Pop icon Taylor Swift made music history this week when her epic, ten-minute-long version of “All Too Well” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song is the longest to ever reach the top spot by a margin of more than a minute, reports Gary Trust for Billboard.
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Pop icon Taylor Swift made music history this week when her epic, ten-minute-long version of “All Too Well” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song is the longest to ever reach the top spot by a margin of more than a minute, reports Gary Trust for Billboard. Swift’s chart-topper shattered a record that had gone unchallenged since January 1972, when Don McLean’s 8-minute, 42-second single “American Pie (Parts I and II)” spent four weeks in the No. 1 spot. Trimmed down for the radio, the full version was so long that the singer’s record label had to split it into two parts to fit on a double-sided, seven-inch vinyl record. “Let’s face it, nobody ever wants to lose that No. 1 spot, but if I had to lose it to somebody, I sure am glad it was [to] another great singer/songwriter such as Taylor,” McLean tells Billboard’s Gil Kaufman. In the week following its November 12 release, Swift’s 10-minute, 13-second ballad was streamed 54.5 million times by listeners in the United States alone. Officially titled “All Too Well (10-Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault),” the song served as the much-anticipated closing track on Swift’s rerecorded version of her fourth studio album, Red (2012). (The new album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, making Swift the only artist to have topped both charts simultaneously three times, reports Allison Hussey for Pitchfork.)
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Much like the lengthy No. 1 hits of decades past, “All Too Well” tackles big emotions with catchy, heartfelt refrains. Though New York Times critic Lindsay Zoladz argues that the shorter version of “All Too Well” is “the better song,” in part because of “the elegant simplicity of its structure,” she adds that “the power of the new version comes from its unapologetic messiness, the way it allows a woman’s subjective emotional experience to take up a defiantly excessive amount of time and space.” “All Too Well” also embodies—and for some, defines—the heartbreak anthem. In this, too, the song follows a long tradition of American musicians who have wrung melodies from misery. As Gracie Anderson wrote for Smithsonian magazine earlier this year, by the 1970s, a generation of singer-songwriters had perfected the so-called “breakup album,” producing such records as Joni Mitchell’s Blue (1971) and Willie Nelson’s Phases and Stages (1973). Swift co-wrote “All Too Well” with country musician Liz Rose in the early 2010s. In the extended lyrics, a woman in her 20s reflects on a failed relationship with an older man. “Autumn leaves,” the “cold air” of fall and a certain lost scarf become symbols for spoiled innocence and lost love. As Swift sings to her onetime lover: And there we are again when nobody had to know You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath Sacred prayer and we’d swear To remember it all too well.
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