Forever & Always

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"Forever & Always"
Song by Taylor Swift
from the album Fearless / Fearless (Taylor's Version)
ReleasedNovember 11, 2008 (2008-11-11) (original)
  • April 9, 2021 (2021-04-09) (Taylor's Version)
GenrePop rock
Length3:46
Label
Songwriter(s)Taylor Swift
Producer(s)
Audio
"Forever & Always" on YouTube
"Forever & Always (Taylor's Version)" (lyric video) on YouTube

"Forever & Always" is a song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift for her second studio album, Fearless (2008). It was a last-minute addition to the album. Produced by Swift and Nathan Chapman, "Forever & Always" is a pop rock song with lyrics about a fallen relationship with an immature ex-boyfriend, inspired by singer Joe Jonas, whom Swift briefly dated.

Music critics considered the song catchy but generic, and commented that it sets the precedent to Swift's later songs about fallen relationships. After Fearless was released, "Forever & Always" peaked at number 34 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and 32 on the Canadian Hot 100. It was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

A re-recorded version of "Forever & Always", subtitled "Taylor's Version", features on Fearless (Taylor's Version), Swift's 2021 re-recorded version of Fearless, released on April 9, 2021. "Forever & Always (Taylor's Version)" charted on singles charts in Australia, Canada, Singapore, and the U.S.

Background and release[edit]

Joe Jonas singing on a mic
Swift's breakup with singer Joe Jonas (pictured) inspired "Forever & Always".

Taylor Swift released her second studio album, Fearless, on November 11, 2008, through Big Machine Records.[1] The album's songs are largely about the challenges and emotions posed by love from a teenager's perspective.[2][3] Swift wrote or co-wrote all the 13 album tracks, including seven solely by herself.[4] "Forever & Always" was the last song Swift wrote for Fearless; Swift pleaded with Big Machine president Scott Borchetta to include it on the album a day before the track list finalized, believing the track contained the story she wanted to tell.[5][6] The track is produced by Swift and Nathan Chapman.[4] An alternate version, "Forever & Always (Piano Version)", was included on the track list for Fearless: Platinum Edition, released on October 26, 2009.[7]

During promotion of Fearless, Swift repeatedly confirmed that "Forever & Always" was inspired by her breakup with singer Joe Jonas; on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, she described him as "the boy who broke up with me over the phone in 25 seconds when I was 18".[8] She told MTV News that she "owed it" to her fans to be open about her personal life.[9] In an interview with Rolling Stone, Swift described the fallout of that relationship as a "really dramatic and crazy" experience that she "[needed] to address" through her music.[5] Speaking about the recording, she said, "This song starts with this pretty melody that's easy to sing along with, then in the end... I'm basically screaming it because I'm so mad."[6]

Jonas addressed the song in a 2009 issue of Seventeen magazine, "It's flattering. It's always nice to hear their side of the story."[10] In May 2019, Swift apologized for "[putting] Joe Jonas on blast" on the Ellen show, calling it "some teenage stuff".[11] After a dispute with Big Machine in 2019, when she had signed a new contract with Republic Records, Swift released her re-recorded version of Fearless, subtitled Taylor's Version, on April 9, 2021.[12] Fearless (Taylor's Version) includes re-recorded versions of both "Forever & Always" and "Forever & Always (Piano Version)", both subtitled "Taylor's Version".[13] The re-recorded versions are produced by Swift and Christopher Rowe.[14]

Composition and critical reception[edit]

"Forever & Always" is about a troubled relationship with an immature boyfriend who still "hasn't called" but, at an earlier point in their relationship, had declared that they would be together "forever and always".[15] In the album's liner notes, Swift includes the song's hidden message: "If you play these games, we’re both going to lose."[16] Similar to other songs on Fearless, "Forever & Always" depicts Swift's perception of romantic relationships as a teenage girl, who calls out her ex-boyfriend for being a "scared little boy".[17] Compared to the overall starry-eyed fairy tale-inspired theme of Fearless, the lyrics of "Forever & Always" focus more on real-life heartbreak.[18]

It is a pop rock song that features instruments associated with country music such as fiddles and guitars.[19] James E. Perone, an academic in music, complimented the song's radio-friendly production, but felt that it was "too generic and market-oriented" for a singer-songwriter.[15] Writing for Billboard, Jennifer Keishin Armstrong felt that Swift's songwriting on "Forever & Always" hinted at her subsequent songs about revenge and contempt for ex-lovers.[18] Nate Jones of Vulture and Hazel Cills of Pitchfork agreed, finding the Joe Jonas-inspired "Forever & Always" introduced Swift's trademark songwriting about failed romance and celebrity;[19] Cillz wrote: "[Swift] likes to give a play-by-play, stacking minute summaries of a moment on top of each other like she’s story-boarding the perfect montage out of an indelible memory."[17]

Live performances[edit]

Swift singing on a mic
Swift performing "Forever & Always" on the Fearless Tour (2010)

Swift first performed "Forever & Always" during her concert for the 2009 Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, as part of a medley with "Picture to Burn", "Love Story", and "Change", on December 31, 2008.[20] In a January 2009 episode of Saturday Night Live, Swift performed "Forever & Always" and "Love Story", the lead single from Fearless.[21] She sang the song again as part of her performances for the Florida Strawberry Festival in February[22] and the 2009 Country Music Association Awards in November 2009.[23]

The song was part of the regular set list for shows of Swift's first headlining concert tour, the Fearless Tour (2009–2010).[24] Before performing "Forever & Always", Swift gave a mock interview with Today host Hoda Kotb; Kotb asked why men should date Swift if she was going to write songs to call them out, to which Swift replied that they "shouldn't do bad things".[24] After the mock interview, Swift appeared onstage in a red dress, and while performing the song, threw an armchair down the stairs onstage.[25][26]

Swift performed "Forever & Always" during some select dates of her following world tours. She included it on the set list for her March 22, 2013, show in Columbia, South Carolina, as part of the Red Tour.[27] She performed the song during her September 15, 2018, show in Indianapolis, Indiana, as part of her Reputation Stadium Tour.[28]

Chart performance[edit]

After Fearless (2008) was released, "Forever & Always" peaked within the top 40 of the US Billboard Hot 100 (number 34, three weeks total) and the Canadian Hot 100 (number 37, two weeks total).[29][30] In July 2018, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the song platinum for surpassing one million units based on sales and streaming.[31] Following the release of the re-recorded Fearless (Taylor's Version) (2021), Forever & Always (Taylor's Version) charted in official singles charts of Australia, Canada, Singapore, and the U.S. It also peaked at number 41 on the Billboard Global 200 chart.[32]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Sales certifications for "Forever & Always" (original version)
Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[31] Platinum 1,000,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Spencer 2010, p. 51.
  2. ^ Widdicombe, Lizzie (October 10, 2011). "You Belong with Me". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on July 24, 2014. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
  3. ^ Graff, Gary (March 26, 2010). "Living Fearless Taylor Swift Talks About Her Whirlwind Rise to the Top". The Oakland Press. Archived from the original on July 16, 2012. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Fearless (CD liner notes). Taylor Swift. Big Machine Records. 2008. BMRATS0200.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  5. ^ a b Scaggs, Austin (January 25, 2010). "Taylor's Time: Catching Up With Taylor Swift". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  6. ^ a b Lewis, Randy (October 26, 2008). "She's Writing Her Future". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on August 22, 2021. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  7. ^ Vena, Jocelyn (October 26, 2009). "Taylor Swift Is Even More Fearless, One Day Early". MTV News. Archived from the original on November 11, 2014. Retrieved June 1, 2011.
  8. ^ Vina, Jocelyn (November 6, 2008). "Taylor Swift Talks about Joe Jonas Breakup Online, on the Radio, on TV and in Her New Album". MTV News. Archived from the original on September 4, 2014. Retrieved November 11, 2009.
  9. ^ Vena, Jocelyn (November 11, 2008). "Taylor Swift Says She 'Owed It' to Her Fans to Be Open About Joe Jonas Breakup". MTV News. Archived from the original on March 12, 2010. Retrieved May 25, 2010.
  10. ^ Vena, Jocelyn (April 30, 2009). "Jonas Brothers Talk Tour, New Album, Breakups and More". MTV News. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  11. ^ Fernando, Madeleine (April 8, 2021). "Joe Jonas & Taylor Swift: A Post-Breakup Timeline". Billboard. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  12. ^ Murray, Kelly (April 3, 2021). "Taylor Swift Unveils Full Track List for New Album Fearless (Taylor's Version)". CNN. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  13. ^ Lipshutz, Jason (February 11, 2021). "Taylor Swift Announces Re-Recorded Fearless Album: Updated 'Love Story' Out Tonight". Billboard. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  14. ^ "Credits / Fearless (Taylor's Version) / Taylor Swift". Tidal. Archived from the original on April 9, 2021. Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  15. ^ a b Perone 2017, pp. 22–23.
  16. ^ Rosen, Jody (November 13, 2008). "Fearless". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on August 15, 2012. Retrieved March 21, 2011.
  17. ^ a b Cills, Hazel (August 19, 2019). "Taylor Swift: Fearless". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on August 19, 2019. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  18. ^ a b Armstrong, Jennifer Keishin (November 7, 2017). "Why Taylor Swift's Fearless Is Her Best Album". Billboard. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  19. ^ a b Jones, Nate (January 11, 2021). "Taylor Swift Songs Ranked, from Worst to Best". Vulture. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  20. ^ LaCroix, Emy (December 5, 2014). "The (Taylor) Swifts of New Year's Past". American Music Awards. Archived from the original on September 24, 2018. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  21. ^ Aniftos, Rania (October 4, 2009). "Here's Every Time Taylor Swift Has Appeared on Saturday Night Live". Billboard. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  22. ^ Tatangelo, Wade (February 26, 2009). "Taylor Swift headlines Strawberry Festival". The Bradenton Herald. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  23. ^ Caramanica, Jon (November 12, 2009). "New Levels of Inclusion at Country Music Awards". The New York Times. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  24. ^ a b Vena, Jocelyn (August 28, 2009). "Taylor Swift Brings Fearless Tour to Madison Square Garden". MTV News. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  25. ^ Trust, Molly (June 8, 2010). "Taylor Swift / June 5, 2010 / Foxboro, Mass". Billboard. Archived from the original on October 2, 2014. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
  26. ^ Semon, Craig S. (June 7, 2010). "Taylor Swift proves worthy as queen of country music". Telegram & Gazette. Archived from the original on June 8, 2010. Retrieved June 8, 2010.
  27. ^ Wall, Patrick (March 24, 2013). "Taylor Swift, Colonial Life Arena, March 20". Post and Courier. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  28. ^ Iasimone, Ashley (November 20, 2018). "All the Surprise Songs Taylor Swift Has Performed on Her Reputation Stadium Tour B-Stage (So Far)". Billboard. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  29. ^ a b c "Taylor Swift Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  30. ^ a b c "Taylor Swift Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  31. ^ a b "American single certifications – Taylor Swift – Forever". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  32. ^ a b "Taylor Swift Chart History (Global 200)". Billboard. Retrieved April 20, 2021.
  33. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Country Digital Song Sales)". Billboard. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  34. ^ "Taylor Swift – Forever & Always (Taylor's Version)". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  35. ^ "RIAS International Top Charts Week 15". Recording Industry Association Singapore. Archived from the original on April 21, 2021. Retrieved April 21, 2021.
  36. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved April 20, 2021.

Sources[edit]