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Wildest Dreams

Single | 1989 (2014)

“Wildest Dreams” is a pop ballad and the fifth single from Taylor’s fifth studio album, 1989 (2014). It talks about Taylor hoping her lover will remember her well after their relationship ends. The re-recording of the song, “Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version)”, was released on September 17, 2021.

Background and Release

1989 was inspired by 1980s synth-pop. The album’s electronic production using synthesizers, programmed drums, and processed backing vocals marked a departure from the country styles of Taylor’s previous releases. For the majority of 1989, she worked with Swedish producer Max Martin. Martin and his frequent collaborator Shellback produced seven out of thirteen songs on the album’s standard edition, including “Wildest Dreams”. The album was released in October 2014 to commercial success, selling over one million copies within a week.

Taylor announced on August 5, 2015, that “Wildest Dreams” would be the fifth single from 1989, following four Billboard Hot 100 top-10 and pop songs airplay No. 1 singles: “Shake It Off“, “Blank Space“, “Style” and “Bad Blood“. The single was supported by a remix by R3hab, released for digital download on October 15, 2015.

Lyrical Theme and Production

Taylor co-wrote “Wildest Dreams” with producers Max Martin and Shellback. Musically, the song is a synth-pop and dream pop power ballad that incorporates an atmospheric production equipped with string instruments and Taylor’s heartbeat as its beat. The lyrics describe her plea for her lover to remember her well despite the inevitable end of their relationship. She has said the following on the song:

«I think the way I used to approach relationships was very idealistic. I used to go into them thinking, ‘Maybe this is the one – we’ll get married and have a family, this could be forever’. Whereas now I go in thinking, ‘How long do we have on the clock – before something comes along and puts a wrench in it, or your publicist calls and says this isn’t a good idea?’»

Taylor Swift

Live Performances

Taylor performed a stripped-down rendition of “Wildest Dreams” on an electric guitar as part of the “Taylor Swift Experience” exhibition at the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live on September 30, 2015. She included the song on the set list of the “1989 World Tour” (2015), where she performed “Wildest Dreams” as part of a mashup with “Enchanted“, a song from her third studio album, Speak Now (2010).

Music Video

The accompanying music video was directed by Joseph Kahn, who had previously assumed the role for the music videos for the singles “Blank Space” and “Bad Blood” from 1989. The music video was filmed primarily in the Serengeti plain in Tanzania, with additional shots filmed in Los Angeles. The video premiered on television during the pre-show of the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards on August 31, 2015. Scott Eastwood appeared in the video as Taylor’s love interest.

In the video, Taylor plays a fictional actress named Majorie Finn which is a reference to her grandmother, Majorie Finlay (to whom she dedicated the song “marjorie” on her ninth studio album, evermore). Eastwood plays a fictional actor named Robert Kingsley, combining Taylor’s grandfather’s name Robert and her father’s middle name Kingsley. Taylor came up with the concept after reading The Secret Conversations (2013), a memoir book of actress Ava Gardner who co-wrote it with journalist Peter Evans. Her premise for the video was that in the 1950s, it would be impossible for actors to not fall in love if they were isolated together in Africa. Taylor donated all of the proceeds from the video to wild animal conservation efforts through the African Parks Foundation of America.

Critical Reception

Contemporary critics received “Wildest Dreams” with mixed reviews. Sputnikmusic called the song an “impassioned piece” and wrote, “all it really proves is that Swift is capable of taking the contemporary influences around her and molding them into something impressively original.” In a review by The New York Times, Jon Caramanica noted that this song contained the “most pronounced vocal tweak” on the album and how “at the bridge, she skips up an octave, sputtering out bleats of ecstasy, before retreating back under the covers”. Jem Aswad of Billboard was somewhat disappointed with the production, which they found to be similar to the music of Lana Del Rey, saying: “it’s hard to tell if the song is homage or parody.” Annie Galvin from Slant Magazine similarly regarded the song as a “misguided” imitation of Del Rey, but praised Taylor’s vocals that complement the narrative lyrics.

Retrospectively, Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone wrote that the song “sounds stronger and stronger over the years”. NME critic Hannah Mylrae called the song a “synth-pop beauty”, and Nate Jones from New York considered “Wildest Dreams” one of Taylor’s ten strongest songs in her catalog, describing its “invigorating double-time bridge” as the best on 1989.  In a 2021 list ranking the best song bridges of the 21st-century, Billboard placed “Wildest Dreams” at No. 66.

Commercial Performance

“Wildest Dreams” first charted at No. 76 on the Billboard Hot 100 as an album cut from 1989 in November 2014. Following its release as an official single, “Wildest Dreams” re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 15 on the chart dated September 19, 2015. It reached No. 10 on the chart dated October 10, 2015, becoming 1989‘s fifth consecutive top-ten hit. The single peaked at No. 5 on the chart dated November 7, 2015, when it reached No. 1 on Billboard‘s pop airplay-focused charts: Mainstream Top 40 and Adult Top 40. With this achievement, 1989 became the album with the most Adult Top 40 No. 1 songs (5), tying with Katy Perry’s 2010 album Teenage Dream. On Billboard‘s Dance/Mix Show Airplay chart, the single became Taylor’s first No. 1, supported by the R3hab remix. Taylor became the first female artist to score five Dance/Mix top-10 hits in a calendar year, with 1989‘s four previous singles all reaching the top 10.

“Wildest Dreams” peaked within the top five on record charts of Australia (3), Poland (3), Canada (4), and South Africa (5).

Accolades

“Wildest Dreams” was one of the award-winning songs at the 2016 BMI Awards, where Taylor was honored as the “Songwriter of the Year.” It was also awarded at the 2017 ASCAP Awards for the songwriters, Taylor, Martin and Shellback.

Taylor's Version

Following a dispute with her old label Big Machine Records in 2019 over the rights to the masters of her first six albums, including 1989, Taylor announced her goal to re-record each of these albums. The first snippet of “Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version)” was featured in the trailer for the 2021 animated film Spirit Untamed, released on March 12, 2021. A longer one minute and fifty-nine second clip was uploaded to DreamWorks‘ official YouTube channel on May 17, 2021.

On September 17, Taylor posted another snippet of the song’s bridge, this time on her TikTok account, as part of a trend involving the original version that was gaining traction on the platform, captioned: “If you guys want to use my version of ‘Wildest Dreams’ for the slow zoom trend, here she is!”, followed by “Felt cute, might drop the whole song later”, hinting at the song’s forthcoming release. The song was subsequently made available to streaming platforms approximately an hour after the TikTok post.

In under four hours of its release, “Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version)” amassed over 2 million streams on Spotify, handily surpassing the previous record for the biggest single-day streams of the original “Wildest Dreams” (2014) on the platform, which had been set and reset only days ago. The song went on to debut with 3.42M streams on Spotify, a feat that it achieved in just under 11 hours since it’s release.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
He said, “Let’s get out of this town
Drive out of this city, away from the crowds”
I thought, heaven can’t help me now
Nothing lasts forever
But this is gonna take me down

[Pre-Chorus 1]
He’s so tall and handsome as hell
He’s so bad, but he does it so well
I can see the end as it begins
My one condition is

[Chorus]
Say you’ll remember me
Standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset, babe
Red lips and rosy cheeks, say you’ll see me again
Even if it’s just in your
Wildest dreams, ah-aah ha
Wildest dreams, ah-aah ha

[Verse 2]
I said, “No one has to know what we do”
His hands are in my hair, his clothes are in my room
And his voice is a familiar sound, nothing lasts forever
But this is getting good now

[Pre-Chorus 2]
He’s so tall and handsome as hell
He’s so bad, but he does it so well
And when we’ve had our very last kiss
My last request is

[Chorus]
Say you’ll remember me
Standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset, babe
Red lips and rosy cheeks, say you’ll see me again
Even if it’s just in your
Wildest dreams, ah-aah ha
Wildest dreams, ah-aah ha

[Bridge] (x2)
You see me in hindsight
Tangled up with you all night
Burning it down
Someday when you leave me
I bet these memories
Follow you around

[Chorus – Variation]
Say you’ll remember me
Standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset, babe
Red lips and rosy cheeks, say you’ll see me again
Even if it’s just pretend

[Chorus]
Say you’ll remember me
Standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset, babe
Red lips and rosy cheeks, say you’ll see me again
Even if it’s just in your
Wildest dreams, ah-aah ha
Wildest dreams, ah-aah ha

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General Information
Albums1989
1989 (Taylor’s Version)
ReleasedOctober 27, 2014
Re-ReleasedSeptember 17, 2021
Written2013-2014
StudioConway (Los Angeles)
MXM (Stockholm)
GenreDream Pop
Length3:40
LabelsBig Machine Records
Republic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Max Martin
Shellback
ProducersMax Martin (original)
Shellback
Christopher Rowe
Taylor Swift
1989 CHRONOLOGY
Bad BloodWildest DreamsHow You Get The Girl
Single Certification
Hidden Message
He only saw her in his dreams
Single Artwork
Instagram Teaser
Original Lyrics
Music Video
Live Performance
Acoustic Live Performance
Official Audio
Original Audio