The Lakes (song)

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"The Lakes"
Song by Taylor Swift
from the album Folklore
ReleasedAugust 18, 2020 (2020-08-18)
  • Kitty Committee Studio (Los Angeles)
  • Rough Customer Studio (New York City)
  • Jack Antonoff
  • Taylor Swift
Folklore track listing
17 tracks
  1. "The 1"
  2. "Cardigan"
  3. "The Last Great American Dynasty"
  4. "Exile" (featuring Bon Iver)
  5. "My Tears Ricochet"
  6. "Mirrorball"
  7. "Seven"
  8. "August"
  9. "This Is Me Trying"
  10. "Illicit Affairs"
  11. "Invisible String"
  12. "Mad Woman"
  13. "Epiphany"
  14. "Betty"
  15. "Peace"
  16. "Hoax"

Deluxe edition bonus track

  1. "The Lakes"
Lyric video
"The Lakes" on YouTube

"The Lakes" (stylized in all lowercase) is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, for the deluxe edition of her eighth studio album, Folklore, released on August 7, 2020 through Republic Records. The song was released to streaming and digital platforms on August 18, 2020. As the final and seventeenth track on the deluxe, the song was written and produced by Swift and Jack Antonoff. "The Lakes" is a midtempo indie ballad, set to acoustic guitar and strings, with themes of introspection and escapism, reflecting on Swift's semi-retirement in Windermere, the largest lake in England.

Upon release, "The Lakes" received widespread acclaim from music critics, who complimented its sophisticated, poetic lyrics and dulcet instrumentals; many named it a highlight on Folklore and one of the best songs Swift has ever penned. The song debuted in the top-10 of the Canadian and US Digital Song Sales charts, and reached number 13 in New Zealand, number 21 in Scotland and UK Downloads, and number 28 in Hungary.


Initially, "The Lakes" was exclusively featured as a bonus track on physical deluxe editions of Folklore, which were issued on August 7, 2020. The song was made available on digital and streaming platforms on August 18, 2020, along with a lyric video published to Swift's YouTube channel.[1][2]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

William Wordsworth, the 19th-century English poet known for his Romantic works, is referenced in the lyric "tell me what are my words worth"—a pun on his name.

"The Lakes" is a melodramatic, midtempo indie ballad[3] driven by acoustic guitar, with lush orchestration heavily laden with strings and an "euphoric" crescendo of violins.[4] Swift's vocal range in the song spans between D3 to F4.[5] The song is written in the key of D major and has a moderate tempo of 90 beats per minute.[6]

The poetic lyrics see Swift introspecting on her semi-retirement in Windermere, the largest lake in England, located in the Lake District of the country. Swift fantasizes a red rose growing out of tundra "with no one around to tweet it", indicating her idea of an utopia free of social media, feuds and urban settings,[7][8][9][1] getting away from the society, her critics and detractors, and find solace with her lover in wilderness, like the Lake Poets did.[10][4] The songwriting exudes a depressive tone coupled with escapism, with references to Wisteria, a genus of aquatic flowering plants, and William Wordsworth, the 19th-century English poet who is recognized for his Romantic works.[11] Aaron Dessner, Swift's collaborator on Folklore, stated the song uses hints of tragic Greek poetry, and feels like getting "lost in a beautiful garden".[12] Mainstream media has surmised the song's subject, whom Swift refers to as "muse" and "beloved", to be her boyfriend and British actor Joe Alwyn. The lyric "I've come too far to watch some namedropping sleaze" is interpreted as a subtle hint at her publicized disputes with Kanye West and Scooter Braun.[13]

Critical reception[edit]

The song received widespread critical acclaim. Hannah Mylrea of NME opined that "The Lakes" is more poetic and romantic than any song on the standard edition of Folklore, and praised the song as "allusive".[14] Rolling Stone's Brittany Spanos wrote that the song channels Romantic-era poetry, by depicting unconditional love "within a controversial life and painful experiences".[15] In agreement, Wren Graves, writing for Consequence of Sound, also found the song to be Romantic, inspired by "one of the great periods in English literature".[16] Sammy Andrews of Redbrick stated that the song demonstrates "exceptional" lyrical sophistication and maturity, attesting to Swift's "talent and craftsmanship as a songwriter".[4] Tom Breihan of Stereogum called it a "soft, small-scale" love song about avoiding the public eye and "finding escape in some secluded enclave".[17]

Gil Kaufman of Billboard found "The Lakes" delightful, and complimented the sparse instrumentals,[1] while Josiah Hughes of Exclaim! commended its "lush and elaborately produced" indie sound.[3] Mike Wass of Idolator labelled it a "dreamy anthem".[18] Complimenting Swift's vulnerability and honesty, Sputnikmusic praised "The Lakes" as "an ideal product of its time", naming it one of the best songs Swift has ever written, and asserted it as the perfect closing track to Folklore.[19] Gary Dinges of USA Today deemed the song a "serenade", mimicking a bittersweet version of Swift's 2017 song "Call It What You Want".[20] Also comparing to "Call It What You Want", Emily Tannenbaum of Glamour defined the song as a melancholic love letter, and highlighted its macabre.[13]

Commercial performance[edit]

After three days of tracking, the song debuted at number five on the Billboard Digital Song Sales chart, and at number 18 on Billboard Bubbling Under the Hot 100 chart.[21][22] It also reached the top-20 on New Zealand Top 40 Singles and Canadian Digital Song Sales charts, and the top-30 on Hungarian Singles, Scottish Singles and the UK Downloads charts.

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the album's liner notes.[23]

  • Taylor Swift – vocals, songwriter, producer
  • Jack Antonoff – producer, songwriter, recording engineer, live drums, live percussion, drum programming, electric guitar, keyboards, piano, background vocals
  • Evan Smith – saxophone, clarinet, flute, keyboards, bass
  • Bobby Hawk – strings
  • Mike Williams – recording engineer
  • John Gautier – recording engineer
  • Jonathan Low – mixing engineer
  • Laura Sisk – vocal engineer
  • Randy Merrill – mastering engineer


Chart (2020) Peak
Canadian Digital Song Sales (Billboard)[24] 9
New Zealand Hot Singles (RMNZ)[25] 13
Hungary (Single Top 40)[26] 28
Scotland (OCC)[27] 21
UK Download (OCC)[28] 21
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[29] 18
US Digital Song Sales (Billboard)[30] 2

Release history[edit]

Release dates and formats for "The Lakes"
Region Date Format Label Ref.
Various August 18, 2020 Republic [1]


  1. ^ a b c d Kaufman, Gil (August 18, 2020). "Listen to a Delightful Bonus Song From the Deluxe Edition of Taylor Swift's 'Folklore'". Billboard. Retrieved August 18, 2020.
  2. ^ Romano, Nick (August 18, 2020). "Taylor Swift releases tearjerking 'Folklore' bonus track 'The Lakes' on streaming". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Hughes, Josiah (August 18, 2020). "Taylor Swift Shares Lyric Video for 'folklore' Bonus Track "the lakes"". Exclaim!. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Andrews, Sammy (August 29, 2020). "Single Review: Taylor Swift - the lakes | Redbrick Music". Redbrick. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
  5. ^ "Taylor Swift "the lakes" Sheet Music in D major". July 24, 2020. Retrieved September 14, 2020. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help)
  6. ^ "Key & BPM for exile (feat. Bon Iver) by Taylor Swift". TuneBat. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  7. ^ Sheffield, Rob (July 24, 2020). "Taylor Swift Leaves Her Comfort Zones Behind on the Head-Spinning, Heartbreaking 'Folklore'". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on July 24, 2020. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  8. ^ Willman, Chris (July 24, 2020). "Taylor Swift's 'Folklore': Album Review". Variety. Archived from the original on July 24, 2020. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  9. ^ Ahlgrim, Callie (July 30, 2020). "Every detail and Easter egg you may have missed on Taylor Swift's new album 'Folklore'". Insider. Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  10. ^ Jones, Nate (August 18, 2020). "Taylor Swift Releases Another Song Reminding You How Much She Likes England". Vulture. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  11. ^ Willman, Chris (August 8, 2020). "Taylor Swift, Prince, Bon Iver and More in Fri 5, the Best Songs of the Week". Variety. Archived from the original on August 8, 2020. Retrieved August 8, 2020.
  12. ^ Gerber, Brady (July 27, 2020). "The Story Behind Every Song on Taylor Swift's folklore". Vulture. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Tannenbaum, Emily. "All The Ways 'The Lakes' Is Taylor Swift's Love Letter to Joe Alwyn". Glamour. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  14. ^ Mylrea, Hannah (August 6, 2020). "Taylor Swift – 'The Lakes': the 'Folklore' bonus song decoded". NME. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  15. ^ Spanos, Brittany (August 8, 2020). "Taylor Swift Channels Romantic-Era Poetry With 'The Lakes'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  16. ^ Graves, Wren (August 7, 2020). "Taylor Swift releases folklore bonus track "the lakes"". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  17. ^ "Taylor Swift's Bonus Track "The Lakes" Is Out". Stereogum. August 7, 2020. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  18. ^ Wass, Mike (August 8, 2018). "Taylor Swift's 'folklore' Bonus Track 'the lakes' Reaches #1 On iTunes". Idolator. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  19. ^ "Sputnikmusic - Taylor Swift: "The Lakes"". Sputnikmusic. August 19, 2020. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  20. ^ Dinges, Gary (August 18, 2020). "Surprise! Taylor Swift releases 'Folklore' bonus track, uncovers 'Cardigan' video Easter eggs". USA TODAY. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  21. ^ "Taylor Swift – Billboard Digital Song Sales Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  22. ^ "Taylor Swift – Billboard Bubbling Under the Hot 100 Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  23. ^ Folklore (booklet). Taylor Swift. United States: Republic Records. 2020. B003271102.CS1 maint: others (link)
  24. ^ "Canadian Digital Song Sales (week 29/08/2020)". Billboard. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  25. ^ "NZ Hot Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. August 24, 2020. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  26. ^ "Archívum – Slágerlisták – MAHASZ" (in Hungarian). Single (track) Top 40 lista. Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  27. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  28. ^ "Official Singles Downloads Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  29. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  30. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Digital Song Sales)". Billboard. Retrieved August 26, 2020.