Cruel Summer (Taylor Swift song)
From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia
|Song by Taylor Swift|
|from the album Lover|
|Studio||Electric Lady (New York City)|
|Lover track listing|
"Cruel Summer" is a song by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, from her seventh studio album Lover (2019). Swift wrote the song with Jack Antonoff and St. Vincent, and produced it with Antonoff. As the second track on the album, it was recorded in 2018 at Electric Lady Studios, New York City. "Cruel Summer" is a breezy synth-pop and industrial pop song with swirling synths, robotic voice effects and distorted vocals. Lyrically, it describes Swift's intense and painful experience while falling for a summer romance.
"Cruel Summer" received critical acclaim upon release, with praise towards the infectious melody and ethereal production, often being noted as an album highlight and one of Swift's best pop songs. Upon the release of Lover, "Cruel Summer" debuted and peaked at number 29 on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming one of seven top-forty entries from the album. It peaked inside the top-ten in Singapore and Sweden, top-twenty in Malaysia and New Zealand, and the top-thirty in several other official charts worldwide. In their year-end best music lists, Billboard and Rolling Stone named the song as one of the top-ten best songs of 2019, with the latter naming it the third best song of Swift's career.
The song was first teased as one of the easter eggs in the music video for "You Need to Calm Down", the second single from Lover. In the star-studded video, Adam Lambert appears to be giving Ellen DeGeneres a tattoo on her arms; the tattoo reads "Cruel Summer". Fans surmised that it could be the title of a track on Lover.
Termed by Swift as a song about a "summer romance", "Cruel Summer" sees Swift describing an uncertain romantic relationship, with elements of pain and desperation in it. It portrays the challenges faced by pop stars in the public spotlight. The vulnerability of the song's lyrics has drawn comparisons to "Delicate", the fifth track on Swift's 2017 album Reputation, while the song's Americana theme has been compared to that of "Getaway Car", the ninth Reputation track. In the audio recordings from Lover Secret Sessions, a series of album-listening parties hosted by Swift, she explained that:
This song is one that I wrote about the feeling of a summer romance, and how often times a summer romance can be layered with all these feelings of pining away and sometimes even secrecy. It deals with the idea of being in a relationship where there's some element of desperation and pain in it, where you're yearning for something that you don't quite have yet, it's just right there, and you just can't reach it.
Billboard's Heran Mamo opined that the song's lyrics see Swift "wrestling with strong feelings", where they paint "the picture of an emotional night out". Justin Styles of The Ringer wrote that the song tells a "more humanizing version" of Swift's "ill-fated period three years ago", adding that Swift sings about "falling in love with current boyfriend Joe Alwyn while her public life was in shambles". Anna Gaca, writing for Pitchfork, called the song a "drama-free delight" with "magnetic pink glow". Marcus Jones, writing for Entertainment Weekly, commented that the song's title could be a reference to the compilation album of the same name by GOOD music, a record label owned by American rapper Kanye West. The Spinoff pointed out that Swift's vocals in "Cruel Summer" are "most notable for the modern country cadence".
"Cruel Summer" has been described as a dreamy, melancholy, synth-pop and industrial pop song, with a "ranting" bridge, driven by a pulsating, throbbing "synth-swirl", robotic voice effects, distorted vocals and a hook that consists of a long, high, fluctuating "ooooh". The song has a fast tempo of 170 beats per minute with a common time signature of 4/4. It is played in the key of A Major and follows a chord progression of A-C#m-F#m-D. "Cruel Summer" was written by Swift, Jack Antonoff and St. Vincent, with a "burbling" production from Swift and Antonoff; St. Vincent also took part in the production of the song, by playing the guitar.
Upon release, "Cruel Summer" was acclaimed by critics, with compliments towards the song's "ethereal" and "infectious" production. In his "critic's pick" review, Jon Caramanica of The New York Times commended the song for its "thick, ethereal" pop production and praised Swift's signature vocal motifs such as the "question-mark syllables" and the "hard-felt smears". Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times proclaimed "Cruel Summer" to be the best song off of Lover, stating "Agony and ecstasy as only Swift at her best can render them: 'It’s new, the shape of your body / It’s blue, the feeling I’ve got,' she sings in a razor-sharp, industrial-pop banger about finding love in a hopeless place. The part of the bridge where Swift shrieks about the devil might be the punkest thing you’ll hear all year". Alex Abad-Santos, writing for Vox, listed "Cruel Summer" as one of his top-three best Lover tracks, writing that the song is an "aquatic robot bop" featuring "wobbly" synths. The Spinoff stated that Swift "absolutely pulls it off", comparing it to the Bananarama's 1984 hit of the same name. Writing for The Ringer, Justin Sayles praised the song as a "better rebuke of her personal drama than anything on her last album [Reputation]", and added that Swift "shakes off the bad vibes" with "Cruel Summer"; Sayles named it Swift's "most infectious song since that run of singles from 1989", and opined that song "sets the tone" for the "warmer, more inviting vibes" of Lover. Also calling it "infectious", Nick Levine of NME termed the track as a "brilliant pop song". Natalia Barr, writing for Consequence of Sound, highlighted Swift's vocal delivery in the song's bridge ("He looks up, grinning like a devil"), calling it "simultaneously funny, agonizing, and thrilling, and needs to be created into a viral YouTube loop immediately". Barr further labeled "Cruel Summer" as one of the "most perfect" pop songs of 2019.
In 2019, Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone ranked "Cruel Summer" as Swift's third best song in her discography. Rolling Stone further placed "Cruel Summer" at number four on its list of "the 50 best songs of 2019", while Billboard placed it at number 10 on its list of "the 100 best songs of 2019".
Upon the release of Lover, "Cruel Summer" debuted and peaked inside the top-thirty of several official charts worldwide. In the United States, "Cruel Summer" debuted and peaked at number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, dated September 7, 2019; it is one of the seven tracks from Lover to reach the top 40 of the Hot 100. The song stayed on the Hot 100 for two weeks as an album track. The song debuted at number eight in Singapore and number 10 in Sweden, and reached the top 20 in Ireland, Malaysia and New Zealand. It further peaked inside the top 30 in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Credits and personnel
- Taylor Swift – vocals, songwriter, producer
- Jack Antonoff – producer, songwriter, programmer, recording engineer, drums, keyboards, vocoder
- St. Vincent – songwriter, guitar
- Michael Riddleberger – drums
- John Hanes – mix engineer
- Serban Ghenea – mixer
- Laura Sisk – recording engineer
- John Rooney – assistant recording engineer
- Jon Sher – assistant recording engineer
|Canada (Canadian Hot 100)||28|
|Czech Republic (Singles Digitál Top 100)||84|
|New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)||20|
|Scotland (Official Charts Company)||70|
|Slovakia (Singles Digitál Top 100)||100|
|Sweden Heatseeker (Sverigetopplistan)||10|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||27|
|US Billboard Hot 100||29|
|Various||August 23, 2019||Republic|||
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