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Welcome to New York

Promotional Single | 1989 (2014)

“Welcome to New York” is the opening track for 1989 (2014) and introduced the world to a brand new Taylor. After experimenting with electronic pop elements on RED (2012), her country starlet persona was all but gone with the release of 1989.

Background and Release

Inspired by 1980s synth-pop with synthesizers, drum pads, and overlapped vocals, Taylor decided to move away from the signature country styles of her previous releases and incorporate straightforward pop production for 1989. The recording process began in mid-2013 concurrently with the start of Taylor’s “The RED Tour” in support of her fourth studio album, RED (2012).

Taylor recalled that her relocation to New York City in March 2014 served as an inspiration for 1989‘s conception, saying: “I was so intimidated by this city for so long. I thought I would never be able to make it here, because I wasn’t something enough — bold enough, brave enough to take on this huge city in all of its blaring honesty. And then at a certain point I just thought, ‘I’m ready.'” She said that the city’s energy prompted her to embark on “endless potential and possibilities”. To this end, she actively sought to collaborate with new producers, including Ryan Tedder. Tedder was contacted by Taylor via a Voice Memo, and produced two tracks for 1989: “Welcome to New York” and “I Know Places“. “Welcome to New York” was released for digital download via the iTunes Store on October 20, 2014, as one of 1989‘s pre-release promotional singles. Prior to the digital release, Taylor shared a 30-second sample of the song on YouTube.

Lyrical Theme and Production

“Welcome to New York” was written by Taylor and Ryan Tedder, even before Taylor had moved to New York. Tedder programmed the song with a Roland Juno-106 synthesizer and finished the first demo within three hours. He then produced four different versions of the song, but Taylor chose the one closest to the first demo as the final version. The song’s title is a literal way for Taylor to welcome fans to her new sound. Paralleling her own move from Nashville to New York, 1989 as an album reflects her new lifestyle — moving from her country roots to the big city with all its glitz and glamour. Regarding the song’s role as the album opener, she said:

«I wanted to start 1989 with this song because New York has been an important landscape and location for the story of my life in the last couple of years. I dreamt and obsessed over moving to New York, and then I did it. The inspiration that I found in that city is hard to describe and to compare to any other force of inspiration I’ve ever experienced in my life. It’s an electric city.»

Taylor Swift
Lyrically, the song also sees Taylor supporting equality for the LGBTQ+ community for the first time:

And you can want who you want
Boys and boys and girls and girls

Live Performances

Taylor performed “Welcome to New York” during the “1989 Secret Sessions“, live streamed by Yahoo! and iHeartRadio on October 27, 2014. The song was also included as the opener for “The 1989 World Tour“, which Taylor embarked on to support 1989 throughout 2015.

Critical Reception

“Welcome to New York” was met with mixed reviews from contemporary critics, who found the song lacking substance compared to other popular New York tribute songs. Robert Christgau, in a review published on Cuepoint, felt that most critics had been too harsh so as to not appear to be fans of Taylor. He said, “I think it’s silly to demand sociology from someone who can’t stroll Central Park without bodyguards”, and defended Taylor’s perspectives given her upper middle class background as opposed to the majority of the middle class in New York City. On a more positive note, Daniel D’Addario of TIME stated that the song was a “new kind of equality anthem”. He added that he felt that the song’s lighthearted production and the lyrics “You can want who you want / Boys and boys and girls and girls” effectively promoted sexual equality.

Commercial Performance

“Welcome to New York” was released as a promotional single for the album on October 20, 2014. In the United States, the song peaked at No. 48 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was later certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for selling one million units in the United States.

As proof of Taylor’s love for her adopted hometown, all proceeds from sales of the single went to New York City Public Schools. The city also showed love back when it made Taylor a tourism ambassador.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
Walking through a crowd, the village is aglow
Kaleidoscope of loud heartbeats under coats
Everybody here wanted something more
Searching for a sound we hadn’t heard before
And it said

[Pre-Chorus]
Welcome to New York
It’s been waiting for you
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York
It’s been waiting for you
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York

[Chorus]
It’s a new soundtrack
I could dance to this beat (Beat)
Forevermore
The lights are so bright
But they never blind me (Me)
Welcome to New York
It’s been waiting for you
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York

[Verse 2]
When we first dropped our bags on apartment floors
Took our broken hearts, put them in a drawer
Everybody here was someone else before
And you can want who you want
Boys and boys and girls and girls

[Pre-Chorus]
Welcome to New York
It’s been waiting for you
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York
It’s been waiting for you
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York

[Chorus]
It’s a new soundtrack
I could dance to this beat (Beat)
Forevermore
The lights are so bright
But they never blind me (Me)
Welcome to New York (New York)
It’s been waiting for you
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York

[Bridge]
Like any great love it keeps you guessing
Like any real love, it’s ever changing
Like any true love, it drives you crazy
But you know you wouldn’t change anything, anything, anything

[Pre-Chorus]
Welcome to New York
It’s been waiting for you
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York
It’s been waiting for you
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York

[Chorus Variation]
It’s a new soundtrack, I could dance to this beat
The lights are so bright but they never blind me (Welcome to New York)
New soundtrack (It’s been waiting for you, welcome to New York)
The lights are so bright
But they never blind me (Welcome to New York)
So bright, they never blind me
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York

General Information
ArtistTaylor Swift
Album1989
ReleasedOctober 27, 2014
RecordedJanuary 23, 2014
StudioConway (Los Angeles)
GenreSynth Pop
Electro Pop
Length3:33
LabelBig Machine Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Ryan Tedder
ProducersRyan Tedder
Noel Zancanella
Taylor Swift
1989 CHRONOLOGY
Welcome to New YorkBlank Space
Single Certification
Hidden Message
We begin our story in New York
Single Artwork
Instagram Teaser
Taylor Talks About the Song
Live Performance
Official Audio