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Style

Single | 1989 (2014)

“Style” is the third single released from Taylor’s fifth studio album, 1989 (2014). It is a song she described as being about a couple who are never entirely finished with one another, using the metaphor “we never go out of style” to symbolise the cycle they are stuck in.

Background and Release

“Style” was originally written by producer Ali Payami and guitarist Niklas Ljungfelt for themselves. The two finished the instrumental – a guitar-driven track inspired by what Ljungfelt called “funky electronic music” artists such as Daft Punk. Payami played the instrumental for Martin at the latter’s studio; Taylor became fond of the track after overhearing it and decided to record it for her album.

The song debuted as a snippet in a Target commercial for the album on October 22, 2014. On December 28, 2014, Scott Borchetta, CEO of Taylor’s former record label Big Machine held an impromptu Q&A via Twitter. When asked by a fan about 1989‘s upcoming single following “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space“, Borchetta responded that he was in favor of “Style”. On February 9, 2015, Republic Records, in partnership with Big Machine, serviced the track to US hot adult contemporary radio as the third single.

Lyrical Theme

“Style” was one of the last songs finished for 1989. Taylor has said that after she finished this song, she knew she was done making the album. The song details a tumultuous relationship between two people who keep coming back to each other even though they leave each other time and time again. Taylor explained the song’s idea saying, “This song is about those relationships that are never really done. You always kind of have that person, that one person who you feel might interrupt your wedding and be like, ‘Don’t do it cause we’re not over yet.'” She more or less confirmed the song was written about her relationship with Harry Styles in her 2014 interview with Rolling Stone. She further explained the meaning and inspiration of the song to Ryan Seacrest during an interview on iHeartRadio in October 2014:

«I loved comparing these timeless visuals with a feeling that never goes out of style. It's basically one of those relationships that's always a bit off. The two people are trying to forget each other. So, it's like, 'All right, I heard you went off with her, and well, I've done that, too.' My previous albums have also been sort of like, 'I was right, you were wrong, you did this, it made me feel like this' – a righteous sense of right and wrong in a relationship. What happens when you grow up is you realize the rules in a relationship are very blurred and that it gets very complicated very quickly, and there's not a case of who was right or who was wrong.»

Taylor Swift
This track is singer Lorde’s favorite song on the album. She said, “I first heard ‘Style’ driving down the Pacific coast highway and it was everything. I chair-danced so hard you have no idea.”

Music Video

American filmmaker Kyle Newman directed the music video for “Style”, which was shot in Los Angeles and completed within four days in summer 2014. Before its release, Taylor posted several teaser images and short clips from the video on her social media accounts. She planned to premiere the video on “Good Morning America” on the morning of February 13, 2015, but Canadian music channel Much released it at midnight. Taylor then uploaded the video to her Vevo account on the same day. In the video, English actor Dominic Sherwood plays Taylor’s love interest. She contacted him by text message roughly a month before the shooting; the two had known of each other through mutual friends. The video does not have a clear narrative but features disparate flashbacks of Taylor and her love interest by the seashore, in the woods, and on car rides. At some points, the broken mirror pieces, through which she and her lover see each other, symbolize memories of a past relationship that linger on. Media publications noted and praised the video’s darker, more abstract and sensual atmosphere compared to the videos for “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space”.

Live Performances

Taylor first performed “Style” live as part of the “1989 Secret Session“, which took place on the rooftop of the Empire State Building and was broadcast live by Yahoo! and iHeartRadio on October 27, 2014. On December 2, she performed the song along with “Blank Space” at the “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show” 2014 in London. “Style” was included on the set list for Taylor’s “The 1989 World Tour” (2015). She further included the song on the set list for her 2018 “reputation Stadium Tour,” where it was part of a medley with “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me“. On April 23, 2019, Taylor performed an acoustic version of the song at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts during the “Time 100 Gala,” where she was honored as one of the “100 most influential people” of the year. “Style” is also ususally part of her setlist for “Greatest Hits” shows.

Critical Reception

“Style” received positive reviews from music critics. PopMatters‘s Corey Beasley was impressed by Taylor’s departure from country to new styles that “fit her like a cashmere-lined leather glove” and deemed the song “immaculate”. Now‘s Benjamin Boles selected “Style” as the album’s highlight. Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times also named the track the album’s standout for its “sensual” atmosphere. The New York Times critic Jon Caramanica labelled “Style” the “high mark” of 1989 that embodies Taylor’s “savage, wry, and pointed” maturity from her previous albums.

Pitchfork ranked “Style” at No. 50 on their list of 2014’s best songs. The song placed at No. 24 on the 2015 “Pazz & Jop” poll, an annual mass critics’ poll conducted by The Village Voice. At the 2016 BMI Awards, the track was one of the “Award-Winning Songs” that earned Taylor the honor of “Songwriter of the Year.” “Style” also received a nomination for “International Work of the Year” at the APRA Music Awards of 2016. In 2020, Hannah Mylrea of NME placed the song among the 10 best songs by Taylor, labelling it as “Swift at her best”.

Commercial Performance

“Style” debuted at No. 60 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart of November 15, 2014, following the release of its parent album 1989. Following Taylor’s performance of “Style” at the 2014 “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show,” the song re-entered the chart at No. 75 on the issue date December 27, 2014. After Big Machine CEO Borchetta announced that he was in favor of “Style” being released as a single in December 2014, the track debuted on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 at No. 39 on January 12, 2015. The single reached No. 10 on the Hot 100 chart on February 28, 2015, becoming 1989‘s third consecutive Hot 100 top ten following the No. 1 singles “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space”. It peaked at No. 6 on the March 21, 2015, chart.

The single also achieved success on Billboard component charts, peaking atop the Mainstream Top 40, Adult Top 40, and the Adult Contemporary charts. “Style” was the seventh-best-performing song on the Billboard Radio Songs chart of 2015, earning over 3.163 billion audience impressions from 550,000 plays throughout the year.

In Canada, the single peaked at No. 6 on the Canadian Hot 100 and has received triple platinum certification by Music Canada (MC). “Style” achieved moderate success in Europe, charting in the top twenty on the national charts in Scotland (9), the Czech Republic (11), Poland (13), Slovakia (14), and Hungary (18).

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
Midnight
You come and pick me up, no headlights
Long drive
Could end in burning flames or paradise
Fade into view, oh
It’s been a while since I have even heard from you (Heard from you)

[Pre-chorus 1]
And I should just tell you to leave, ’cause I
Know exactly where it leads, but I
Watch us go ’round and ’round each time

[Chorus]
You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye
And I got that red lip classic thing that you like
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time
‘Cause we never go out of style
We never go out of style
You got that long hair, slicked back, white t-shirt
And I got that good girl faith and a tight little skirt
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time
‘Cause we never go out of style
We never go out of style

[Verse 2]
So it goes
He can’t keep his wild eyes on the road
Takes me home
Lights are off, he’s taking off his coat, mmm yeah
I say, “I heard, oh
That you’ve been out and about with some other girl
Some other girl”

[Pre-chorus 2]
He says, “What you’ve heard is true, but I
Can’t stop thinking about you and I”
I said, “I’ve been there too a few times”

[Chorus]
‘Cause you got that James Dean daydream look in your eye
And I got that red lip classic thing that you like
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time
‘Cause we never go out of style
We never go out of style
You got that long hair, slicked back, white t-shirt
And I got that good girl faith and a tight little skirt (A tight little skirt)
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time
‘Cause we never go out of style (We never go, we never go)
We never go out of style

[Bridge]
Take me home
Just take me home
Yeah, just take me home (Out of style)

[Chorus]
Oh, you got that James Dean daydream look in your eye
And I got that red lip classic thing that you like
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time
‘Cause we never go out of style
We never go out of style

General Information
ArtistTaylor Swift
Album1989
ReleasedOctober 27, 2014
RecordedFebruary 19, 2014
StudioConway (Los Angeles)
GenreSynth Pop
Length3:51
LabelBig Machine Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Max Martin
Shellback
Ali Payami
ProducersMax Martin
Shellback
Ali Payami
1989 CHRONOLOGY
Blank SpaceStyleOut of the Woods
Single Certification
Hidden Message
Her heart belonged to someone who couldn’t stay
Single Artwork
Polaroid
Instagram Teaser
Music Video
Target Commercial
Live Performance
Official Audio
Analysis