Exile (Taylor Swift song)

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

"Exile"
Single by Taylor Swift featuring Bon Iver
from the album Folklore
ReleasedAugust 3, 2020 (2020-08-03)
Recorded2020
Studio
  • Kitty Committee Studio (Los Angeles)
  • April Base (Fall Creek)
Genre
Length4:45
LabelRepublic
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Taylor Swift singles chronology
"Cardigan"
(2020)
"Exile"
(2020)
"Betty"
(2020)
Bon Iver singles chronology
"PDLIF"
(2020)
"Exile"
(2020)
"AUATC"
(2020)
Lyric video
"Exile" on YouTube

"Exile" (stylized in all lowercase) is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, featuring American indie-folk band Bon Iver. As the fourth track on Swift's eighth studio album, Folklore (2020), it was written by Swift, William Bowery and Justin Vernon, and produced by Aaron Dessner. The song was serviced to alternative radio stations as a single on August 23, 2020, by Republic Records. "Exile" is a gospel-imbued, indie-folk ballad that serves as a duet of unspoken conversation between two former lovers, blending Swift's honeyed vocals with Vernon's baritone, over a plodding piano, swirling strings and soaring harmonies.

Upon release, "Exile" received acclaim from music critics, who praised the duo's vocal chemistry and the cinematic atmosphere. The song debuted at number six on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Swift her twenty-eighth top-10 hit and eighteenth top-10 debut in the US. It reached the top-ten in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom, top-20 in Israel and Scotland, and top-40 in Belgium, Portugal and Sweden. "Exile" marked Bon Iver's first top-10 hit or highest peaking song in every country it charted in.

Background and release[edit]

"Exile" features vocals from American indie-folk band Bon Iver (pictured above).

All tracks of Folklore were conceived by Swift as imageries and visuals inside her head, a result of her imagination "running wild" while isolating herself during the COVID-19 pandemic; "Exile" rose out of one such imagery—a exiled man, who is "walking the bluffs of a land that isn't his own, wondering how it all went so terribly, terribly wrong".[1] Swift penned the song with William Bowery, who appears to have no online presence, and thus, is presumed to be a pseudonym.[2][3] The duo developed a rough demo of the song as a duet, where Swift was singing both the male and female parts, and sent it to Aaron Dessner—one of two producers Swift picked for Folklore.[4] Dessner developed a piano template of the song with Swift's rerecorded vocals.[5] Swift and Dessner went through several candidates for the male partner on the duet, and Swift favored the voice of Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, who is also, along with Dessner, a part of the American indie-rock band Big Red Machine.[6] Dessner forwarded the song to Vernon, who enjoyed the song, contributed his own lyrics and recorded his part.[4]

On July 23, 2020, Swift revealed the track listing of Folklore, where "Exile" placed fourth; the album was released on July 24, 2020. "Exile" impacted US Adult Alternative radio as a single on August 3rd, 2020.[7] The song was also included in Folklore: The Escapism Chapter and Folklore: The Sleepless Nights Chapter streaming compilations by Swift, released on August 20 and August 23, 2020, respectively.[8][9]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

"Exile" is a gospel-flavored,[10] indie-folk[11] ballad that discusses two estranged lovers moving on from a broken relationship.[12][13] Justin Vernon delivers a "growling" vocal performance while "bemoaning a betrayed love", as Swift portrays the lover over "honeyed yet crisp" vocals.[14] The duo's vocal range in the song spans between C3 to E5.[15] The song is written in the key of F major and has a slow tempo of 76 beats per minute.[16] The soaring instrumentals contain swirling strings and a plodding piano.[17]

The song is a melancholic duet that fuses Swift's soft vocals with Vernon's low-register baritone, serving as an unarticulated conversation between two former lovers. Characterized by a call-and-response song structure, "Exile" sees Swift and Vernon singing over each other rather than fully listening and responding to each other, giving it an argumentative tone with no fruitful end. The song begins with the looped piano, advancing into a climax of chorused vocals, "glorious" harmonies and synths,[18][19][20][21][13] drawing comparisons to Swift's older songs: "The Last Time" (2013) from her fourth studio album, Red,[11] and "Safe & Sound" (2011) from The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond.[22] Like the majority of Folklore, "Exile" also infuses a cinematic quality to its lyrics evoking visuals that allude to films, such as in the lines "I think I've seen this film before / and I didn't like the ending".[23][24]

Critical reception[edit]

The song received universal acclaim from music critics. E! Online's Billy Nilles described "Exile" as a "devastating dream" and wrote that the relationship that inspired it must have hurt because it "hits like a punch to the gut".[17] Clash's Valerie Magan called the song an "impassioned" and "scintillating" duet that best shows the "sonic beauty" of Folklore.[25] Christopher Roberts of Under the Radar included it in his list of the nine best songs of Folklore's release week; he noted that "Swift and Vernon's voices mesh together well" and the latter sounds like Peter Gabriel on the track.[26] Writing for Consequence of Sound, Matt Melis named "Exile" the Song of the Week upon the release of Folklore, and called the duo's pairing a "minor miracle in 2020".[27]

Justin Curto of Vulture stated that "[Swift has] taken the past four months of the pandemic to think outside herself and made her most contemplative album yet, with 'Exile' as a prime result".[11] Bobby Olivier of Spin picked the track as "the grandest highlight" of Folklore, complimenting the production as a "sweeping, cinematic panorama". He further named it one of Swift's "most arresting" collaborations to-date and as an "worthy successor" to her 2011 collaboration, "Safe & Sound".[28] NPR's Kim Ruehl opined that the song creates a "windswept sonic landscape", conveying "overlapping" sadness and sagacity, atypical of Swift's most radio hits.[29] Elle named the song as the second-best of 2020.[30] NME writer Hannah Mylrea placed the song at number 20 on her list ranking every 161 song by Swift, praising it as one of Swift's most impressive collaborations.[31]

Commercial performance[edit]

The song reached top-tier positions in several countries worldwide. In the United States, "Exile" debuted at number six on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Swift her twenty-eighth top-ten hit and Bon Iver's first. The song is one of Swift's record-extending eighteen top-ten debuts on the chart.[32] Marking both Swift's and Bon Iver's first appearance on Billboard Adult Alternative Songs airplay chart, "Exile" debuted at number 37 on the list dated August 15, 2020. It also debuted at number two on Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart, and placed number five in its second week—the smallest drop of any of Swift's songs on the chart; Billboard opined that "the budding airplay could bode well for "Exile" in terms of chart longevity".[33] The song marks one of three Billboard Hot 100 top-10 hits from Folklore and its third highest peaking track on the chart—behind "Cardigan" (number 1) and "The 1" (number 4).[34] "Exile" further debuted at number 5 on the Billboard Digital Song Sales chart.[35]

The song reached number 3 in Australia's ARIA Singles, Irish Singles, Malayasia's RIM Singles and Singapore Top 30 Digital Streaming charts, number 5 in New Zealand Top 40 Singles chart, number 6 on Canadian Hot 100, number 7 on UK Singles, 17 on Israel's Media Forest, 18 on Scottish Singles, 32 on Denmark's Hitlisten, 37 on Belgium's Ultratop 50, 38 on Sweden's Sverigetopplistan charts, and number 40 on Portugal's AFP Top 200 Singles chart. In Australia, "Exile" was one of the four tracks from Folklore that landed in the top-10, giving the album five top-10 hits.[36] In Ireland, it was one of three songs from Folklore to arrive in the top-10, increasing Swift's total of Irish top-ten hits to 15.[37] In Malaysia, the song is one of five simultaneous top-10 entries from Folklore.[38] In the UK, "Exile" opened in the top-ten alongside "Cardigan" and "The 1", making Swift the sixth artist in the UK history to chart three songs in the top-ten simultaneously, and the first artist ever to debut three in the region;[39] this extended Swift's UK top-10 hits total to 16.[40]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from Tidal.[41][11]

  • Taylor Swift – vocals, songwriter
  • Justin Vernon – featured vocals, songwriter, vocal engineer
  • William Bowery – songwriter
  • Aaron Dessner – producer, recording engineer, drum programmer, electric guitar, piano, percussion, synthesizer
  • Rob Moose – violin, viola
  • Laura Sisk – vocal engineer
  • Jonathan Low – recording engineer, mixer
  • Randy Merrill – mastering engineer

Charts[edit]

Chart (2020) Peak
position
Billboard Global 200[42] 133
Australia (ARIA)[43] 3
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[44] 56
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[45] 37
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[46] 6
Czech Republic (Singles Digitál Top 100)[47] 68
Denmark (Tracklisten)[48] 32
Global Excl. US (Billboard)[49] 194
Ireland (IRMA)[50] 3
Israel (Media Forest)[51] 18
Malaysia (RIM)[52] 3
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[53] 84
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[54] 5
Portugal (AFP)[55] 40
Scotland (OCC)[56] 17
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[57] 83
Singapore (RIAS)[58] 3
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[59] 38
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[60] 48
UK Singles (OCC)[61] 8
US Billboard Hot 100[62] 6
US Adult Alternative Songs (Billboard)[63] 18
US Hot Rock & Alternative Songs (Billboard)[64] 2
US Rolling Stone Top 100[65] 3

Release history[edit]

Release dates and formats for "Exile"
Region Date Format Label Ref.
Various July 24, 2020 Republic [41]
United States August 3, 2020 Triple A radio [66]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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