Labyrinth (Taylor Swift song)

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

"Labyrinth"
Song by Taylor Swift
from the album Midnights
ReleasedOctober 21, 2022 (2022-10-21)
Studio
Genre
Length4:07
LabelRepublic
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Taylor Swift
  • Jack Antonoff
Lyric video
"Labyrinth" on YouTube

"Labyrinth" is a song by the American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, taken from her tenth studio album, Midnights (2022). Swift wrote and produced the track with Jack Antonoff. It is a muted dance-pop and synth-pop song with prominent electronic and alternative elements, and has a production that consists of dense synthesizers, subtle guitars, and trap/house beats. Swift sings with a soft timbre and uses her upper-register vocals throughout most of the verses, until the end of the song where her vocals are manipulated to a lower pitch. Lyrically, the narrator expresses anxiety towards newfound romance.

In reviews of Midnights, most critics praised the song for its vocal production and what they deemed an ethereal and subtle soundscape. "Labyrinth" peaked at number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 12 on the Billboard Global 200, and in the top 20 of singles charts in Australia, Canada, the Philippines, and Singapore. Swift performed the song live for the first time at the Buenos Aires concert on November 9, 2023, as part of her Eras Tour.

Background and release[edit]

On August 28, 2022, during her acceptance speech for Video of the Year for All Too Well: The Short Film at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards, the American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift announced her tenth studio album and its impending release date on October 21.[1] Soon after, Swift revealed the album's title Midnights and its cover on her social media, but did not immediately release the track list.[2] On a September 6, 2022, video titled "The making of Midnights" on her Instagram, she revealed Jack Antonoff, a musician who had worked with Swift since 1989 (2014), as a producer on Midnights.[3] On September 21, about a month before the album's release, Swift announced a thirteen-episode series called Midnights Mayhem with Me on the social media platform TikTok. In each episode of the series, Swift revealed the title of one album track.[4] In the eleventh episode of the series, she announced the title of track number 10, "Labyrinth".[5]

Swift wrote and produced "Labyrinth" with Antonoff, who programmed the track, provided background vocals, and played instruments including percussion, electric guitars, and multiple synthesizers (Moog, Juno 6, Realistic Synth, and OB8). Antonoff and audio engineer Laura Sisk recorded the song at Rough Customer Studio, Brooklyn, and Electric Lady Studios, New York. "Labyrinth" was mixed by Serban Ghenea, assisted by Bryce Bordone, at MixStar Studios, Virginia Beach, Virginia, and it was mastered by Randy Merrill at Sterling Sound, Edgewater, New Jersey.[6] Republic Records released Midnights on October 21, 2022; "Labyrinth" is track 10 out of 13 tracks on the standard edition.[7] On November 9, 2023, Swift performed "Labyrinth" live for the first time: she sang a piano rendition at the Buenos Aires concert as part of her Eras Tour.[8]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

"Labyrinth" is four minutes and seven seconds long.[9] It is a muted synth-pop and dance-pop track that features prominent electronic stylings.[10][11] The production is minimalist[12] and incorporates dubstep-influenced bass, trap-and-house-influenced beats, and filtered synthesizer tones,[13] alongside subtle guitars and an instrument that evokes the sound of a church organ.[14] The outro is made up of repeated refrains until they fade out.[11]

The synths are dense and accompany Swift's vocals: Quinn Moreland of Pitchfork felt that the production mirrors the "ice melting around her heart" and compared each "synth quiver" to "a pump of new blood",[15] and Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone described how the synths are distorted "like the circuits are melting down".[16] Swift sings with a soft timbre[17] and uses her upper register throughout much of the track[18][19] until her vocals are manipulated to a lower pitch later.[20] Alexis Petridis of The Guardian commented that the vocal effects "warp [Swift's] voice to a point of androgyny".[13] According to Ann Powers of NPR, the vocal production turns Swift's voice into "myriad light streams" that contain some parts resembling a Bon Iver song.[21] In the Associated Press, Elise Ryan found "Labyrinth" to be an amalgamation of styles on Swift's past albums, namely the synth-pop of 1989 and the alternative of Folklore.[22]

In the lyrics, Swift sings about falling for a new romance while facing the anxiety that ensues.[23][24] The narrator wonders if she is falling in love too fast; "Oh, I'm falling in love / I thought the plane was going down / How'd you turn it right around?"[25] Planes are a lyrical motif that symbolizes the uncertainty evoked by romance, and recurs on many of Swift's songs such as "Last Kiss" from Speak Now, "Come Back... Be Here" from Red, and "Out of the Woods" from 1989.[26] For Brittany Spanos of Rolling Stone, the romance in "Labyrinth" has a potential to fade away.[27] At one point, the lyric, "Breathe in, breathe through, breathe deep, breathe out", reference Swift's 2022 commencement speech at New York University.[26][28] The lyrics, "You know how much I hate that everybody just expects me to bounce back/ Just like that", according to Esquire journalist Alan Light, allude to Swift's fear and pressure of her fame and the resulting expectations.[29] Petridis found the song's lyrics to defy gender stereotyping surrounding women.[13]

Critical reception[edit]

"Labyrinth" was met with generally positive reviews from critics. Sheffield hailed it as a "stealth classic" and praised Swift's vocals.[16] In the Los Angeles Times, Mikael Wood picked the song as one of the album tracks where Swift experimented with vocal cadence and emphasized "the grain of her voice like never before".[30] Konstantinos Pappis from Our Culture Mag and Mark Richardson from The Wall Street Journal picked "Labyrinth" as one of the highlights on Midnights; the former wrote that it balanced between musical experimentation and lyrical craftsmanship,[31] and the latter complimented the track for "amply using space and leaving out the curlicue melodic shapes".[32] Mary Kate Carr from The A.V. Club picked "Labyrinth" as one of the most underrated Midnights tracks; she hailed it as one of "the most deceptively simple yet hauntingly beautiful tracks" in Swift's entire catalog.[33] Writing for The Sentinel, Alaina Conaway found the lyrics and music of "Labyrinth" to be minimalistic and simple, which was a "risk" for Swift to showcase her "versatility as a writer, musician and individual".[12]

In a less enthusiastic review, Callie Ahlgrim and Courteney Larocca of Insider describe the track as "an understandable inclusion on the album", despite their postulation that some might find the track boring.[34] In The Times, critic Will Hodgkinson found the vocal manipulation "modish" and "off-putting".[35]

Commercial performance[edit]

After the release of Midnights, all tracks of the standard edition debuted within the top 15 of the Billboard Global 200 chart simultaneously; "Labyrinth" was at number 12.[36] In the United States, it debuted and peaked at number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100.[37] The track peaked on the Canadian Hot 100 at number 14 and was certified gold from Music Canada on November 29, 2022.[38][39] "Labyrinth" appeared on various single charts, at number 10 in the Philippines,[40] number 13 in Australia[41] and Singapore,[42] number 22 in Malaysia,[43] number 28 in Vietnam,[44] number 32 in Portugal,[45] number 52 in Sweden,[46] number 58 in Switzerland,[47] number 60 in the Czech Republic,[48] number 64 in Lithuania,[49] number 65 in Slovakia,[50] and number 81 in Spain.[51]

Personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from the liner notes of Midnights.[6]

Charts[edit]

Chart performance for "Labyrinth"
Chart (2022) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[41] 13
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[38] 14
Czech Republic (Singles Digitál Top 100)[48] 60
Global 200 (Billboard)[36] 12
Greece International (IFPI)[52] 25
Ireland (Billboard)[53] 17
Lithuania (AGATA)[49] 64
Malaysia International (RIM)[43] 22
Philippines (Billboard)[40] 10
Portugal (AFP)[45] 32
Singapore (RIAS)[42] 13
Slovakia (Singles Digitál Top 100)[50] 65
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[51] 81
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[46] 52
Swiss Streaming (Schweizer Hitparade)[47] 58
UK (Billboard)[54] 16
UK Audio Streaming (OCC)[55] 17
US Billboard Hot 100[37] 14
Vietnam (Vietnam Hot 100)[44] 28

Certifications[edit]

Certifications for "Labyrinth"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[56] Gold 35,000
Canada (Music Canada)[39] Gold 40,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dailey, Hannah (October 20, 2022). "Everything We Know About Taylor Swift's Midnights So Far". Billboard. Archived from the original on November 13, 2022. Retrieved November 13, 2022.
  2. ^ Cain, Sian (August 29, 2022). "Taylor Swift announces new album, Midnights, to be released in October". The Guardian. Archived from the original on August 29, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2023.
  3. ^ Shanfeld, Ethan (September 16, 2022). "Taylor Swift Confirms Jack Antonoff as Producer on Midnights in New Behind-the-Scenes Look". Variety. Archived from the original on September 16, 2022. Retrieved November 13, 2022.
  4. ^ Jones, Damian (October 7, 2022). "Taylor Swift reveals all song titles on new album Midnights". NME. Archived from the original on September 23, 2022. Retrieved November 13, 2022.
  5. ^ "Taylor Swift has revealed every 'Midnights' song". Capital. Archived from the original on November 10, 2022. Retrieved January 25, 2023.
  6. ^ a b Midnights (vinyl liner notes). Taylor Swift. Republic Records. 2022. 2445790050.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  7. ^ Gularte, Alejandra (October 21, 2022). "Everything We Know About Taylor Swift's Midnights". Vulture. Archived from the original on December 6, 2022. Retrieved June 25, 2023.
  8. ^ Bell, Sadie (November 11, 2023). "Taylor Swift Performs Romantic Song 'Labyrinth' About 'Falling in Love Again' at Argentina Eras Tour Stop". People. Retrieved November 28, 2023.
  9. ^ "Taylor Swift releases Midnights: Fans and critics praise the dark and cryptic album – as it happened". The Independent. February 3, 2023. Archived from the original on February 4, 2023. Retrieved February 4, 2023.
  10. ^ Jenkins, Craig (October 24, 2022). "Midnights' Moonlit Lessons". Vulture. Archived from the original on October 31, 2022. Retrieved January 8, 2023.
  11. ^ a b Lipshutz, Jason (October 21, 2022). "Every Song Ranked on Taylor Swift's Midnights". Billboard. Archived from the original on October 21, 2022. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  12. ^ a b Conaway, Alaina (November 16, 2022). "Review: Taylor Swift's Midnights is nothing to lose sleep over". The Sentinel. Archived from the original on April 4, 2023. Retrieved April 4, 2023.
  13. ^ a b c Petridis, Alexis (October 21, 2022). "Taylor Swift: Midnights review – small-hours pop rich with self-loathing and stereotype-smashing". The Guardian. Archived from the original on October 22, 2022. Retrieved October 21, 2022.
  14. ^ Wohlmacher, John (October 24, 2022). "Album Review: Taylor Swift – Midnights". Beats Per Minute. Archived from the original on November 4, 2022. Retrieved November 19, 2022.
  15. ^ Moreland, Quinn (October 24, 2022). "Taylor Swift: Midnights". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on October 24, 2022. Retrieved January 11, 2023.
  16. ^ a b Sheffield, Rob (October 26, 2022). "'Labyrinth' (2022)". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 25, 2023.
  17. ^ Kaplan, Ilana (October 21, 2022). "Review: Midnights is Taylor Swift's darkest, most self-reflective work to date". Alternative Press. Archived from the original on October 21, 2022. Retrieved November 26, 2022.
  18. ^ Ruggieri, Melissa (October 21, 2022). "Taylor Swift returns to pop with poetic Midnights, her most deeply personal album yet". USA Today. Archived from the original on January 8, 2023. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  19. ^ Nguyen, Giselle Au-Nhien (October 21, 2022). "Clever, addictive: Taylor Swift's new album bridges pop and folk". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on March 25, 2023. Retrieved March 25, 2023.
  20. ^ Olivier, Bobby (October 21, 2022). "On Midnights, Taylor Swift Dares To See Herself". Spin. Archived from the original on November 26, 2022. Retrieved November 25, 2022.
  21. ^ Powers, Ann (October 21, 2022). "In the haze of Midnights, Taylor Swift softens into an expanded sound". NPR. Archived from the original on October 21, 2022. Retrieved October 21, 2022.
  22. ^ Ryan, Elise (October 21, 2022). "Review: Taylor Swift gets dark, electric on Midnights". Associated Press. Archived from the original on October 21, 2022. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
  23. ^ "Taylor Swift: Midnights". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on October 24, 2022. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  24. ^ Puckett-Pove, Lauren (October 21, 2022). "Taylor Swift's 'Labyrinth' Lyrics Mirror the Rush and Confusion of New Love". Elle. Archived from the original on January 27, 2023. Retrieved January 27, 2023.
  25. ^ Knight, Katherine (October 21, 2021). "Taylor Swift's 'Labyrinth' lyrics decoded". Capital FM. Archived from the original on January 30, 2023. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  26. ^ a b Jennings, Rebecca (October 21, 2022). "Every song on Taylor Swift's Midnights, explained". Vox. Archived from the original on October 26, 2022. Retrieved January 27, 2023.
  27. ^ Spanos, Brittany (October 21, 2022). "Taylor Swift Lets Us Into Her Darkest Dreams On Midnights". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on October 21, 2022. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  28. ^ Washington, Jasmine (October 21, 2022). "Taylor Swift Share How She Overcomes Heartbreak and Celebrates New Love in 'Labyrinth'". Seventeen. Archived from the original on January 27, 2023. Retrieved January 27, 2023.
  29. ^ Light, Alan (October 24, 2022). "Taylor Swift's Midnights Does Something Astonishing. Even For Her". Esquire. Archived from the original on January 17, 2023. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
  30. ^ Wood, Mikael (October 21, 2022). "Out of the woods, Taylor Swift's Midnights heralds the return of a pop-music mastermind". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 21, 2022. Retrieved January 16, 2023.
  31. ^ Pappis, Konstantinos (October 24, 2022). "Album Review: Taylor Swift, Midnights". Our Culture Mag. Archived from the original on January 11, 2023. Retrieved January 11, 2023.
  32. ^ Richardson, Mark (October 24, 2022). "Midnights Review: Taylor Swift After Dark". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  33. ^ Carr, Mary Kate; Gajjar, Saloni (November 21, 2022). "20 underrated Taylor Swift songs that prove her lyrical prowess". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on January 27, 2023. Retrieved January 27, 2023.
  34. ^ Larocca, Callie Ahlgrim, Courteney. "We regret to inform you that Taylor Swift's 'Midnights' is not very good". Insider. Archived from the original on January 15, 2023. Retrieved January 26, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  35. ^ Hodgkinson, Will (October 21, 2022). "Taylor Swift review: Midnights — an old-fashioned album about human weakness". The Times. Archived from the original on October 21, 2022. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  36. ^ a b "Taylor Swift Chart History (Global 200)". Billboard. Retrieved January 10, 2023.
  37. ^ a b "Taylor Swift Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved January 10, 2023.
  38. ^ a b "Taylor Swift Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved January 10, 2023.
  39. ^ a b "Canadian single certifications – Taylor Swift – Labyrinth". Music Canada. Retrieved January 19, 2023.
  40. ^ a b "Taylor Swift Chart History (Philippines Songs)". Billboard. Archived from the original on May 17, 2022. Retrieved November 11, 2022.
  41. ^ a b "Taylor Swift – Labyrinth". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved January 10, 2023.
  42. ^ a b "RIAS Top Charts Week 43 (21 – 27 Oct 2022)". RIAS. Archived from the original on November 1, 2022. Retrieved November 11, 2022.
  43. ^ a b "Top 20 Most Streamed International Singles In Malaysia Week 43 (21/10/2022-27/10/2022)". RIM. November 5, 2022. Archived from the original on November 5, 2022. Retrieved November 11, 2022 – via Facebook.
  44. ^ a b "Taylor Swift Chart History (Billboard Vietnam Hot 100)". Billboard. Archived from the original on June 6, 2022. Retrieved November 3, 2022.
  45. ^ a b "Taylor Swift – Labyrinth". AFP Top 100 Singles. Retrieved November 20, 2022.
  46. ^ a b "Taylor Swift – Labyrinth". Singles Top 100. Retrieved November 20, 2022.
  47. ^ a b "Streaming Charts Top 100" (in German). Schweizer Hitparade. Archived from the original on November 6, 2022. Retrieved November 11, 2022.
  48. ^ a b "ČNS IFPI" (in Czech). Hitparáda – Digital Top 100 Oficiální. IFPI Czech Republic. Note: Change the chart to CZ – SINGLES DIGITAL – TOP 100 and insert 202243 into search. Retrieved October 31, 2022.
  49. ^ a b "2022 43-os savaitės klausomiausi (Top 100)" (in Lithuanian). AGATA. October 28, 2022. Archived from the original on October 28, 2022. Retrieved October 28, 2022.
  50. ^ a b "ČNS IFPI" (in Slovak). Hitparáda – Singles Digital Top 100 Oficiálna. IFPI Czech Republic. Note: Select SINGLES DIGITAL - TOP 100 and insert 20231 into search. Retrieved January 9, 2023.
  51. ^ a b "Taylor Swift – Labyrinth" Canciones Top 50. Retrieved November 11, 2022.
  52. ^ "IFPI Charts". IFPI Greece. Archived from the original on November 2, 2022. Retrieved November 11, 2022.
  53. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Ireland Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 7, 2023.
  54. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (U.K. Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 7, 2023.
  55. ^ "Official Audio Streaming Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 11, 2022.
  56. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2023 Singles" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved September 13, 2023.