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Begin Again

Official Cover Art

Begin Again is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift for her fourth studio album, Red (2012). It was written by Swift and produced by Nathan Chapman and Dann Huff, with Swift's aid. Initially released as a promotional single on September 25, 2012 by Big Machine Records, the song served as the second single from Red on October 1, 2012. "Begin Again" is a folk country song, with the lyrical content finds Swift falling in love again after a failed relationship.

The song was acclaimed by music critics, many of whom praising Swift's songwriting and complimented for coming back to her country roots for the close of the album. The song's accompanying music video was directed by Philip Andelman, who also directed the music video Swift's "Safe & Sound". "Begin Again" generally was commercially successful, and it became her second top ten hit from Red on both US and Canadian charts following the hit single "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together", debuting and peaking at number seven and four respectively. The single has been certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). "Begin Again" was nominated for the Grammy Awards for Best Country Song at the 56th Grammy Awards.

Critical reception

The song was critically acclaimed by music critics, many of whom praised Swift's songwriting. Writing for Taste of Country, Billy Dukes gave the song a four star rating out of five, describing it as "a cleansing breath that hopefully foreshadows the true tone of her album". Grady Smith of Entertainment Weekly wrote the song is "a well-crafted love story" and noted Swift's talent "at taking a single moment in time and letting it unfold like a pop-up storybook." Jessica Sager of Popcrush gave the song 4 out of 5 stars, saying that "Swift paints a vivid picture of a first date following a rough breakup in ‘Begin Again’ — and she sounds like a young woman...She’s not settling, whether in her love life or her studio sessions. And for that, Taylor Swift, we salute you." Matt Bjorke gave four out of five stars as well for Roughstock, complimenting that "The song is a vast improvement for Taylor. A ballad that's neither in-your-face or sounding like its from a twelve year old".

The Boot noted that the story Swift painted was "sweet" and it's a "beautiful ballad". Justin Proper of Under The Gun Review praised Swift for knowing "how to keep her core audience happy, and that is exactly what “Begin Again” accomplishes", also saying that the song gave him a "sensation of relief". MuchMusic lauded Swift, stating "while she is more than capable of releasing the carefree, jump-around-your-room-with-a-hairbrush break up songs like "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," she also has the pen of a poet and knows how to craft emotionally gut-wrenching songs that speak to her millions of fans." However, Kevin John Coyne of Country Universe gave a mixed review, giving the song a grade "B". He lamented how Swift's songs never leave the topic of boys, saying "as Swift continues to grow older, it’s becoming more troublesome that her sense of self-worth and happiness is always inextricably linked to whatever man is currently the object of her affection." "Begin Again" was included in Billboard's list of Best songs of 2012 where it was ranked at number six.

Commercial performance

In the week ending September 30, 2012, just a few hours after an early release, “Begin Again” shot to number one on iTunes. It was the first single to dethrone “Gangnam Style” and also surpassed Rihanna's "Diamonds". The song debuted at number one on Billboard Hot Digital Songs selling 299,000 digital copies in the week ending September 30, 2012, which became Swift's fifth number one on that chart. As a result, "Begin Again" debuted at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart dated October 4, 2012. The song fell at number fifty-two on its second week and has charted in Billboard Hot 100 for a total of twenty weeks. "Begin Again" has been certified Platinum by RIAA.

In Billboard Hot Country Songs, "Begin Again" debuted at number thirty-seven after it was released as the second country single on Red. The song jumped at its peak at number ten on its second week on the chart after Billboard changed their methodology on Hot Country Songs, thus giving Swift her seventeenth top ten consecutive hit but also tied with "Fearless" as her lowest-charting single on the said chart although it reached number three on Billboard Country Airplay.

The song attained moderate success worldwide. "Begin Again" became Swift's sixth top five hit in Canada, debuting on its peak at number four. It debuted in Australia at number twenty on the week ending September 30, 2012. In the United Kingdom, the song gave Swift her second top 40 hit from Red after debuting at number 30, following the number four-peaking song "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together". In New Zealand, the song reached number eleven. In Ireland and Spain, the song reached number twenty-five and number thirty respectively.