Safe & Sound (Taylor Swift song)

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"Safe & Sound"
Single by Taylor Swift featuring The Civil Wars
from the album The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond
Released December 26, 2011 (2011-12-26)
Format Digital download
Length 4:01
Label Big Machine
Writer(s)
Producer(s) T-Bone Burnett
Taylor Swift singles chronology
"Ours"
(2011)
"Safe & Sound"
(2011)
"Long Live"
(2012)
The Civil Wars singles chronology
"Birds of a Feather (Live)"
(2011)
"Safe & Sound"
(2011)
"Billie Jean"
(2012)

"Safe & Sound" is a song by American recording artist Taylor Swift and alternative country duo The Civil Wars, taken from The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond, the official soundtrack for the 2012 film The Hunger Games. The track was written by Swift and T-Bone Burnett along with the duo members, Joy Williams and John Paul White, at Burnett's house within two hours.

The song was released to iTunes in the US December 26, 2011, and was later added to the BBC Radio 1 playlist. The song was critically lauded, with critics praising Swift's breathy vocals, the simplicity of the music, and its lyrics, some citing it as a welcome return to form for Swift.

Background and composition

A 27 second sample of "Safe & Sound"

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Safe & Sound" was written by Taylor Swift, Joy Williams, John Paul White, and T-Bone Burnett.[1] In summer 2011, Lionsgate required Burnett to record songs for The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond, and he subsequently corralled a range of artists, including Swift, Maroon 5, The Civil Wars, and Arcade Fire. On a fall night in 2011, Burnett and the production team, as well as Swift and The Civil Wars, came to Burnett's house in Los Angeles to write the lyrics. After two hours, the song was finished. Swift further elaborated, "The Civil Wars had a show that night in L.A., so they raced right over to T Bone's house. There's so many things he could've done production-wise to make that song bigger sonically than it is, but I think that would have possibly been a mistake. For him to have left the song as a lullaby is brilliant."[2]

On December 22, 2011, Swift posted a portion of the song's lyrics via her Twitter account and said that "Something I’ve been [very] excited about for a [very] long time is going to be happening very soon."[3] Four days later, the song was released digitally on iTunes Store.[4] "Safe and Sound" is a departure of Swift from her previous country pop releases,[5] a melancholy ballad combining elements from alternative country,[2] and folk music.[6] Written in the key of G major, the track has a moderate slow tempo of 72 beats per minute. Swift's vocal range on the song spans from the low-note of G3 to the high-note of D5.[7] It accompanies an acoustic guitar in its arrangement,[6] and, according to Matthew Perpetua from Rolling Stone, features The Civil Wars' "harmony" vocals.[8] According to Swift, the theme of "Safe & Sound" represents "the empathy and compassion Katniss feels for Rue, Peeta, and Prim in different parts of [The Hunger Games]."[5]

Critical reception

"Safe & Sound" received mainly positive reviews from music critics. Jody Rosen from Rolling Stone gave the song four out of five stars, calling it Swift's "prettiest ballad."[9] In a review of The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond, AllMusic's Heather Phares picked it as one of the highlights on the soundtrack, calling it "the most crucial" track.[10] Idolator praised Swift's "breathiness that sounds more eerie than sweet",[11] while Jason Lipshutz writing for Billboard commended the "non-Swiftian anthem that embraces the folksiness of the soundtrack" and favored the guest appearance contributed by The Civil Wars.[12] In a less favorable feedback, Darren Franich, and editor from Entertainment Weekly, was not impressed towards the track's lyrics and Swift's vocals, writing that "there’s no sense of triumph". He further added that "Safe & Sound" "sounds more like a funeral dirge than a victory chant, especially as the song continues with light percussion that sounds like soldiers marching to their doom."[13] The Wall Street Journal's Christopher John Farley agreed, opining that the song "has a rural feel, but doesn’t sound like a commercial country song."[3]

At the 2012 Country Music Association Awards, "Safe & Sound" was nominated for Musical Event of the Year.[14] It also garnered a CMT Music Award nomination for Collaborative of the Year in that year.[15] The song was nominated for Best Original Song at the 70th Golden Globe Awards in 2013, but lost to Adele's "Skyfall".[16] At the 2013 Grammy Awards, "Safe & Sound" received a nomination for Best Country Duo/Group Performance, but lost to "Pontoon" by Little Big Town, and won the Best Song Written for Visual Media.[17]

Chart performance

During the first week of release, "Safe & Sound" entered the Billboard Hot Digital Songs at number 19 with 136,000 digital units sold.[18] On the Billboard Hot 100, the single debuted and peaked at number 30.[19] Following the release of the song's music video, it re-entered the Hot 100 at number 56.[20] In its eleventh week on chart, the song rose number 71 to number 35, prior to the release of The Hunger Games soundtrack.[21] The track was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), denoting shipments of one million units.[22] As of September 2013, the song has sold 1,628,000 copies in the United States.[23] The track also peaked at number 31 on the Canadian Hot 100 chart.[24] Internationally, "Safe & Sound" attained moderate commercial success. The single peaked at number 38 on the Australian ARIA Singles Chart and stayed on the chart for three weeks.[25] It was more successful in New Zealand, peaking at number 11 on the New Zealand Singles Chart and remained for five weeks.[26] "Safe & Sound" also charted on the UK Singles Chart at number 67.[27]

Music video

The song's music video, which is directed by Philip Andelman, premiered on February 13, 2012 at 7:54 p.m. ET on MTV.[28] The video features Swift, walking barefoot through a forest in Watertown, Tennessee, wearing a long white gown. Between scenes, The Civil Wars are seen inside a cottage house sitting in front of a fireplace as they sing along to the song.[29]

The music video was shot in a cemetery, and the scene featuring Swift sitting atop the graves are of a real couple who died in 1853.[30]

Live performances

During the Australian leg of the Speak Now World Tour, Swift added "Safe & Sound" to the tour's setlist.[31] Swift performed the track while sitting on a couch onstage, wearing a "sparkling, floor-length gown", which, according to Brittany Cooper of Taste of Country, was slightly reminiscent of Belle from Disney's Beauty and the Beast (1991). Cooper provided a positive feedback to the performance, writing that "[Swift] took the song with a whimsical air and gave it all the mystique you would expect from the haunting ballad."[32]

Track listing

Digital download[4]
  1. "Safe & Sound" – 4:01

Release history

Country Date Format Label
Belgium[33] December 26, 2011 Digital download Big Machine Records
Brazil[34]
Canada[4]
Finland[35]
Germany[36]
Portugal[37]
Russia[38]
Spain[39]
Switzerland[40]
United States[41]
United Kingdom[42] March 28, 2012 Contemporary hit radio

Charts and certifications

Weekly charts

Chart (2011-12) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[25] 38
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[43] 62
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[24] 31
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[26] 11
Poland (Dance Top 50)[44] 44
South Korea International Singles (Gaon)[45] 42
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[27] 67
US Billboard Hot 100[46] 30

Certifications

Region Certification Sales/shipments
United States (RIAA)[22] Platinum 1,628,000[23]

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

References

  1. ^ Various artists (2011). The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond (liner notes). Mercury Records. 
  2. ^ a b Herrera, Monica (March 29, 2012). "Taylor Swift, Arcade Fire Talk 'Hunger Games'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 26, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Farley, Christopher (December 23, 2011). "Taylor Swift Releases ‘Safe and Sound’ From ‘Hunger Games’ Soundtrack". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 26, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c "Safe & Sound [feat. The Civil Wars] – Single". Canada: iTunes Store. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Willman, Chris (March 12, 2012). "Taylor Swift Talks About Her Hunger to Contribute to ‘The Hunger Games’—Exclusive!". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Holz, Adam (December 26, 2011). "Taylor Swift | Safe & Sound | Track Review". Plugged In. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Taylor Swift 'Safe & Sound' Sheet Music". musicnotes.com. Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  8. ^ Perpetua, Matthew (December 23, 2011). "Listen: Taylor Swift's 'Hunger Games' Ballad 'Safe and Sound'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  9. ^ Rosen, Jody (December 30, 2011). "Song Review, 'Safe & Sound'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 21, 2012. 
  10. ^ Phares, Heather. "The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond". AllMusic. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Listen To Taylor Swift's Song 'Safe and Sound'". Idolator. December 23, 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2007. 
  12. ^ Lipshutz, Jason (March 20, 2012). "'The Hunger Games' Soundtrack: Track-By-Track Review". Billboard. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  13. ^ Franich, Darren (December 23, 2011). "'Hunger Games' song: Taylor Swift's 'Safe & Sound'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  14. ^ "2012 CMA Awards". Country Weekly. November 1, 2012. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Women Dominate 2012 CMT Music Awards Nominations". CMT. April 23, 2012. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  16. ^ Poehler, Amy (January 14, 2013). "The 70th Golden Globe Awards Winners". IGN. 
  17. ^ Kim, Wook (February 11, 2013). "Grammys 2013". Time. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  18. ^ Caulfield, Keith (December 29, 2011). "Michael Buble Remains No. 1, Adele's '21' Has Best Sales Week Yet". Billboard. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  19. ^ Grein, Paul (January 4, 2012). "Week Ending Jan. 1, 2012. Songs: LMFAO Beats Everybody". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  20. ^ Grein, Paul (February 19, 2012). "Week Ending Feb. 19, 2012. Songs: Women Take Charge". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  21. ^ Grein, Paul (March 25, 2012). "Week Ending March 25, 2012. Songs: For fun. And Profit". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  22. ^ a b "Gold & Platinum Searchable Database". Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Retrieved July 14, 2012. 
  23. ^ a b Grein, Paul (September 11, 2013). "Week Ending Sept. 8, 2013. Songs: Race & The R&B Chart". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved October 11, 2013. 
  24. ^ a b "Taylor Swift Album & Song Chart History" Canadian Hot 100 for Taylor Swift. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
  25. ^ a b "Australian-charts.com – Taylor Swift feat. The Civil Wars – Safe & Sound". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
  26. ^ a b "Charts.org.nz – Taylor Swift feat. The Civil Wars – Safe & Sound". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
  27. ^ a b "Taylor Swift". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 26, 2012. 
  28. ^ "Safe and Sound video premiere". Facebook. 2012-02-10. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  29. ^ "Taylor Swift's 'Safe & Sound' Video Matches Song's Eerie Vibe". MTV. MTV. 2012-02-14. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  30. ^ Geller, Wendy (2012-02-15). "Taylor Swift Has Ghostly Location For New Video, ‘Safe And Sound’ | Our Country (NEW) - Yahoo! Music". Music.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2012-02-19. 
  31. ^ Nguyen, Giselle (March 12, 2012). "Review: Taylor Swift sparkles on stage in Melbourne". Nova FM. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  32. ^ Cooper, Brittany (March 9, 2012). "Taylor Swift Performs ‘Safe and Sound’ Live in Australia". Taste of Country. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  33. ^ "Safe & Sound [feat. The Civil Wars] – Single". Belgium: iTunes Store. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  34. ^ "Safe & Sound [feat. The Civil Wars] – Single" (in Portuguese). Brazil: iTunes Store. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  35. ^ "Safe & Sound [feat. The Civil Wars] – Single". Finland: iTunes Store. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Safe & Sound [feat. The Civil Wars] – Single" (in German). Germany: iTunes Store. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  37. ^ "Safe & Sound [feat. The Civil Wars] – Single" (in Portuguese). Portugal: iTunes Store. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  38. ^ "Safe & Sound [feat. The Civil Wars] – Single" (in Russian). Russia: iTunes Store. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  39. ^ "Safe & Sound [feat. The Civil Wars] – Single" (in Spanish). Spain: iTunes Store. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  40. ^ "Safe & Sound [feat. The Civil Wars] – Single". Switzerland: iTunes Store. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  41. ^ "Safe & Sound [feat. The Civil Wars] – Single". United States: iTunes Store. Archived from the original on February 6, 2012. 
  42. ^ "BBC Radio 1 Playlist – 28 March 2012". BBC Radio 1. Archived from the original on March 28, 2012. 
  43. ^ "Ultratop.be – Taylor Swift feat. The Civil Wars – Safe & Sound" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
  44. ^ "Listy bestsellerów, wyróżnienia :: Związek Producentów Audio-Video". Polish Dance Top 50. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
  45. ^ "South Korea Gaon International Chart (Week: January 01, 2012 to January 07, 2012)" (in Korean). Gaon Chart. December 15, 2012. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  46. ^ "Taylor Swift Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Taylor Swift. Retrieved July 27, 2014.

External links