It’s been years since Taylor Swift engaged in what was is still one of her most high-profile relationships with Harry Styles. The then-country artist and then-One Direction singer were spotted together in April 2012, but allegedly only went on one date. Then, they dated for about a month, before breaking up in January 2013.
Today, Swift is in a relationship with Joe Alwyn, while Styles has been linked to his fair share of women, including Kendall Jenner. But we’ll always have the songs they’ve written about one another. Here are the three Swift tracks presumed to be about Styles and how they fared on the Billboard Hot 100.
‘I Knew You Were Trouble’
Rarely does Swift admit who a song is about. But in a March 2013 interview with Times Magazine, she did just that. When speaking about her fiery performance of “I Knew You Were Trouble” at the BRIT Awards the month before, she said, “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.”
The media went nuts, just as it had at the time of the show, when every outlet reported that Swift performed the song then-rumored to be about Styles right in front of him and his One Direction bandmates. “I Knew You Were Trouble” was the third single off Swift’s 2012 album Red. It peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for 36 weeks.
In 2014, Swift released her first official pop album, 1989. And once again, the third single was Styles-focused: In fact, the title alone tells you all you need to know. Swift knows that she made it obvious, telling Rolling Stone, “We should have just called it ‘I’m Not Even Sorry.'” The song reached No. 6 on the Billboard chart, remaining on for 32 weeks.
On “Style,” Swift sings about a James Dean-esque lover who she can’t get enough of, even though their relationship is ultimately doomed. Unlike “I Knew You Were Trouble,” this song was written about the time Swift and Styles were officially together and came after she had some time to reflect on the relationship.
‘Out of the Woods’
Appropriately following “Style” on 1989 is “Out of the Woods.” The track was the first promotional single and sixth official single off the album. It peaked at No. 18, spending a total of 10 weeks on the chart. And the lyrics about an accident are both metaphorical and literal, Swift told NPR.
“‘Hit the brakes too soon’ could mean…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,” she said. Swift adds that there was “a huge sense of anxiety” involved and a lot of media attention.
Other songs from 1989 are also rumored to be about Styles. When asked on The Howard Stern Show in March 2020 how he felt about being the subject of these tracks, the artist said, “I think it’s flattering. Even if the song isn’t that flattering, you’ve still spent time on it and, ultimately, using Taylor as an example, she’s a great songwriter.”