Peace (Taylor Swift song)

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"Peace"
Song by Taylor Swift
from the album Folklore
ReleasedJuly 24, 2020 (2020-07-24)
Studio
Length3:54
LabelRepublic
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Aaron Dessner
Lyric video
"Peace" on YouTube

"Peace" is a song by the American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift from her eighth studio album, Folklore (2020). Swift wrote the song with its producer, Aaron Dessner. According to Swift, "Peace" is her most personal song on Folklore. It has a minimal composition of a soft piano and harmonized guitars over an electric pulse, combining elements of R&B, funk, and jazz. In the lyrics, Swift's character pledges her commitment to a lover while acknowledging the downsides she might bring to their relationship.

Music critics who praised "Peace" found the song to contain emotional lyrics, Swift's elastic vocal performance, and a stripped-down production. Some critics named it one of the best-written songs by Swift. Commercially, the track peaked at number 58 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and charted in Australia and Canada. The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) gave it a gold certification. Swift performed the song for the concert documentary Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions (2020) and her Eras Tour (2023–2024).

Background and production[edit]

The American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift began work on her eighth studio album, Folklore, during the COVID-19 lockdowns in early 2020.[1] She recruited Aaron Dessner as a producer on the album. Swift co-wrote nine songs with Dessner, who produced all of them, including "Peace".[2] It was the third track the duo wrote, following the fellow Folklore tracks "Cardigan" and "Seven".[3] Due to the lockdown, Swift and Dessner were separated and had to create the album by exchanging digital files;[4] the songs they worked on were originally Dessner's instrumental tracks that he would send to Swift to pen the melody and lyrics over.[5]

For "Peace", its instrumental consisted of harmonized basslines, a drone, and a pulse—the last one was provided by the American singer-songwriter Justin Vernon.[6][7] When Swift heard the instrumental, she found an "immediate sense of serenity" and a feeling of being at peace, but thought that it would be very literal to sing about finding peace. Instead, Swift wrote about complex "conflicted" feelings that would contrast to the track's calming sound.[1] She recorded it in one take at Kitty Committee Studio in Los Angeles.[2][7] The song and its instruments were recorded at Long Pond Studios in Hudson Valley and April Base Studios in Wisconsin. It was mixed at Long Pond and was mastered at Sterling Sound in New York City.[2]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Characterized by a sparse,[8] lo-fi instrumentation,[9] "Peace" is a minimal R&B-influenced song with a slow funk bassline,[10] consisting of three lushly harmonized electric guitars juxtaposed over a ticking pulse,[11][3] further textured by subtle synthesizers and a drizzle of soft piano notes.[12] Swift employs her soulful jazzy vocals in the "Peace",[3][8] via a complex vocal melody,[10] ranging between F3 to A4.[13] The song is written in the key of F major and has a moderately fast tempo of 150 beats per minute.[14]

The song structure of "Peace" is an ode reminiscent of a prayer.[10] Its lyrics discuss the effects of Swift's hectic superstardom on her private life, and is directly addressed to her lover, warning them of the challenges that come with them being a part of her hyper-publicized life.[15][16] The song's title is deceptive, since "Peace" is about failing to achieve peace, seeing Swift confess that "tranquility is the only thing she can't promise" her lover.[17] After witnessing the dissection of her personal life by the press for over a decade, especially tabloid media, Swift was tight-lipped and private about her boyfriend from 2016 to 2023, English actor Joe Alwyn, who co-wrote and co-produced several tracks on Folklore. "Peace" channels the balance Swift struck between her private and public lives and is rooted in her personal life, unlike much of the fictional material in Folklore.[18]

Notable details in the song's lyrics include Swift's mention of Alwyn's younger brother in the lyric "Family that I chose now that I see your brother as my brother", the second time she mentions him in her discography, after the track "Paper Rings" from her 2019 album Lover.[19] An Insider critic opined that the lyric "But there's robbers to the east / clowns to the West" is a mention of her famous feuds, underscoring "the spectacle of Swift's everyday and her inability to escape the trappings of public life"; "robbers" referring to Scott Borchetta, who sold the masters of Swift's first six albums to Scooter Braun, while the "clowns to the West" refers to Kanye West and his ex-wife Kim Kardashian.[20]

Release and live performances[edit]

Folklore was released on July 24, 2020, via Republic Records. In the standard track-list, "Peace" sits at number 15 as the penultimate track.[21] The song debuted in the United States's Billboard Hot 100 and Rolling Stone Top 100, with peaks of number 58[22] and number 25 respectively.[23] On Billboard's Hot Rock & Alternative Songs, it reached number 12 and stayed on the chart for 10 weeks.[24] The song also appeared on the chart's 2020 year-end chart, where it landed at number 53.[25] Elsewhere, the track reached on the national charts of Australia (33)[26] and Canada (46),[27] and the Audio Streaming Chart of the United Kingdom (53).[28] It received a gold certification from the Australian Recording Industry Association for reaching 35,000 units.[29]

After the album's release, on November 25, 2020, Swift recorded a stripped-down rendition of "Peace" for the Disney+ concert documentary Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions and its live album.[30] On February 23, 2024, Swift performed the song as a mashup with her songs "You're Not Sorry" (2008) and "New Year's Day" (2017) for the Sydney stop of her Eras Tour (2023–2024).[31]

Critical reception[edit]

Sarah Carson of i remarked "Peace" as "the most romantic song" Swift has ever written, containing the "storybook poetry hallmarks" of her early country career, and underlined the lyric "All these people think love's for show / But I would die for you in secret."[11] Variety critic Chris Wilman called "Peace" the "champion romance song", and along with fellow track "Invisible String", found it a suitable addition that contrasts the overaching sadness of Folklore. He thought "Peace" is a "realistic" love ballad that "renders all the compensatory vows of fidelity and courage all the more credible and deeply lovely".[17] The Guardian's Laura Snapes complimented the "deep dedication" Swift expresses in "Peace".[32]

Writing for Vulture, Nate Jones felt that "Peace" is "more clearly autobiographical than much of the album", having Swift apologize to her lover for "the stress that comes with dating one of the world's most famous women". He added that the song's purpose can come off as "an insufferable flex", but "her unassuming authenticity keeps it far away from humblebrag territory".[9] Callie Ahlgrim of Insider said the song has Swift promise to give her partner "passion and warmth and undying loyalty" but yet "wrestles with her inability to promise peace".[20] Also writing for Insider, Courteney Larocca admired the song's "gut-wrenchingly vulnerable" lyrics, "stunning" musical composition, and Swift's "crisp" vocal performance. She also drew lyrical parallels between "Peace" and Swift's older songs "Call It What You Want" (2017) and "The Archer" (2019).[33]

WRVU stated that "Peace" is one of the "most exquisite" songs Swift has ever written, representing a love song in "the absolute purest and most devoted sense", with some of the "lushest" lyrics she has ever written. The review praised the "improvisational" song structure of "Peace", deviating from standard pop structures of "a regular verse-chorus-bridge", and pinpointed that the song's central theme is a derivative of Swift's sixth studio album, Reputation.[34] In a mixed commentary, Kathryn Flynn of Consequence felt the song's slow pace and muted R&B sound does not fit the overall texture of Folklore.[35]

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the album's liner notes[36] and Pitchfork[2]

  • Taylor Swift – vocals, songwriter
  • Aaron Dessner – producer, songwriter, recording engineer, bass, piano, synthesizer, field recording, Mellotron and drone
  • Justin VernonPulse
  • Laura Sisk – recording engineer
  • Jonathan Low – mixing, recording engineer
  • Randy Merrill – mastering engineer

Charts[edit]

Certification[edit]

Certification for "Peace"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[29] Gold 35,000
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[37] Gold 20,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b 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 11, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d Strauss, 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 June 11, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Blistein, Jon (July 24, 2020). "How Aaron Dessner and Taylor Swift Stripped Down Her Sound on Folklore". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on July 29, 2020. Retrieved July 31, 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 24, 2023.
  5. ^ Doyle, Patrick (November 13, 2020). "Musicians on Musicians: Taylor Swift & Paul McCartney". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on November 30, 2020. Retrieved October 20, 2023.
  6. ^ 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 20, 2023.
  7. ^ a b Sodomsky, Sam (July 24, 2020). "The National's Aaron Dessner Talks Taylor Swift's New Album Folklore". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on July 25, 2020. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  8. ^ a b Mapes, Julian (July 27, 2020). "Taylor Swift: folklore". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on August 28, 2020. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  9. ^ a b Jones, Nate (January 11, 2021). "All 179 Taylor Swift Songs, Ranked". Vulture. Archived from the original on September 13, 2019. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  10. ^ a b c 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 June 11, 2021.
  11. ^ a b Carsom, Sarah (July 24, 2020). "Taylor Swift, Folklore, review: a dazzling, timeless surprise album". i. Archived from the original on July 24, 2020. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  12. ^ 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 June 11, 2021.
  13. ^ "Taylor Swift "peace" Sheet Music in F major". Musicnotes.com. July 24, 2020. Archived from the original on June 11, 2021. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  14. ^ "Key & BPM for "peace" by Taylor Swift". TuneBat. Archived from the original on June 11, 2021. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
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  16. ^ 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 June 11, 2021.
  17. ^ a b Willman, Chris (July 24, 2020). "Taylor Swift's 'Folklore': Album Review". Variety. Archived from the original on July 24, 2020. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  18. ^ "Taylor Swift shares rare insight into relationship with Joe Alwyn". Capital FM. November 13, 2020. Archived from the original on June 11, 2021. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  19. ^ Sager, Jessica (November 3, 2020). "We Broke Down All the Easter Eggs from Taylor Swift's Folklore So You Don't Have To". Parade.com. Archived from the original on October 20, 2022. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  20. ^ a b Ahlgrim, Callie (July 31, 2020). "Every detail and Easter egg you may have missed on Taylor Swift's new album 'Folklore'". Insider. Archived from the original on December 2, 2021. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  21. ^ Walsh, Savannah (December 11, 2020). "Breaking Down Every Easter Egg in Taylor Swift's Time-Traveling 'Willow' Music Video". Elle. Archived from the original on December 13, 2020. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  22. ^ a b "Taylor Swift Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  23. ^ a b "Top 100 Songs, July 24, 2020 - July 30, 2020". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on September 30, 2020. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  24. ^ a b "Taylor Swift Chart History (Hot Rock & Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  25. ^ a b "Hot Rock & Alternative Songs – Year-End 2020". Billboard. January 2, 2013. Archived from the original on January 11, 2021. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  26. ^ a b "Taylor Swift – Peace". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  27. ^ a b "Taylor Swift Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  28. ^ a b "Official Audio Streaming Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 28, 2021.
  29. ^ a b "Jan 2024 Single Accreds" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved March 1, 2024.
  30. ^ 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 27, 2023.
  31. ^ Peters, Mitchell (February 24, 2024). "Taylor Swift Performs More Surprise Songs Mashups at Second Eras Tour Concert in Sydney". Billboard. Retrieved March 1, 2024.
  32. ^ Snapes, Laura (July 24, 2021). "Taylor Swift: Folklore review – bombastic pop makes way for emotional acuity". The Guardian. Archived from the original on April 29, 2021. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  33. ^ Larocca, Courteney (July 24, 2020). "Taylor Swift's 'Folklore' might be the best album of her entire career". Insider. Archived from the original on December 2, 2021. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  34. ^ "A Long Overdue Track-by-Track Review of Taylor Swift's folklore". WRVU. October 2, 2020. Archived from the original on June 11, 2021. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  35. ^ Siroky, Mary (November 9, 2021). "Every Taylor Swift Album Ranked from Worst to Best". Consequence. Archived from the original on March 28, 2022. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  36. ^ Folklore (booklet). Taylor Swift. United States: Republic Records. 2020. B003271102.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  37. ^ "Brazilian single certifications – Taylor Swift – peace" (in Portuguese). Pro-Música Brasil. Retrieved May 1, 2024.