The final track of Taylor Swift’s sixth studio album Reputation, “New Year’s Day,” was starkly different from the rest. Unlike the synth-heavy electronic production concept of the whole album, this was a stripped-down piano ballad with raw piano riffs and occasional guitar and synth notes.
But it was a fitting ending to the high-octane melodrama built up over the 14 songs. As Anna Gacca, who wrote for Spin, described it, it was a symbol of Swift breaking free from the tabloid scrutiny she had endured for years. It was the end of an era.
Meaning Behind The Song
“New Year’s Day” was written and produced by Taylor Swift and her longtime friend and collaborator Jack Antonoff.
The song was set the morning after New Year’s Eve – after all the fun at midnight – when all that’s left are the glitters, candle wax, Polaroids on the hardwood floor, and the empty bottles. According to Swift, she thought about how everybody was so focused on who’d kiss whom at midnight. But, to her, the more romantic part was who would deal with you on New Year’s Day.
“Who’s willing to give you Advil and clean up the house? I think that states more of a permanence,” she said. It’s a message that love isn’t just about all the good and fun parts. It’s not just sticking around for the party. It’s also about staying in the aftermath – from the mundane, boring moments down to the difficult times, and even when things go wrong.
According to Antonoff, this was the quickest song they completed in the album. That was because they didn’t go for a perfect vocal take or a perfect production execution like singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell’s style. They wanted to capture honest, raw emotions. That was why he encouraged Swift to channel her feelings at that moment – a recurring theme in Taylor Swift’s songs. “You just want the song to feel like itself.”
And they did. Fans loved it. The critics applauded her artistic maturity and ability to connect with her audience in an intimate, diary-like manner. They called it one of the best tracks in the album, if not the best. However, some weren’t thrilled, especially since it was on country airplay. They believed that Swift had abandoned her country roots.
The song debuted at number 40 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs and multiple other charts.
Take on the whole ride of emotions with Taylor Swift’s “New Year’s Day” in the video below.