Taylor Swift may have grown up to be a global pop star, but her Nashville roots are still intact. Swift's new song "Babe" with Sugarland has enough twang to match its pop sheen. And the track, which she co-wrote and is featured on, is reminding fans of the singer-songwriter's 2012 album Red — and there's a good reason for that.
"Babe" isn't the first country song with which Swift has been involved recently. She won Song of the Year at the CMA Awards in November for the Little Big Town hit, "Better Man," which she wrote solo and pitched to the group. However, on "Babe," which Swift co-wrote with Train's Patrick Monahan, she also lends her vocals on the chorus as frontwoman Jennifer Nettles sings,
"You really blew this babe
We ain’t getting through this one, babe
This is the last time I’ll ever call you, babe"
Although her first official pop album was 2014's 1989, Swift began experimenting with new sounds two years earlier on Red, and the release of her smash single, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," produced by Swedish hitmaker Max Martin, marked a new chapter in her career. "Babe" was originally written for Red, but didn't end up making the final cut, according to USA Today.
Upon the song's release, fans immediately noted that the song reminded them of the "Delicate" singer's 2012 record, and waxed nostalgic on Twitter.
One user wrote, "'Babe', the song Taylor Swift wrote back for 'Red' & has now been recorded by Sugarland, is like amazing? How many songs does she have lying in a drawer somewhere that are gems? Seriously, a song from circa 2012 is this good - and it wasn’t on the album it was meant to," alongside a crown emoji.
Another said, "Taylor Alison is not allowed to perform Babe w/Sugarland live on tour unless she is in high waisted shorts, a striped shirt, and red oxfords just sayin," referencing the costumes Swift wore onstage during The Red Tour.
Swift, who is a fan of Sugarland, was excited to hear that they were getting back together and reached out to see if they what they thought of the song. Sugarland, whose new album, Bigger, is due out in June, loved the track, but were nervous about cutting it at first, as they have typically only recorded their own material.
"We've never put a song by anybody else on any of our records," Kristian Bush — one half of Sugarland — told reporters at the ACM Awards on Sunday, according to Rolling Stone. "So we weren't really used to sorting through that and we didn't want to mess it up. We didn't tell anybody about it until we got finished and she liked it, thank God."
In March, Swift also made a surprise appearance at Music City's legendary Bluebird Cafe, the Tennessean reported. Swift hopped on stage with hit songwriter Craig Wiseman, and played some of her most famous tunes, including "You Belong With Me," "Shake It Off," and "Love Story," which she said she brought to Wiseman, who didn't love the idea as much as she did. They ended up writing a different song, but Swift went home and kept working on it.
"I couldn't stop thinking about the idea," Swift said, according to the Tennessean. "I thought there was something to it. I really liked it." Wiseman looked bashful, and later Swift joked, "This is the song I almost wrote with Craig Wiseman ... It's called 'Love Story.'"
Swift will kick off her Reputation Stadium Tour in May, so there's no telling for sure whether a return to country music is in the cards for the superstar. For now, though, fans of her earlier work can keep "Babe" on repeat.