing it back to 2008 with the Self-Titled Debut album and this epic awards show performance that has lived in our brains rent-free for over a decade now. But before I get ahead of myself, let’s talk about the studio recording first.
This song paired with Picture to Burn on the same album may have given her the reputation for only writing songs about her ex’s but listening to this song, can you blame her? What teenage girl (because let’s all remember she wrote this when she was 16) didn’t want to send this song to their high school ex? This is one that I am extremely excited to get a re-record of, likely in 2023-24, because I think this’ll have a huge resurgence like the Red album did in November 2021 with her mature vocals.
Should’ve Said No is peak early 2000’s country - it evokes a Shania Twain sassiness that really matched the era. Tell me you don’t get Come On Over Twain vibes from this song! This really was a golden age of scorned female country music and I can only hope we continue to bring it back now that Kacey Musgraves has queer America by the proverbial throat.
This song has a classic nature that has aged really well. The general structure is predictable and catchy, and you’re dying to play it on a highway with the windows rolled down. Everyone can relate to looking at someone and thinking, “wow you’re such a moron, here is exactly what you needed to do to prevent this situation, and I watched you do the opposite of that thing.” At the same time, Swift alters each verse ever so slightly before entering the pre-chorus to allow you the nuance of seeing all the angles of what pissed her off in this scenario. The emphasis in verse 1 is past-dated thinking - looking at everything this boy promised not to do before he actually did the thing, and the vocal emphasis in verse 2 sits with “but do you honestly expect me to believe we could ever be the same?” and shifts to the forward-thinking reality.
Her June 26th, 2008 performance of this at the American Country Music Awards became a blueprint for how she would perform this song for years. The hoodie getup in the beginning seems incredibly out of place but wholly Swift. In this era of her live performances, she lived for the drama of a costume change. She was 17 and on her first tour, so you kind of have to root for it. You can tell she’s having so much fun with how extra it is, and trying on different versions of performing to find what she could grow into.
But by far everyone’s favorite part of this performance is the seemingly random RAIN that cascades down in the word “no” once the key changes during the bridge (which is a key change specific to the live version). I kind of cringe watching this in 2022 because if you haven’t followed every inch of her career, it feels so out of place. Like the song never mentions rain, but all of a sudden the guitar solo is interrupted by claps of thunder and you’re like wait, what?
The best part is the end where you can see that she’s shocked by the applause and ovation. This was one of her first live, televised performances and her enthusiasm is what brings it all together to make sense. Most first-timers go up with something less intricate, like an acoustic version or a stand-and-sing with the backup band that they’ll go onto replicate on tour with ease. Swift never takes the predictable route and she embraces putting on a performance that feels like something a 17 year old would do. It’s full of intrigue and drama that only a teenager could pull off. Truly, this feels like the pre-cursor to Olivia Rodrigo (a self-proclaimed Swiftie, even crediting Taylor with songwriting credits on her debut album, SOUR for a piano sample of New Year’s Day) pulling the same stunts on her tour, costume changes and all, in 2022.
Her vocals on this are shaky at best and you can tell she doesn’t get really comfortable in the moment until we get into the pouring rain stage of the song, but she’s so endearing in this moment that the reality of how clunky and strange the performance concept itself is doesn’t seem to matter. You’re watching a star at the start of her career find out who she is, and the result of her long career wouldn’t be that much different than this, albeit more refined with age. Should’ve Said No has always been a yes from me.