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Breathe (Taylor Swift song)

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Song by Taylor Swift featuring Colbie Caillat
from the album Fearless
ReleasedNovember 11, 2008 (2008-11-11)
GenreCountry pop
LabelBig Machine
  • Taylor Swift
  • Colbie Caillat

"Breathe" is a song by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, featuring American singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat. It was written by Swift and Caillat, produced by Nathan Chapman and Swift, it is the seventh track from Swift's second studio album, Fearless (2008). The song was written about the end of a friendship. Musically, the song is driven by an acoustic guitar and occasionally pianos and violins provide the accompaniment. Lyrically, "Breathe" addresses heartbreak and the loss of a close friendship.

The song received favorable responses from contemporary music critics. "Breathe" was one of two songs featuring Caillat that was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals in 2010, the other being Jason Mraz's "Lucky", the winner of the award. "Breathe" peaked at number eighty-seven on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). At the time, its appearance tied Swift with Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus) for two records on the Billboard Hot 100. Swift performed the song live for the first time ever in Miami Gardens, Florida for the Reputation Stadium Tour.[1]


Colbie Caillat co-wrote and sang back up vocals on "Breathe".

Swift was very fond of Caillat's 2007 debut album, Coco. Swift explained, "When it came out, I fell in love with the way that she makes music."[2] Swift later contacted her management and asked if she could write a song with Caillat. They confirmed Caillat would be available due to a then upcoming concert in Nashville, Tennessee and, coincidentally, on the same day, Swift had a vacation day.[2] According to Swift, "Breathe" is about having to depart from a someone, however, not blaming anyone.[2] Swift believed the scenario was one of the most difficult goodbyes, "when it's nobody's fault. It just has to end."[3] Swift explained, "It was total therapy because I came in and I was like look, 'One of my best friends, I'm gonna have to not see anymore and it's not gonna be part of what I do. It's the hardest thing to go through. It's crazy listening to the song because you would think it's about a relationship and it's really about losing a friend and having a fallout."[3] Caillat and Swift said one of the beauties of the song was that many people would be able to relate to it because it is never specific as why the departure is occurring or whose fault it was.[3]

Swift desired for Caillat to sing background vocals but in a loud manner, enough for audiences to recognize who sang backup. Originally Swift and Caillat were only to harmonize in the chorus, but as Caillat recorded, Swift decided to include her voice more throughout the track because of how impressed she was.[3] Swift first recorded the entire song, and Caillat then recorded background vocals separately.[3] Swift was very pleased with the finished product: "I think she sounds beautiful on it. I'm so excited to have her voice on my album."[2]


"Breathe" is a country pop ballad with a length of four minutes and twenty-one seconds.[4][5][6] It was written in common time and has a ballad tempo of 72 beats per minute. It is written in the key of D major, and Swift and Caillat's vocals span one octave, from G3 to B4.[7] "Breathe" follows the chord progression D5–A–G.[7] The song's instrumentation relies mainly on acoustic guitar, which are often plucked, while, on occasion, piano and violins provide the accompaniment.[8][5][9]

The lyrics for "Breathe" are about heartbreak and the loss of a close friendship. In the song's verses, the narrator acknowledges that people change and grow apart, though she is upset because she knows the person "like the back of her hand." In the song's refrains, she realizes the need to remain strong and breathe in order to live without the person.[10][11][12] Ken Tucker of Billboard believed "Breathe" was a "love-gone-wrong song."[13]

Critical reception[edit]

The song received positive responses from contemporary music critics. Ken Tucker of Billboard said the song was suited for women of different age groups.[13] Gary Trust, also from Billboard wrote, "this ballad, perhaps along with fellow potential singles such as 'You're Not Sorry' and 'Forever & Always,' could keep Swift's string of smashes stretching into 2011."[14] Jonathan Keefe of Slant Magazine thought Swift should have chosen another collaborator as he believed Caillat was inert.[15] Billboard's Taylor Weatherby considered the song Swift's seventh best feature. Weatherby complemented Swift's vocals, saying "she has a lovely voice that could practically sing you to sleep". He continued, describing Caillat's voice as "smooth". He concluded, "It may be the most soothing breakup song of all time."[5]

"Breathe" was one of two songs featuring Caillat that was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals in 2010, the other being Jason Mraz's "Lucky", the winner of the award.[16] About "Breathe" not winning the award, Caillat said, "I love 'Breathe' with Taylor, but I've been performing 'Lucky' with Jason all around the world the last year, so I'm happy it won."[17]

Chart performance[edit]

On the week ending November 29, 2008, "Breathe" debuted and peaked at number eighty-seven on the Billboard Hot 100, spending one week on the chart.[18] Its appearance, along with six other songs, on the chart tied Swift with Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus) for the female act to have the most songs charting on the Billboard Hot 100 in the same week,[19] a record later surpassed by Swift herself when she charted eleven songs at once in 2010.[20] It was also one of six songs to debut that tied her with Cyrus, again, for the most debuts on the chart in the same week.[19] In 2014, the song was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).[21]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Recording and mixing

  • Recorded at Blackbird Studios and Starsturck Studios in Nashville, Tennessee;
  • Mixed at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, Tennessee;


Credits adapted from the liner notes of Fearless'.[8]


Chart (2008) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100[18] 87


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[21] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ Iasimone, Ashley (November 20, 2018). "All the Surprise Songs Taylor Swift Has Performed On Her Reputation Stadium Tour B-Stage". Billboard. Archived from the original on October 8, 2019. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Swift, Taylor. "Cut By Cut". Big Machine Records. Archived from the original on July 25, 2010. Retrieved July 26, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e Taylor Swift (2008). Fearless (Target Exclusive DVD) (In the Studio with Taylor Swift and Colbie Caillat Recording "Breathe"). Big Machine Records.
  4. ^ R. Moss, Marissa (June 25, 2019). "How Colbie Caillat Went From 'Bubbly' to Country With New Band Gone West". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c Weatherby, Taylor (December 15, 2017). "Taylor Swift's Collaborations, Ranked: Critic's Take". Billboard. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  6. ^ "Fearless > Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved June 21, 2010.
  7. ^ a b "Taylor Swift "Breathe" Sheet Music in D Major". Alfred Publishing.
  8. ^ a b Fearless Platinum Edition (CD). Taylor Swift. Big Machine Records. 2008. BMRATS0250.CS1 maint: others (link)
  9. ^ Asher, Jane (September 2019). "13 Taylor Swift Bridges That Will Give You All the Feels". Style Caster. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  10. ^ Yahr, Emily (November 6, 2017). "Taylor Swift: If you think she only sings about her exes, you're wrong". Stuff. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  11. ^ Eichelberger, Alexis (November 10, 2019). "The best lyrics from Taylor Swift's 'Fearless' to celebrate the album's 10-year anniversary". The Post. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  12. ^ O'Connor, Roisin (August 23, 2019). "Taylor Swift: Her 100 album tracks, ranked". The Independent. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  13. ^ a b Tucker, Ken (November 15, 2008). "Fearless". Billboard. Archived from the original on April 27, 2009. Retrieved July 27, 2010.
  14. ^ Trust, Gary (January 5, 2010). "Taking Peaks, Part 1: Nos. 100-76". Billboard. p. 3. Retrieved July 27, 2010.
  15. ^ Keefe, Jonathan (November 16, 2008). "Taylor Swift: Fearless". Slant Magazine. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
  16. ^ "Nominees And Winners". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on December 6, 2010. Retrieved March 16, 2011.
  17. ^ Keveney, Bill (January 31, 2010). "Colbie Caillat beats herself". USA Today. Retrieved July 27, 2010.
  18. ^ a b "Taylor Swift Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  19. ^ a b Cohen, Jonathan (November 20, 2008). "Taylor Swift Notches Six Hot 100 Debuts". Billboard. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
  20. ^ Pietroluongo, Silvio (November 4, 2010). "Taylor Swift Debuts 10 'Speak Now' Songs on Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  21. ^ a b "American single certifications – Taylor Swift – Breathe feat. Colbie Callat". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved August 15, 2018. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]

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