The Easter eggs started slowly. First, a photo hit twitter of HAIM posing in front of a gas pump labelled 13. Then came a TikTok video conspicuously zooming in on the one and three of a car’s gear shift. Soon after, a final photo, this one a group shot in front of a 76 gas station, contained the code “T76S0218” in the background. It wasn’t long before HAIM fans pieced together the clues: on February 18, for the extended edition of their 2020 summer album “Women In Music Pt. III,” the fan-favorite “Gasoline” was getting a remix with the queen of thirteen herself, Taylor Swift.
The Haim sisters – Danielle, Este and Alana – are no strangers to Swift. The four have been friends since at least 2014, with the band even opening for the North American leg of the “1989” tour. They collaborated for the first time last December on “No Body, No Crime,” a country murder ballad off of Swift’s ninth album, “Evermore.” Swift, who calls herself the “fourth Haim sister,” celebrated the remix with a throwback photo of the four, clad head-to-toe in animal onesies, crouched on the floor of a hotel room with two huge pizzas. (See, superstars can be relatable after all!)
The Easter egg hunt preceding the “Gasoline” remix makes a lot of sense considering they’re the favored promotional tactic of Swift, who notoriously flooded 2019 with a deluge of clues and secret messages in preparation for the release of her ninth studio album, “Lover.” While the clues in anticipation of the “Gasoline” remix may not have been quite as extensive as that album’s, it was somewhat of a return to form for its featured artist, whose last two sister albums – “Folklore” and “Evermore” – were announced without any warning.
But Easter egg hunts aren’t any fun when there’s nothing good at the end of the trail (looking at you, “ME!”). Thankfully, the “Gasoline” remix took an already great track – some might say the best on its album – and found a way to somehow make it even better.
An ostentatious song about being sad and horny, “Gasoline” explores a relationship where neither partner really feels like resisting temptation. Danielle, the lead vocalist for HAIM, opens the song with a sudden line, “You took me back / but you shouldn't have,” overlaid on a sliding guitar and a piano run. By the time she arrives at “I wanna get off / but you’re such a tease” in the chorus, the song has become a verifiably slow jam.
Swift immediately takes over in the second verse, her raspy vocals bursting into an “I get sad!” — convincing enough you might start to believe it. (Yay! Relatable superstars!) Her best moment comes a few lines later, though, when she plainly asks, “You needed ass, well what’s / wrong with that?” A testimate to Swift’s growth and maturity as an artist, the verse is a far cry from her squeaky clean girl-next-door image she spent years cultivating in the first half of her career.
“Gasoline” elegantly comes together for a final chorus and bridge as Danielle and Swift trade lines and pull off one harmony after another. It’s a smooth finish for a smooth song, and an extremely gratifying conclusion. Overall, the song is a big step up from “No Body, No Crime,” a song that, despite its excellent true crime-inspired storyline, feels clunky and unnatural compared to “Gasoline.” Making matters worse for the first collab, the Haim sisters are relegated to background vocals, but at least bassist Este gets to be the main character. (Who gets murdered in the song? R.I.P. Este Haim, 1986 - 2020.)
Regardless, it’s gratifying to see talented musicians come together to make terrific music, especially considering how hard it is to collaborate virtually in the midst of a pandemic. A little bonus is that both HAIM and Swift are nominated for Album Of The Year at this year’s Grammys, so it’s nice that the longtime friends haven’t succumbed to the pressure of being pitted against each other just yet. If the “Gasoline” remix is representative of their friendship, then the four must have a pretty strong (and productive!) bond.