State of Grace (song)

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"State of Grace"
A photograph of Swift standing in a grassland, with her back facing the camera. She is wearing a purple dress and holding a guitar upside-down. Her name "Taylor Swift" is printed in red and the title "State of Grace" is printed in white; both are capitalized.
Promotional single by Taylor Swift
from the album Red
ReleasedOctober 16, 2012 (2012-10-16)
StudioBlackbird (Nashville, Tennessee)
GenreArena rock
Length4:56
LabelBig Machine
Songwriter(s)Taylor Swift
Producer(s)
"State of Grace (Taylor's Version)"
Song by Taylor Swift
from the album Red (Taylor's Version)
ReleasedNovember 12, 2021 (2021-11-12)
GenreArena rock
Length4:55
LabelRepublic
Songwriter(s)Taylor Swift
Producer(s)
Lyric video
"State of Grace (Taylor's Version)" on YouTube

"State of Grace" is a song that was written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, and was first released on her fourth studio album Red (2012). Big Machine Records released the song as a promotional single for digital download on October 16, 2012. Swift co-produced the track with Nathan Chapman. "State of Grace" is an arena rock song that includes chiming guitars and dynamic drums; it is the opening track of Red and is about the tumultuous feelings evoked by the first sights of love, setting the tone for an album about lost romance.

Music critics noted "State of Grace" for expanding Swift's previous country pop catalog. They praised its anthemic production and emotional sentiments, and retrospectively included it among Swift's best songs. "State of Grace" peaked within the top 50 of singles charts in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, and Canada. It reached number nine on the Canadian Hot 100 and number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100, and received a gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Background and release[edit]

In October 2010, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift released her third studio album Speak Now, which she wrote and co-produced with Nathan Chapman, her long-time collaborator.[1] The album extends the country pop sound of Swift's two previous albums with elements of radio-friendly pop crossover that are evident on its predecessor Fearless (2008).[2]

On Speak Now's follow-up Red, Swift aimed to experiment beyond her earlier albums' formulaic country-pop sound.[1] "State of Grace" is one of the first songs Swift wrote in Nashville, Tennessee, before she went to Los Angeles to approach producers.[1] Swift co-produced the song and eight other tracks for Red with Chapman.[3] "State of Grace" was recorded by engineers Brian David Willis, Chad Carlson, and Matt Rausch; and mixed by Justin Niebank at Blackbird Studios, Nashville.[3] Hank Williams mastered the track at Nashville's MasterMix studio.[3]

From September 24, 2012, to promote Red, Swift released on the iTunes Store one track each week until the album's October 22 release date as part of a four-week release countdown.[4] "State of Grace" was released as the final promotional single from Red on October 16 during the final week of the countdown.[5][6]

On August 6, 2021, Swift announced that "State of Grace" along with its acoustic version would be re-recorded, titled "State of Grace (Taylor's Version)" and "State of Grace (Acoustic Version) (Taylor's Version)", would be included as the first track and twentieth track on her second re-recorded album Red (Taylor's Version), which were released on November 12, 2021, through Republic Records.[7]

Music and lyrics[edit]

"State of Grace" is the opening track of Red.[3] It is an arena rock song with anthemic production, and is backed by chiming guitars and dynamic drums.[8][9][10] Music journalists said the song's rock-leaning production departs from the country-pop sound of Swift's previous albums, citing Irish rock band U2 as a possible influence.[11] Music professor James Perone said "State of Grace" is reminiscent of 1980s college rock[12] while Marc Hogan from Spin and Randall Roberts from the Los Angeles Times compared the song's style to that of U2's album The Joshua Tree (1987).[13][14]

The song is lyrically consistent with Swift's romantic themes, and is about the tumultuous feelings evoked by the first sights of love.[14][15] The song uses feedback and reverberation for the guitars and Swift sings loudly and with elongated syllables.[10][5] In the second verse, the bass halts for a contemplative moment and Swift sings; "We are alone, just you and me / Up in your room and our slates are clean".[15][16] The song's tempo quickens as Swift sings with fast-paced drums and propelling guitars in the background.[17] According to Entertainment Weekly's Grady Smith, contrary to Swift's usual intricate storytelling, "State of Grace" puts heavy emphasis on the production. Smith wrote the expansive sound represents the song's theme of a "dawning sense of triumphant wonder that accompanies love".[9]

Several critics highlighted the maturity of Swift's songwriting on "State of Grace"; Hogan found the lyrics uplifting because Swift does not seek revenge for a failed relationship in the lines; "And I never saw you coming / And I'll never be the same".[14] In a review for The Atlantic, Brad Nelson said Swift introduced more nuances to the narrative than those in her previous love songs; after clichéd lyrics about love; "We fall in love 'til it hurts or bleeds / or fades in time", she "gets writerly" with the second-verse lines "We are alone, just you and me / Up in your room and our slates are clean / Just twin fire sings / four blue eyes", using "the kind of details that detach from a narrative and stretch over it like clouds", reminding Nelson of the work of Steely Dan songwriters Walter Becker and Donald Fagen.[17] The song concludes with the lyric "Love is a ruthless game / unless you play it good and right", which sets the tone for an album about complex feelings ensuing from lost romance.[10][18]

Live performances[edit]

Taylor Swift wearing a brimmed hat and a laced white shirt smiling
Swift during the Red Tour (2013), where she performed "State of Grace"

Swift performed "State of Grace" live for the first time on November 15, 2012, during the second season of the U.S. version of The X Factor.[19] She later performed the song at Z100 Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden, New York City, on December 7, 2012.[20] The song was first on the set list of the Red Tour (2013–14).[21] Swift performed the song on July 10, 2018, at a concert at Landover, Maryland, as part of her Reputation Stadium Tour.[22]

Critical reception[edit]

Upon its release, "State of Grace" received acclaim from contemporary critics.[11] Grady Smith from Entertainment Weekly commented on the song's rock sound: "the extended instrumental breaks provide a more forceful, mature impact than Swift's standard sass".[9] Spin's Marc Hogan lauded the production as "brutally effective"[14] and August Brown from the Los Angeles Times said the track is Red's most arresting and promising song.[5] Adam Graham of The Detroit News complimented Swift's songwriting for creating "moments of intimacy within the booming sonics", which showcased a new aspect of her artistry.[16] Jason Lipshutz of Billboard commented on the song's "sweeping emotion" and labeled it Swift's bold experimentation with arena rock.[10]

Michael Robbins from Spin chose "State of Grace" as one of the album's songs that "go down like pop punch spiked by pros".[23] Randall Roberts of the Los Angeles Times named the song as evidence of swift's experimentation beyond country music on Red. Roberts praised the track but said the experimentation makes Swift "like a mere cypher for the music that surrounds her".[13] Jonathan Keefe from Slant Magazine was disappointed by the song's repetitive drums and guitars because it prioritizes musical experimentation but fails to exhibit Swift's songwriting abilities.[24]

Retrospective reviews of "State of Grace" have been highly positive, with several critics picking it as one of Swift's best songs. In a 2019 review of Red for Pitchfork, Brad Nelson wrote "State of Grace", while produced by Swift's longtime collaborator Chapman, is an example of her emerging versatility beyond country.[15] Jordan Sargent of Spin described its production as a "thematically perfect musical composition, unhurried as if to marinate on the moment but also fleetingly epic".[25] The staff of Billboard included the track on their 2017 list of the "100 Best Deep Cuts by 21st Century Pop Stars", describing the built-up arena rock production as "a wallop quite unlike anything in Swift's catalog".[26] Hannah Mylrea of NME and Jane Song of Paste included the song among the 10 best songs in Swift's catalog, both lauding the arena-rock sound that Swift has since not recreated.[8][27] Nate Jones from New York also ranked "State of Grace" as one of Swift's 10 best songs, calling it a "big, expansive rock track, which sent dozens of Joshua Tree fans searching for their nearest pair of headphones."[28]

Commercial performance[edit]

"State of Grace" charted on singles charts of several Anglophone countries, peaking within the top 50 in Australia (44),[29] Ireland (43),[30] the UK (36),[31] and New Zealand (20).[32] The song peaked at number nine on the Canadian Hot 100[33] and at number 13 on the US Billboard Hot 100,[34] and received a gold certification from the RIAA, denoting sales of 500,000 track-equivalent units based on sales and on-demand streaming.[35]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Red[3]

  • Taylor Swift – vocals, songwriter, producer
  • Nathan Chapman – producer, guitar
  • Justin Niebank – mixer
  • Brian David Willis – engineer
  • Chad Carlson – engineer
  • Matt Rausch – engineer
  • Hank Williams – mastering engineer
  • Drew Bollman – assistant mixer
  • Leland Elliott – assistant recording engineer
  • Nick Buda – drums
  • Eric Darken – percussion

Track listing[edit]

  • Digital download[36]
  1. "State of Grace" – 4:55

Charts[edit]

Certification[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[35] Gold 500,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Bernstein, Jonathan (November 18, 2020). "500 Greatest Albums: Taylor Swift Looks Back on Her 'Only True Breakup Album' 'Red'". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 4, 2020. Retrieved December 25, 2020.
  2. ^ Thomas Erlewine, Stephen. "Speak Now – Taylor Swift". AllMusic. Archived from the original on November 5, 2017. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e Red (CD liner notes). Taylor Swift. Big Machine Records. 2012.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  4. ^ Bernstein, Alyssa (September 21, 2013). "Taylor Swift Launches Red Album Release With 4-Week Song Preview Countdown". American Broadcasting Company. Archived from the original on November 23, 2012. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c Brown, August (October 16, 2012). "Taylor Swift releases 'State of Grace' single". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 23, 2012. Retrieved October 19, 2012.
  6. ^ Montgomery, James (October 16, 2012). "Taylor Swift's 'State of Grace' goes straight to #1 on iTunes". MTV News. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  7. ^ Al-Heeti, Abrar (November 11, 2021). "Red (Taylor's Version): Release date, tracklist, why Taylor Swift is rerecording her albums". CNET. Retrieved November 13, 2021.
  8. ^ a b Mylrea, Hannah (September 8, 2020). "Every Taylor Swift song ranked in order of greatness". NME. Archived from the original on September 17, 2020. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Smith, Grady (October 16, 2012). "Taylor Swift channels U2 on new track 'State of Grace': Hear it here". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on July 1, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2012.
  10. ^ a b c d Lipshutz, Jason (October 16, 2012). "Taylor Swift Finds 'State of Grace' on New 'Red' Track: Listen". Billboard. Archived from the original on August 3, 2016. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  11. ^ a b Lansky, Sam (October 16, 2012). "Taylor Swift's 'State of Grace': Review Revue". Idolator. Archived from the original on July 27, 2021. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  12. ^ Perone 2017, p. 46.
  13. ^ a b Roberts, Randall (October 22, 2012). "Album review: Taylor Swift's 'Red' burns with confidence". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 12, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  14. ^ a b c d Hogan, Marc (October 16, 2012). "Taylor Swift Reaches 'State of Grace' on Feedback-Streaked Rock Anthem". Spin. Archived from the original on December 17, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2012.
  15. ^ a b c Nelson, Brad (August 19, 2019). "Taylor Swift: Red Album Review". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on August 20, 2019. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  16. ^ a b Graham, Adam (October 16, 2012). "Listen: Taylor Swift swings for the fences with 'State of Grace'". The Detroit News. Archived from the original on September 25, 2013. Retrieved October 19, 2012.
  17. ^ a b Nelson, Brad (November 1, 2012). "If You Listen Closely, Taylor Swift Is Kind of Like Leonard Cohen". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on February 25, 2021. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  18. ^ Perone 2017, p. 45.
  19. ^ Kroll, Katy (November 16, 2012). "Taylor Swift Debuts 'State of Grace' During 'X Factor' Double Elimination". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on November 23, 2020. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  20. ^ Hampp, Andrew (December 8, 2012). "Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, One Direction and More Light Up NYC at Z100 Jingle Ball". Billboard. Archived from the original on March 9, 2016. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
  21. ^ Sheffield, Rob (March 28, 2013). "Taylor Swift's 'Red' Tour: Her Amps Go Up to 22". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on March 26, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  22. ^ Iasimone, Ashley. "All the Surprise Songs Taylor Swift Has Performed On Her Reputation Stadium Tour B-Stage (So Far)". Billboard. Archived from the original on October 8, 2019. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  23. ^ Robbins, Michael (October 25, 2012). "Taylor Swift, 'Red' (Big Machine)". Spin. Archived from the original on December 12, 2012. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  24. ^ Keefe, Jonathan (October 22, 2012). "Taylor Swift: Red". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  25. ^ Sargent, Jordan (June 16, 2017). "Listen to Taylor Swift's Red, One of the Best Pop Albums of Our Time". Spin. Archived from the original on May 14, 2021. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  26. ^ "The 100 Best Deep Cuts by 21st Century Pop Stars: Critics' Picks". Billboard. November 21, 2017. Archived from the original on November 23, 2017. Retrieved December 29, 2019.
  27. ^ "All 158 Taylor Swift Songs, ranked". Paste. February 11, 2020. Archived from the original on April 13, 2020. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  28. ^ Jones, Nate (August 13, 2020). "Taylor Swift Songs, Ranked from Worst to Best". New York. Archived from the original on September 13, 2019. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  29. ^ a b "Taylor Swift – State of Grace". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved October 20, 2012.
  30. ^ a b "Chart Track: Week 42, 2012". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved October 20, 2012.
  31. ^ a b "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 20, 2012.
  32. ^ a b "Taylor Swift – State of Grace". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved October 20, 2012.
  33. ^ a b "Taylor Swift Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
  34. ^ a b "Taylor Swift Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  35. ^ a b "American single certifications – Taylor Swift – State of Grace". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  36. ^ "State of Grace – Single by Taylor Swift". iTunes Store. Archived from the original on October 18, 2012. Retrieved October 19, 2014.
  37. ^ "ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart". Australian Recording Industry Association. November 22, 2021. Retrieved November 19, 2021.
  38. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  39. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Global 200)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  40. ^ "Official Irish Singles Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 19, 2021.
  41. ^ "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. November 22, 2021. Retrieved November 20, 2021.
  42. ^ "RIAS Top Charts Week 46 (12 - 18 Nov 2021)". November 23, 2021. Archived from the original on November 23, 2021. Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  43. ^ "Local & International Streaming Chart Top 100: Week 46". The Official South African Charts. Recording Industry of South Africa. Archived from the original on November 25, 2021. Retrieved November 26, 2021.
  44. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 19, 2021.
  45. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2021.

Citations