Dorothea (song)

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"Dorothea"
Song by Taylor Swift
from the album Evermore
ReleasedDecember 11, 2020 (2020-12-11)
StudioLong Pond Studio (Hudson Valley)
Genre
Length3:45
LabelRepublic
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Aaron Dessner
Lyric video
"Dorothea" on YouTube

"Dorothea" (stylized in all lowercase) is a song by the American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift from her ninth studio album, Evermore (2020). Swift wrote the song with its producer, Aaron Dessner. The lyrics are from the perspective of an unnamed character reminiscing an old friendship with the titular fictional character, when they were in their adolescence. It tells the story of how the two reconcile when Dorothea returns from Hollywood to their hometown Tupelo for the holiday season. The narrator confesses to Dorothea that they still love her despite the change and hope to reconcile the long lost friendship. The narrator later convinces her to abandon an acting career for a simplistic life in their hometown.

Musically, "Dorothea" is an Americana and country folk song driven by a honky-tonk piano, guitars, and drums. In reviews of Evermore, music critics complimented Swift's songwriting in "Dorothea" for its character study with rich lyrical details. Commercially, the song charted in Australia, Canada, Portugal, and the United States. It peaked at number 47 on the Billboard Global 200.

Background and release[edit]

Taylor Swift conceived her eighth studio album, Folklore, as a set of mythopoeic visuals in her mind, a result of her imagination "running wild" while isolating herself during the COVID-19 pandemic.[1][2] She surprised with the album's announcement on July 23, 2020, and released it the next day. To satiate her craving to explore more of the "folklorian woods" she visualized in her mind, Swift immediately developed another album as a conclusive counterpart to Folklore, titled Evermore.[3] "Dorothea" was one of the two songs Swift had written for Big Red Machine, a band consisting of her Folklore personnel Aaron Dessner and Justin Vernon, the other being "Closure"; however, the two songs were eventually included on Evermore's track-listing, where "Dorothea" placed eighth.[4] Identical to Folklore's launch, Swift made a surprise announcement of Evermore on December 10, 2020, and released it the next day.[3] After Evermore's release, she performed "Dorothea" as a "surprise song" at the July 8, 2023, show in Kansas City, Missouri, as part of the Eras Tour (2023–2024).[5]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

"Dorothea" is set in Tupelo, Mississippi, the hometown of both the subject and narrator.

"Dorothea" is a country folk song[6] built around honky-tonk piano,[7][8] tambourine jingles, and guitars,[9] accompanied by "whirling" acoustics.[10] Claire Shaffer of Rolling Stone described it as a "rollicking, Americana piano tune".[11] It features characteristic notes of Swift's lower register in its hook.[12] Her vocal range in the song spans from D#3 to B4.[13] The song is written in the key of E major and has a moderately fast tempo of 120 beats per minute.[14]

Dorothea, a girl who left her small town to chase down Hollywood dreams — and what happens when she comes back for the holidays and rediscovers an old flame.

— Swift on the storyline of "Dorothea" and "'Tis the Damn Season", Bustle[15]

Lyrically, "Dorothea" and another track from Evermore, "'Tis the Damn Season", together revolve around a fictional story set in Tupelo, Mississippi. The story consists of two characters, Dorothea and an unnamed subject, who were high-school lovers until Dorothea decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue a Hollywood career, subsequently breaking up with her partner who never wanted to leave the town. The track represents the exes reminiscings of their past relationship after Dorothea becomes famous, singing about how he is happy for her and wondering if she still thinks of him like he does her.[16][17] The narrator sings about memories with her, such as a skipped prom and feelings of separation,[9] and attempts to convince Dorothea to return to the simplicity of rural life.[18] The song has been compared to Folklore's "Betty" due to Swift's take on male perspectives.[16] "'Tis the Damn Season" is narrated by Dorothea, who expresses her thoughts about the ex when she returns to Tupelo for winter vacation and reconnects with him.[9] In a Q&A session, Swift answered that Dorothea went to the same school as Betty, James, and Inez, the three characters named in "Betty", even though the two storylines do not intersect.[19]

Reception[edit]

Brodie Lancaster of The Sydney Morning Herald called "Dorothea" a "masterwork of a character study".[20] NME critic Hannah Mylrea opined that "Dorothea", over "dancing piano lines", portrays the story of a lovelorn man "whose high-school sweetheart left to try and make it in Hollywood", incorporating vocal melodies reminiscent of Swift's self-titled debut studio album, Taylor Swift (2006).[21] Annie Zaleski of The A.V. Club wrote that the song is for those "who struggle with feeling left behind by glamorous old friends".[22] Writing for The Guardian, Alexis Petridis called the song "a particularly luminous tune" that eschews "the old country cliche in which a star tells you their life of fame and luxury is nothing compared to the warm comfort of their old small-town life", instead has a protagonist look at a now-famous friend and attempt to convince their return to the simpler life.[23] The Independent writer Helen Brown said that "Dorothea" has Swift slip "into the mind of a celebrity's hometown pal.[24] Variety critic Chris Willman described the song's narrator as "a honey in Tupelo who is telling a childhood friend who moved away and became famous that she's always welcome back in her hometown", and praised Swift's "empathic wondering"–"how it feels to be at the other end of the telescope".[25]

Commercial performance[edit]

Upon Evermore's release, all of the album's tracks debuted on both the US Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs and the all-genre Hot 100 charts; "Dorothea" entered at number 13 on the former, and at number 67 on the latter.[26] Elsewhere, it further reached number 47 on Australia's ARIA Singles Chart and number 34 on the Canadian Hot 100. The song debuted at number 47 on the Billboard Global 200 chart.

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the album's liner notes[27] and Pitchfork.[28]

  • Taylor Swift – vocals, songwriter
  • Aaron Dessner – producer, songwriter, recording engineer, bass guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, tambourine
  • JT Bates – drum kit, percussion, recording
  • Thomas Bartlett – piano, keyboards, synthesizers, recording
  • Josh Kaufman – electric guitar and acoustic guitar
  • Benjamin Lanz – modular synth
  • Laura Sisk – recording engineer
  • Jonathan Low – mixing, recording engineer
  • Greg Calbi – mastering
  • Steve Fallone – mastering

Charts[edit]

Weekly chart performance of "Dorothea"
Chart (2020) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[29] 47
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[30] 34
Global 200 (Billboard)[31] 47
Portugal (AFP)[32] 173
UK Audio Streaming (OCC)[33] 74
US Billboard Hot 100[34] 67
US Hot Rock & Alternative Songs (Billboard)[35] 13
US Rolling Stone Top 100[36] 40

Certifications[edit]

Certification for "Dorothea"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[37] Gold 35,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "'It Started With Imagery': Read Taylor Swift's Primer For 'Folklore'". Billboard. July 24, 2020. Archived from the original on July 24, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  2. ^ Suskind, Alex (December 9, 2020). "Taylor Swift broke all her rules with 'Folklore' — and gave herself a much-needed escape". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Taylor Swift to release surprise ninth album 'Evermore' tonight". NME. December 10, 2020. Archived from the original on December 10, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  4. ^ Havens, Lyndsey (December 18, 2020). "Aaron Dessner on the 'Weird Avalanche' That Resulted in Taylor Swift's 'Evermore'". Billboard. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  5. ^ Iasimone, Ashley (July 15, 2023). "All the Surprise Songs Taylor Swift Has Performed on The Eras Tour (So Far)". Billboard. Retrieved July 16, 2023.
  6. ^ Horton, Ross (December 11, 2020). "Taylor Swift returns for a 2020 victory lap on Evermore". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved December 5, 2023.
  7. ^ Claire, Shaffer (December 11, 2020). "Taylor Swift Deepens Her Goth-Folk Vision on the Excellent 'Evermore'". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  8. ^ Ahlgrim, Callie; Larocca, Courteney (December 11, 2020). "Review: Taylor Swift 'Evermore' is a great follow up to 'Folklore'". Insider Inc. Archived from the original on March 27, 2021. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  9. ^ a b c Lipshutz, Jason (December 14, 2020). "Every Song Ranked on Taylor Swift's 'Evermore': Critic's Picks". Billboard. Archived from the original on December 13, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  10. ^ Olivier, Bobby (December 11, 2020). "Taylor Swift's 'Evermore' Is an Undeniable Folk-Pop Masterpiece". Spin. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  11. ^ Shaffer, Claire (December 18, 2020). "Aaron Dessner on How His Collaborative Chemistry With Taylor Swift Led to 'Evermore'". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  12. ^ Krieger, Deborah (December 15, 2020). "Taylor Swift Has Written the Best Music of Her Career with 'evermore' and 'folklore'". PopMatters. Archived from the original on January 8, 2021. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  13. ^ "Taylor Swift "dorothea" Sheet Music in F major". Musicnotes.com. July 24, 2020. Archived from the original on December 30, 2021. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  14. ^ "Key & BPM for "dorothea" by Taylor Swift". TuneBat. Archived from the original on December 30, 2021. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  15. ^ Pentelow, Orla (December 11, 2021). "The Most Convincing Fan Theories About Who "Dorothea" Is". Bustle. Archived from the original on December 30, 2021. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  16. ^ a b Crone, Madeline (December 11, 2020). "Taylor Swift 'evermore' Is Ready For Your Record Player, Radio Play Be Damned". American Songwriter. Archived from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  17. ^ Brodie, Lancaster (December 11, 2020). "Taylor Swift is back, stronger than ever before". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  18. ^ Petridis, Alexis (December 11, 2020). "Taylor Swift: Evermore – rich alt-rock and richer character studies". The Guardian. Archived from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  19. ^ Sullivan, Corinne (December 12, 2020). "Fans Think Taylor Swift's "Dorothea" Is About Selena Gomez, and It Makes Sense". PopSugar. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  20. ^ Brodie, Lancaster (December 11, 2020). "Taylor Swift is back, stronger than ever before". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  21. ^ Mylrae, Hannah (December 11, 2020). "Taylor Swift – 'Evermore' review: the freewheeling younger sibling to 'Folklore'". NME. Archived from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  22. ^ Annie, Zaleski (December 14, 2020). "Taylor Swift's powerful evermore returns to folklore's rich universe". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on December 14, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  23. ^ Petridis, Alexis (December 11, 2020). "Taylor Swift: Evermore – rich alt-rock and richer character studies". The Guardian. Archived from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  24. ^ Brown, Helen (December 11, 2020). "Taylor Swift review, Evermore: Full of haunting tales that transform speakers into campfires". The Independent. Archived from the original on December 12, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  25. ^ Willman, Chris (December 11, 2020). "Taylor Swift Has Her Second Great Album of 2020 With 'Evermore': Album Review". Variety. Archived from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  26. ^ "Taylor Swift — Billboard Hot 100 History". Billboard. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  27. ^ Folklore (booklet). Taylor Swift. United States: Republic Records. 2020. B003271102.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  28. ^ Minsker, Evan (December 11, 2020). "Taylor Swift Releases New Album evermore: Listen and Read the Full Credits". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  29. ^ "Taylor Swift – Dorothea". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  30. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  31. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Global 200)". Billboard. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  32. ^ "Taylor Swift – Dorothea". AFP Top 100 Singles. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  33. ^ "Official Audio Streaming Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 27, 2023.
  34. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  35. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Hot Rock & Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  36. ^ "Rolling Stone Top 100 (11/12/2020 - 17/12/2020)". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 30, 2021. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  37. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2024 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)