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Treacherous

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

“Treacherous” is the third track on Taylor’s fourth studio album, RED (2012). She uses the word to describe a potential relationship that might be harmful and possibly deceptive. The re-recording of the song, “Treacherous (Taylor’s Version)”, was released on November 12, 2021 on the album RED (Taylor’s Version).

Background

Taylor released her third studio album, Speak Now, in October 2010. She wrote the album entirely by herself and co-produced it with Nathan Chapman, her longtime collaborator. The album musically expands on the country pop sound of her two previous albums, with elements of radio-friendly pop crossover that had been evident on its predecessor Fearless (2008). On Speak Now‘s follow-up, RED, Taylor aimed to experiment beyond her previous albums’ formulaic country pop sound. One of the resulting collaborations was “Treacherous”, which was produced by Dan Wilson who also worked with her on “Come Back…Be Here.”

Lyrical Theme

“Treacherous” was written by Taylor and Dan Wilson. Taylor first started working on the song based only on the idea that she wanted to use the word. She describes realizing that this relationship was moving extremely fast, and might be unhealthy. She told Taste of Country:

«I wrote ‘Treacherous’ with Dan Wilson, and we came up with a way to say, you know, ‘This is dangerous and I realize that I might get hurt if I go through with this, if I move forward with you. But…but I want to.’ You know? It’s like that kind of conflicted feeling of it being a risk every time you fall in love – especially with certain types of people. That was a song that I’m really proud of because it’s got this bridge that sounds like a second chorus. It’s got all these big vocals, and it’s kind of the intensity of that moment when you’re deciding to let yourself fall in love with someone.»

Taylor Swift
The secret message for “Treacherous” featured in the RED album booklet is, “Won’t stop ‘till it’s over,” a lyric featured on The Temper Trap’s song “Sweet Disposition.” Another time, Taylor further elaborated on the song’s meaning which seems to connect it to “I Knew You Were Trouble.“: “That song was about a person that I knew from the minute I saw him, that it would end in fiery, burning wreckage. There’s something about that magnetic draw that doesn’t really let up. You walk toward it anyway.”

Her co-writer Dan Wilson explained: “It’s like deliberately putting yourself so close to someone that you will inevitably fall into their arms. Taking command of the situation by letting go of all command.”

Live Performances

Taylor first performed “Treacherous” during her Google+ live chat when she announced the RED album on August 13, 2012. She performed an acoustic version of the song at her mom‘s residence in Nashville, TN. Taylor also included “Treacherous” on the regular set list of “The RED Tour” (2013-2014). Later, she sang the track as a “surprise song” at her “reputation Stadium Tour” show in Philadelphia on July 14, 2018.

Critical Reception

“Treacherous” was critically acclaimed by music critics, who complimented Taylor for her songwriting, comparing the song to her work on her third album, Speak Now (2010). Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone wrote, “Taylor braves the ski slopes of love, with a seething acoustic guitar that finally detonates halfway though. A weird sonic detail: if you play this immediately after Joni Mitchell’s ‘People’s Parties,’ the transition is almost frighteningly perfect.” Insider wrote in 2017, “This song has everything you could ever want from a Swiftian love song: there’s tension in the opening line; car imagery that leads back to her lover; impactful line changes; and one of the tightest couplets of her career (“And I’ll do anything you say / If you say it with your hands / And I’d be smart to walk away / But you’re quicksand”). All of that adds up to it being a brilliantly written song that exemplifies exactly why Taylor is one of the best songwriters of her generation.”

Commercial Performance

Upon the release of RED (Taylor’s Version), “Treacherous (Taylor’s Version)” debuted and peaked at No. 54 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the week ending November 26, 2021.

Taylor's Version

On August 6, 2021, Taylor announced that a re-recorded version of “Treacherous”, titled “Treacherous (Taylor’s Version)”, would be included as the third track on her second re-recorded album, RED (Taylor’s Version), which was released on November 12, 2021, through Republic Records.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
Put your lips close to mine, as long as they don’t touch
Out of focus, eye to eye till the gravity’s too much
And I’ll do anything you say, if you say it with your hands
And I’d be smart to walk away, but you’re quicksand

[Chorus]
This slope is treacherous
This path is reckless
This slope is treacherous
And I, I, I like it

[Verse 2]
I can’t decide if it’s a choice, getting swept away
I hear the sound of my own voice asking you to stay
And all we are is skin and bone, trained to get along
Forever going with the flow, but you’re friction

[Chorus]
This slope is treacherous
This path is reckless
This slope is treacherous
I, I, I like it

[Bridge]
Two headlights shine through the sleepless night
And I will get you, will get you alone
Your name has echoed through my mind
And I just think you should, think you should know
That nothing safe is worth the drive
And I would follow you, follow you home
I’ll follow you, follow you home

[Chorus]
This hope is treacherous
This daydream is dangerous
This hope is treacherous
I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I

[Bridge]
Two headlights shine through the sleepless night
And I will get you, will get you alone
Your name has echoed through my mind
And I just think you should, think you should know
That nothing safe is worth the drive
And I would follow you, follow you home
I’ll follow you, follow you home
I’ll follow you, follow you home
I’ll follow you, follow you home

[Outro]
This slope is treacherous
I, I, I like it

General Information
AlbumsRED
RED (Taylor’s Version)
ReleasedOctober 22, 2012
Re-ReleasedNovember 12, 2021
StudiosBallroom West (Los Angeles)
Marlay (North Hollywood)
Instrument Landing (Minneapolis)
GenreCountry Rock
Length4:02
LabelsBig Machine Records
Republic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Dan Wilson
ProducerDan Wilson
RED CHRONOLOGY
RedTreacherousI Knew You Were Trouble.
Hidden Message
Won’t stop till it’s over
Song Artwork
Live Performance
Lyric Video
Taylor's Version
Original Audio
Original Demo Recording