Taylor Swift Wiki
For the lyrics see Back to December (lyrics)
From her official website, Taylor Swift says:

"Back to December" addresses a first for me, in that I've never apologized to someone in a song before. In the good, or bad, or the apology, the person I wrote the song for deserves this. This is about somebody who was incredible to me, just perfect to me in a relationship, and I was really careless with him, so these are the words that I would say to him -- that he deserves to hear.

"Back to December" is a country pop song performed by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. The song was written solely by Swift and produced by Nathan Chapman together with Swift. It was released on November 15, 2010, by Big Machine Records as the second single from Swift's third studio album, Speak Now. It is the third track on the album. According to Swift, "Back to December" is the first time she ever apologizes to someone in a song, something that she never did before. Upon its release as a promotional single, critics speculated that the song is about Taylor Lautner, Swift's ex-boyfriend, although neither Swift nor Lautner has confirmed nor denied these allegations. The lyrics of "Back to December" lyrics are a remorseful plea for forgiveness for breaking up with a former lover.

Additionally, an acoustic version was included on the Deluxe Edition of Speak Now as the eighteenth track.

"Back to December" was positively received by critics, who regarded it as one of the highlights of Speak Now. Critics have praised the song for its expressive lyrics, its indelible melody, and Swift's vocal improvement. The song enjoyed commercial success in United States, debuting at number six on the Billboard Hot 100, and at number seven in Canada. Internationally, the song received moderate success, peaking at number twenty-four in New Zealand, and number twenty-six in Australia. Swift has performed "Back to December" in several live appearances, notably at the 44th annual Country Music Association Awards and at the 38th American Music Awards.

Background and release

According to Swift, "Back to December" is an apology to a former lover in the form of a song, something that she has never done before.[1][2] She continued, "I've never felt the need to apologize in a song before. But in the last two years I've experienced a lot, [including] a lot of different kinds of learning lessons. And sometimes you learn a lesson too late and at that point you need to apologize because you were careless."[2] Based on the lyrics, critics have speculated that the song is Swift's apology to her ex-boyfriend, The Twilight Saga actor Taylor Lautner.[1][3] However, neither Swift nor Lautner has confirmed or denied these rumors. "Back to December" was first released as a promotional single from Speak Now on October 12, 2010 as an exclusive campaign by the iTunes Store leading up to the album release.[4] On November 15, 2010, the song was then released as the second single from Speak Now.[5]

Awards and nominations

“Back to December” received three awards from four nominations.

Year Organization Award Result
2011 American Country Awards Female Video of the Year Nominated
BMI Country Awards Publisher of the Year Won
Award Winning Songs Won
Teen Choice Awards Choice Breakup Song Won

Hidden message

Hidden message: Tay.

Miss Swift isn’t the only Taylor involved in the creation of Speak Now — “Back to December” was written about actor Taylor Lautner. The two began dating around 2009, and Taylor name-dropped her boyfriend when she performed a monologue songon Saturday Night Live that year. They also starred as high school sweethearts in the 2010 romcom Valentine’s Day.


"Back to December" is a country pop song with a length of four minutes and fifty-five seconds.[6] Bill Lamb from About.com commented that ""Back To December" musically has a bit more of a rock feel than the previously released songs"[7] and Stephen M. Deusner from The 1953 called the song "an elegant ballad full of orchestral swells, solemn guitars, and pleading lyrics".[8] It is set in common time and has a ballad tempo of 72 beats per minute. It is written in the key of D major and Swift's vocals span one octave, from F♯3 to A4.[9] It follows the chord progression D–Bm7–G-D.[9] Randy Lewis from Los Angeles Times commented that "Back to December" is one of two songs where Swift has first incorporated an orchestra on record (the other being "Haunted").[10]

The song's narrative is in first person, and depicts Swift apologizing to a young man whose heart she broke. Lyrically, it is about somebody who was incredible and perfect to her in a relationship. However, she was really careless with him hence the break-up. Therefore, the lyrics are the words that she would say to him that he deserves to hear.[7] Mandi Bierly from Entertainment Weekly describes the song as "a melancholy mea culpa with the kind of driving chorus and age-appropriate yet universal honesty",[3] adding that "in the tune [...] she says she’s sorry for the last time he saw her (“You gave me roses, and I left them there to die”) and that she wishes she realized what she had (“I’d go back to December, turn around, and change my own mind/I go back to December all the time”).[3]

Leah Greenblatt from Entertainment Weekly ranked these couplets from the song, ("Your guard is up and I know why, because the last time you saw me is still burned in the back of your mind / You gave me roses and I left them there to die"), at number two out of ten best couplets from Speak Now sheet.[11]

Critical reception

The song has been well received by music critics. Rob Sheffield from Rolling Stone gave the song a positive review commenting, "Swift's voice is unaffected enough to mask how masterful she has become as a singer; she lowers her voice for the payoff lines in the classic mode of a shy girl trying to talk tough."[12] Jonathan Keefe from Slant Magazine complimented Swift's ability "to write an indelible melody" and praised the production of the song, writing "[the song] showcase(s) Swift's unique knack for matching the overall tone of a melody to the broader themes of a song". He added that "it isn't easy to make a melancholy song like "Back to December" sound catchy at the same time, but that's what Swift does, and it's an impressive trick."[13] Bobby Peacock from Roughstock gave the song four stars out of five and praised Swift's vocal, saying that "it's her best vocal since "Tim McGraw"". He concluded that "[the song] feels a little more focused, a little more mature and a little better-sung than her previous material."[14]

Ryan Brockington from New York Post lauded the song, writing "it’s a very surprising, and somewhat brilliant, apology track where Taylor sings about wishing to fix a relationship she wished she wouldn't have ruined in the first place."[15] His point was echoed by Rudy Klapper from Sputnikmusic, who described the song as a "regret-filled apology".[16] Stephen M. Deusner from The 1953 gave the song a thumbs-up and praised Swift as "an expressive singer", calling the song "a dark fantasy of apology and reconciliation" which is "a true heartbreaker".[8] Kevin John Coyne of Country Universe graded the production of the song as "B", complimenting the lyrics in particular, by writing "it’s always a good sign when there’s a line as memorable as that one, the kind that lingers around in your head more than the song itself." He also added that he "appreciate(s) the restrained vocal, though a more varied melody would’ve made the chorus quite a bit more distinctive."[17]

Commercial performance

"Back to December" is one of fourteen songs on the standard edition of Speak Now which has charted within the top forty of the Billboard Hot 100.[18] Upon its release as a promotional single, "Back to December" debuted at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 with sales of approximately 242,000 digital downloads, on October 12, 2010.[19] Following its single release, the song re-entered Billboard Hot 100 at number seventy-four on the week ending November 27, 2010.[20] The song has since reached a position of number twenty-five. It also peaked at number one on Hot Digital Songs, number twelve on Hot Country Songs, and at number nineteen on Billboard Pop Songs.[21]

Internationally, "Back to December" has had moderate success. In Canada, the song entered the Canadian Hot 100 and peaked at number seven on the week ending October 30, 2010.[22] In Australia, the song entered the Australian Singles Chart at number twenty-six on the week ending October 31, 2010.[23] On the week ending October 18, 2010, the song debuted at number twenty-four on the New Zealand Singles Chart.[24]

Live performances

Swift first performed "Back to December" in Paris at a showcase at the Salle Wagram theater, on October 18, 2010, to promote her upcoming album, Speak Now, set for release on the October 25, 2010.[25] Swift also performed the song on Speak Now: Taylor Swift Live From New York City, a special programme which was streamed live on CMT.com, MTV.com, VH1.com and other MTV Networks websites in Europe, Asia, Australia and Latin America to celebrate the release of her new album.[26]

Swift also performed "Back to December" on several other occasions. On November 10, 2010, she performed the song live at the 44th annual Country Music Association Awards at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.[27] Her performance of the song during that event was graded as a "B+" in the Los Angeles Times, noting she "kept it simple" and "rose to the occasion".[28] On November 21, 2010, Swift performed "Back to December" with OneRepublic's "Apologize" as a medley at the 38th American Music Awards.[29][30] Her rendition in that event was graded as a "B-" in the Los Angeles Times, noting that "a brief end-song breakaway into OneRepublic's "Apologize" seemed unnecessary".[31]

Swift performed "Back to December" and several songs from Speak Now on November 24, 2010 during Thanksgiving night, on NBC.[32] She later performed the song on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on December 2, 2010.[33]

Track listing

  • U.S. Digital Download[34]
  1. "Back to December" – 4:54


Chart (2010) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[23] 26
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[35] 7
New Zealand (RIANZ)[24] 24
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[19] 6
U.S. Country Songs (Billboard)[36] 12
U.S. Pop Songs (Billboard)[21] 19

Release history

Country Date Format
Canada[37] October 12, 2010 Digital download
United States[38]
Australia[39] October 13, 2010
New Zealand[40]
United States November 15, 2010[5] Country radio
November 30, 2010[41] Mainstream


Back To December Taylor.jpg


  1. 1.0 1.1 "VIDEO: Taylor Swift Explains Apology Song 'Back to December'". People.com. 2010-11-23. http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20444470,00.html. Retrieved 2010-11-26.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Jennifer Still (2010-10-13). "Swift: 'Back To December is an apology'". Digitalspy. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/music/news/a281766/swift-back-to-december-is-an-apology.html. Retrieved 2010-11-26.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Taylor Swift apologizes (to Taylor Lautner?) in 'Back to December'". Entertainment Weekly. 2010-10-12. http://music-mix.ew.com/2010/10/12/taylor-swift-back-to-december-apologizes-taylor-lautner/. Retrieved 2010-11-26.
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  17. Coyne, Kevin (November 11, 2010). "Single Review: Taylor Swift, “Back to December”". Country Universe. http://www.countryuniverse.net/2010/11/11/single-review-taylor-swift-back-to-december/. Retrieved December 9, 2010.
  18. Caulfield, Keith; Pietroluongo, Silvio (November 4, 2010). "Chart Moves: Taylor Swift, Michael Jackson, Rihanna, Kanye West". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc). http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/content_display/industry/e3if13877e698a1cce20e466a7d37767515. Retrieved November 4, 2010.
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