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I Don't Wanna Live Forever

Lead Single | Fifty Shades Darker: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2016)

“I Don’t Wanna Live Forever”, alternatively titled “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)”, is a sultry electro-R&B ballad recorded by Taylor and English singer Zayn. It was written by Taylor, Sam Dew and Jack Antonoff. The song was released as the lead single from the Fifty Shades Darker movie soundtrack on December 9, 2016.
“I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” was Taylor’s only release in 2016, and the first new material since her fifth studio album, 1989 (2014).

Background and Release

Zayn was already working on the song when he reached out to Taylor, asking her to jump on the track. “Taylor heard an unfinished version of ‘I Don’t Wanna Live Forever’ and was immediately inspired to go into the studio, finish writing the song and lend her vocals to the track,” a source said at the time. Producer Jack Antonoff elaborated on the process, saying:

«'I Don't Wanna Live Forever' came together very quickly. Wrote it with Taylor and Sam Dew and produced it at home mostly on Paper Sounds…recorded Taylor at my house. Zayn sent parts from LA – we did it in a week basically. I've never had something come out that quick.»

Jack Antonoff
Though the song was a surprise collaboration to many, Taylor and the former One Direction star already had two connections: She had a much documented relationship with Zayn’s 1D bandmate Harry Styles during the winter of 2012-13, and Zayn’s then-girlfriend, Gigi Hadid, is one of Taylor’s close friends. Taylor spoke about her collaborator in a behind-the-scenes video:

«I've known Zayn for a really long time. I think his voice is one of those that is really rare and I think he's really special and wonderful and it's really, really amazing to get to work together. It's amazing when you get to work with people who you hang out with because the question of 'Will we get along?' is already answered. 'Yeah, we'll get along. It's Zayn. We hang out, like, it's fine.' He's also incredibly talented and I feel really lucky to get to do this song that I'm really proud of with him."»

Taylor Swift
“I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” was released without notice on iTunes, shortly before midnight on December 8, 2016. It quickly went to No. 1 on that tally. International success followed.

Lyrical Theme

“I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” seems to mirror the plot of the book Fifty Shades Darker, in which one main character is estranged from the other and eventually gives the relationship another chance. Since it is a duet between Zayn and Taylor, the lyrics represent the two different sides of the relationship. More generally speaking, it is a sultry ode about feeling like life is hopeless without an ex-lover.

Music Video

The official music video for “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” takes place on a rainy night in London at the St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel. It was directed by Grant Singer, produced by Saul Germaine and released on January 27, 2017 through both Zayn’s and Taylor’s official YouTube accounts at the same time, and was later uploaded through the official Fifty Shades Vevo account as well. The one uploaded on Taylor’s channel has more than 670 million views as of September 2022. It was named the fourth best music video of 2017 by Vevo.

Live Performances

Taylor first performed “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” acoustically as a part of her set list for DirectTV‘s Super Saturday Night event on February 4, 2017. She later performed the song at KIIS FM’s “Jingle Bell Ball” in Los Angeles (December 1) and Capital FM’s “Jingle Bell Ball” in London (December 10). She also included the song in the B-stage portion at her second Manchester performance of her “reputation Stadium Tour” in 2018.

Critical Reception

“I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” received highly positive reviews from music critics. Nolan Feenery of Entertainment Weekly gave it a B+ rating: “Welcome to Taylor Swift’s Sexy Side.” He also praised the vocals of both artists. In June 2022, Insider ranked “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” as Taylor’s second best soundtrack song, only behind “Safe & Sound“.

Commercial Performance

Upon release, the song was only available on iTunes and Tidal. It was serviced to Spotify two weeks later. In the United States, “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” sold 188,000 copies in its first week, in addition to a 25 million radio audience and 3 million streams. It debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was Taylor’s 20th top 10, making her the 16th artist and sixth woman to do so. It also debuted at No. 1 on the Digital Songs chart, as Taylor’s 11th song to top the chart, tying her with Katy Perry for the second-most in the chart’s history, behind Rihanna.

The song later reached a new peak of No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, behind Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” with 109 million radio audience and 25.7 million streams, becoming Taylor’s 11th top 5 single, and the highest-charting “Fifty Shades” single.

Across European charts, the song debuted at No. 1 in Spain and Sweden, becoming Taylor’s first number-one single in both countries. It reached the top 10 in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

“I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” has over 1 billion streams on Spotify.

Accolades

“I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” received a nomination for “Best Collaboration” at the 2017 Radio Disney Music Awards and won the award for “Best Collaboration” at the 2017 MTV Millennial Awards. It was also nominated for “Choice Music Collaboration” award at the Teen Choice Awards 2017. The music video won the MTV Video Music Award for “Best Collaboration” at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards. Finally, “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” was nominated for “Best Song Written for Visual Media” at the 2018 Grammy Awards.

Lyrics

[Verse 1: Zayn]
Been sitting eyes wide open behind these four walls, hoping you’d call
It’s just a cruel existence like there’s no point hoping at all

[Pre-chorus 1: Zayn]
Baby, baby, I feel crazy
Up all night, all night and every day
Give me something, oh, but you say nothing
What is happening to me?

[Chorus: Zayn]
I don’t wanna live forever, ’cause I know I’ll be living in vain
And I don’t wanna fit wherever
I just wanna keep calling your name until you come back home
I just wanna keep calling your name until you come back home
I just wanna keep calling your name until you come back home

[Verse 2: Taylor Swift]
I’m sitting eyes wide open and I got one thing stuck in my mind
Wondering if I dodged a bullet or just lost the love of my life (Oh)

[Pre-chorus 2: Taylor Swift]
Baby, baby, I feel crazy
Up all night, all night and every day
I gave you something, but you gave me nothing
What is happening to me?

[Chorus: Zayn, Taylor Swift & Both]
I don’t wanna live forever, ’cause I know I’ll be living in vain
And I don’t wanna fit (Fit, babe) wherever (Wherever)
I just wanna keep calling your name until you come back home
I just wanna keep calling your name until you come back home
I just wanna keep calling your name until you come back home

[Bridge: Taylor Swift, Zayn & Both]
I’ve been looking sad in all the nicest places (Baby, baby, I feel crazy)
I see you around in all these empty faces (Up all night, all night and every day)
I’ve been looking sad in all the nicest places (Give me something, oh, but you say nothing)
Now I’m in a cab, I tell ’em where your place is
What is happening to me?

[Chorus: Zayn, Taylor Swift & Both]
I don’t wanna live forever, ’cause I know I’ll be living in vain
And I don’t wanna fit wherever
I just wanna keep calling your name until you come back home
I just wanna keep calling your name until you come back home
I just wanna keep calling your name until you come back home
I just wanna keep calling your name until you come back home
I just wanna keep calling your name until you come back home

[Outro: Taylor Swift & Zayn]
I just wanna keep calling your name until you come back home
Until you come back home

General Information
ReleasedDecember 9, 2016
Recorded2016
StudioRough Customer (Brooklyn)
Record Plant (Los Angeles)
GenreElectro R&B
Length4:05
LabelRepublic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Sam Dew
Jack Antonoff
ProducerJack Antonoff
Single Certification
Taylor & Zayn
Mini Vlog
Music Video
Live Performance
Lyric Video
Making of