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Only The Young

Promotional Single featured in Miss Americana | 2020

“Only The Young” is a song written and produced by Taylor and Joel Little. It incorporates political lyrics, urging young citizens to get involved in politics, alluding to President Donald Trump, the 2016 presidential election and mass shootings in the United States. The song was released by Republic Records on January 31, 2020, alongside Miss Americana, a Netflix documentary that follows Taylor’s life and career over several years, where the song is featured in the ending credits.

Background and Lyrical Theme

Taylor wrote “Only The Young” after the 2018 United States midterm elections. Prior to the elections, Taylor broke her political silence by endorsing two Democrats: Congressman Jim Cooper for re-election to the House of Representatives, and former Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen for the Senate. Taylor also criticized the voting record of Bredesen’s opponent, Republican Marsha Blackburn. Taylor told Variety ahead of the song’s release:

«It was hard to see so many people feel like they had canvassed and done everything and tried so hard. I saw a lot of young people's hopes dashed. And I found that to be particularly tragic, because young people are the people who feel the worst effects of gun violence, and student loans and trying to figure out how to start their lives and how to pay their bills, and climate change, and are we going to war — all these horrific situations that we find ourselves facing right now.»

Taylor Swift
During the writing sessions for her seventh studio album Lover (2019), Taylor co-wrote and co-produced several songs with Joel Little, including the political track “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince“, which inspired the name of Taylor’s Netflix documentary. However, she held back “Only The Young” from being included on the album because she felt its message needed its own moment.

Critical Reception

“Only the Young” received acclaim from music critics. Chris Willman of Variety termed the song as “an anthem for millennials who might’ve come away disillusioned with the political process”. Entertainment Weekly writer Lauren Huff dubbed it a “political anthem” with lyrics aimed at American youth. Billboard’s Gil Kaufman called the song an “urgent, clear-eyed” tune that sees Taylor “giving voice to her disillusionment about our stuck society”. He described the song’s theme as “a sad concession and a defiant warning” to older generations, that “their greed and failure to act has given rise to a youth movement determined to turn the page.”

Commercial Performance

In the United States, buoyed by 30,000 sales in its first week, “Only The Young” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Digital Song Sales chart, becoming Taylor’s record-extending 19th number-one song on the chart. Despite not being a single, the song also debuted at No. 50 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming her ninety-seventh Hot 100 entry.

Usage in the Biden/Harris 2020 Campaign

“Only The Young” was soundtracked in an advertisement as a part of Democratic campaigns in the 2020 United States presidential elections. Californian representative Eric Swalwell revealed that Taylor allowed the usage of the song for the Biden/Harris campaign free-of-cost, marking the first time she has lended her music to be used in a political advertisement.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
It keeps me awake, the look on your face
The moment you heard the news
You’re screaming inside and frozen in time
You did all that you could do
The game was rigged, the ref got tricked
The wrong ones think they’re right
You were outnumbered this time

[Chorus]
But only the young, only the young
Only the young, only the young
Can run

Can run
So run, and run, and run

[Verse 2]
So every day now
You brace for the sound you’ve only heard on TV
You go to class, scared
Wondering where the best hiding spot would be
And the big bad man and his big bad clan
Their hands are stained with red
Oh, how quickly they forget

[Bridge]
They aren’t gonna help us
Too busy helping themselves
They aren’t gonna change this (We gotta do it ourselves)
They think that it’s over
But it’s just begun (Only one thing can save us)

Only the young (Only the young)
Only the young (Only the young)
Only the young (Only the young)
Only the young

[Chorus]
Only the young (Only the young)
Only the young (Only the young)
Only the young (Only the young)
Only the young

[Final Chorus]
Only the young (Only the young; Don’t say you’re too tired to fight)
Only the young (Only the young; It’s just a matter of time)
Only the young (Only the young; Up there’s the finish line)
Only the young
Can run

Don’t say you’re too tired to fight
It’s just a matter of time (Can run)
Up there’s the finish line (So run, and run, and run)
Don’t say you’re too tired to fight
It’s just a matter of time (So run)
Up there’s the finish line (And run, and run, and run)

[Outro]
Only the young
Only the young
Only the young

General Information
ReleasedJanuary 31, 2020
Recorded2018
StudioElectric Lady (NYC)
GenreElectro Pop
Length2:37
LabelRepublic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Joel Little
ProducersJoel Little
Taylor Swift
Making of
Lyric Video
Official Audio
Related Content

Miss Americana