If there was a prize for “least likely word in pop song lyrics”, today’s song would be a contender. “Centrifugal” isn’t a word used often outside a lab, so its presence in a pop song is unusual.
I’m never entirely sure the word works, but then I always remember the song and it does, perfectly accurately, describe a “spinning around” motion of the sort I’d imagine most people have experienced after their first kiss with someone special.
So what do I know. It’s distinctive. It describes a sensation in a technically accurate manner. And I remember the song because of it…
Oh…and I’ve never written a million-selling record, so my opinion counts for very little anyway.
But I do love “This Kiss”.
It’s a bright, breezy song that almost perfectly conveys the near-instantaneous rush of feelings after a first kiss with someone special.
Written by all-star country singing and songwriting team Beth Nielsen Chapman, Robin Lerner and Annie Roboff, “This Kiss” is such a good song I could probably have had a hit with it…well maybe not me, but someone who can sing a little, but you get my point…
Anyone could have had a hit with it. Faith Hill did.
And this is when you know you’re in the presence of greatness. Faith Hill didn’t just have a hit record, she had a monster worldwide best-seller. There’s something you can’t put your finger on about her performance, but whatever it is represents the difference between “good” and “great”.
Part of it might be that Faith Hill produced “This Kiss”, and indeed all the other tracks on “Breathe” as well. There’s an intimacy with a song that goes with producing it that doesn’t always come across when you just turn up and sing your lines.
When you have had to decide how to stitch the finished product together, down to every instrument you hear and every snatch of backing vocals, you feel something different about the record. It’s more than a singing gig. It’s probably closer to giving birth to your own children.
Byron Gallimore was behind the mixing desk too, but it would be unreasonable to say that the superstar producer of so many Tim McGraw albums did all the work. “This Kiss” doesn’t sound like a Tim McGraw track. The difference can only be Faith Hill’s own production skills.
“This Kiss” starts by bringing us up to date with the story so far…
I don’t want another heartbreak
I don’t need another turn to cry, no
I don’t want to learn the hard way
Baby, hello, oh no, goodbye
Sometimes you think it’s safer to just keep clear of romantic entanglements. I’ve always thought that line about “it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” was written by an idiot…but then I found out it was written by William Shakespeare, so I had to rethink that a little…
But I can certainly understand someone who’s got to the point where they don’t need another heartbreak and decide to stay out the mix altogether rather than run the risk of being hurt again.
That works for a while. Then the universe has a way of finding someone else to mess up your otherwise impeccably-laid plans…
But you got me like a rocket
Shooting straight across the sky
It’s the way you love me
It’s a feeling like this
It’s centrifugal motion
It’s perpetual bliss
It’s that pivotal moment
It’s, ah, impossible
This kiss, this kiss
This kiss, this kiss
And do you know the most delicious part of these lyrics? No, it’s not “centrifugal”, although I take my hat off to the team of songwriters who were bold enough to use the word in the first place.
It takes a supremely self-confident songwriter, and performer, to stop a song going at full pelt just to introduce a brief reflective pause. A pause that reminds you that great songs aren’t just about clever words and a nice tune.
What “ah” does so expertly is capture an emotion. And it does that so perfectly I’m in awe of both Faith Hill and the songwriting team every time I hear “This Kiss”.
Having the confidence and presence of mind to pause, capture the emotion, and sum up the ecstasy of the first time your lips meet someone else’s…and needing only two letter of the alphabet, arguably not even a word, to sum up the swirling emotions you feel in that special moment…that is songwriting gold.
“This Kiss” is a tremendous song…a well-deserved worldwide smash hit even outside country music circles…going top 20 in most major markets.
It’s a triumph for Faith Hill and the songwriting team of Beth Nielsen Chapman, Robin Lerner and Annie Roboff.
“This Kiss” is such a great song, the best way I can sum it up is… “ah”…
PS — just before we get to the video, if you enjoyed this article, please give it a “clap”. You can also follow me on Medium (here)to get new articles as soon as they’re published. And why not check out my book “No Words, No Song”, where I write about more great songs like this one, available in the Kindle Bookstore (here).