"Slut!" (From The Vault)

Promotional Single | 1989 (Taylor's Version) [2023]

“‘Slut!'” (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault]” is a song written by Taylor, Jack Antonoff and Patrik Berger that appears on 1989 (Taylor’s Version),  her fourth re-recorded album. It was released on October 27, 2023. “‘Slut!'” sees Taylor reclaiming a word that was often hurled at her, especially in her early years in the spotlight.
Table of Contents

Background and Release

1989 (Taylor’s Version) marks the fourth in a series of albums that saw Taylor re-recording her Big Machine catalog. In comparison to the original albums that put money in the pockets of parties who purchased the masters to those records along with the label as a whole without Taylor’s permission, she fully owns these re-recordings. Previous re-recorded albums were Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and RED (Taylor’s Version), both released in 2021, as well as Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), which was released in July 2023. “’Slut!’” used to be one of Taylor’s many unreleased songs, although it had never been in rotation. Taylor revealed its upcoming release on September 20, 2023. On the day of the album’s release, “‘Slut!'” was released as a single with a distinct cover art and was sent to radio. On November 9, an acoustic version of the song was released as a bonus track of a deluxe edition of the album.

When listening to “‘Slut!'”, some context is needed. In the prologue for 1989 (Taylor’s Version) Taylor gave some insight into her songwriting process while making the original album back in 2013-2014. She writes about wanting to silence “the voices that had begun to shame me in new ways for dating like a normal young woman.”

«In the years preceding this, I had become the target of slut shaming — the intensity and relentlessness of which would be criticized and called out if it happened today. The jokes about my amount of boyfriends. The trivialization of my songwriting as if it were a predatory act of a boy crazy psychopath. The media co-signing of this narrative. I had to make it stop because it was starting to really hurt. It became clear to me that for me there was no such thing as casual dating, or even having a male friend who you platonically hang out with. If I was seen with him, it was assumed I was sleeping with him. And so I swore off hanging out with guys, dating, flirting or anything that could be weaponized against me by a culture that claimed to believe in liberating women but consistently treated me with the harsh moral codes of the Victorian Era.»

As a reaction, Taylor attempted to redirect the attention to her female friendships and how she felt that would’ve been a foolproof way to change the narrative, but that didn’t seem to be the case. “If I only hung out with my female friends, people couldn’t sensationalize or sexualize that — right? I would learn later on that people could and people would.”

Lyrical Theme

Some of Taylor’s biggest hits have come from when she’s explored her own doubts and how they play out in the spotlight. Famously, on “Blank Space” she pokes fun at the way the media portrayed her as a “crazy serial dater” at the time. “Slut!” was born from the same vein of sexist criticism. It references the relentless slut-shaming Taylor has experienced as a public figure over the years. But, like “Blank Space,” she uses the song title to flip the script on the public perception of her. She’s proudly, head-over-heels in love, and carefree about how the outside world views it. Taylor told Tumblr Music on October 27, 2023:

«The song ''Slut!'' is a song we wrote for 1989, and in it I sort of cheekily play on the discussions at that time in my life around my dating life. And that's not the only time on 1989 that I've done that, I did that on 'Blank Space'. And I think when I came down to having to pick songs for the album I think I thought, 'Okay, I'm gonna choose 'Blank Space'. And unfortunately, I had to make some tough decisions in terms of what to put on the tracklist. But I love this song because I think it's really dreamy.»

The song itself is an indication of what was going through Taylor’s mind during this time in her life and how she had to assuage the negative feelings that arose when, no matter what she did, the public theorized that she was a boy-crazy psychopath who couldn’t keep a man.

Production

Taylor originally wrote and produced “Slut!” with Jack Antonoff and Patrik Berger. The song’s dreamy mid-tempo groove shouts the romance to the world. According to Taylor, “Slut!” has more of a “California feeling” instead of a New York City vibe, which Taylor was going for with 1989:

«I always saw 1989 as a New York album but this song to me was always California. And maybe that's another reason it didn't make the cut. 'Cause sometimes, thematically, I just have these weird little rules in my head. But I'm so happy it's finally going to be something you guys hear because I have always been proud of it, I've always wanted it to come into the world. And now it is! So yay!»

This was Swedish songwriter and producer Patrik Berger’s only contribution to 1989. His other credits include Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own,” Icona Pop’s “I Love It” and Charli XCX’s “Boom Clap.”

Live Performance

Taylor first performed “Slut!” during her sixth headlining concert tour, “The Eras Tour” (2023-2024). It was the second surprise song during her show on November 12, 2023, in Buenos Aires (Argentina). She played it acoustically on piano.

Critical Reception

The song received generally positive reviews upon release. Angie Martoccio of Rolling Stone called the song a “stunner” and described it as “a hazy, shimmering ode to being unabashedly in love, even if you’re shamed and sexualized for it”. In a review by The Line of Best Fit‘s Kelsey Barnes, the track was the “most surprising” of the Vault tracks as it strayed away from the “‘Blank Space’ satirical tongue-in-cheek” anticipated by fans. Barnes proceeds to say that Taylor, who was slut-shamed in her twenties, shouting “‘Slut!'” and it reverberating across the song, was “empowering”. Similarly, Dani Maher of Harper’s Bazaar Australia said the song’s gentle and tender sound was a surprise as she expected a similar “sardonic smirk” approach of “Blank Space”. The PopMatters critic Jefferey Davis picked “‘Slut!'” as the most memorable vault tracks from the album.

Commercial Performance

After the album’s release, “‘Slut!'” peaked in the top ten on charts of Canada (No. 3), Australia (No. 4), New Zealand (No. 5), the United Kingdom (No. 5), Ireland (No. 6), and Singapore (No. 10). In the United States, it debuted and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 with 27 million streams, behind fellow album tracks “Is It Over Now?” and “Now That We Don’t Talk“. On the Billboard Global 200, the song reached No. 3, with 55 million streams.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
Flamingo pink
Sunrise Boulevard
Clink, clink
Being this young is art
Aquamarine
Moonlit swimming pool
What if all I need is you?

[Pre-Chorus 1]
Got love struck, went straight to my head
Got love sick all over my bed
Love to think you’ll never forget
Hand prints in wet cement
Adorned with smoke on my clothes
Lovelorn and nobody knows
Love thorns all over this rose
I’ll pay the price
You won’t

[Chorus]
But if I’m all dressed up
They might as well be looking at us
And if they call me a slut
You know, it might be worth it for once
And if I’m gonna be drunk
Might as well be drunk in love

[Verse 2]
Sent the code, he’s waiting there
The sticks and stones they throw froze mid-air
Everyone wants him
That was my crime
The wrong place at the right time
And I break down
Then he’s pulling me in
In a world of boys he’s a gentleman

[Pre-Chorus 2]
Got love struck, went straight to my head
Got love sick all over my bed
Love to think you’ll never forget
We’ll pay the price, I guess

[Chorus]
But if I’m all dressed up
They might as well be looking at us
And if they call me a slut
You know, it might be worth it for once
And if I’m gonna be drunk
Might as well be drunk in love

[Bridge]
Half asleep
Taking your time
In the tangerine neon light
This is luxury
You’re not saying you’re in love with me
But you’re going to
Half awake
Taking your chance
It’s a big mistake
Might blow up in your pretty face
I’m not saying, “Do it anyway”
But you’re going to

[Outro]
And if they call me a slut
You know, it might be worth it for once
And if I’m gonna be drunk
Might as well be drunk in love

General Information
ArtistTaylor Swift
Album1989 (Taylor’s Version)
ReleasedOctober 27, 2023
Written2012-2014
StudiosConway (Los Angeles, CA)
Electric Lady (New York, NY)
Rough Customer (Brooklyn, NY)
Sharp Sonics (Los Angeles, CA)
GenrePop
Length3:00
LabelRepublic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Jack Antonoff
Patrik Berger
ProducersTaylor Swift
Jack Antonoff
1989 CHRONOLOGY
New Romantics“Slut!”Say Don’t Go
Single Certification
Instagram Teaser
Single Artwork
Live Performance
Lyric Video
Official Audio
Acoustic Version