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22

Single | RED (2012) | RED (Taylor's Version) [2021]

“22” finds Taylor celebrating her early twenties by having fun with her friends. It is a bubblegum pop song from her fourth studio album, RED (2012). The re-recording of the song, “22 (Taylor’s Version)”, was released on November 12, 2021 on the album RED (Taylor’s Version). The song grew into a cultural phenomenon that marks the age as a milestone, resulting in the prominence of 22nd birthdays.
The song grew into a cultural phenomenon that marks the age as a milestone, resulting in the prominence of 22nd birthdays.

Background and Release

After writing her third studio album Speak Now (2010) entirely solo, Taylor opted to collaborate with different songwriters and producers for RED. Thus, she called Max Martin and Shellback, two songwriters and producers whose work she admired, to discuss a possible collaboration.

The song was officially supposed to impact contemporary hit radio in the U.S. on March 5, 2013, before being pushed back by one week to March 12, 2013, and in the UK on March 31, 2013. An exclusive limited edition individually numbered CD single was also released exclusively to Taylor’s store on March 13, 2013, the same day the music video was released and Taylor kicked off her third concert tour, “The RED Tour.”

Lyrical Theme

The song was written when Taylor celebrated her 22nd birthday in December of 2011. The hidden message in the album booklet is “Ashley, Dianna, Claire, Selena”. These are the four names of some of her friends. The song is however not only about the birthday celebrations but tells the coming-of-age story where Taylor is changing from a teen to an adult. It tells of the confusing times of being in your 20s where you are “happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time”. She told Billboard:

«For me, being 22 has been my favorite year of my life. I like all the possibilities of how you're still learning, but you know enough. You still know nothing, but you know that you know nothing. You're old enough to start planning your life, but you're young enough to know there are so many unanswered questions. That brings about a carefree feeling that is sort of based on indecision and fear and a the same time letting lose. Being 22 has taught me so much.»

Taylor Swift

Original Lyrics

In addition to, “It feels like a perfect night” originally being, “It seems like a perfect night,” a photo has surfaced of the page on which Taylor wrote the song, with these different lyrics written. They were likely part of the original bridge, since the final two lyrics carried over into the studio version.

Sometimes it hits me
We’re moving quickly
Toward something hazy
A future I can’t see
Let’s break the old rules
While we’re still 22
You look like bad news
I gotta have you

Critical Reception

“22” received positive reviews from critics. Idolator said “’22’ is a thunderous pop track kicking off with a twangy acoustic guitar riff before a propulsive beat that evokes Katy Perry‘s ‘Teenage Dream’ drops to make way for verses that are cute and likeably bratty”. Digital Spy said “”We’re happy free confused and lonely at the same time,” Swift acknowledges over perky guitars, before launching into an earworm chant of “twenty twooo-oo-oo” that will stubbornly swirl around your head for hours on end. She may have already achieved more during her youth than most do in their lifetime, but with one more pop smash to add to her repertoire, it seems she’s only just getting started.”, giving the song four out of five stars.

Commercial Performance

Several songs from RED, including “22”, charted in different countries due to strong digital sales following the release of the album. “22” debuted at No. 44 on United States Billboard Hot 100 chart, as well as at No. 7 on Billboard Hot Digital Songs chart with sales of 108,000. It later re-entered the Hot 100 at No. 84 on the chart week of January 12, 2013. When it was again released as a single, it reentered the charts at No. 64. “22” also debuted at No. 29 on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 chart and peaked at No. 20. It also managed to reach No. 9 on the UK Singles Chart.

Music Video

The music video for “22” was filmed in Malibu, California, in February 2013, and premiered on March 13, 2013. It was directed by Anthony Mandler, who had previously directed the music video for Taylor’s “I Knew You Were Trouble.“. The video, presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio format, shows Taylor bouncing on trampolines, playing on the beach and having a house party with her friends.

Taylor's Version

On August 6, 2021, Taylor announced that a re-recorded version of “22”, titled “22 (Taylor’s Version)”, would be included as the sixth track on her second re-recorded album RED (Taylor’s Version), which was released on November 12, 2021, through Republic Records.  She posted a snippet of the song on her Instagram story, along with “I Knew You Were Trouble (Taylor’s Version).” Speaking about the impact the song has had on millions of people, Taylor told Amazon Music:

«'22' is a song I wrote about exactly how I was feeling when I was 22 years old; I felt happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time, which I think is the way a lot of 22-year-olds feel, you know? We all feel that way all the time. So I brought this song to Max Martin and Sheelback, and I had written in on a plane ride and they loved the idea. And it just happened really fast! They were like, 'Oh my God, we get exactly where you wanna go with this.' I just wanted the most infectuous chorus and I feel it really does that. When somebody turns 22 and they in some way incorporate this song into their social media posts, or they dance to this song when they turn 22, it's the coolest feeling when I see that happen! And you know, I'm about to turn 32, so I'm sure I'm gonna be playing it at my birthday party.»

Taylor Swift

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
It feels like a perfect night to dress up like hipsters
And make fun of our exes (Oh oh, oh oh)
It feels like a perfect night for breakfast at midnight
To fall in love with strangers (Oh oh, oh oh)

[Pre-Chorus]
Yeah
We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time
It’s miserable and magical, oh yeah
Tonight’s the night when we forget about the deadlines
It’s time (Oh oh)

[Chorus]
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22
Everything will be alright if you keep me next to you
You don’t know about me, but I bet you wanted to
Everything will be alright if we just keep dancing like we’re 22, 22

[Verse 2]
It seems like one of those nights
This place is too crowded, too many cool kids, uh uh, uh uh
(Who’s Taylor Swift, anyway? Ew)
It seems like one of those nights
We ditch the whole scene and end up dreaming
Instead of sleeping

[Pre-Chorus]
Yeah
We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely in the best way
It’s miserable and magical, oh yeah
Tonight’s the night when we forget about the heartbreaks
It’s time (Oh oh)

[Chorus]
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22
Everything will be alright if you keep me next to you
You don’t know about me, but I bet you wanted to
Everything will be alright if we just keep dancing like we’re 22, 22
I don’t know about you, 22, 22

[Bridge]
It feels like one of those nights
We ditch the whole scene
It feels like one of those nights
We won’t be sleeping
It feels like one of those nights
You look like bad news, I gotta have you
I gotta have you

[Chorus]
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22
Everything will be alright if you keep me next to you
You don’t know about me, but I bet you wanted to
Everything will be alright if we just keep dancing like we’re 22, 22
Dancing like 22 (Yeah)
22 (Yeah, yeah)

[Outro]
It feels like one of those nights
We ditch the whole scene
It feels like one of those nights
We won’t be sleeping
It feels like one of those nights
You look like bad news, I gotta have you
I gotta have you

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General Information
AlbumsRED
RED (Taylor’s Version)
ReleasedOctober 22, 2012
Re-ReleasedNovember 12, 2021
StudioConway (Los Angeles)
MXM (Stockholm)
GenreBubblegum Pop
Length3:50
LabelsBig Machine Records
Republic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Max Martin
Shellback
ProducersMax Martin (original)
Shellback
Christopher Rowe
Taylor Swift
RED CHRONOLOGY
All Too Well22I Almost Do
Single Certification
Hidden Message
Ashley Dianna Claire Selena
Single Artwork
Original Lyrics
Music Video
Live Performance
Lyric Video
Official Audio
Original Audio