|Single by Taylor Swift|
|from the album Evermore|
|Released||December 11, 2020|
|Taylor Swift singles chronology|
"Willow" (stylized in all lowercase) is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, released on December 11, 2020, through Republic Records. It was released alongside her ninth studio album, Evermore (2020), as its lead single. The opening track of the album, Swift wrote the song with its producer Aaron Dessner.
Using a metaphor to dub life as a willow tree, "Willow" is a chamber-folk love song built around picked guitars, glockenspiel, flute and strings. Swift compared the song to casting a love spell. An accompanying music video, directed by Swift, premiered the same day as the song's release. The video is a continuation of the storyline from her preceding video for "Cardigan" (2020), and sees a golden string guide the singer through a mystical saga and lead her to her lover. "Willow" received acclaim from music critics, who complimented its romantic lyricism and guitar-centric sound. The song topped both global Apple Music and Spotify charts upon release; it marked one of 2020's biggest song debuts on the latter, and peaked at number two on the Billboard Global 200.
"Willow" debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100, scoring Swift her seventh US number-one single, third number-one debut, and second chart-topper in 2020. It held the top spot of the Hot 100 while Evermore opened at number-one on the Billboard 200, making Swift the first act in history to simultaneously debut atop both the charts in two separate occasions, following Folklore and "Cardigan". "Willow" broke the record for the biggest downward movement from the number-one spot of the Hot 100, when it descended 37 spots in its second week due to Christmas songs flooding the chart. "Willow" also topped Billboard Hot Alternative Songs, Hot Rock & Alternative Songs, and Digital Song Sales charts, and reached number one in Australia, Canada and Singapore, and top-3 in Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
"Willow" is about intrigue, desire, and the complexity that goes into wanting someone. I think it sounds like casting a spell to make someone fall in love with you.— Swift, American Songwriter
After the release of Folklore, Dessner casually composed an instrumental track "Westerly", named after the location of Swift's Rhode Island home. An hour later, Swift wrote "Willow" to the track and sent him back the finished song."Willow" was a surprise release made available on December 11, 2020, alongside Swift's second surprise album, Evermore, as its lead single . The song was written by Swift and its producer Aaron Dessner, who had worked with Swift on her eight studio album, Folklore (2020). Dessner programmed the track and played drums, percussion, keyboards, synthesizers, piano and electric, bass and acoustic guitars. The orchestration was provided by Bryce Dessner. Greg Calbi, and Steve Fallone mastered the track at Sterling Sound, Edgewater, New Jersey, while Jonathan Low mixed it at Long Pond Studios in Hudson Valley, New York.
On December 13, 2020, Swift's 31st birthday, an electronic "Dancing Witch" version of "Willow" was released, remixed by Swedish producer Elvira. It was followed by an acoustic "Lonely Witch" version on December 14, and a synth-driven "Moonlit Witch" version on December 15.A video for the "Lonely Witch" version featuring behind-the-scenes pictures from the "Willow" music video, and a video for the "Dancing Witch" version featuring the storyboards from the "Willow" music video, were uploaded on Swift's YouTube account December 15, 2020.
"Willow" is an indie folk 4
4 common time with 2
4 bars in the chorus. It has a tempo of 84 beats per minute. It is written in the key of E minor and Swift's vocals span from E3 to B5. Constructed in verse–chorus form, it follows the chord progression Em–D–Em–D–Em–D–C. Lyrically, "Willow" is a love song that conveys themes of hope using several metaphors.
Patrick Ryan of USA Today named "Willow" as a lyrical standout on Evermore.In his The New York Times review of Evermore, Jon Pareles complimented "the restlessly intertwined guitar picking" instrumentals in "Willow" as one of the album's most flourishing music. Paste critic Ellen Johnson commended the song as a "graceful opener" to Evermore, while Bobby Olivier of Spin called it an earworm suited for beach bonfires. Writing for The Guardian , Alexis Petridis opined that "Willow" could easily function as a "pop banger" if synthesizers, auto-tune and programmed beats replaced its "tasteful" acoustic arrangement. Variety critic Chris Willman wrote that the song represents Swift's state of mind, and deemed it a cousin to "Invisible String" and "Peace", the eleventh and fifteenth tracks on Folklore , respectively. Rolling Stone named "Willow" as one of 2020's best pop collaborations, praising the pairing between Swift and producer Dessner.
"Willow" debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, scoring Swift her seventh number-one single in the US, and making her the first artist in history to debut an album and a single at number one simultaneously at two occasions, previously achieving it with Folklore and "Cardigan" (2020); "Willow" was Swift's third number-one debut on the Hot 100 after "Shake It Off" (2014) and "Cardigan", and second chart-topper in 2020. The song is also Swift's 29th top-10 hit on the Hot 100, surpassing Mariah Carey and Stevie Wonder as the artist with the sixth most top-10 entries in the chart's history, and extended her record among women for the most debuts in the Hot 100's top-10, with 19.The song collected 30 million streams, 12.3 million radio impressions, and 59,000 downloads in its first week. In its second week on the Hot 100, "Willow" descended to number 38 due to holiday songs rushing to the top region of the chart during Christmas week. It marked the biggest downward movement from the number-one spot in the chart's history, surpassing "Trollz" by 6ix9ine and Nicki Minaj. In its third week, Willow climbed up 15 spots to number 23, on the Hot 100 chart dated January 9, 2021.
The song also debuted atop the Billboard Digital Songs chart, further extending her record for the most number-one hits on the chart, with 21.On the Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart, "Willow" placed first, followed by 13 other tracks from Evermore. It gave Swift her second number-one hit on the chart, after "Cardigan". On the Billboard Hot Alternative Songs chart, Swift claimed 16 spots led by "Willow", besting Machine Gun Kelly's 12 simultaneous entries. The song topped Billboard Alternative Streaming Songs and Alternative Digital Song Sales charts as well.
In Canada, "Willow" debuted at number one on the Canadian Hot 100, generating Swift's seventh number-one hit in the country, as well as "Champagne Problems" charting at number six. With this, Swift accumulated 30 top-10 hits in the country.
On the UK Singles Chart, "Willow" arrived at number three, shifting 35,183 units in its first week.It gave Swift her eleventh top-5 hit in the country; it was blocked from the top spot by two Christmas songs. Accompanied by Evermore tracks "Champagne Problems" and "No Body, No Crime" at numbers 15 and 19 respectively, "Willow" constitutes Swift's 21 top-20 entries in the country. Similarly, "Willow" also landed at number three on Irish Singles Chart, alongside tracks "Champagne Problems" and "No Body, No Crime" at numbers 6 and 11, respectively, increasing Swift's total amount of Irish top-50 hits to 38.
In Australia, Swift simultaneously topped both albums and singles charts. "Willow" opened atop the ARIA Singles chart, marking Swift's seventh Australian number-one hit and the second in 2020, following "Cardigan".In New Zealand, "Willow" launched at number three on the Top40 Singles chart, with other Evermore tracks "Champagne Problems", "No Body, No Crime" and "Gold Rush" landing at numbers 24, 29 and 34, respectively. On Billboard Global 200 and Global Excl. U.S. charts, "Willow" peaked at numbers 2 and 5, respectively.
An accompanying music video for "Willow", directed by Swift, was released along with the song.It is Swift's third self-directed video, following "The Man" and "Cardigan". The video describes the experience of yearning for someone and life's twists along the way to finding the right person. Claire Shaffer and Althea Legaspi, writing for Rolling Stone , described the video as calling back to familiar scenes from Swift's past. On December 15, 2020, a behind-the-scenes video and a "Before And After" video featuring the original video footage side by side with their corresponding digital storyboard shots, illustrated by Vincent Lucido, were released.
The "Willow" video starts where the "Cardigan" video left;Swift, drenched from her oceanic voyage, sits covered by a warm glow of the rustic cabin. A golden string (referencing the Folklore track "Invisible String") leads her to an alternate reality inside the back of her magical piano that helps her to traverse time and space. Swift has used the color gold to represent her boyfriend, Joe Alwyn, throughout her albums Reputation (2017), Lover (2019) and Folklore (2020). The piano opens into a rabbit hole under the roots of a willow tree in an autumnal forest, on the other side. Swift emerges from the willow, embarking on a mystical journey guided by the magical thread. She sees a reflection of herself with a man (Korean American dancer Taeok Lee) in a moonlit pool.
The string later leads her to a scene from her childhood, where the child versions of Swift and Lee are seen playing together with the string, suggesting that the pair is destined to be together. Swift exits the tent and finds her adult self at a carnival tent party, where she performs with a golden mist-emitting lute inside a glass box (a reference to Folklore track "Mirrorball") dressed in an off-white Zimmerman dress and bridal Jennifer Behr headpiece. While Swift finds Lee, she is trapped inside the glass box, which Swift described before the video's premiere as a metaphor for her feelings about fame. She then realizes that the only way out is to follow the magical thread through the rabbit hole under floor of the glass box, a scene that may represent Swift hitting rock bottom before finding a golden path once more.
The scene shifts to a wintry forest, where Swift emerges hooded in a cloak reminiscent of her video for "...Ready for It?" (2017). She joins other hooded dancers who gather in a circle to perform a ceremony around a bonfire that oozes lots of golden mist and magical orbs. Swift has referenced witchcraft in older songs such as "...Ready For It?", "I Did Something Bad" (2017), and "Mad Woman" (2020). While dancing, she finds the golden string once again and follows it, leading her back to her cottage. Lee pulls off his mask and looks at the departing Swift in despair. Swift exits the piano wearing a new gown, representing the journey back to her roots as a changed person due to her experiences in the outside world. At the end of the string, she finds out that she is not alone in the cottage and that the string has guided her to back to her lover, Lee, while the lyrics "every bait-and-switch was a work of art" play. The scene sees Swift appreciate the obstacles in her life that led to their relationship. The hook that she repeats throughout the song—"I'm begging for you to take my hand / Wreck my plans, that's my man"—finally comes true at the video's end. The couple walks out the door, holding hands, into a forest shrouded in golden sunlight.
The cinematography was handled by Rodrigo Prieto, who worked on the "Cardigan" video as well. Swift did not reveal to Prieto or the technical crew that the video was for a new album or song, so the video was shot without using the song. The shooting took place under strict COVID-19 pandemic safety measures, including testing protocols, as advised by Directors Guild of America, Screen Actors Guild and International Cinematographers Guild.The entire crew, including Swift and Lee, had their masks on; the pair took off their masks only during action. The dancers in the scene depicting witchcraft had their masks on while performing, thus their faces are not visible in the video. A color-coded system was used to signify which crew member could be close to the set and the actors; anybody in immediate vicinity of a scene had to wear a red wristband. Face shields were used whenever Swift or any cast was approached. The video was shot without a camera operator, using a crane-directed remote camera.
The pre-production phase was a back-and-forth interactive process between Swift, Prieto and other technicians. Swift wanted the video to conclude back in the cabin (as with "Cardigan") and that her lover, Lee, would be inside when she returns. Upon further discussion with Prieto and team, it was decided that both Swift and Lee would leave the cabin at the end. Swift initially developed the idea for the video as set at night, but then decided it would daytime. For the witchcraft scene, Swift didn't want to use a real bonfire due to the 2020 California wildfires. Instead, she conceived of using magical orbs.
Ethan Tobman, the production designer, presented Swift with reference images and ideas for the sets, and one of them was having magenta leaves on the ground, which the singer liked. Tobman also suggested the idea for the autumnal forest. He worked with his art director, Simon Morgan, over Zoom. For the bonfire scene, Morgan and Prieto, gaffer Manny Tapia and key grip Donald Reynolds, soundstaged first and taped the space in the center where the magic orbs would be. The distance was measured to the blue screen background, and taped the spots of the trees, and mapped the lighting for the set of the carnival scene.
Credits adapted from YouTube.
|Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)||30|
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)||40|
|Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)||7|
|Canada (Canadian Hot 100)||1|
|Czech Republic (Singles Digitál Top 100)||54|
|Germany (Official German Charts)||46|
|Billboard Global 200||2|
|Hungary (Single Top 40)||20|
|Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)||34|
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||61|
|New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)||3|
|Singapore (RIAS Streaming Chart)||1|
|Slovakia (Singles Digitál Top 100)||50|
|Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)||21|
|UK Singles (OCC)||3|
|US Billboard Hot 100||1|
|US Adult Contemporary ( Billboard )||18|
|US Adult Top 40 ( Billboard )||14|
|US Mainstream Top 40 ( Billboard )||21|
|US Hot Rock & Alternative Songs ( Billboard )||1|
|US Rolling Stone Top 100||3|
|Various||December 11, 2020||Original||Republic|
|December 13, 2020||"Dancing Witch"|
|United States||December 14, 2020||Original||Adult contemporary radio|
|December 15, 2020||Contemporary hit radio|
|December 16, 2020||"Moonlit Witch"|
|Italy||December 18, 2020||Original||Contemporary hit radio||Universal|
|United Kingdom||December 25, 2020||Republic|
|January 2, 2021||Adult contemporary radio|
Taylor Alison Swift is an American singer-songwriter. Her narrative songwriting, which often takes inspiration from her personal life, has received widespread critical plaudits and media coverage.
American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift has released nine studio albums, five extended plays (EP), three live albums, and two compilation albums. With estimated sales of over 50 million albums as of December 2016, Swift is one of the best-selling music artists. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Swift has accumulated 46 million certified album units in the United States. She has sold 37.3 million albums in the United States as of December 2019, and 3.34 million albums in the United Kingdom as of August 2019.
"Shake It Off" is a song by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was written by Swift and its producers, Max Martin and Shellback. "Shake It Off" is an uptempo dance-pop song featuring a saxophone line in its production. The lyrics are about Swift's indifference to her detractors and their negative view of her image. The song was the lead single from her fifth studio album, 1989, which Swift marketed as her first pop album. It was released for digital download worldwide on August 18, 2014, by Big Machine Records.
"Blank Space" is a song by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, taken from her fifth studio album 1989. The song was released to US radio stations as the second single from 1989 on November 10, 2014, by Republic Records in partnership with Swift's label at the time, Big Machine. Swift co-wrote "Blank Space" with its producers Max Martin and Shellback. For the lyrics, she conceived the song as a satirical self-referential nod to her reputation as a flirtatious woman with a series of romantic attachments, which blemished her once-wholesome girl next door image. Musically, it is an electropop song with minimal hip hop-influenced beats.
"Delicate" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, for her sixth studio album, Reputation (2017). It was released on March 12, 2018, as the album's sixth single. As the fifth track on the album, Swift wrote the song with its producers Max Martin and Shellback. "Delicate" is a mellow electropop love song with elements of dance-pop and tropical house. The song uses a distinctive vocoder effect to create a vulnerable sound, which further reflects in the emotionally honest lyrics. The accompanying music video directed by Joseph Khan premiered on March 11, 2018, at the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards.
American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift has released 57 singles as lead artist, five singles as a featured artist, 16 promotional singles, and various charted non-single songs. She had sold over 150 million singles worldwide by December 2016. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) recognized Swift as the best-selling female artist in terms of digital singles sales, with 134 million certified units based on sales and on-demand streaming as of November 2020. Her UK singles sales as of August 2019 stood at 17 million. She has amassed 128 chart entries on the US Billboard Hot 100—the most entries for a female artist—including seven number ones and 29 top tens.
Folklore is the eighth studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was a surprise album, released through Republic Records on July 24, 2020, eleven months after its predecessor, Lover (2019). With production from Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff, Folklore eschews the upbeat pop of Swift's previous albums for mellow ballads driven by piano and guitar. It is mostly described as an indie folk, alternative rock, and electro-folk album while a few classify it as pop. Swift wrote and recorded the album during the COVID-19 pandemic, conceiving it as "a collection of songs and stories that flowed like a stream of consciousness" out of her imagination.
"Cardigan" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift and the second track on her eighth studio album, Folklore (2020), released on July 24, 2020 through Republic Records. It impacted radio stations on July 27, 2020 as the album's lead single. Swift co-wrote the song with its producer Aaron Dessner. "Cardigan" is a slow-burning folk, soft rock and indie rock ballad with stripped-down instrumentals of tender piano, clopping drums and melancholic violins. Lyrically, it sees Swift singing about a comforting romance lost in memories, from the perspective of a woman named Betty, one of the many fictitious characters narrated in Folklore.
"Betty" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, from her eighth studio album, Folklore (2020), which was released on July 24, 2020, through Republic Records. As the fourteenth track on the album, it was written by Swift and Joe Alwyn, and was produced by Swift, Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff. It impacted country radio as the third single on August 17, 2020. "Betty" is a country and folk rock tune steered by a harpsichord and a variety of guitars, with a dominant harmonica intertwining throughout. Lyrically, it depicts James apologizing to Betty for his infidelity; James and Betty are two of the three core characters involved in a fictitious love triangle described in Folklore.
"Exile" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, featuring American indie-folk band Bon Iver. It is the fourth track on Swift's eighth studio album, Folklore (2020), released on July 24, 2020, through Republic Records. The song was written by Swift, Joe Alwyn and Justin Vernon, and produced by Aaron Dessner. It was serviced to alternative radio stations as a single off the album on August 3, 2020. Depicting an unspoken dialogue between two estranged lovers, "Exile" is a cinematic indie-folk ballad with gospel and orchestral elements, that combines Swift's honeyed vocals and Vernon's deep baritone into a melancholic duet propelled by a plodding piano, swirling strings and soaring harmonies.
"The Last Great American Dynasty" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, as the third track on her eighth studio album, Folklore, released on July 24, 2020 through Republic Records. It was written by Swift and Aaron Dessner, and produced by the latter.
"The Lakes" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, taken from the deluxe edition of her eighth studio album, Folklore (2020), released on August 7, 2020 through Republic Records. It is the seventeenth and final song on the deluxe album, and was released to streaming and digital platforms on August 18, 2020. Written and produced by Swift and Jack Antonoff, "The Lakes" is a midtempo indie ballad, set to acoustic guitar and strings, with themes of introspection and escapism that reflect on Swift's semi-retirement in Windermere, the largest lake in England.
"The 1" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, for her eighth studio album, Folklore (2020), which was released on July 24, 2020, through Republic Records. The song had a limited release to German contemporary hit radio on October 9, 2020, as a single in the country. As the opening track of the album, the song was written by Swift and Aaron Dessner, with production from the latter. "The 1" is a minimally produced, bouncy, soft rock tune with electronic elements and indie-pop instrumentals. Written from the perspective of one of Swift's friends, the song describes the narrator's newborn positive approach to life and past romance, in a sad but humorous tone, using numerous one-liners. Upon release, "The 1" received positive reviews from music critics, who commended its stripped-back nature and witty lyricism.
Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions is a 2020 American documentary concert film directed and produced by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, released on November 25, 2020, to Disney+. It sees Swift perform all 17 tracks of her eighth studio album, Folklore (2020), while discussing the creative process behind the songs with her co-producers Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff, and a guest appearance from Justin Vernon. The film is Swift's fourth to be released on a streaming service, following The 1989 World Tour Live (2015), Taylor Swift: Reputation Stadium Tour (2018), and Miss Americana (2020).
Evermore is the ninth studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was released on December 11, 2020, through Republic Records, less than five months after Swift's eighth studio album, Folklore (2020). A product of Swift's extended collaboration with her Folklore producer Aaron Dessner, Evermore is a conceptual sequel to its predecessor, both being surprise albums announced hours before release. Swift described Evermore as a "sister album" to Folklore.
"No Body, No Crime" is a song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, who produced the track with Aaron Dessner. It features guest vocals from American rock band Haim. The song is the sixth track on Swift's ninth studio album, Evermore (2020), released on December 11, 2020, through Republic Records. "No Body, No Crime" has charted within the top 20 in Australia, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. It was released to country radio on January 11, 2021 as the second single from the album.
"Champagne Problems" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It is the second track on Swift's ninth studio album, Evermore (2020), which was released on December 11, 2020, through Republic Records. The song was written by Swift and Joe Alwyn, and produced by Swift and Aaron Dessner.
"Coney Island" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, featuring American rock band the National. The song is the ninth track on Swift's ninth studio album, Evermore (2020), released on December 11, 2020, through Republic Records. It is scheduled to be released to alternative radio on January 18, 2021, as the third single from the album. The song was written by Swift, William Bowery and the National members Aaron and Bryce Dessner, with production being handled by the latter two.
"Marjorie" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It is taken from her ninth studio album Evermore (2020), which was released on December 11, 2020, though Republic Records. "Marjorie" is a heart-rending tribute to Swift's grandmother and opera singer, Marjorie Finlay. It depicts Finlay's advice to her granddaughter and Swift's guilt over not knowing her grandmother to the fullest, and incorporates slow-burning synthesizers, strings, and samples of Finlay's operatic vocals. "Marjorie" was met with widespread critical acclaim, with praise for its emotion, lyricism, and production. Many critics selected it as a highlight on Evermore, and dubbed it one of Swift's most poignant songs.