Delicate (Taylor Swift song)

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Taylor Swift, Sawyr and Ryan Tedder - Delicate.jpg
Sawyr and Ryan Tedder remix artwork
Single by Taylor Swift
from the album Reputation
ReleasedMarch 12, 2018 (2018-03-12)
  • MXM (Los Angeles, California)
  • MXM (Stockholm, Sweden)
LabelBig Machine
  • Max Martin
  • Shellback
Taylor Swift singles chronology
"New Year's Day"
Music video
"Delicate" on YouTube

"Delicate" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, for her sixth studio album, Reputation (2017). It was released on March 12, 2018, as the album's sixth single. As the fifth track on the album, Swift wrote the song with its producers Max Martin and Shellback. "Delicate" is a mellow electropop love song with elements of dance-pop and tropical house. The song uses a distinctive vocoder effect to create a vulnerable sound, which further reflects in the emotionally honest lyrics. The accompanying music video directed by Joseph Khan premiered on March 11, 2018, at the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards.

"Delicate" received critical acclaim, with critics praising the song's mid-tempo production and vulnerability through its lyrics that contrast with the brash sound of the rest of Reputation. Several of them named it a highlight on the album. A sleeper hit in the United States, it debuted at number 84 on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at number 12. Following months of its release, the single ascended to the top of Billboard's airplay charts including the Mainstream Top 40, Adult Contemporary and Adult Pop Songs, becoming the biggest radio hit from Reputation.[1] It was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for exceeding two million digital units. Its accolades include ASCAP and BMI awards, and inclusions in 2018 year-end lists by Billboard, Slant Magazine and Rolling Stone.

Promotion and release[edit]

On March 5, 2018, Swift announced that the music video of "Delicate" would premiere on the iHeart Radio Music Awards on March 11. "Delicate" was released the next day onto Hot adult contemporary radio and onto contemporary hit radio before a radio release in Italy and the United Kingdom on April 20, 2018.

A vertical video was uploaded to Spotify on March 30, 2018, which was made available for users in the US, the UK, Sweden, and Latin America.[2] The video was later released on YouTube on May 15. As of September 2019, the vertical video on YouTube has over 6.4 million views.

A remix for the song featuring American musicians Ryan Tedder and Sawyr was released on May 25, 2018. On June 8, a remix of the song featuring musician Seeb was released,[3] which peaked at number 27 in Norway.

Writing and composition[edit]

"Delicate" is track number five on Reputation. Swift wrote "Delicate" as her confession to a prospective lover.[4] While the preceding four tracks on Reputation's are about Swift's flippant disinterest in her perceived reputation, inspired by the tumultuous relationship with the media that she had experienced, "Delicate" is where she begins to reveal her vulnerability.[4] She explained that, while she could feign disinterest in what others have to say about her, things began to get complicated "when you meet somebody that you really want in your life and then you start worrying about what they've heard before they met you", wondering, "Could something fake like your reputation affect something real, like someone getting to know you?"[4]

"Delicate" was written by Swift, Max Martin and Shellback, and was produced by the latter two. The song runs for three minutes and fifty-two seconds[5][6] and it has a tempo of 95 beats per minute. Swift sings it in the key of C major in a range spanning from G3 to A4.[7] Musically, the track is an "electro-pop love song"[8] and "melodic electro-ballad".[9] The singer used a vocoder to create an "emotional" and "vulnerable" sound for the track. She explains that the song is about "what happens when you meet somebody that you really want in your life and then you start worrying about what they've heard before they met you." Swift went on to call the song "the first point of vulnerability in the record".[10]

Critical reception[edit]

The song received widespread critical acclaim. Geoff Nelson of Consequence of Sound considered the track one of Reputation's strongest moments, along with "Gorgeous" and "Call It What You Want".[11] Zach Schonfeld of Newsweek called it "the album's first real moment of vulnerability", and it succeeds by "peeling back all the bravado and EDM aggression of the opening tracks".[12] Roisin O'Connor of The Independent stated that "Taylor Swift produced some of her most honest and direct songwriting to date", and that "'Delicate' was one of the best examples of that".[13] AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine praised Swift's portrayal of vulnerability, which served as "a necessary exercise for her to mature as a singer/songwriter."[14] Troy Smith from The Plain Dealer wrote that the song "is the first proof that things work better when Swift keeps the mood light."[15]

Spin's Jordan Sargent noted the song contains a newfound "lusciousness" for Swift's sound, "suggesting new paths for her to travel."[16] For Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine, the mid-tempo production of "Delicate", "which tempers scathing self-critique with effervescent pop", offers an enjoyable moment that contrasts with the album's dominant "tired, repetitive EDM tricks".[17] Clash editor Shahzaib Hussain criticized Reputation as a pretentious album that talks excessively about fame, but praised "Delicate" as one of the tracks that offer emotional honesty.[18] In a mixed review, Joe Goggins of Drowned in Sound found the production and lyrics of "Delicate" out of line with the overall theme of Reputation, writing, "the ones that should've been cut are the likes of... 'Delicate', where we aren't afforded the thrill of Swift with her claws fully extended."[19]


Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone named it the best song of 2017,[20] and went on to rank it fourth in his list "All 153 of Taylor Swift's Songs, Ranked".[21] The song was also included in Vanity Fair's The 17 Best Pop Songs of 2017, stating that "even at her most publicly beset, Taylor Swift possesses a secret weapon that separates her from the competition: truly unimpeachable songcraft".[22] In 2018, Billboard ranked "Delicate" as the 35th best song of 2018,[23] and was also named by Slant Magazine as the 9th best single of 2018.[24] Rolling Stone also named it as the 12th best song of 2018.[25] "Delicate" was named one of the best songs of the 2010s by Insider.[26] In 2020, Glamour named it the best song from Swift's catalogue.[27] NME writer Hannah Mylrea placed the song at number 10 on her ranking-list of all 161 songs in Swift's catalogue. She picked the song as a "dazzling" highlight off of Reputation, as it offers "a gorgeous moment of vulnerability" unlike the overall brash texture of the album. Mylrea lauded its woozy vocals, lush instrumentals, and engaging beats.[28]

"Delicate" on year-end lists
Critic/Publication List Rank Ref.
Rolling Stone Rob Sheffield's Top 25 Songs of 2017 1 [20]
Vanity Fair Best Pop Songs of 2017 17 [22]
Billboard The Best Songs of 2018 35 [23]
Slant Magazine Best Single of 2018 9 [24]
Rolling Stone 50 Best Songs of 2018 12 [25]

Music video[edit]

The video was filmed at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel (above) and the 7th Street/Metro Center station. (below)

The music video for "Delicate" premiered on March 11, 2018, at the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards after Swift accepted her award for "Female Artist of the Year". Directed by Joseph Kahn, the music video was shot in various locations around Los Angeles, including the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, the 7th Street/Metro Center station, the Los Angeles Theater and adjacent St. Vincent's Court, and the Golden Gopher bar.[29] The video features Swift discovering that she is invisible after a mystery man hands her a note, and is a satire and symbolic of Swift being able to be herself for the first time, and not caring about how others view her.[30][31] The video gained almost 13 million online views in the first 24 hours of release.[32] As of October 2020, the music video has gained over 420 million views on YouTube.[33]


Swift is seen looking vacant on the red carpet, snapping to attention as hordes of reporters shove microphones at her. A mysterious figure slips a piece of paper into her hands. In a hotel lobby, people turn and stare as she walks by surrounded by four bodyguards. As she tries to take a photo with fans, a man dressed as a bellhop tries to grab her and security drag him away. Swift rolls her eyes and continues to walk with her security team, testing how they mimic her every move.

In a dressing room she makes silly faces in the mirror before being interrupted by a group of women (Junko Cheng): turning back to the mirror, the piece of paper glows on the counter and she can't see her reflection anymore, and she realizes that she's invisible. Delighted to have freedom, she breaks out into joyful dance all over the hotel, although she gets sad when she realizes she cannot engage in close conversation with a stranger. Swift moves from the hotel into the Los Angeles subway and onto rain-drenched streets. Soaked but happy, she arrives at the dive bar she references in the song, opening the glowing note, seemingly removing her invisibility as she is choosing to reveal herself to some. People turn to look as she comes in, drenched, and she realizes she is no longer invisible - but she smiles as she seems to recognize someone there.

Vertical video[edit]

On March 30, 2018, Swift uploaded an alternate video exclusively to Spotify, which was made available for users in the US, the UK, Sweden, and Latin America.[2] The video was filmed in one continuous shot in a vertical format. It features Swift walking in the woods while singing and also referencing her relationship with Joe Alwyn by "clutching her necklace with a J on the pendant".[34] The video was later released on YouTube on May 16. As of October 2020, the video has over 6.7 million views on YouTube.[35]

Commercial performance[edit]

In the United States, "Delicate" was a sleeper hit, debuting at number 84 on the Billboard Hot 100 after its release as a single. It rose to number 66 the following week. The song peaked at number 12,[36] making Reputation the first album in three years to have five top 20 hits on the Hot 100 with the last album doing so being Swift's own album, 1989 in 2015. It was Swift's 56th Hot 100 top-40 hit, extending her record as the female artist with the most number of Hot 100 top-40 entries.[37] The song spent twenty-four weeks in the top forty, and thirty-five weeks on the chart in total, becoming the longest charting single from Reputation. After one year released, it spent its fifty-third week on the Adult Contemporary chart, becoming the longest charting song by Swift and the ninth longest charting song by a female artist on the chart in history. Billboard noted that compared to other singles from Reputation, which peaked high initially and then fell, "Delicate" was a slow growing radio hit which gained popularity the longer audiences stayed with it. It also became the biggest radio hit from the album surpassing "Look What You Made Me Do".[38]

It also debuted at number 24 on the Adult Contemporary chart, eventually reaching the top of the chart where it spent 10 weeks there, becoming the first single from Reputation to do so. The song later become the longest-charting solo female song of the decade on the chart by more than 54 weeks of charting. The song entered at number 32 on the Mainstream Top 40 and number 37 on the Adult Top 40, peaking at the top position on both radio charts becoming the first single from Reputation to do so. "Delicate" was certified double platinum by the RIAA, for moving over 2 million units in the country.[39]

In Canada, following the release of Reputation, the song debuted at number 98 on the Canadian Hot 100, falling off the chart the following week. After its release as a single, it re-entered the chart at number 44, moving up to number 38, and later peaking at number 20. The song debuted at number 87 on the UK Singles Chart, before peaking at number 45. In Iceland, "Delicate" reached its peak of number three on the Iceland Singles Chart, becoming the only European country where the song peaked within the top 5 in an official music chart.[40] In Australia it debuted at number 56, later peaking at number 28. In New Zealand, "Delicate" reached its peak at number 33 on the New Zealand Music Charts.[41]


Year Organization Award Result Ref.
2018 Teen Choice Awards Choice Pop Song Nominated [42]
BreakTudo Awards Video of the Year Nominated [43]
2019 iHeartRadio Music Awards Best Music Video Won [44]
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards Favourite Song Nominated [45]
iHeartRadio Titanium Awards Won [46]
BMI Awards Award Winning Song Won [47]
Publisher of the Year Won
Myx Music Awards Favourite International Video Nominated [48]
ASCAP Awards Award Winning Song Won [49]
2020 Won [50]

Live performances and cover[edit]

"Delicate" was re-recorded acoustically at The Tracking Room in Nashville, Tennessee, for Swift's Spotify Singles series.[51] The acoustic version was released on April 13 exclusively on Spotify along with Swift's cover of Earth, Wind & Fire's "September". The song had its debut performance at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on May 8, 2018, as part of the setlist for Swift's Reputation Stadium Tour.[52] On May 27, 2018, Swift performed a stripped-down, acoustic version of the song as part of her performance at BBC Radio 1's Biggest Weekend in Swansea, where she supported herself on the guitar.[53] On June 30, 2018, Swift performed this song in a secret gig in Chicago.[54] On December 6, 2018, Swift made a surprise appearance at the Ally Coalition Talent Show in New York City and performed an acoustic version of this song with Hayley Kiyoko.[55]

On April 23, 2019, she performed an acoustic version of the song at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts during the Time 100 Gala, where she was honored.[56] Swift performed an acoustic version of the song on June 1, 2019 at the Wango Tango.[57] She then performed the song at the Amazon Prime Day concert on July 10.[58] On September 9, Swift performed the song at the City of Lover one-off concert in Paris, France.[59] American singer-songwriter Kelly Clarkson performed a cover of "Delicate" on her television variety talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show.[60]

Track listings[edit]

  • Digital download and streaming — Sawyr and Ryan Tedder Mix[61]
  1. "Delicate" (Sawyr and Ryan Tedder Mix) – 3:04
  • Digital download and streaming — Seeb Remix[62]
  1. "Delicate" (Seeb Remix) – 2:53

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from the liner notes of Reputation.[63]





Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[106] Platinum 70,000double-dagger
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[107] Platinum 40,000double-dagger
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[108] Gold 45,000double-dagger
Norway (IFPI Norway)[109] Gold 30,000double-dagger
Portugal (AFP)[110] Gold 5,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[111] Gold 400,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[112] 2× Platinum 2,000,000double-dagger

double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Version Label Ref.
United States March 12, 2018 Hot adult contemporary radio Original
March 13, 2018 Contemporary hit radio [114]
Italy April 20, 2018 Universal [115]
United Kingdom
  • Big Machine
  • Republic
Various May 25, 2018 Sawyr and Ryan Tedder Mix [61]
June 8, 2018 Seeb Remix [62]

See also[edit]


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