Swift began the number with an acoustic guitar, which she discarded midway through the tune as she acted out the dramatic breakup scenario with more physicality. Swift and a few dimly lit musicians performed on top of a patch of autumn leaves and in front of a giant-screen projection of the “All Too Well” short film that she directed and released on Friday. Two backup singers joined her in the spotlight for the end of the song, which, unlike the fadeout on the recorded version, ended with an a cappella refrain of the “sacred prayer” outdo.
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) November 14, 2021
Swift was playful during the performance. She rolled her eyes and twirled her finger when she sang one of the new lyrics to “All Too Well”: “Sipping coffee like you were on a late-night show.” And when she delivered the line “I remember the first fall of snow,” a light shower of flakes began to fall on Swift, who performed in an off-the-shoulder black bodysuit.
Jonathan Majors, star of Netflix’s new Western drama “The Harder They Fall,” hosted this week’s episode.
The moody, anthemic “All Too Well” has become a fan favorite over the years, despite never having been a single, and was expanded from the original five-and-a-half 2012 version of the song. She’s said the 10–minute version is exactly as she first wrote it, with considerably more autobiographical details about the star-crossed romance that inspired it, before Liz Rose helped her pare it down for the condensation released o “Red.”
Earlier in the episode, Swift made a surprise appearance in a pre-taped segment with “SNL” star Pete Davidson and a trio of the show’s writers — Ben Marshall, John Higgins and Martin Herlihy — who also perform as the comedy group Please Don’t Destroy. She popped in to add a few sultry lines to Davidson’s “Three Sad Virgins” music video skewering the three fresh-faced young men who look like “sad Ron Weasley,” as Swift sang, invoking the “Harry Potter” character.
Swift’s fifth appearance as musical guest on “SNL” comes at a busy time for the superstar. On Nov. 12 she released her second album re-recording of her early Big Machine work, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” and the “All Too Well” short film. The new rendition of the 2012 album is expanded to 30 tracks, from 16. So far it’s been well-received by critics.
“All Too Well” isn’t the only individual track she’s giving a push. Sunday morning, Swift announced on social media that she’ll be releasing another music video from the album, for “I Bet You Think About Me,” on Monday morning, less than 72 hours after the last. The new video has been directed by pal Blake Lively, she said. “I Bet You Think About Me,” which seems to cover the same relationship as “All Too Well” but in a more raucous, victorious way, has Chris Stapleton as a featured harmony vocalist.
Within a day of release, Swift had broken her own record for the most-streamed album in one day by a female in Spotify history. “Red (Taylor’s Version),” distributed by Republic Records, picked up more than 90.8 million streams on day one.
Swift is unlike most pop artists in still maintaining a robust sales presence, and sales estimates have yet to come in for the two-CD or four-LP versions of “Red (Taylor’s Version).” But it will not be a surprise if the vinyl edition sets some kind of record when the first-week figures come in, since her fans have demonstrably embraced that format in the year and a half since “Folklore” vinyl became a phenomenon, with the recent delayed LP release of “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” being the key factor in returning that album to No. 1.
Beyond already serious pent-up interest, Swift helped goose streams and sales with back-to-back appearances on Nov. 11 plugging the new-model “Red” on NBC’s late-night duo, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night With Seth Meyers.”
Swift made her “SNL” debut in 2009. That year, as her profile skyrocketed, Swift appeared on the show in January as musical guest, performing “Love Story” and “Forever & Always.” By November she was back as host and musical guest, delivering “Untouchable” and “You Belong With Me.” She made a brief non-musical appearance on “SNL’s” 40th anniversary special in 2015, and she returned to the show for performance slots in 2017 and 2019.