Hoax (song)

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"Hoax"
Song by Taylor Swift
from the album Folklore
ReleasedJuly 24, 2020 (2020-07-24)
Studio
  • Long Pond (Hudson Valley)
Length3:40
LabelRepublic
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Aaron Dessner
Lyric video
"Hoax" on YouTube

"Hoax" (stylized in all lowercase) is a song by the American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It is the final track of the standard edition of her eighth studio album, Folklore (2020). Swift wrote the track with its producer, Aaron Dessner. A slow-paced piano ballad, "Hoax" is about a flawed but everlasting relationship; Swift describes the details using motifs and imagery.

"Hoax" was met with mixed to positive reviews from critics, some of whom praised the lyrics while some others deemed it forgettable. The track peaked at number 71 on the United States's Billboard Hot 100 and entered the charts of Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. It received a gold certification from the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Swift featured the song on the Disney+ concert documentary Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions (2020).

Production and release[edit]

Taylor Swift began work on Folklore during the COVID-19 lockdowns in early 2020, and enlisted the first-time collaborator Aaron Dessner as a producer. "Hoax" was written alongside eight songs by Swift and Dessner, who produced all of them.[1][2][3] Due to the lockdown, they were separated and had to create Folklore by exchanging digital files.[4] Whereas much of the songs they worked on stemmed from Dessner's instrumental tracks, "Hoax" was written first and then produced. It was the last track penned for Folklore; Dessner thought the album was finished before Swift sent the lyrics of the song, days prior to the album's release. She told him to focus on to "try [not giving] it any other space other than what feels natural" to him before developing the production.[5][6][7][8]

On July 24, 2020, "Hoax" was released by Republic Records as the final track on the standard edition of Folklore.[9] It charted in the countries of Australia (43)[10] and Canada (51);[11] the former's Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) gave it a gold certification for reaching 35,000 units.[12] In the United States, the song debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Rolling Stone Top 100, with peaks of number 71[13] and 13,[14] respectively. It also entered at number 14 on Billboard's Hot Rock & Alternative Songs, where it stayed for nine weeks[15] and appeared at number 62 on the chart's 2020 year-end.[16] In the United Kingdom, the song peaked at number 62 on the OCC's Audio Streaming Chart.[17] On November 25, Swift recorded a stripped-down rendition of "Hoax" for the Disney+ concert documentary Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions and its live album.[18]

Music and lyrics[edit]

"Hoax" is a slow-paced piano ballad that lasts for three minutes and forty seconds.[19][20][9] It has orchestration written by Rob Moose, and incorporates acoustic and electric guitars, OP1, synth bass, viola, violin,[3] percussion,[21] and muted strings.[22] "Hoax" was recorded at Long Pond Studios in Hudson Valley. The vocals were recorded at Kitty Committee Studio in Los Angeles and the instruments were recorded at Hudson Valley and Brooklyn. The song was mixed at Long Pond and was mastered at Sterling Sound in New York City.[3][5]

The lyrics describe a flawed but everlasting relationship.[20] Swift details the messiness of it by motifs and imagery.[23][7] The first verse has lyrical references that alludes to the tracks of her albums Red (2012) and Reputation (2017), ranging from "Holy Ground" ("This has frozen my ground") to "Look What You Made Me Do" ("My smoking gun")—"Hoax" was seen as a "tragic" reimagining of the former.[7] In the bridge, she mentions New York: ("You know I left a part of me back in New York"), which indicates a sense of regret. The next line features a cinema motif, which Swift paints the relationship as a movie: ("You knew the hero died so what's the movie for?"). The motif was used in fellow tracks "Exile" and "This Is Me Trying".[7] The strained finale reverses the song's main imagery: ("My kingdom come undone"),[23][7] and ends Folklore on a despondent note.[24] Spencer Kornhaber from The Atlantic interpreted the lyrics as a tribute to English actor and Swift's then-boyfriend Joe Alwyn and opined that she is "creating tension [...] by scrambling the listener's assumptions.[25]

Critical reception[edit]

Critics gave "Hoax" mixed to positive reviews. Michael Sumsion from PopMatters lauded Swift's vocal delivery and selected the song as one of the tracks that represents the "compelling and entrancing patchwork" of the album.[26] Business Insider's Callie Ahlgrim found much of the lyrics "beautiful and devastating", while Courtney Larocca from the same publication called the song "sneakily brilliant".[27] Punch Liwanag from Manila Bulletin picked "Hoax" as one of Folklore's songs that has lines evoking imagery and corresponding emotion.[22] Slate's writer Carl Wilson believed that the song is one of the closest tracks to resemble "the naked intimacy" of the singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell.[28] Jill Gutowitz of Vulture considered it a "sweeping close", where "Swift finally [pulled] off the bridge of sanity", to the album's "brink of madness".[29]

The Guardian writer Kitty Empire thought the song was underwhelming: "It is a shame that these searching, intelligent songs take so few real risks with form".[30] Hannah Mylrea of NME considered it the least "memorable" on the album,[31] and Jill Mapes from Pitchfork regarded the song as one of the tracks that Folklore "could use some selective pruning".[32] John Wohlmacher from Beats Per Minute called the song "disappointingly clinical" and insisted that it should have been a deluxe track.[33]

Personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from the liner notes of Folklore.[34]

  • Taylor Swift – songwriting
  • Aaron Dessner – songwriting, production, piano, acoustic and electric guitars, OP1, synth bass, recording
  • Rob Moose – orchestration, viola, violin, recording
  • Laura Sisk – vocal recording
  • Jonathan Low – mixing engineer, recording
  • Randy Merrill – mastering engineer

Charts[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Weekly chart performance for "Hoax"
Chart (2020) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[10] 43
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[11] 51
UK Audio Streaming (OCC)[17] 70
US Billboard Hot 100[13] 71
US Hot Rock & Alternative Songs (Billboard)[15] 14
US Rolling Stone Top 100[14] 13

Year-end chart[edit]

Year-end chart performance of "Hoax"
Chart (2020) Position
US Hot Rock & Alternative Songs (Billboard)[16] 62

Certification[edit]

Certification for "Hoax"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[12] 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 7, 2021.
  2. ^ Suskind, Alex (December 9, 2020). "Taylor Swift broke all her rules with Folklore — and gave herself a much-needed escape". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on March 12, 2021. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Staruss, Matthew; Minsker, Evan (July 24, 2020). "Taylor Swift Releases New Album Folklore: Listen and Read the Full Credits". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on September 10, 2020. Retrieved October 13, 2020.
  4. ^ Blistein, Jon (November 24, 2020). "Taylor Swift to Release New Folklore Film, The Long Pond Studio Sessions". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on November 24, 2020. Retrieved October 27, 2023.
  5. ^ a b Gerber, Brady (July 27, 2020). "The Story Behind Every Song on Taylor Swift's Folklore". Vulture. Archived from the original on July 28, 2020. Retrieved October 13, 2023.
  6. ^ Doyle, Patrick (November 13, 2020). "Musicians on Musicians: Taylor Swift & Paul McCartney". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on November 30, 2020. Retrieved October 27, 2023.
  7. ^ a b c d e Ahlgrim, Callie (July 31, 2020). "Every detail and Easter egg you may have missed on Taylor Swift's new album Folklore". Business Insider. Archived from the original on December 2, 2021. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  8. ^ Shaffer, Claire (December 18, 2020). "Aaron Dessner on How His Collaborative Chemistry with Taylor Swift Led to Evermore". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 26, 2024.
  9. ^ a b Swift, Taylor (October 27, 2014). "Folklore". Apple Music (US). Archived from the original on July 24, 2020. Retrieved October 13, 2023.
  10. ^ a b "Taylor Swift – Hoax". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved September 30, 2023.
  11. ^ a b "Taylor Swift Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved September 30, 2023.
  12. ^ a b "Jan 2024 Single Accreds" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved February 29, 2024.
  13. ^ a b "Taylor Swift Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved September 30, 2023.
  14. ^ a b "Top 100 Songs, July 24, 2020 – July 30, 2020". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on April 23, 2021. Retrieved October 13, 2023.
  15. ^ a b "Taylor Swift Chart History (Hot Rock & Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved October 13, 2023.
  16. ^ a b "Hot Rock & Alternative Songs – Year-End 2020". Billboard. January 2, 2013. Archived from the original on January 11, 2021. Retrieved October 13, 2023.
  17. ^ a b "Official Audio Streaming Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 13, 2023.
  18. ^ Monroe, Jazz (November 24, 2020). "Taylor Swift Releases New Folklore Film and Live Album". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on February 28, 2023. Retrieved October 13, 2023.
  19. ^ Wood, Mikael (July 26, 2020). "Taylor Swift's Folklore: All 16 songs, ranked". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 29, 2021. Retrieved October 27, 2023.
  20. ^ a b Bruner, Raisa (July 25, 2020). "Let's Break Down Taylor Swift's Tender New Album Folklore". Time. Archived from the original on July 31, 2020. Retrieved October 13, 2023.
  21. ^ Campbell, Caleb (July 29, 2020). "Folklore". Under The Radar. Archived from the original on November 20, 2023. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  22. ^ a b Liwanag, Punch (August 3, 2020). "Folklore is signature Swift but minimalist". Manila Bulletin. Archived from the original on July 29, 2022. Retrieved November 24, 2023.
  23. ^ a b Bruner, Raisa; Chow, Andrew R. (November 27, 2020). "The 10 Best Albums of 2020". Time. Archived from the original on November 28, 2020. Retrieved October 27, 2023.
  24. ^ Willman, Chris (August 8, 2020). "Taylor Swift, Prince, Bon Iver and More in Fri 5, the Best Songs of the Week". Variety. Archived from the original on August 8, 2020. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  25. ^ Kornhaber, Spencer (July 28, 2023). "Taylor Swift Is No Longer Living in the Present". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on October 4, 2020. Retrieved October 13, 2023.
  26. ^ Sumsion, Michael (July 29, 2020). "Taylor Swift Abandons Stadium-Pop for a New Tonal Approach on Folklore". PopMatters. Archived from the original on July 31, 2020. Retrieved October 27, 2023.
  27. ^ Ahlgrim, Callie; Courtney, Larocca (July 25, 2022). "Taylor Swift's Folklore: Every song on the album, ranked". Business Insider. Archived from the original on November 7, 2023. Retrieved November 7, 2023.
  28. ^ Wilson, Carl (July 24, 2020). "Taylor Swift's New Album Reveals That Social Distancing Has Served Her Well". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved January 24, 2024.
  29. ^ Gutowitz, Jill (July 24, 2020). "What Is Every Song on Taylor Swift's Folklore Actually About?". Vulture. Archived from the original on July 30, 2020. Retrieved October 29, 2023.
  30. ^ Empire, Kitty (August 1, 2020). "Taylor Swift: Folklore review – love and loss in lockdown". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on December 21, 2020. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  31. ^ Mylrea, Hannah (September 8, 2020). "Every Taylor Swift song ranked in order of greatness". NME. Archived from the original on September 8, 2020. Retrieved October 27, 2023.
  32. ^ Mapes, Jill (July 27, 2020). "Taylor Swift: Folklore". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on August 28, 2020. Retrieved October 13, 2023.
  33. ^ Wohlmacher, John (July 27, 2020). "Album Review: Taylor Swift – Folklore". Beats Per Minute. Archived from the original on July 28, 2020. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  34. ^ Taylor Swift (2020). Folklore (booklet). Republic Records.