Soon You'll Get Better

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"Soon You'll Get Better"
Song by Taylor Swift featuring the Dixie Chicks
from the album Lover
ReleasedAugust 23, 2019 (2019-08-23)
StudioElectric Lady (New York)
GenreCountry
Length3:22
LabelRepublic
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Taylor Swift
  • Jack Antonoff
Audio video
"Soon You'll Get Better" on YouTube

"Soon You'll Get Better" is a song by the American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift from her seventh studio album, Lover (2019). Swift and Jack Antonoff wrote and produced the song, which features background vocals and instruments from the American band the Dixie Chicks.[a] "Soon You'll Get Better" is a country ballad featuring slide guitar, banjo, and fiddle alongside vocal harmonies. The lyrics were inspired by Swift's parents' cancer diagnoses.

Music critics acclaimed the vulnerable songwriting of "Soon You'll Get Better" and deemed Swift's vocals emotional; they compared the tone of the song to prayers and lullabies. The track peaked at number 63 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and marked the Dixie Chicks' first Hot Country Songs entry in 13 years. It also charted in Australia, Canada, and Scotland. On April 18, 2020, Swift performed a solo piano rendition of the song as part of the One World: Together at Home livestream charity event.

Background and recording[edit]

"Soon You'll Get Better" features instruments and backing harmonies by the Dixie Chicks (pictured).

Taylor Swift conceived her seventh studio album, Lover, as a "love letter to love itself" that explores the many feelings evoked by love. The album was influenced by the connections she felt with her fans on her Reputation Stadium Tour (2018), which helped her recalibrate her personal life and artistic direction after the media controversies surrounding her celebrity at the time.[3] Republic Records released Lover on August 23, 2019. It was Swift's first album under Republic after she ended her previous contract with Big Machine.[4] "Soon You'll Get Better" is a song that Swift said was the album's hardest track to write.[5] It was inspired by the cancer diagnoses that Swift's parents received: "My dad got cancer when was 13 and he got better, and it wasn't a very long process, but things with my mom have been very different."[5][6] In a live video broadcast on YouTube the day before the album's release, Swift said that she and her family had a discussion before deciding to publish and release "Soon You'll Get Better", because of how personal the song was.[6]

The country band Dixie Chicks featured on "Soon You'll Get Better".[a][7] Swift asked the Dixie Chicks to collaborate with around the time when Jack Antonoff, a producer for Lover, was also working with them.[5] She explained that the Dixie Chicks were "the band that made [her] wanna do this" and spoke of their influence on her: "The Dixie Chicks taught me that you can have a strong female voice, saying whatever she wants in music, and experimenting with having a very feminine aesthetic, but very tough resilience to them."[5] Because of the track's personal nature, Swift said having the Dixie Chicks on the song was because of how "they were such a big part of [her] life".[5] In a July 2020 interview with Billboard, the band admitted that collaborating with Swift "felt like a lot of pressure" because they worried if they would dislike the track, but they ended up loving it and credited Swift with helping "so many girls for the future [...], just showing that vulnerable place of figuring this shit out for herself".[8]

Composition[edit]

"Soon You'll Get Better" is a country ballad[9][10] with a stripped-down acoustic production instrumented by sparse strings[11] such as slide guitars and banjo and fiddle played by the Dixie Chicks, who also provided vocal harmonies.[10][12][13] Time's Dana Schwartz described the track as a "tilt back to [Swift's] country roots"[14] and USA Today's Meave McDermott said it had a "Nashville feel".[15] Swift sings with understated vocals;[16] Roisin O'Connor of The Independent described them as "half-whispers" and said that she sang the song as if she were "on the verge of tears".[17]

The lyrics detail Swift's emotions after learning about her mother's cancer diagnosis, starting with a scene where she and her mother are in a doctor's office ("The buttons of my coat were tangled in my hair in doctor's office lighting")[16] before proceeding with Swift's prayers to God ("Holy orange bottles, each night, I pray to you/ Desperate people find faith, so now I pray to Jesus too")[18] but also expressing her doubts in religion.[12][19] She is in denial of her mother's illness, but she admires how her mother stays positive ("You like the nicer nurses, you make the best of a bad deal").[12] She tells herself of happy endings but realizes they are delusional ("I know delusion when I see it in the mirror [...] This won't go back to normal").[16] In the bridge, Swift details her thought spirals ("I hate to make this all about me/ But who am I supposed to talk to?/ What am I supposed to do/ If there's no you?").[20]

Time's Raisa Bruner described "Soon You'll Get Better" as a "sweet country lullaby" and an "acoustic ballad about illness and hoping for health", and added that "ultimately the song is a kind of prayer". Bruner expanded that Swift's repetition of the song title "functions more as a plea than a proclamation, an uncertainty that the song's delicacy echoes". Vulture's Jewly Height noted that Swift's vocal delivery, in the song, is "hushed as she steers the perspective like a cinematographer — first the focus on a tiny detail ("coat buttons tangled in her hair"), then a zoomed-out shot of the settings where the trouble's playing out ("doctors’ offices and hospital rooms")".[21]

Critical reception[edit]

"Soon You'll Get Better" received widespread critical acclaim, often being noted as a highlight from Lover, with critics praising Swift's "sincere" vocal performance, the "vulnerable" songwriting and the acoustic instrumentation of the song.

Time has called the song "heart-wrenching",[14] with Rolling Stone saying that it contains the "most vulnerable lyrics Swift has written in her entire career".[11] USA Today said that it ranked among her saddest songs, referring to her previous charity single "Ronan", also about cancer.[15] Rolling Stone complimented that lack of powerful instruments allowed Swift's personal memories to be the focus on the song, with the Chicks' background vocals serving this further and echoing the internal struggle the lyrics indicate.[11] USA Today said that there was no better song on the album for the collaboration.[15] The Guardian referred to the track as "a gorgeous, hushed country ballad about [Swift's] mother's illness, bedecked with banjo, fiddle and backing vocals by The Chicks" perfect for "those who think it all went wrong when she left Nashville" to "console themselves with".[10] Vulture referred to the song as a "fingerpicked throwback" with Swift's singing exhibiting "breathiness, crisp enunciation, and telegraphed sincerity". They added that Swift's solo verses repeat a "modest, wilting pattern with each line over a soft bed of acoustic guitar" and that "the sound gets only slightly bigger at the first chorus, with the introduction of the Chicks' brightening harmonies, gingerly picked banjo, and lyrical fiddle accents".[21]

The New York Times appreciated the "jolting specificity" of Swift's songwriting while stating that the "agonized" harmonies from [the] Chicks serve as an "empathetic swaddle".[22] Pitchfork called the song a "heart-rending" ballad.[23] The Spinoff opined that the song showcases the growth of Swift's vocal delivery and termed it as "beautiful stuff", while lauding [the] Chicks harmonies as "literal angels coming around Swift as she grieves her mother's cancer".[24] The Irish Times referred to the song as a "delicate letter to her mother", portraying "the fear and the silence of a hospital room".[25] Consequence of Sound wrote that the song has "the most heavenly harmonies of her [Swift's] career".[26]

Entertainment Weekly named "Soon You'll Get Better" as one of the ten "most emotionally devastating" songs of the 2010s decade and stated that the "heartbreaking" lyrics showcase Swift's pain and worry effectively. They also labelled the bridge of the song as "the saddest" bridge in Swift's discography.[27]

Commercial performance[edit]

Upon the release of Lover, "Soon You'll Get Better" debuted at number 63 on the US Billboard Hot 100 with 10.3 million streams and 9,000 downloads sold. It was the Chicks' first entry on the Hot 100 since "Not Ready to Make Nice" (2007). The song also debuted at number 10 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs, becoming Swift's twenty-first top-10 entry and her first since Sugarland's "Babe" (2018). For the Chicks, it was their first appearance on the chart since 2006, when "Everybody Knows" peaked at number 45.[28]

Spurred by Swift's debut performance of the song as part of the One World: Together At Home live television event, "Soon You'll Get Better" was among the top three sellers from the show, along with Maluma's "Carnaval" and Kacey Musgraves' "Rainbow"; these three songs together accounted for 42% of the total song sales generated by the show. "Soon You'll Get Better" sold more than 1000 downloads on April 18, 2020, compared to negligible sales the day before.[29]

Live performance[edit]

On April 18, 2020, Swift performed a solo piano rendition of "Soon You'll Get Better" as part of the Lady Gaga-curated One World: Together At Home television special, a benefit event by Global Citizen to raise funds for the World Health Organization's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.[30][31] Swift performed the song despite previously stating that she would not perform it, because of how "difficult" it is for her to "emotionally deal" with its meaning.[32]

The performance received widespread acclaim from television critics.[33][34][35][36] HuffPost named Swift's performance as the number-one key moment of Together At Home, by stating that Swift moved "us to tears with her stunning performance", and added that the track is a "somber recollection of Taylor's feelings during her mother's battle with cancer, so it's already a heart-wrenching listen, but took on another meaning in the current climate, when so many thousands of people have lost their lives due to COVID-19".[37] Naming the performance as one of the 10 best moments of the event, Billboard commended that Swift "effectively ripped our hearts out and reminded us of the power of music to both reflect and ease our pain. It was a tough, lovely and cathartic moment".[38]

Mashable,[39] Radio Times[40] and Vogue[41] also named the performance as one of the best moments of the event. Variety lauded Swift for her song choice, and described: "It was up to Swift—not usually thought of as a bracingly downbeat figure—who emerged as sober truth-teller at nearly the last minute, appearing alone, mirrored by her piano top, to perform a song she may be unlikely to sing under any other circumstance outside the studio". It further expanded that, "with verses so distraught they threaten to betray the deceptively optimist title as magical thinking", "there couldn't have been a more appropriate song for all the families of ICU patients sitting at home. The upturn in Swift's mouth as she wrapped up her appearance was measured in micro-millimeters, as it should be".[42]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from Tidal.[43]

Charts[edit]

Chart performance for "Soon You'll Get Better"
Chart (2019) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[44] 54
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[45] 71
Scotland (OCC)[46] 97
UK Audio Streaming (OCC)[47] 98
US Billboard Hot 100[48] 63
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[49] 10
US Rolling Stone Top 100[50] 31

Certifications[edit]

Certifications for "Soon You'll Get Better"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[51] Gold 35,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Note[edit]

  1. ^ a b c The Dixie Chicks renamed to the Chicks in 2020, and they appeared under their old name on the credits for "Soon You'll Get Better".[1][2]

References[edit]

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