Begin Again (Taylor Swift song)
|Single by Taylor Swift|
|from the album Red|
|Released||October 1, 2012|
|Taylor Swift singles chronology|
"Begin Again" is a song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift for her fourth studio album, Red (2012). Swift co-produced the song with Nathan Chapman and Dann Huff. Initially released as a promotional single on September 25, 2012 by Big Machine Records, the song served as the second official single from Red on October 1, 2012. "Begin Again" is a country song, with the lyrical content finding Swift falling in love again after a failed relationship.
The song was widely acclaimed by music critics, many of whom praised Swift's songwriting and complimented for coming back to her country roots for the close of the album. The song's accompanying music video was directed by Philip Andelman, who also directed the music video for Swift's "Safe & Sound". "Begin Again" was commercially successful, and it became Swift's second top ten hit from Red on both the US and Canadian music charts following the hit single "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together", debuting and peaking at numbers seven and four respectively. The single has been certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). "Begin Again" was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Country Song at the 56th Grammy Awards.
Background and release
Swift quipped that the song is "about when you've gotten through a really bad relationship and you finally dust yourself off and go on that first date after a horrible breakup, and the vulnerability that goes along with all that". She previewed it on Good Morning America on September 24, 2012, and was released digitally on iTunes the next day, September 25. The song initially served as a promotional single, the first of four tracks to be released during the four weeks preceding the release of her fourth studio album Red. It was later announced that the song would be the second single from Red. An individually numbered CD single was released on October 23, 2012 exclusively to Amazon.com and Swift's official store.
Composition and lyrics
"Begin Again" is a country song of three minutes and 58 seconds. The song was written by Swift and produced by Swift, Dann Huff and Nathan Chapman. Musically, "Begin Again" is written in the key of G major, with a tempo of 76 beats per minute. Swift's vocals span from D3 to B4. Lyrically, it finds Swift falling in love again after a failed relationship. According to The Boot website, "It's a beautiful ballad that tells the story of a girl who is pleasantly surprised by a new guy who does everything right that the last guy did wrong". Billy Dukes from Taste of Country commented: "For those who believe the arc of songs on 'Red' tell a story, the album ends with the sweet satisfaction of love found on 'Begin Again'. [...] Again, it's her vulnerability and willingness to reveal her battle scars that make this lyric on the Best Taylor Swift 'Red' Lyrics list so palpable and brilliant". Dukes placed it as the third track on Red's best lyrics list, behind "All Too Well" and the title track, respectively. Billboard magazine affirmed that unlike most tracks from Red which find Swift lamenting on the end of relationships, "Begin Again" talks about "finding hope at the end of that tumultuous period". According to the publication, the singer's vocals are on a "breathy, girlish vocal" tone and is reminiscent of her contributions The Hunger Games soundtrack.
"Begin Again" received universal acclaim from music critics, many of whom praised Swift's songwriting. Writing for Taste of Country, Billy Dukes gave the song a four star rating out of five, describing it as "a cleansing breath that hopefully foreshadows the true tone of her album". Grady Smith of Entertainment Weekly wrote the song is "a well-crafted love story" and noted Swift's talent "at taking a single moment in time and letting it unfold like a pop-up storybook." Jessica Sager of Popcrush gave the song 4 out of 5 stars, saying that "Swift paints a vivid picture of a first date following a rough breakup in ‘Begin Again’ — and she sounds like a young woman...She’s not settling, whether in her love life or her studio sessions. And for that, Taylor Swift, we salute you." Matt Bjorke gave four out of five stars as well for Roughstock, complimenting that "The song is a vast improvement for Taylor. A ballad that's neither in-your-face or sounding like its from a twelve year old".
The Boot noted that the story Swift painted was "sweet" and it's a "beautiful ballad". Justin Proper of Under The Gun Review praised Swift for knowing "how to keep her core audience happy, and that is exactly what “Begin Again” accomplishes", also saying that the song gave him a "sensation of relief". MuchMusic lauded Swift, stating "while she is more than capable of releasing the carefree, jump-around-your-room-with-a-hairbrush break up songs like "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," she also has the pen of a poet and knows how to craft emotionally gut-wrenching songs that speak to her millions of fans." However, Kevin John Coyne of Country Universe gave a mixed review, giving the song a grade "B". He lamented how Swift's songs never leave the topic of boys, saying "as Swift continues to grow older, it’s becoming more troublesome that her sense of self-worth and happiness is always inextricably linked to whatever man is currently the object of her affection." "Begin Again" was included in Billboard's list of Best songs of 2012 where it was ranked at number six.
|2013||American Country Awards||Female Single of the Year||Nominated|||
|Female Video of the Year||Nominated|
|Video of the Year||Nominated|
|BMI Awards||Publisher of the Year||Won|||
|Country Awards Top 50 Songs||Won|
|CMT Music Awards||Female Video of the Year||Nominated|||
|2014||Grammy Awards||Best Country Song||Nominated|||
In the week ending September 30, 2012, just a few hours after an early release, “Begin Again” shot to number one on iTunes. It was the first single to dethrone “Gangnam Style” and also surpassed Rihanna's "Diamonds". The song debuted at number one on Billboard Hot Digital Songs selling 299,000 digital copies in the week ending September 30, 2012, which became Swift's fifth number one on that chart. As a result, "Begin Again" debuted at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart dated October 4, 2012. The song fell at number fifty-two on its second week and has charted in Billboard Hot 100 for a total of twenty weeks. "Begin Again" has been certified Platinum by RIAA. It has sold 1 million copies in the United States as of November 2017.
In Billboard Hot Country Songs, "Begin Again" debuted at number thirty-seven after it was released as the second country single on Red. The song jumped at its peak at number ten on its second week on the chart after Billboard changed their methodology on Hot Country Songs, thus giving Swift her seventeenth top ten consecutive hit but also tied with "Fearless" as her lowest-charting single on the said chart although it reached number three on Billboard Country Airplay.
The song attained moderate success worldwide. "Begin Again" became Swift's sixth top five hit in Canada, debuting on its peak at number four. It debuted in Australia at number twenty on the week ending September 30, 2012. In the United Kingdom, the song gave Swift her second top 40 hit from Red after debuting at number 30, following the number four-peaking song "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together". In New Zealand, the song reached number Ten. In Ireland and Spain, the song reached number twenty-five and number thirty respectively.
The video starts with Swift standing on a bridge while pensively gazing across the water and remembering a lost love. She then takes a walk along the Île de la Cité in Paris, wearing a Red dress with white flower appliques and blue peep toes and sits beside the river Seine. The video draws comparison to that of singer Adele's music video "Someone Like You" and Swift's own "Back to December" (only much happier). She then rides a bicycle, wearing a blue and white floral skirt with white cat flats with sun glasses on and bikes down a Cobblestone street. She goes shopping and tries on new clothes, which is spliced with shots of Swift singing to a man (Vladimir Perrin). In a flashback, she recalls her first meeting with the man at a café while sipping cappuccino. He starts taking snapshots of her with his Leica M6. They then have a bitter-sweet conversation, laughing and giggling at each other. The following clips shows Swift sitting at a park and sampling pastries. It also shows Swift walking by the Seine. The clip ends with the two walking side by side, as Swift allows herself to "begin again."
Deviation from lyrics
Directed by Philip Andelman and produced by Arthur Cantin, the story in the video deviates from the song's lyrical narrative in several respects. While the lyrics recount the narrator's (Swift) trepidation of a first date after a bad breakup, the video instead relates a chance meeting in a cafe in Paris. In the video, Swift is seated at a booth, doodling in a small notebook when a Frenchman at another table takes interest and introduces himself. Missing from the video are the Swift's initial moments in the cafe, where her date has arrived early to wait for her, greets her, then helps her into her chair, displaying kindness and respect that was apparently absent from her former relationship. Late in the song, the restaurant encounter draws to a conclusion while the couple walks to Swift's car. The song lyrics describe a touching moment when Swift feels an urge to talk about her previous relationship, but before she can, her date starts describing his family's Christmas movie watching tradition. It is the pivotal moment in "Begin Again", where Swift realizes she is no longer bound to her old relationship, "And for the first time, what's past is past". In the video, instead of a clear end to the date, Swift is shown walking her bike alongside her new friend down a cobblestone road. The couple apparently is not walking to her car as described in the song lyrics, as she walks with her bike. In the video, it is clear that Swift is feeling love for her new friend, while the song lyrics leave it to the listener to decide whether Swift is finding love in her new friend, or is more generally reclaiming her ability to love through the experience of this date.
Entertainment Weekly thought the video was “another classic bittersweet Swift joint,” writing: “Though her boyfriend doesn't laugh at her jokes and bores her with stories about his family’s Christmas movie-watching traditions, she finds the ultimate salve: Wandering through the streets of Paris, chuckling with handsome dudes in a café (and probably snacking on snails or something). It’s a lovely clip, but a little bit sleepy. Also, there’s something about it that recalls ’Back to December’ — is it the color palette, or just the general moodiness?”. To date, the video has over 180 million views on YouTube.
- "Begin Again" – 3:58
Credits and personnel
Credits and personnel adapted from album liner notes.
|Canada (Music Canada)||Gold||40,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000*|
*sales figures based on certification alone
|United States||September 25, 2012||Digital download||Big Machine Records|
|October 1, 2012||Country radio|
|October 23, 2012||CD single|
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