Habits (Stay High)

"Habits (Stay High)"
Artwork for "Habits (Stay High)". A black-and-white image of Tove Lo holding scissors.
Single by Tove Lo
from the album Truth Serum and Queen of the Clouds
  • 15 March 2013 (2013-03-15)
  • 6 December 2013 (2013-12-06) (re-release)
FormatDigital download
StudioWarner/Chappell Studios (Stockholm)
Producer(s)The Struts
Tove Lo singles chronology
"Out of Mind"
"Habits (Stay High)"
"Stay High"
Original artwork for "Habits (Stay High)". Tove Lo is standing in front of a black background with mascara streaming down her face.
Original single artwork of the song under the title of "Habits".[1] After Lo was signed to Universal, it was re-released under the new title of "Habits (Stay High)".[2]
Tove Lo singles chronology
"Love Ballad"
"Run on Love"
Music video
"Habits (Stay High)" on YouTube

"Habits (Stay High)" is a song recorded by Swedish singer Tove Lo from her debut extended play (EP), Truth Serum, and her debut studio album, Queen of the Clouds (2014). It was written by Lo with Ludvig Söderberg and Jakob Jerlström, while it was produced by the latter two under the production name The Struts. Initially, the singer self-released the song under the title "Habits" on 15 March 2013 as her second independently-released single. After Lo was signed to Universal Music, the track was re-released on 6 December 2013 under the title of "Habits (Stay High)" as both the second single from Truth Serum and the lead single from Queen of the Clouds. Musically, it is a pop and electropop song which features a minimal and upbeat electronic instrumentation. Its lyrics delve into the singer's attempts to forget her previous boyfriend through substance abuse, drinking and other hedonistic practices. Consequently, some critics and Lo herself noted a contrast between the song's production and its lyrical content.

"Habits (Stay High)" was well received by most critics, who commended its lyrics and production. The track became a sleeper hit; it entered the music charts in 2014, one year after its original release. The recording peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States and became the highest-charting song by a Swedish artist on that chart since "The Sign" by Ace of Base peaked at number one in 1994. It was certified five-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and sold over 2.6 million copies in the country. Additionally, the track topped the charts in Poland and Romania, and peaked within the top ten in Austria, Canada, France and Switzerland, among others.

Two music videos were filmed for the song, both directed by Motellet Film. The first version, released on 15 March 2013, featured the singer at a tea party while getting drunk with her guests. It reached half-a-million views on YouTube before it was made private one year after its release. The second version was filmed at a Swedish club over three days and depicts Lo in a night of partying with her friends. The singer performed the single at festivals such as South by Southwest and the Hangout Music Festival, and included it on the set list of her tours, the Queen of the Clouds Tour (2015) and the Lady Wood Tour (2017). The single was awarded the Song of the Year award at the Grammis of 2015 in Sweden. A remix by record production duo Hippie Sabotage, titled "Stay High", was released as the third single from Truth Serum and reached the top ten in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and other countries in Europe. The song has been covered by artists such as Vin Diesel, whose performance was a tribute to his late friend Paul Walker, and Kelly Clarkson, who performed the track on her Piece by Piece Tour (2015).

Background and release

"Habits (Stay High)" was written by Tove Lo alongside Ludvig Söderberg and Jakob Jerlström, while produced by Söderberg and Jerlström under the production name The Struts.[3] Initially, Lo signed a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Music in 2011,[4][5] and co-wrote songs for Icona Pop and Girls Aloud.[6] She later released her debut single, "Love Ballad", in October 2012, which drew the attention from some music blogs. This encouraged her to start a career as an independent singer so she could record her most personal songs.[7][8] According to Lo, "Habits (Stay High)" is the song from Truth Serum (2014) that means the most to her because of its honest lyrics and extended writing process.[8] Initially, the verses of the song were part of a poem written by Lo when she was going through a difficult time in a relationship.[9] Later, Lo's boyfriend became part of a Buddhist movement but she refused to join, which led the relationship to an end.[10] After that, she started using drugs and drinking in order to forget him.[9][11][12] Months after the relationship ended, she was staying at a friend's apartment in New York City, during 2012's Hurricane Sandy.[13] When the apartment lost electricity and heat, Lo went on to stay at her friend's studio in Midtown, New York City, where she wrote the chorus.[12][14]

On 11 December 2012, she announced through her Facebook account that she did not get to finish some of the projects she was working on in New York and that she was collaborating in the studio with The Struts in Sweden.[15] The singer decided to use the vocals she recorded for the demo on the song because her vocal performance "was really coming from the heart".[9] The Struts co-wrote, produced and programmed the track, and additionally played the keys. Filip Runesson played the strings, with Lars Norgren mixing the song and Björn Engelmann mastering it.[3] In an interview with Coup de Main magazine, Lo said that: "[While writing the song, I was thinking about] my way of getting through a hard time in 'the best' possible way. It's a big relief to just think 'fuck it all' for a while. We all have to be so perfect, and absolutely no one can live up to it."[16] She later confessed to The Huffington Post that she recovered from the break-up after writing the song.[17]

On 15 March 2013, the singer released the track, under the title "Habits".[18] It was her second independently-released single, after "Love Ballad" (2012).[19] The song drew the attention of music blogs, which gained Lo an online following.[4] Welsh singer Marina and the Diamonds and New Zealand artist Lorde praised the song through their Twitter accounts.[16] Subsequently, the recording was re-released under the title "Habits (Stay High)" on 6 December 2013 through Universal Music as the second single from Lo's debut EP Truth Serum, as well as the lead single from her debut studio album Queen of the Clouds (2014).[2][20][21] It was made available for digital consumption in the United States on 14 January 2014.[22] On 17 June 2014, it was sent to US contemporary hit radio.[23] About the song's re-release, the singer explained in an interview with The Untitled Magazine that, after the attention the track gained from music blogs, she signed a record deal with Universal Music. Then, the label representatives decided to re-release it with proper promotion as they believe it still had commercial potential.[24]