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We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift for her fourth studio album, Red (2012). Swift co-wrote the song with its producers, Max Martin and Shellback. The song was released as the lead single from Red on August 13, 2012, by Big Machine Records. Its lyrics depict Swift's frustrations at an ex-lover who wants to re-kindle their relationship. Rolling Stone magazine named the song the second best song of 2012 while it took the fourth spot in Times end-of-year poll. The song received a Grammy Award nomination for Record of the Year. The song received a People’s Choice Award nomination for Favorite Song.

The song was an instant commercial success, becoming Swift's first number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States, as well as the first song to hold the top spot for more than one week after a huge leap from a lower position since Kelly Clarkson's two-week run at number one with "My Life Would Suck Without You", which rocketed from number 97 to the top spot in 2009. Additionally, the song also topped the charts in Canada and New Zealand, while reaching the top five in Australia, Japan, South Korea, Ireland, Israel and the United Kingdom. It also topped the US Hot Country Songs for ten weeks, Swift's longest reign to date. A music video for the song was released in August 2012. It was the first music video to be presented in 4K resolution and received positive reviews from critics. To date, it has received over 580 million views on YouTube. A CD single was released in September 2012 by Swift's official store, Amazon.com and US Walmart stores. The single has been certified Quintuple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), while also being certified platinum or more in Australia, the United Kingdom, Sweden, New Zealand, Japan and Denmark. The song is one of the best-selling singles worldwide, with worldwide sales reaching 7 million copies to date (according to the IFPI).

Background and release



After writing Speak Now (2010) entirely solo, Swift opted to collaborate with different songwriters and producers for Red. Thus, she called Max Martin and Shellback, two songwriters and producers whose work she admired, to discuss a possible collaboration. The trio conceived the concept for "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" shortly after a friend of Swift's ex-boyfriend walked into the recording studio and spoke of rumors he heard that Swift and her former flame were reuniting. After the friend left, Martin and Shellback asked Swift to elaborate on the details of the relationship, which she described as "break up, get back together, break up, get back together, just, ugh, the worst". When Martin suggested that they write about the incident, Swift began playing the guitar and singing, "We are never ever......", and the song flowed rapidly afterwards. She described the process as one of the most humorous experiences she had while recording, and said the musical partners matched her expectations. An audio clip of her sarcastically speaking about breakups can be heard before the final chorus. The song is reportedly about Swift's ex, Jake Gyllenhaal, as the two had broken up in January 2011 but had been seen on a date a few days later. After the release of the music video, more clues linking the song to Gyllenhaal emerged; with the actor in the video looking like Gyllenhaal, giving her a scarf – as Gyllenhaal had reportedly done. A bracelet Swift wears in the video is speculated to look similar to that which Gyllenhaal was rumored to have given Swift for her birthday.

Swift premiered the single on August 13, 2012, during a live chat on Google+ with the song released on Google Play that day for digital download and to iTunes and Amazon.com the next day, August 14. A lyric video also premiered on Swift's official Vevo that same day. The song was released to Adult Contemporary radio stations on August 13, 2012 and to mainstream radio stations the next day. The song was released to country radio on August 21, 2012. The music video for the song premiered on August 30, 2012. A limited edition individually numbered CD single was released to Swift's official store and Amazon.com on September 4, 2012. The limited edition CD single was packaged with a "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" T-shirt and backpack. The CD single was also available for individual purchase. The CD single was released exclusively to US Walmart stores the same day.

Composition and lyrics



The three-minute-and-twelve-second song features electronic heavy production accompanied to acoustic guitars, a banjo, and a pop music vocal styling, a musical transition for Swift. It was written in the key of G Major with a common time signature and a slow tempo of eighty-six beats per minute, with Swift's vocals spanning one octave and five notes, from G3 to E5. The track features an acoustic guitar (some of its sounds are reversed) and various synthesizers over an electronic drum beat. The country radio release featured a different instrumental arrangement. The alternate mix replaced the guitar, drum machine, and synthesizers with a mandolin, fiddle, steel guitar and snare drums. The song was written by Swift, along with Max Martin and Shellback. The lyrics discuss Swift's frustration towards a former male lover who wants to rekindle their relationship. Jonathan Keefe of Slant Magazine describes it as a bubblegum pop number while AllMusic categorized the song under the dance-pop genre. James Lancho, reviewing the album Red called the song "sassy pop-rock in the mould of Katy Perry."

Critical reception



Upon initial release, the song received positive reviews from music critics. Robert Myers of The Village Voice felt that the song, while "good", was "not Swift at her best" and speculated that the decision to release it as a lead single was made for commercial reasons: "I doubt 'Never Ever' is even close to being the best song on Red; it's a teaser, an indication to her fans of what's coming up. That sounds like commercial calculation of the worst kind, but I don't think it is. Swift's connection with her audience is possibly more important than her connection with her boyfriends. And there is one brilliant touch: the spoken bit that comes after the middle eight." Grady Smith of Entertainment Weekly drew comparisons with Avril Lavigne and praised the "undeniable, instantly catchy hook". While describing the song as "joyous", he nevertheless expressed concern that the song's "juvenile sensibilities" marked a regression following Swift's work on Speak Now. Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone noted that the song's "hooks, plural, have a zing that's more Stockholm than Nashville. But it's unmistakably Taylor: a witty relationship postmortem, delivered in inimitable girlie-girl patois. And this bit – "I'm just, I mean, this is exhausting. Like, we are never getting back together. Like, ever" – might be the most sublime spoken-word interlude in pop since Barry White died."

Marah Eakin of The A.V. Club commented on "what a good song it is": "With its thumping kick drum, clipped syncopation, and mildly snarky lyrics, it's a teen dream in the vein of Swift's other sing-along jams like "Love Story" or "You Belong with Me." Kevin Coyne of Country Universe gave the song a failing D grade, calling it a "huge step backward". James Montgomery of MTV felt the "fantastic" song may "represent a turning point in her career ... Swift no longer has any interest in being the victim ... [She] displays a defiant, liberated streak". He noted that the song seemed "custom-crafted to dominate radio ... all shiny, silvery guitars and walloping, whomping choruses". Amy Sciarretto of Popcrush praised Swift for capturing a "universal feeling in an upbeat, empowering song" and described it as "one of the catchiest tunes she's ever penned". Jonathan Keefe of Slant Magazine described "the melodic hook" as the song's best attribute but criticized Swift's "stilted phrasing". He described her vocal performance as a "complete misfire", pointing out that her voice was at its "most unpleasant and nasal". However, Keefe warned that it was "premature" to say the "full-on pop" song "signals anything more than a temporary breakup". David Malitz of The Washington Post found the song immature and remarked, "the chorus is catchy but if this is representative of what awaits on Red, it's hard to be too excited". Glenn Gamboa of Newsday described it as "anthemic in a slick pop way, rather than her usual modern country way ... Part of T. Swizzle's charm is the way she makes her songs sound genuine and conversational and 'Never Ever' is no exception". Billy Dukes of Taste of Country stated that "[Swift] captures the anger of young love gone wrong better than anyone since, well…[Taylor] Swift" and that the song's melody is "difficult to embrace quickly." However, Camille Mann of CBS News considered the song to be "catchy".

Rolling Stone named it the second-best song of 2012 in their end-of-year critics' poll: "It's like a Clash of the Titans: Swift, the world's hottest pop singer or songwriter, meets up with Max Martin, the Swedish maestro who's been the Dr. Evil of global trash-disco for more than a decade. To nobody's surprise, they cook up a perfect three-minute teen tantrum about country girls getting mad at high-strung indie boys, topping the charts faster than you can say, "This is exhausting." It's a stadium-chant breakup song that may have less to do with the actual guy it's about than with the massive raging-cowgirl audience Swift has led to the pinnacle of the music world. The song was marked at number four on Time magazine's "Top 10 Songs of 2012 Playlist". It was voted the sixth best single of 2012 by The Village Voices 40th annual Pazz & Jop critics' poll. "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" was named the 169th best song of 2010-2014 on Pitchfork's "The 200 Best Tracks of the Decade So Far (2010-2014)" list. It also received a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year for the 2013 Grammy Awards. In 2019, Stereogum ranked the song as the 71st best song of the 2010s. Rolling Stone ranked the song as the thirteenth-best female country song of the 2000s and 2010s.

Accolades

Chart performance

North America

The song debuted at number seventy-two on the Billboard Hot 100 based on two days of airplay alone in the chart week ending August 25, 2012. On its second week, it jumped to number one. It is the first song in Swift's career to top the Billboard Hot 100 and her eleventh top ten hit, tying with Kenny Rogers' record for the most top ten hits by a country artist in chart history. It also makes Swift the first female country artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 since Carrie Underwood debuted in the top spot in July 2005 with "Inside Your Heaven." It held the position for a two-week span after a huge successful leap, making Swift the second artist to hold the position since Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You". On its fifth week on the chart, the song rebounded to number one after falling at number two, making it the first country song to spend three weeks on top since Kenny Rogers' "Lady" top the chart for six weeks in 1980. The single stayed at the top ten for a total of thirteen weeks, tying with "Love Story" as Swift's second longest-running top ten hit of her career, and charted for twenty-four weeks.

"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" entered at number twenty-five on Billboard Radio Songs, the highest debut rank for a song by a female country act in the airplay tally's 21-year history. The single entered the top ten at number ten on its fourth week, became Swift's fourth top ten hit on Billboard Radio Songs. It reached its peak at number three on the week-ending October 3, 2012 and stayed there for three non-consecutive weeks.

On Billboard Hot Country Songs, it debuted at number thirteen on the week-ending September 1, 2012, thus tied the record for the second highest chart debut on that chart with "Feel Like a Rock Star" by Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw." On October 11, 2012, Billboard implemented a new policy for the Hot Country Songs where digital download sales and streaming data were factored into the 50-position rankings, along with existing radio airplay data monitored by Nielsen BDS. As a result of this methodology change, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" jumped from number twenty-one to one on Billboard Hot Country Songs and became Swift's seventh song to top the chart. In doing so, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" became the first song to top both the country and Hot 100 charts since Lonestar's "Amazed" in March 2000. When it reached its ninth week atop the chart the week of December 15, the song surpassed Connie Smith's "Once a Day" (from November 1964 to January 1965) for the longest run at number one on the chart by a female solo artist; in addition, the song became the first to remain at number one for nine consecutive weeks since "Almost Persuaded" by David Houston (from August to October 1966). After dropping back to number two for three weeks, the song returned to number one on January 12, 2013 due to it having garnered the digital gainer that week, allowing the song to notch its tenth week at number one, and in the process becoming the first song to spend at least ten weeks atop the chart since Buck Owens' "Love's Gonna Live Here" (a 16-week number in 1963-1964). The song is however Swift's first officially promoted single not to reach Top 10 in the Country Airplay chart as the song is considered to be pop by some in country music radio.

On Billboard Pop Songs, the song debuted at number eighteen, the fifth-best opening rank ever, and soon reached number two on that chart for four weeks, behind Maroon 5's "One More Night". It debuted at number sixteen on Billboard Adult Contemporary, the best entrance for a non-holiday song by a woman since Faith Hill's "There You'll Be" debuted at number fifteen the week of June 2, 2001. On the week-ending October 20, 2012, it entered the top ten at number ten and stayed in that position for seven-consecutive weeks.

"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" debuted atop the Billboard Hot Digital Songs chart, selling 623,000 digital copies in the week ending September 1, 2012. It is Swift's fourth number one on that chart. It set the record for the biggest digital sales week ever for a song by a female artist, surpassing the record held by Kesha's "Tik Tok", which sold 610,000 digital copies in its largest week. It also surpassed Lady Gaga's song "Born This Way" to become the song with the highest first-week digital sales for a female act. It is also the second largest figure ever overall. Only Flo Rida's "Right Round" has sold more in a week, when it debuted at number one with 636,000 on the Digital Songs chart dated February 28, 2009; both Swift and Rida's records were surpassed by Adeles "Hello", which sold 1,112,000 downloads in its first sales week in 2015. "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" spent a second week at number one on the Digital Songs chart with 307,000 downloads sold. Despite a 51% drop, the song became one of just five songs in 2012 to sell more than 300,000 downloads in multiple weeks. The song topped again the chart on the succeeding three weeks, making it the first song to spend its first five weeks at number one on Billboard Hot Digital Songs since Eminem and Rihanna's "Love the Way You Lie" did it in July 2010. It reached the 3 million American download mark in November 2012 and has been certified quintuple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. It became Swift's sixth song to pass two million mark there, which is more than any other country artist in the United States. As of July 2019, the song has sold 4.1 million copies in the United States.

"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" became Swift's second number one in Canada, following "Today Was a Fairytale”, tying her with Eminem and Katy Perry for multiple songs to debut at number one. The song spent four non-consecutive weeks at number one. It stayed at the top ten for thirteen weeks and charted for twenty-four weeks. The single is certified Gold by Music Canada for sales exceeded of 40,000 digital downloads.

Europe and Oceania

"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" gave Swift's second top ten hit in the United Kingdom after it debuted at number five, and eventually ascended to number four. The single sold 465,000 copies in the UK during 2012 making it the 26th best selling single that year. It charted in United Kingdom for twenty-nine weeks; ten weeks of it is within the top ten. The single was certified Platinum in July 2014 by the British Phonographic Industry for 600,000 combined download and streaming chart-sales. In Ireland, the song jumped at number four on its second week after debuting at number eleven, became Swift's second top ten hit after her 2009 hit "Love Story". "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" also Swift's second top ten hit in Norway after it reached number seven in its third week. It also appeared in Netherlands at number sixteen, in Spain at number nine.

"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" became Swift's sixth top ten hit in Australia after it vaulted from number thirteen to number three in its second week. It stayed at the top ten for seven weeks and charted for a total of twenty-four weeks. The single is certified quintuple platinum by Australian Recording Industry Association for the shipment of over 350,000 copies, her highest certified song in the region. In New Zealand, it debuted at number two, the highest debut of the week, and on its second week it rose to the number-one spot, making it Swift's first single to top the chart. It stayed at the top ten for nine weeks, charted for a total of nineteen weeks and placed at number nineteen in New Zealand's 2012 year-end chart.

Music video

Background and release

A music video for the song premiered on CMT, MTV and TeenNick on August 30, 2012 at 7:49 pm Eastern time, and later on MTV.com, CMT.com, and VH1.com the same day at 8:00 pm Eastern time. The video is directed by Declan Whitebloom, with whom Swift has worked on the music videos for both "Mean" and "Ours". The video was shot like a pop-up book using a Sony F65 Cinealta camera in one continuous shot with no editing, and features Swift in five different outfits. It is also the first music video to be featured in 4K resolution. According to Swift, she wanted the video to be as "quirky as the song sounds" and stated that "There's just knitting everywhere; there's just random woodland creatures popping up." Prior to the video's release, a fourteen-second preview was released by CMT on their official YouTube on August 30, 2012. As of March 2020, it has over 600 million views on YouTube.

Synopsis

The video, which is done as one continuous shot, begins with Swift in colorful pajamas recounting the events of her off and on again relationship with her ex-boyfriend (played by Noah Mills). The video then segues into Swift going into her living room where her band is dressed up in animal costumes and Swift belts out the chorus of the song. The video then goes to a TV where Swift says "Like, ever." and then to the dining room where we see she returns to recounting the events of her relationship and receives a phone call from her ex who is calling her from a nightclub. Swift hangs up on him and he walks off screen into the nightclub. It then goes to the two in a truck having an argument then to them having a stroll in the park. Swift then runs off and we see her on the phone telling the person on the other line how she and her ex are not getting back together and her frustration of their entire relationship. The video then segues back to Swift's living room where a party is going on and her ex shows up unannounced trying to woo her back and she slams the door in his face. The video ends with Swift on her window ledge where she was at the beginning of the video, singing the last line of the song.

Reception

James Montgomery of MTV praised the video stating that the video is "truly a treat to watch". Jim Farber of the New York Daily News comment on the video was that "[Swift's] tone and demeanor in the clip is conversational and sarcastic, ideally suited to simulating intimacy with her massive teen girl fan-base." Carl Williott of Idolator commented on the video's content and stated "what more could you ask for in a visual for a #1 pop smash?" Rolling Stone called it "flinging strong-willed sass". David Greenwald of Billboard stated that the video "is a quirky celebration that finds Swift singing and dancing with band members in animal costumes in between relationship flashbacks -- all filmed in an elaborate long shot. Swift wears large glasses and a pair of printed pajamas as she shrugs off her not-so-nice ex-boyfriend, a scruffy, seemingly older musician-type with a penchant for drama."

Live performances



Swift performed the song live for the first time at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards on September 6, 2012, which was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Swift was the last performance of the night and, wearing a red and white striped shirt and black shorts, began her performance in an area resembling a recording studio before taking the stage along with her back-up singers, dancers and band (in animal costumes) took the stage. Swift also performed the song live at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in 2012 and 2014. During her visit to Brazil, she performed the song on TV Xuxa and during a concert in Rio de Janeiro on September 13, 2012.

Swift performed the song on the British version of The X Factor on October 14, 2012. She performed the song on the German TV show Schlag Den Raab. On January 25, 2013, Swift performed "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" at the Los Premios 40 Principales in Spain. The next day, she performed it in Cannes, France during the NRJ Music Awards. On February 10, 2013, Swift performed the song at the 2013 Grammy Awards, opening the ceremony. She performs the song on her Red Tour nightly as the finale. A rock version of the song was performed on The 1989 World Tour. More recently, the song was performed as a mashup with "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things" as the finale on Swift's Reputation Stadium Tour. Swift performed the song on the iHeartRadio Wango Tango on June 1, 2019. On December 8, she performed an acoustic version of the song at Capital FM's Jingle Bell Ball 2019 in London.

Parodies

The song and video were parodied by teddiefilms in the style of Breaking Bad. The parody, called "We Are Never Ever Gonna Cook Together," was uploaded to YouTube on October 18, 2012. The 22nd episode of Grey's Anatomy tenth season is titled "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together". On September 8, 2012, YouTube star Shane Dawson, parodied the song, releasing a studio version and a music video on his YouTube channel. Sky News remixed portions of speeches by David Cameron to make it appear as though he was reciting the chorus as promotion for their coverage of the 2014 Scotland Independence Referendum.

Credits and personnel

Credits are adapted from the liner notes of the CD single.
  • Taylor Swift - lead vocals, backing vocals, writer
  • Max Martinproducer, writer, keyboards
  • Shellback – producer, writer, guitar, bass, keyboards, programming
  • Tom Coyne – mastering
  • Eric Eylands – assistant recording
  • Serban Ghenea – mixing
  • John Hanes – engineer
  • Sam Holland – recording
  • Michael Ilbert – recording
  • Tim Roberts – assistant engineer

    Charts

    Weekly charts

    Year-end charts

    Decade-end charts

    Certifications



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    Release history