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"Out of The Woods" is the fourth song from Taylor Swift's fifth studio album 1989. It was released on October 14, 2014 as a promotion for the album but was later released as the sixth single on February 5, 2016. It is about Taylor and her ex-boyfriend, Harry Styles. The song's music video debuted on December 31, 2015 (New Year's Eve).

Background

Swift said that "Out of the Woods" is one of her "favorite songs on this album because it best represents 1989." She explained that the song is about "the fragility and breakable nature of some relationships. This was a relationship where I was kind of living day-to-day wondering where it was going, if it was going to go anywhere, if it was going to end the next day."

Composition

"Out of the Woods" is a synthpop song written by Swift and Jack Antonoff. It lasts for 3 minutes and 55 seconds. It is the first song that Swift has written to an existing track. Antonoff sent an early version of the song without the vocals or lyrics to Swift, which she then added in just 30 minutes. Speculation as to whom the song is about is rampant. The bridge section of the song references the snowmobile incident that Swift and her former boyfriend, One Direction's Harry Styles, were reported to be involved in during their relationship. Max Martin produced Swift's vocals for the song.[8] It is written in the key of C Major with Swift's vocals spanning two octaves, between G3 and E5 and runs three minutes and fifty-five seconds (3:55).

Featuring heavy synths and percussion, Antonoff described that the song is given an arrangement that combines both 80s and modern elements. A Yamaha DX7 is used for the 80s-tinged sounds apparent on most parts of the song, but they are countered with the Minimoog Voyager during the chorus sections, in which he explained, "That sounds extremely modern to me. It's that back-and-forth." Antonoff also provided backing vocals. He said, "I just chopped this piece of my voice singing and started looping it over and over. Then I started banging on some drums I had in the room and stomping on the floor and sampling all these sounds to make this big bombastic looping beat with the sample on top of it." With NPR she gave a detailed explanation of the lyrics especially the line "hitting the breaks too soon, 20 stitches in a hospital room":

That line is in there because it's not only the actual, literal narration of what happened in a particular relationship I was in, it's also a metaphor. 'Hit the brakes too soon' could mean the literal sense of, we got in an accident and we had to deal with the aftermath. But also, the relationship ended sooner than it should've because there was a lot of fear involved. And that song touches on a huge sense of anxiety that was, kind of, coursing through that particular relationship, because we really felt the heat of every single person in the media thinking they could draw up the narrative of what we were going through and debate and speculate. I don't think it's ever going to be easy for me to find love and block out all those screaming voices.

Critical reception

The song has received critical acclaim. Lucas Villa of AXS praised Swift's track with Antonoff, calling it her "most adventurous and breathtaking work yet." Spindeclared the track to be a "perfectly pleasant pop cut" and praised Antonoff's co-writing skills, which helped to make the production "so anthemic." Time praised the track stating "It's the furious chant of that anthemic chorus, all breathless urgency, and the left-of-center production that help Swift perform the niftiest sleight of hand: Even with lyrics that include some of her most headline-grabbing autobiographical admissions to date, the most interesting thing here isn't who it's about, but rather, how different it sounds". Vanity Fair praised Swift's ability to mix her signature sound to something new. David Deady of Music Scene applauded Taylor's progression, stating: "gone are the bleachers and high-school sweethearts, and what remains is a very modern and interesting pop song that sounds, on one level, more mature and on another, like vintage Taylor Swift." Billboard gave the song four and half stars out of five.

Chart performance

On the Billboard Hot 100 chart the song debuted at number 18. It became Swift's 61st song to enter the Hot 100, making her the female artist to have the second most charted songs on the Hot 100, behind Aretha Franklin (73). The song debuted at number one on the Hot Digital Songs chart, selling 195,000 copies and displacing Swift's "Shake It Off" from the top spot. In doing so, Swift became the first lead artist to simultaneously occupy the top two positions twice since 2012, when her songs "Ronan" and "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" occupied the top two positions. Swift stood at rank four as the artist with the most number-one Digital Songs and tied with Rihanna for the most number-one debuts.

In New Zealand, it debuted at number six, the highest debut that week. In Australia, it debuted at number twenty one on the Australian Singles Chart. In its first week of release, the song sold 21,000 downloads in Canada.

Lyrics

Looking at it now
It all seems so simple
We were lying on your couch
I remember
You took a Polaroid of us
Then discovered (then discovered)
The rest of the world was black and white
But we were in screaming color
And I remember thinking…

[Chorus 2x:]
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods?
Are we in the clear yet?
Are we in the clear yet?
Are we in the clear yet?
In the clear yet?
Good

Are we out of the woods?

Looking at it now
Last December (last December)
We were built to fall apart
Then fall back together (back together)
Your necklace hanging from my neck
The night we couldn't quite forget
When we decided (we decided)
To move the furniture so we could dance,
Baby, like we stood a chance
Two paper airplanes flying, flying, flying
And I remember thinkin'

[Chorus 2x]
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods?
Are we in the clear yet?
Are we in the clear yet?
Are we in the clear yet?
In the clear yet?
Good

(Are we out of the woods?!)

Remember when you hit the brakes too soon?
Twenty stitches in the hospital room
When you started cryin', baby, I did, too
But when the sun came up, I was lookin' at you
Remember when we couldn't take the heat
I walked out and said, "I'm settin' you free,"
But the monsters turned out to be just trees
And when the sun came up, you were lookin' at me
You were lookin' at me
You were lookin' at me,
I remember, oh, I remember

[Chorus 4x]
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods?
Are we in the clear yet?
Are we in the clear yet?
Are we in the clear yet?
In the clear yet?
Good

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