Jack Antonoff says “Cruel Summer” revival was “a huge thumbs-up from the universe”

ALLEN J. SCHABEN / LOS ANGELES TIMES VIA GETTY IMAGES
Taylor Swift probably didn’t expect her song “Cruel Summer,” from her 2019 album Lover, to end up becoming a top 5 hit in 2023 but, well, here we are. And Jack Antonoff, who co-wrote and co-produced the song, says its belated success has been bizarre, yet extremely gratifying.

Speaking to Billboard, Jack calls “Cruel Summer,” which he and Taylor co-wrote with St. Vincent, “one of my favorite songs I’d ever done.” It was never released as a single due to the pandemic, but it went viral this year after Taylor started opening her Eras Tour shows with it. That led to radio airplay and streaming, which led to the song peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“It was just like, a huge thumbs-up from the universe,” Jack says of the unexpected turn of events. “I take it all as a reminder to do what you believe in, make the songs you believe in.”

He adds, “You never want to do anything that you don’t believe in for the sake of success, because the only thing worse than doing something you don’t believe in is being recognized for that thing!”

“With [‘Cruel Summer’], I loved that it existed, and didn’t need anything more from it,” he notes. “It’s just this bizarre icing on the cake.”

Jack also says he didn’t expect another co-write, “Anti-Hero,” to become Taylor’s longest-running #1 hit.

“It has this weird beat … no part of me was like, ‘F****** A, that’s the song to take over the world!’” he says. “When we made ‘Anti-Hero,’ I just thought, ‘Wow, that’s so honest and funny, and also so sweet and so sad.’”

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