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Style (Taylor Swift song)

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Big Machine Republic

February 9, 2015 (2015-02-09)

Nu-disco funk-pop synthpop

"Style" is a song by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift and is the third track from her fifth album, 1989 (2014). The song was written by Taylor Swift, Max Martin, Shellback, and Ali Payami. It was released to radio by Republic Records, in partnership with Swift's label Big Machine Records, on February 9, 2015, as the album's third single, following "Blank Space".


The song reached number 6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming the third consecutive top-10 single from 1989 in the country, and entered the top-10 on charts of numerous regions, including Australia, Canada, and South Africa. It also made the top 40 in countries like the United Kingdom, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. The accompanying music video was directed by Kyle Newman and premiered on February 13, 2015.

Background and composition

"Style" merely began as an instrumental track written by Ali Payami for himself and guitarist Niklas Ljungfelt. Ljungfelt, detailing the collaboration with Swift to the Grammys, stated that the track was not initially intended for anyone and he "didn’t have a clue that Taylor would sing on it." However, the collaboration with Swift was made possible when Payami played the track to Max Martin in his room at Wolf Cousins studio, with Swift becoming interested in the track after overhearing the beat through the door. After Payami agreed on the collaboration, Swift and Martin then proceeded to write new lyrics to the track.

"Style" debuted as a snippet in a Target commercial to promote her album. In late December 2014, Big Machine Records head Scott Borchetta answered a fan's question on an impromptu Q&A on social networking site Twitter. The fan asked, "What's Taylor's next single?," and Borchetta responded promptly that he was leaning towards "Style"—it was an "obvious single choice", according to Billboard. In January 2015, Republic Records officially announced "Style" as Swift's third single from 1989, set for a release of February 9, 2015. Swift explained the meaning and inspiration of the song to Ryan Seacrest during an interview on iHeartRadio in October 2014.

I loved comparing these timeless visuals with a feeling that never goes out of style ... It's basically one of those relationships that's always a bit off ... The two people are trying to forget each other. So, it's like, "All right, I heard you went off with her," and well, I've done that, too ... My previous albums have also been sort of like, "I was right, you were wrong, you did this, it made me feel like this"—a righteous sense of right and wrong in a relationship. What happens when you grow up is you realize the rules in a relationship are very blurred and that it gets very complicated very quickly, and there's not a case of who was right or who was wrong.

"Style" has a tempo of 95 beats per minute and is written in the key of D major. Analyzing the song's structure, Vox's Kelsey McKinney compared the opening beat of the song to a call-and-response format. McKinney also noted that although the first half of the chorus plays D major and G major chords, the use of a B minor chord in the second half lends dissonance to the upbeat sound of the chorus.

Jason Lipshutz from Billboard characterized "Style" as a "James Dean-evoking" pop rock song. Meanwhile, Los Angeles Times's Mikael Wood and The Observer's Kitty Empire described the track as funk-pop. On behalf of Time, however, Sam Lansky detailed it as a "disco anthem."

Critical reception

PopMatters described Swift as "(trying) on several fresh styles that fit her like a cashmere-lined leather glove" on "Style" and praised it as "immaculate, almost impossibly ebullient and thrilling". The Observer called it a "percolating funk-pop number that satisfies on every level". The New York Times declared it the album's high mark and compared it to the original Miami Vice soundtrack. Now chose it as the top track from the album. The Los Angeles Times praised it as "a sensual funk track."

Consequence of Sound credited "Style" for "one of the album's most arresting hooks... The song is deliriously triumphant, but triumph is an easy place to get to when you’re young, hot, and loaded in the country's sparkliest city. Here, Swift's girl-next-door likability slips, making it harder to forget that "Style" literally debuted as an advertisement." Drowned in Sound commented that "There's that same 'stay positive' philosophy, and a fair few shouty bits. Best of all is 'Style', which celebrates Swift's fling with 1D's Harry Styles (geddit?) as though being young and reckless is all a part of growing up. This is something anyone can relate to, whether they've made a string of poor romantic choices or 'done a whitey' on the weekend gone by." NME described "Style" as "so '80s-indebted with its thick piano-house and uplifting "Take me home" coda, echoes the retro-modern atmosphere conjured by the slinky cool of Electric Youth and Blood Orange." Pitchfork Media named "Style" the 50th best song of 2014. The Village Voice ranked "Style" at number 24 on its annual year-end critic's poll for 2015. Internet music critic Todd in the Shadows named "Style" the best pop song of 2015.

In a less enthusiastic review, The Independent criticized the song's "desperately inclusive electropop grooves and corporate rebel clichés of songs", while also suggesting that "a certain piquancy" was apparent.

Chart performance

The song debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 60 due to strong digital download sales following the release of parent album 1989, but fell off the chart the following week. Following her live performance at the 2014 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in December 2014, the song re-entered the charts in the chart dated December 27 at number 75, having sold 48,000 copies. "Style" peaked at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, and spent nine consecutive weeks in the top 10. Aside from its success on the Billboard Hot 100, the song has topped the Adult Top 40, the Mainstream Top 40, and the Adult Contemporary chart and also charted at number 21 on the Rhythmic chart. "Style" likewise topped the Hot AC, CHR/Top 40, and AC airplay charts in Canada. As of May 2015, "Style" has sold 1,290,000 copies in the United States.

The song was also a worldwide commercial success, charting at number one in Israel and South Africa. In Australia, "Style" peaked at number eight. In neighboring New Zealand, the song peaked at number 11. "Style" charted at number 9 and 21 in Scotland and the United Kingdom, respectively. It also received top 40 positions in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, and Slovakia.

Production and release

The accompanying music video was directed by Kyle Newman and assistant directed by Henry Thong. On February 10, 2015, Swift posted a teaser for the music video and its release date on Instagram. The video showed Swift's head and steam/smoke tendrils rising up her neck. A second teaser was posted on Swift's social media accounts the next day, depicting shadowy trees on her back. A third teaser was released showing lightning and two different colored eyes being projected onto Swift as she stands against a blank backdrop.

The video was scheduled to be released on Good Morning America on February 13, 2015, but appeared a few hours before the scheduled time through Canadian music channel Much. The video was then quickly uploaded to Swift's official Vevo account. Swift's love interest in the video is played by model Dominic Sherwood, whose eyes are two different colors due to heterochromia. Some of the scenes were shot in the Hercules Cave in Tangier, Morocco, as mentioned by Swift on Facebook.


The video opens with a silhouette of Swift's head containing a scene in which her boyfriend (played by Sherwood) is standing in a seashore. As the song starts, it can be seen that Swift is holding on to a paper airplane necklace with scenes of her in the woods accompanied by various flashbacks. The man is shown waking up from a bed interspliced by Swift in a dim-lit room. As the chorus begins, the man holds a mirror in front of him in which Swift’s lips are overlaid which is followed by various scenes in which images of Swift and the man get projected on one another. As the video progresses the man can be seen driving a car with Swift in the back seat. He then takes off his shirt joined by Swift as they embrace and kiss each other. Through the following clips the man is shown on a beach while Swift sings in a dim-lit room. The video ends with the man pulling up his car at night as Swift rises from sitting on the ground in an isolated location and turns towards him.

Analysis and reception

The music video for "Style" received generally favorable reviews, with several critics comparing the video to the works of American singer Lana Del Rey. Rolling Stone writer Daniel Kreps opined that unlike the music videos for "Shake It Off" and "Blank Space", "[Style] is a different beast, showcasing Swift in a darker, more abstract, light." Jessica Derschowitz of CBS News agreed calling the video "a major departure from the more playful videos for her earlier 1989 singles "Blank Space" and "Shake It Off." Emilee Lindner of MTV felt the video was "mature, tasteful, and, dare I say… sexy?" Vox's Kelsey McKinney noted that the video contained a lot of sensual imagery, which is a way for Swift to show people that she is sexual and that she has matured. InStyle deemed it "Swift's most cinematic video to date." Louis Virtel of HitFix described the video as "a slow throb, a pleasant recollection of quaint memories with a cute boy who resembles James Dean." The Wall Street Journal's Michael Driscoll wrote: "the video is reminiscent of '80s pop with its steady synth bass line and images that may bring to mind Chris Isaak's 'Wicked Game', from an album also released in 1989." Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times found that the video contains "a creepy homage to David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, with Sherwood looking in the rear-view mirror of his car and finding Swift staring back at him." The Huntington News said, "While the track is one of the album’s best, the video [...] leaves something to be desired" and called the video "very hipster – the whole things looks as if it was shot through an Instagram filter by a man wearing thick-framed specs." As of February 2017, the music video has over 470 million views on YouTube.

Live performances

Swift first performed "Style" live as part of Taylor Swift's 1989 Secret Session with iHeartRadio on October 27, 2014 in New York City, streamed on iHeartRadio and Yahoo!. Swift later performed the song during the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in December 2014. The song was a regular part of the setlist of the 1989 World Tour.

Cover versions and usage in media

Ryan Adams covered "Style" for his album 1989, a cover of Swift's album 1989. Yahoo! writer Oscar Gracey called Adams' cover of "Style" "chaotic and gruff." The song is also featured in the 2015 film San Andreas.

Credits and personnel

Credits are adapted from liner notes of 1989.


Style (Taylor Swift song) Wikipedia

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