“The Taylor Swift Cruel Summer moment was an amazing testament to the incredible force of her fans”: St. Vincent on how the song she wrote with Taylor Swift became a huge hit four years later

Taylor Swift live in 2024, St. Vincent at the Brit Awards in 2024
(Image credit: Shirlaine Forrest/TAS24/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management/Lia Toby/Getty Images)

The power of a song is one thing, but the power of Swifties is quite another. St. Vincent – aka Texan alt-rock powerhouse Annie Clark – can testify to both matters. It was towards the latter half of the last decade that Clark went into the studio with Taylor Swift and producer Jack Antonoff and the trio wrote Swift’s song Cruel Summer together. It featured on the pop superstar’s 2019 album Lover and, seemingly, that was that.

Except that was not that - last year, on the back of Cruel Summer being performed at Swift’s record-breaking Eras shows, currently making their way round the UK, Swift fans caused the song to go viral. Swift’s record label Republic pretty much had no choice but to reissue it as a single, some four years after its initial release. Recently, Clark told this writer in an interview for Music Week what it was like seeing Swifties demonstrate their full might.

“The Taylor Swift Cruel Summer moment for me was just an absolute amazing testament to the incredible force of her amazing fans,” Clark said. “They took a song that was from many records ago and not a single at the time and just said, ‘No, we love this song, this song is a hit you guys’ and they marched it up the charts.”

The song became another chart-topper for Swift, reaching Number One in US chart the Billboard Hot 100. “It was so cool to see and I’ve certainly never been a part of anything like that,” Clark continued. “But also I haven’t really witnessed that in culture. You could maybe say Running Up That Hill with Kate Bush took fire and new fans were exposed to it but that’s not really the same thing. The Cruel Summer thing was sheer force and lightning in a bottle from her fans who just loved something into existence.”

It has been quite the year for Clark’s association pop titans as elsewhere, Olivia Rodrigo has been playing one of Clark’s custom-made Ernie Ball Music Man guitars on her spectacular Guts tour. “I love seeing one of my guitars being played by Olivia Rodrigo,” Clark said. “Seeing Olivia play it just fills my heart with joy but also I feel I see a lot of young women playing it so I feel like I’ve done my part in being like, ‘Play that guitar, go for it!’.”

Watch the video for the Clark and Taylor Swift team-up Cruel Summer below:

Taylor Swift - Cruel Summer (Music Video) - YouTube Taylor Swift - Cruel Summer (Music Video) - YouTube
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Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.