Innocent (Taylor Swift song)

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Song by Taylor Swift from the album Speak Now
Released September 12, 2010 (2010-09-12)
Format Digital download
Recorded 2010
Length 5:02
Label Big Machine
Writer Taylor Swift
Producer Nathan Chapman, Swift

"Innocent" is a song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift for her third studio album, Speak Now (2010). Allegedly written in response to Kanye West's interruption of her acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards,[1] Swift performed the song at the following year's ceremony as a means of putting the controversy behind them.[2] The song achieved moderate critical and commercial success, debuting at #53 and #27 on the Canadian Hot 100 and Billboard Hot 100, respectively, following the release of Speak Now.

Background and composition[edit]

"Innocent" is a soft rock and country folk-inspired ballad with a duration of five minutes and two seconds. The song features sparse instrumentation to reflect the simplicity of innocence, while lyrically it speaks about someone who has lost their way in life but who is "still an innocent". With lyrics such as "time turns flames to embers / You'll have new Septembers" and "Today is never too late to be brand new," the song also conveys a message of forgiveness and redemption, describing how anyone can move rise above and move past a difficult time in their life.

In the liner notes for Speak Now, Swift explained that every song on the album is an "open letter" to someone in her life, "telling them what I meant to tell them in person."[3] She also noted that one song in particular is addressed to "someone I forgive for what he said in front of the whole world," alluding to the MTV Video Music Awards incident.[3] Critics have noted influences of that event in the lyrics to "Innocent", particularly in the reference to September (when the awards show took place) and the line "32 and still growing up now" (that being West's age at the time).[4] Swift revealed in an interview with New York magazine that while she knew people "expected me to write a song about [West]," she felt it was important to "write a song to him."[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Allison Stewart of The Washington Post described "Innocent" as a "small masterpiece of passive-aggressiveness" in her review of the album.[1] In a more mixed review of the song's debut performance, Melinda Newman of HitFix praised the song for balancing personal details and universal appeal with its "beautiful" lyrics, but was also critical of Swift's vocal delivery. She ultimately rated the performance a B.[6]

Jonathan Keefe of Slant Magazine was more critical of the song, describing it as a "patronizing, condescending sermon" and somewhat hypocritical given her reputation for writing songs that "[go] for the jugular".[7]

Country-music journalist and CMT editorial director Chet Flippo said he was not at all surprised by the way Swift handled herself at the show. "Everyone was waiting to see how she would do it, and that’s what she does: She writes songs based on what’s going on in her life," Flippo said of the ballad, which mixed forgiveness and pathos with a touch of pity. "It's not unique. Some of the best country music writers do that, but typically those songs are self-directed and not about someone else."[8]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2010) Peak
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[9] 53
US Billboard Hot 100[10] 27


  1. ^ a b Stewart, Allison. "Album review: Taylor Swift, "Speak Now"". The Washington Post. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  2. ^ Ryan, Chris. "Watch Taylor Swift Perform ‘Innocent’ (For Kanye West!) At The 2010 MTV VMAs". MTV Buzzworthy. Viacom. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Speak Now (CD). Taylor Swift. Big Machine Records. 2010. BTMSR0300A. 
  4. ^ Johnston, Maura. "Is Taylor Swift the New Hip-Hop Mean Girl?". Esquire. Hearst Corporation. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  5. ^ Willman, Chris. "Princess Crossover (page 2)". New York Magazine. New York Media, LLC. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  6. ^ Newman, Melinda. "Taylor Swift debuts 'Innocent,' her new song of forgiveness to Kanye West". HitFix. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  7. ^ Keefe, Jonathan. "Taylor Swift: Speak Now". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Kaufman, Gil. "Taylor Swift's VMA Performance: Experts Analyze 'Innocent'". Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  9. ^ "Taylor Swift Album & Song Chart History" Canadian Hot 100 for Taylor Swift.
  10. ^ "Taylor Swift Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Taylor Swift.