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Message In A Bottle (From The Vault)

RED (Taylor's Version) [2021]

“Message In A Bottle (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault]” is a 1980s-influenced electropop song with synthesizers and a pulsating bass. It was written by Taylor, Max Martin and Shellback and recorded for her album RED (Taylor’s Version) [2021], which is a re-recording of her 2012 album RED. The song was serviced to US radio as a single in November 2021, after the album’s release.
A “message in a bottle” is a form of communication used by castaways looking for rescue. Similarly, Taylor uses it to express her readiness for commitment to someone seemingly far away, specifically London (England). With the outro’s lyrics differing from those in the chorus, it seems that the song is an actual “message in a bottle” to her potential lover.

Background and Release

Following the dispute regarding her masters, Taylor announced RED (Taylor’s Version), a re-recording of her 2012 album RED, on June 18, 2021. Alongside the deluxe edition of the album, she revealed she would release nine songs, all dubbed “From The Vault” that did not make the 2012 album. On August 5, 2021, Taylor released a 30-second teaser on social media featuring jumbled letters that, when decoded, revealed the song titles and collaborators from the previously unreleased songs to be included on the album. One of the nine tracks was “Message In A Bottle (Taylor’s Version) [From The Vault]”, announced shortly afterwards as the twenty-fifth song from the album.

On January 21, 2022, a remix of the song called “Message In A Bottle (Fat Max G Remix) (Taylor’s Version)” was released.

Lyrical Theme

Taylor teased the concept of “Message In A Bottle” back in 2012, even though she never said she had written a song about it: “Songs for me are like a message in a bottle. You send them out into the world and maybe the person who you feel that way about will hear about it someday.” Thematically, the song seems to be a prequel to fellow RED track “Come Back… Be Here,” which talks about Taylor struggling to have a long-distance relationship with someone who lived in London at the time. In 2021, she told Amazon Music:

«'Message In A Bottle' is such a fun song! It is so catchy and the melody is really contagious. Max Martin, Shellback and I...that was the first song we ever wrote together. We went on to write songs like 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,' 'I Knew You Were Trouble.' and '22' and we felt like those songs really represented what we were doing on RED. We kept saying that somewhere down the line we'd put out 'Message In A Bottle' because we loved it so much and this is the first opportunity that we have to show it to the world. We're all really excited about it!»

Taylor Swift
“Message In A Bottle” is the only one of the “From The Vault” songs on RED (Taylor’s Version) to have been co-written by Martin and Shellback, who worked with Taylor on the RED singles “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together“, “I Knew You Were Trouble.“, and “22“. It was the first song she wrote with them.

Composition

“Message In A Bottle” is one of the most dynamic pop songs that Taylor has ever composed, sounding like it could be a track on her own pop blockbuster, 2014’s 1989. Shellback and Elvira Anderfjärd jointly produced the song, with Shellback playing guitar on the track, while Anderfjärd performs on bass and drums. Both also contributed keyboards to the song.

Critical Reception

“Message In A Bottle” was generally positively received by critics. Writing for NME, Hannah Mylrea called the song a “effervescent nugget of pure-pop”. Paul Bridgewater of The Line of Best Fit labeled the track “A-grade Swift”, saying that it “would fit easily on RED‘s follow-up 1989“. In iHeartRadio, Ariel King opined that “while the track maintains the theme of RED, where Swift worked through intense heartache, the upbeat instrumentals within the single just may be the song that bridged her into 1989.” Ranking “Message In A Bottle” third among the nine RED (Taylor’s Version) that were previously unreleased, Billboard writer Jason Lipshutz called the song a “compact, propulsive dance track that carries the same energy (and crackling charm) as the hits that pushed Swift’s sound toward mainstream pop leading into 2014’s 1989“. For Variety, Chris Willman gave the song a 4/5 rating, expressing surprise that the track was initially excluded from RED, calling it “a strong shot for hit single status” and “thoroughly infectious”.

Commercial Performance

With three days of tracking, “Message In A Bottle” debuted at No. 36 on Billboard’s Adult Top 40 airplay chart dated November 20, 2021, marking Taylor’s thirty-sixth entry on that chart. It was the most requested song from RED (Taylor’s Version) across iHeartRadio stations within the album’s first release week. It peaked at No. 13 on the Adult Top 40, No. 26 on the Mainstream Top 40, and No. 45 on the Billboard Hot 100. In Canada, “Message In A Bottle” was the most added song on pop radio for the week of November 27, 2021, peaking at No. 33.

Accolades

“Message In A Bottle” has been shortlisted for the “10 Songs I Wish I’d Written” award, presented by the Nashville Songwriters Assiciation International. Each year, the highly-coveted awards are voted on by professional members of the NSAI honoring the work of their songwriter peers. Taylor has previously won in this category with her 2019 song “Lover.”

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
I know that you like me
And it’s kinda frightening standin’ here waitin’, waitin’
And I became hypnotized by freckles and bright eyes, tongue-tied

[Pre-Chorus]
But now you’re so far away
And I’m down feelin’ like a face in the crowd
I’m reachin’ for you, terrified

[Chorus]
‘Cause you could be the one that I love
I could be the one that you dream of
Message in a bottle is all I can do
Standin’ here, hopin’ it gets to you
You could be the one that I keep
And I can be the reason you can’t sleep at night
Mеssage in a bottle is all I can do
Standin’ herе, hopin’ it gets to you

[Verse 2]
These days I’m restless, workdays are endless
Look how you made me, made me
But time moves faster, replaying your laughter, disaster

[Pre-Chorus]
‘Cause now you’re so far away
And I’m down feelin’ like a face in the crowd
I’m reachin’ for you, terrified

[Chorus]
‘Cause you could be the one that I love
I could be the one that you dream of
Message in a bottle is all I can do
Standin’ here, hopin’ it gets to you
You could be the one that I keep
And I can be the reason you can’t sleep at night
Message in a bottle is all I can do
Standin’ here, hopin’ it gets to you

[Bridge]
How is it in London?
Where are you while I’m wondering if I’ll ever see you again?
You could be the one that I love (Mmm)
And now I’m standin’ here, hopin’ it gets to you

[Chorus]
‘Cause you could be the one that I love
I could be the one that you dream of
Message in a bottle is all I can do
Standin’ here, hopin’ it gets to you
You could be the one that I keep
And I can be the reason you can’t sleep at night (You can’t sleep at night)
Message in a bottle is all I can do
Standin’ here, hopin’ it gets to you

[Outro]
You could be the one that I love
You could be the one that I love, my love
And now I’m standin’, here hopin’ this gets to you

General Information
AlbumRED (Taylor’s Version)
ReleasedNovember 12, 2021
Recorded2021
Written2010-2012
StudioKitty Committee (Belfast, UK)
House Mouse (Stockholm, SE)
GenrePop
Length3:45
LabelRepublic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Max Martin
Shellback
ProducersShellback
Elvira Anderfjärd
RED CHRONOLOGY
BabeMessage In A BottleI Bet You Think About Me
Single Certification
Single Artwork
Lyric Video
Official Audio
Remix Lyric Video
Remix Audio