I Knew You Were Trouble

Album: Red (2012)
Charted: 2 2

Songfacts®:

  • Swift previewed this upbeat track on the October 8, 2012 episode of ABC's Good Morning America. The country-pop songstress penned the tune with the Swedish hitmaking duo of Shellback and Max Martin, the same pair that she collaborated with on her hit single "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together."
  • Taylor explained the back story to the tune before playing it to Good Morning America viewers. "It's a song that is one of my favorites on the album, because it sounds just as chaotic as the feeling was when I wrote it," she said. "It's a song about being frustrated with yourself because here you are heartbroken and you knew when you first saw this person, you saw all these red flags and you went for it anyway. So, shame on me."
  • Max Martin is one of several songsmiths that Swift reached out to write with her on Red. "I have always been so fascinated by how Max Martin can just land a chorus, "she told Billboard magazine. "He comes at you and hits you and it's a chorus - all caps, with exclamation points."
  • The song features some dubstep elements but Swift admitted to Spin magazine that she was unaware that she was dipping her toe in the EDM genre when she recorded this tune. "I've written some with Ed Sheeran, and he's become a good friend of mine, and he always plays me really interesting stuff from the UK whenever he comes over and hangs out," she explained. "But I never really thought, 'Hey, I want to download some dubstep music!' "
    "What ended up happening was, I wrote this melody for this chorus on the piano [for "Trouble"], and I brought it to Max Martin and Shellback, and I said, 'At the end of the chorus, I just want this to go crazy. I want it to be really chaotic.' I want the bass line to do this, like [makes loud GUH GUH GUH sound]."

    Swift went on to explain that it was the Swedish producers who put a name - dubstep - to her description. "I don't really know what to call it, but I just kind of sing it how I want it to sound," she explained. And they're like, 'Oh, sort of like a dubstep thing.' And I'm like, 'I guess, I don't know?

    Whatever that is, whatever that ridiculous sound that I made with my mouth when I was trying to figure out what to say,' " she recalled. "You end up doing a lot of that when you're recording and writing, being like, 'It kinda sounds like this!' [Does a laser-y SCHOOM sound]. I wanted the song to sound as chaotic as the emotion felt. I wanted it to be loud and out of control."
  • The song was Swift's 50th Billboard Hot 100 entry. The singer reached the landmark sum just six years and one month after the arrival of her debut entry, "Tim McGraw," the week of Sept. 23, 2006. In doing so, Swift overtook Aretha Franklin to become the fastest female performer to her 50th Hot 100 hit.
  • The song's music video was shot in Los Angeles, with Reeve Carney as Taylor's co-star. The American actor is best known for his lead role in the Broadway production, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark a 2011 Rock musical with music and lyrics penned by U2's Bono and The Edge. The video was Taylor's 23rd that she's filmed and it premiered on MTV on December 13, 2012, Taylor's 23rd birthday.
  • Speaking with Cosmopolitan magazine, Taylor admitted to having gone into a relationship knowing it was the wrong thing to do. "I think that idea of love I hope for is that you learn a lesson and you don't have to learn it twice," she said. "But the song 'I Knew You Were Trouble' is about when I knowingly made the same mistake twice. I couldn't resist it ' there's that temptation to push yourself into a risky situation with someone who is going to hurt you, and that's what that song is about: not trusting your own instincts and ignoring all the red flags."
  • Swift spoke to The Boot about the inspiration for the song. "I've written about 'shame on you, you broke my heart,' but I've never written about 'shame on me, you broke my heart. I knew when you walked in, you were going to be complete bad news and I ran toward you anyway. I believed you anyway. I fell for you anyway, even though every red flag was going up every step of the way,'" she said. "We find ourselves where we are in that situation where we want to think we're the exception. We want to think we can change someone, tame a lion, or make a bad guy good. But nine times out of ten we end up looking back going, 'Shame on me. Should have seen that one coming!'"
  • Taylor plays a girl in the video who gets caught up in a torrid love affair with Carney's tattooed bad boy and falls prey to his wicked ways. "She's not a full bad girl," Carney explained to MTV News. "She's someone who's drawn in by the temptation and the thrill of it all, but at the same time, she's halfway: She's got one foot in and one foot out. Whereas, I'm kind of both feet in, I guess. But there's enough charisma with the character that it kind of pulls her in."
  • This song was rumored to be about Swift's tumultuous split with John Mayer, but she cleared the air at the 2013 MTV VMA's when she turned her ire on another ex: One Direction's Harry Styles. Accepting her award for Best Female Video, she quipped: "I also want to thank the person who inspired this song because he knows exactly who he is, because now I've got one of these." The cameras hovered on Styles and his smirking band mates.

    According to one source, Swift penned the track after seeing images of Styles kissing model Emma Ostilly in New Zealand. She confirmed the song's inspiration when talking with The Sunday Times magazine about her raunchy performance of the song at The Brit Awards, which Styles also attended. She said: "You're balancing the analytical side of your brain which is telling you where to go and how to go there, with the other side of your brain, which is saying 'Feel everything you're singing, and show it on your face. Feel everything exactly as you felt it when you wrote the song'."

    Swift was then asked how she felt performing the song knowing Styles was there, to which she replied: "Well, it's not hard to access that emotion when the person the song is directed at is standing by the side of the stage watching."
  • This won the YouTube Phenomenon award at the first ever YouTube Awards. Nominees were chosen by taking into account the YouTube views, likes and subscription figures for different artists.
  • Taylor Swift wrote this on piano and originally imagined it as a slow ballad.

Comments: 1

  • Biswajit Dhir Deo from IndiaTaylor Swift is a dream Artist. She makes music for the heart and not for the ears unlike most other artists. Taylor's songs have soul, heart, rhythm, and a magical quality to attract listeners to her songs. She deserves every bit of the success commercially and praise wise.
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