Say Don't Go

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

"Say Don't Go"
Song by Taylor Swift
from the album 1989 (Taylor's Version)
Written2013
ReleasedOctober 27, 2023 (2023-10-27)
Studio
Genre
Length4:39
LabelRepublic
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Lyric video
"Say Don't Go" on YouTube

"Say Don't Go"[a] is a song by the American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. She wrote the track with Diane Warren in 2013 for her fifth studio album, 1989 (2014), but left it out of the final track-list. Swift re-recorded the song and produced it with Jack Antonoff for 1989's re-recording, 1989 (Taylor's Version) (2023). "Say Don't Go" is a new-age and pop rock power ballad with a production featuring 1980s-inspired drum beats, pizzicato arpeggios, and isolated vocal patterns. The lyrics are about a narrator attempting to maintain her unfruitful relationship.

Critics gave the song generally positive reviews, a multitude of whom viewed it as a highlight amongst fellow tracks. Many praised the production while some commended Swift's songwriting. Commercially, "Say Don't Go" peaked at number four on the Billboard Global 200 and reached the top ten on singles charts in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Swift performed it live for a São Paulo show as part of the Eras Tour (2023–2024).

Background[edit]

Swift co-wrote "Say Don't Go" with Diane Warren (pictured).

The American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift began writing songs in mid-2013 for her fifth studio album, 1989, which was released in October 2014 by Big Machine Records.[2][3] Inspired by 1980s synth-pop,[4] she conceived the album as her first "official pop" record after she had marketed her first four albums to country radio, and transform her artistry and image from country to pop.[5][6] For this to happen, Swift recruited new collaborators for the album, including the American songwriter Diane Warren. She wrote one song with Swift, which was "Say Don't Go", and did it "from scratch" in late-2013. Warren recalled in a Rolling Stone interview that she was impressed with Swift for the specificity in her songwriting and how eager she was to show the track to her audience. Several days later on New Year's Day in 2014, Swift recorded and played an acoustic guitar for the demo of "Say Don't Go" at Warren's office. However, the song did not made it into the final track-list of the album.[7]

Following a dispute with Big Machine over the sale of the masters of Swift's first six studio albums, she began re-recording them in November 2020; the re-recordings featured tracks from the sessions she had eschewed from their originals, subtitled as "From the Vault".[8][9] 1989's re-recording, 1989 (Taylor's Version), contains five of them including "Say Don't Go".[10] All of the "From the Vault" tracks were produced by Swift and Jack Antonoff,[1] who originally worked on three songs for 1989.[11] Before the album's release, Swift sent the track to Warren via email and she was amazed by it: "Oh my god, this is fucking awesome [...] I hope they release this as a single because I think it's a fucking hit".[7]

Composition[edit]

"Say Don't Go" is four minutes and thirty-nine seconds long.[12] It was recorded at Conway Recording Studios (Los Angeles), Electric Lady Studios (New York), Rough Customer Studio (Brooklyn), and Sharp Sonics Studios (Los Angeles). Antonoff and Evan Smith handled programming for the song, and the former provided background vocals. Antonoff played acoustic guitar, electric guitar, Mellotron, percussion, and synthesizers, Smith played saxophone and synthesizers, Mikey Freedom Hart played bass, electric guitar, Rhodes, and synthesizers, Michael Riddleberger and Sean Hutchinson played drums, and Zem Audu played synthesizers. Smith's performance was recorded at Pleasure Hill Recording in Portland; Hart's performance was recorded at Big Mercy Sound in Brooklyn; Sean Hutchinson's performance was recorded at Hutchinson Sound in Brooklyn; Audu's performance was recorded at Audu Music Studio in Brooklyn. The track was mixed at MixStar Studios in Virginia Beach.[13]

"Say Don't Go" is a power ballad that transcends from the album's synth-pop sound by adding styles of new-age and pop rock.[14][15][16] The production incorporates 1980s-inspired drum beats,[15][17] pizzicato arpeggios,[16] and isolated vocal patterns.[18] It has slow pacing for the beginning,[19] which Bobby Olivier from NJ.com found to be a "slinky intro" and likened the music to that of the fellow album track "Clean".[20] The song gradually builds up to what Clash critics deemed an "almost overwhelming chorus".[19] The part features percussive hooks that Shaad D'Souza from Pitchfork thought it resembles the style of the American band Haim.[21] In the post-chorus, it has backing vocals; Hugh G. Puddles of Sputnikmusic opined it evokes the Irish singer Enya,[16] while Billboard's Jason Lipshutz said the harmonies recalls her 2022 album Midnights.[22]

The lyrics are about a narrator hanging on to an unfruitful relationship.[23] The narrator begs her lover to give her one more reason to stay: "Halfway out the door but it won't close / I'm holding out hope for you to say, don't go / I would stay forever if you say, don't go".[24] Lipshutz found the lyric, "Why'd you have to twist the knife? / Walk away and leave me bleedin', bleedin'!", to be in line with Swift's country pop works.[22] Several critics wrote that the song had similar themes and lyrics to the fellow album tracks "All You Have to Do Was Stay" and "I Wish You Would";[b] Olivier opined that "Say Don't Go" was cut out of the original album due to its "similar content".[20] D'Souza thought the lyrics crosses between Swift's 2012 album Red and 1989.[21] For AllMusic, Fred Thomas said that the verses has traces of the Outfield song "Your Love" (1986).[27]

Release and commercial performance[edit]

1989 (Taylor's Version) was released on October 27, 2023, by Republic Records. In the track-list, "Say Don't Go" was listed at number 18 out of the 21 songs.[13] On November 26, Swift performed the track live on guitar in a show in São Paulo, as part of the Eras Tour (2023–2024).[28] "Say Don't Go" debuted and peaked at number five on the United States's Billboard Hot 100 with first-week streams of 25.8 million. It extended Swift's record of most top-ten entries by a female artist on the chart.[29][30] The song was also Warren's 33rd top-ten song as a writer, following Faith Hill's "There You'll Be" (2001). This extends her span of top-ten entries to forty years and six months.[31]

On the Billboard Global 200, "Say Don't Go" reached number four with 53.4 million streams. It along with five fellow tracks made Swift the first artist to occupy the entire top six of the Global 200. The song additionally extends her record for most top-ten entries by a female artist on that chart.[32] Elsewhere, "Say Don't Go" peaked within the top ten on various national charts: at number three in Australia[33] and New Zealand,[34] number four in the Philippines,[35] number five in Canada,[36] and number seven in Singapore.[37] Although not entering on the OCC's UK Singles Chart, the song peaked at number seven on Billboard's U.K. Songs.[38]

Critical reception[edit]

"Say Don't Go" received generally positive reviews from critics, with much of the discussion were towards the production. A number of them selected the song as a highlight amongst the "From the Vault" tracks of 1989 (Taylor's Version).[c] Dani Maher from Harper's Bazaar Australia deemed it the catchiest among them and opined that the chorus is "begging to be screamed aloud in stadiums".[24] Mark Sutherland of Rolling Stone UK described the song as "intriguing" and picked it as one of the tracks that "subtly point out the musical progress Swift has made" after 1989.[40] Clash and Lipshutz both lauded the track's production,[22] with Clash further elaborating that it added suspense in her delivery.[19] D'Souza said the song "shimmers with tension",[21] and Paddles thought it was "Swift's most intrepid journey [...] into the '80s cheese cave" on the album.[16]

Other critics focused on the songwriting on the track. Ed Power of i called it "great" and thought the song was a reminder of Swift's "effervescence" as a songwriter that only a few can match.[41] Annabel Gutterman from Time found the lyrics vulnerable.[42] Alex Hopper of American Songwriter wrote that the song was "fun" and labeled it as a "soon-to-be fan [favorite]".[43] Kelsey Barnes from The Line of Best Fit thought the collaboration between Swift and Warren was a success.[18] In contrast, Rachel Aroesti of The Guardian deemed it "decent if unremarkable".[44]

Personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from the liner notes of 1989 (Taylor's Version).[13]

Charts[edit]

Chart performance for "Say Don't Go"
Chart (2023) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[33] 3
Belgium (Billboard)[45] 24
Brazil (Brasil Hot 100)[46] 79
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[36] 5
Czech Republic (Singles Digitál Top 100)[47] 53
France (SNEP)[48] 134
Global 200 (Billboard)[49] 4
Greece International (IFPI)[50] 11
Lithuania (AGATA)[51] 73
Malaysia (Billboard)[52] 14
Malaysia International (RIM)[53] 12
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[34] 3
Norway (VG-lista)[54] 31
Philippines (Billboard)[35] 4
Poland (Polish Streaming Top 100)[55] 92
Portugal (AFP)[56] 31
Singapore (RIAS)[37] 7
Slovakia (Singles Digitál Top 100)[57] 15
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[58] 89
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[59] 47
UAE (IFPI)[60] 16
UK (Billboard)[38] 7
UK Singles Downloads (OCC)[61] 32
UK Singles Sales (OCC)[62] 37
UK Streaming (OCC)[63] 9
US Billboard Hot 100[29] 5
Vietnam (Vietnam Hot 100)[64] 41

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Subtitled "(Taylor's Version) (From the Vault)"[1]
  2. ^ Attributed to Rolling Stone's Angie Martoccio,[25] The Line of Best Fit's Kelsey Barnes,[18] The Telegraph's Neil McCormick,[23] and Variety's Chris Willman[26]
  3. ^ Attributed to Pitchfork's Shaad D'Souza,[21] Billboard's Jason Lipshutz,[22] and The A.V. Club's Mary Kate Carr[39]

References[edit]

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