Carolina (Taylor Swift song)

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Cover artwork of "Carolina"
Promotional single by Taylor Swift
from the album Where the Crawdads Sing (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
ReleasedJune 24, 2022 (2022-06-24)
Songwriter(s)Taylor Swift
Lyric video
"Carolina" on YouTube

"Carolina" is a song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift for the soundtrack of 2022 murder mystery film Where the Crawdads Sing. Released via Republic Records on June 24, 2022, the song is titled after the Carolinas region in the United States, and sung from the perspective of the film's protagonist, Kya.

Produced by Swift and Aaron Dessner, "Carolina" is a downtempo Americana ballad, particularly in an Appalachian folk style, with country and bluegrass inflections. It is driven by acoustic instruments of the early 1950s. Upon release, "Carolina" was met with strong acclaim from music critics, most of whom felt the song's ambience matched the film's atmosphere, and is reminiscent of Swift's 2020 indie folk albums, Folklore and Evermore. Reviews commended "Carolina" for Swift's vocals, songwriting style, and the overall "haunting" mood. It has been nominated for Best Song Written for Visual Media at the forthcoming 65th Annual Grammy Awards.

Background and release[edit]

Where the Crawdads Sing is an American mystery thriller drama film starring Daisy Edgar-Jones in the lead role, directed by Olivia Newman and produced by Reese Witherspoon. It is a film adaptation of the 2018 novel of the same name written by American author Delia Owens. The story is set in the 1950s, revolving around an abandoned girl named Kya, who grew up in a marsh in North Carolina and becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a man who once romantically pursued her.[1]

The first trailer for the film was released on March 22, 2022, and featured "Carolina" being played in the background. The trailer also revealed that the song was written and performed by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift.[2] Another snippet of the song was revealed through a longer trailer of the film on May 22, 2022.[3][4] The release date of the song was teased by the film's official Instagram account, when they made a series of posts on June 22 with captions that had capitalized letters, spelling out "Carolina This Thursday" together.[5] The next day, the song's release date was confirmed as June 24, 2022.[6] A lyric video on YouTube accompanied the release.[7]


"Carolina" was written solely by Swift and produced by her and Aaron Dessner, with whom she collaborated on her 2020 studio albums Folklore and Evermore.[8] She wrote the song well over a year and a half before the release date of June 24 2022.[9] According to Witherspoon, Swift wrote the song while working on Folklore but did not reveal that she had written "Carolina" until after she finished the song.[10] Swift's eagerness to contribute to the film grew after she was aware that Witherspoon would be producing.[11] Swift stated on Instagram that she enjoyed the original novel by Owens, and as soon as she heard a film adaptation was "in the works", she wanted to be a part of its soundtrack. She said she aimed to create a "haunting and ethereal" song that captured the novel's "mesmerizing" story.[3][4] "Carolina" plays over the ending credits, and Newman opined that it "reflects the tone of the story's ending".[6]

Lyrics and composition[edit]

A photograph of a forest area of the Great Dismal Swamp in North Carolina.
The lyrics of "Carolina" incorporate elements of nature from the Carolinas

"Carolina" has been described as an Americana[12] and Appalachian folk song,[13] with country folk[14] and bluegrass elements,[15] on minor chords.[16] It was recorded in one take and only features instruments available before 1953—around the time when Where the Crawdads Sing takes place—acoustic instruments[17] such as mandolin, fiddle,[18] gentlely strummed acoustic guitar and "sweeping" strings.[13] The song begins with the sparse strums of the guitar and eventually expands into a "misty atmosphere" incorporating strings and banjo.[19] The lyrics deal with how Kya, the narrator in the song and the lead character of the film, "roams the lonesome marshes, despairs over those who have left her and hints at the many secrets she's keeping".[20] The lyrics are heavy with naturalistic imagery, such as creeks, backroads, mist, clouds, mud, pines,[16] beaches and forests,[20] inspired by the story's setting in coastal North Carolina.[17] Swift's vocals in the song have been characterized as a "breathy" lower register.[17]

Critical reception[edit]

"Carolina" received acclaim from music critics. People journalist Jack Irvin described "Carolina" as a downtempo, "haunting ballad" with lyrics about "sneakily moving through various locations without being seen".[21] Variety critic Chris Willman felt the song is stylistically reminiscent of the music in Folklore and Evermore "at their most folky and subdued."[18] Emily Zemler and Kat Bouza reviewed the song for Rolling Stone, noting that the "haunting" song evokes the film's backwoods setting and the "elegiac" tone of Appalachian folk ballads and praising Swift's "otherworldly and siren-like" vocals.[13] Will Lavin of NME described Swift's vocals as "eerie".[22]

In a glowing review for Clash, Robin Murray called the song a timeless "grand achievement" and the greatest example of Swift's ability to "suggest inner movement, the passing of time and emotion in only a few words." He praised the "innate" instrumentation, Swift's "minimalist yet potent" vocals, and the lyrics "somehow distilling Delia Owens' work—in all its breadth and depth—into a song of real brevity and power."[15] Collider's Ryan O'Rourke called "Carolina" a "chilling" tune with a haunting melody and is "almost a loose re-telling of the events of the book."[14] Emily Zemler of Observer said the song "perfectly captures the bittersweet conclusion" of Where the Crawdads Sing, complementing the film's "palpable mood".[23] ABC News journalist Peter Travers wrote Swift captures "the haunting, folklore quality" of the film's story in the song, via her music and lyrics that suggest an "abiding mystery".[24]

British Vogue journalist Radhika Seth described the song as a "sweeping earworm" with a "mournful, intensely atmospheric" composition tonally reminiscent of Evermore.[20] Sam Sodomsky of Pitchfork said "Carolina" is an understated song, one that stems from the "darker corners" of Folklore and Evermore, abandoning the "language and texture of pop music in favor of old American folk songs". He further complemented the synergy between Swift's musical approaches in the song: the "ghost story-writing" of the lyrics, and the deep and slow vocals.[16] Lindsay Zoladz of The New York Times named "Carolina" one of the "spookiest" tracks in Swift's discography and "the closest [Swift has] come to writing an outright murder ballad" other than "No Body, No Crime" (2020).[19] Jonathan Broxton of Movie Music UK also described the song as a murder ballad; "not one of her usual chart topping efforts—instead this is a mournful, soulful piece". He praised "Carolina" as "a superb piece of traditional Americana, stripped down and carried by little more than a guitar, a banjo, and Swift’s unexpectedly dreamy voice, and has poetic lyrics that directly reference elements of the story."[12] In a review of the film for Consequence, Liz Shannon Miller wrote "Carolina" is a "perfect match for the content of the film as well as its mood."[25] Pat Padua of The Washington Post said the song, making use of ominous lyrics, "bridges pop music with Americana".[26]


At the 65th Annual Grammy Awards (2023), "Carolina" is contending for Best Song Written for Visual Media—Swift's fourth nomination in the category, following "Safe & Sound" (2011) from The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond, "I Don't Wanna Live Forever" (2017) from Fifty Shades Darker, and "Beautiful Ghosts" (2019) from Cats, the first of which won.[27]

Awards and nominations for "Carolina"
Organization Year Category Result Ref.
Hollywood Music in Media Awards 2022 Best Original Song in a Feature Film Nominated [28]
Grammy Awards 2023 Best Song Written for Visual Media Pending [29]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from Tidal.[30]

  • Taylor Swift – vocals, songwriting, production
  • Aaron Dessner – production, engineering, acoustic guitar, banjo, bass guitar, mandolin, piano, synthesizer
  • Reid Jenkins – fiddle
  • Randy Merrill – mastering
  • Jonathan Low – mixing, engineering


Weekly chart performance for "Carolina"
Chart (2022) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[31] 62
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[32] 49
Global 200 (Billboard)[33] 45
Hungary (Single Top 40)[34] 20
Ireland (IRMA)[35] 42
Netherlands (Single Tip)[36] 30
New Zealand Hot Singles (RMNZ)[37] 5
UK Singles (OCC)[38] 63
US Billboard Hot 100[39] 60
Vietnam (Vietnam Hot 100)[40] 51

Release history[edit]

Release dates and formats for "Carolina"
Region Date Format(s) Label Ref.
Various June 24, 2022 Republic [41]


  1. ^ Seth, Radhika (July 27, 2020). "See The New Trailer For Daisy Edgar-Jones's 'Where The Crawdads Sing', Featuring An Original Song By Taylor Swift". British Vogue. Archived from the original on May 21, 2022. Retrieved June 23, 2022.
  2. ^ Rearick, Lauren (March 22, 2022). "Taylor Swift Debuts New Song 'Carolina' In 'Where the Crawdads Sing' Trailer". Teen Vogue. Archived from the original on June 24, 2022. Retrieved June 23, 2022.
  3. ^ a b Kenneally, Cerys (March 17, 2022). "Hear another snippet of Taylor Swift's 'Carolina' song in the latest Where The Crawdads Sing trailer". The Line of Best Fit. Archived from the original on June 24, 2022. Retrieved June 23, 2022.
  4. ^ a b Richards, Will (May 18, 2022). "Hear more of Taylor Swift's 'Carolina' in new 'Where the Crawdads Sing' trailer". NME. Archived from the original on June 23, 2022. Retrieved June 23, 2022.
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  6. ^ a b Willman, Chris (June 23, 2022). "Taylor Swift to Release 'Carolina,' Theme Song for 'Where the Crawdads Sing' Film, Tonight". Variety. Archived from the original on June 24, 2022. Retrieved June 23, 2022.
  7. ^ Corcoran, Nina (June 24, 2022). "Listen to Taylor Swift's New Song "Carolina"". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on June 24, 2022. Retrieved June 24, 2022.
  8. ^ Kaufman, Gil (June 23, 2022). "Taylor Swift About to Drop 'Where the Crawdads Sing' Theme Song 'Carolina'". Billboard. Archived from the original on June 23, 2022. Retrieved June 23, 2022.
  9. ^ Dailey, Hannah (June 24, 2022). "Taylor Swift Explains the Story Behind Her New Song 'Carolina' – And Why It's Taken So Long to Come Out". Billboard. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  10. ^ Goggins, Joe (June 23, 2022). "Taylor Swift confirms arrival of new soundtrack single 'Carolina'". Rolling Stone UK. Archived from the original on June 24, 2022. Retrieved June 23, 2022.
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  18. ^ a b Willman, Chris (June 24, 2022). "Taylor Swift Treats 'Carolina' Like 'Folklore' in 'Where the Crawdads Sing' End Credits Theme". Variety. Archived from the original on June 24, 2022. Retrieved June 24, 2022.
  19. ^ a b Pareles, Jon; Caramanica, Jon; Russonello, Giovanni; Zoladz, Lindsay (June 24, 2022). "Beyoncé's Dance-Floor Salvation, and 12 More New Songs". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
  20. ^ a b c "Everything We Know So Far About Daisy Edgar-Jones's Where The Crawdads Sing". British Vogue. July 27, 2020. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  21. ^ Irvin, Jack (June 24, 2022). "Taylor Swift Releases Haunting New Song 'Carolina' from Where the Crawdads Sing". People. Archived from the original on June 24, 2022. Retrieved June 24, 2022.
  22. ^ Lavin, Will (June 24, 2022). "Hear Taylor Swift's new song 'Carolina' for 'Where The Crawdads Sing'". NME. Archived from the original on June 24, 2022. Retrieved June 24, 2022.
  23. ^ "'Where the Crawdads Sing': One of the Most Faithful Literary Adaptations in Years". Observer. July 14, 2022. Retrieved August 17, 2022.
  24. ^ Travers, Peter. "Review: 'Where the Crawdads Sing' falls short of the book's magic". ABC News. Retrieved August 17, 2022.
  25. ^ "Where the Crawdads Sing Review: A Lush, Lyrical, and Engrossing Southern Gothic Drama". Consequence. July 12, 2022. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  26. ^ Pat, Padua (July 13, 2022). "'Where the Crawdads Sing': 'Blue Lagoon' meets 'Murder, She Wrote'". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved August 17, 2022.
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  41. ^ Swift, Taylor (June 24, 2022). "Carolina (From The Motion Picture "Where The Crawdads Sing") – Single". Apple Music (US). Archived from the original on June 24, 2022. Retrieved June 24, 2022.