Taylor's goal for "Delicate" was to use the vocoder to create an "emotional" and "vulnerable" sound for the track. Much like "Gorgeous", “Delicate” sees Taylor taking a more
hesitant approach while pursuing a new man, likely Joe Alwyn, her boyfriend as of the song’s release.
While Taylor was writing "Delicate", she had an image of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Gatsby in her head, running through his mansion, trying to find Daisy.
Sonically, the record utilizes chilling voice harmonies backed by a simple instrumental. The lyrics describe the doubts Taylor had before confessing her feelings to her boyfriend, Joe Alwyn.
"The idea of your reputation is definitely something that I play on for the entire album, but when the album starts off it's much more bombastic. It's more like, 'Oh, I don't care what you say
about me, I don't care what you say about my reputation, it doesn't matter.' But then it hits this point, on track five, where it's like, oh God, what happens when you meet somebody that you
really want in your life and then you start worrying about what they've heard before they met you. And you start to wonder, could something fake, like your reputation, affect something real, like
somebody getting to know you? And you start to wonder, how much does all that matter? And this is the first point of vulnerability in the record where you're like, oh maybe this does actually
matter a little bit. And how does that factor in, kind of questioning the reality and the perception of a reputation, and how much weight it actually has." -- Taylor Swift
Coincidentally, “Delicate” follows Taylor’s pattern of the fifth song of her albums being one about vulnerable emotions, following previous fifth tracks “Cold As You,” “White
Horse,” “Dear John,” “All Too Well,” and “All You Had To Do Was Stay.” Notably, this is the first of those songs to be about the beginning of a relationship. “I didn’t even do
it on purpose,” she confessed. “When I finally was like, this is the final tracklist, I was like…oh, I did it again.”
A music video, centered around Taylor dancing to the song, premiered on March 11, 2018 during the iHeartRadio Music Awards. It was directed by Joseph Kahn. In addition, a vertical music
video was released on the streaming plattform Spotify.
“Delicate” received acclaim from critics and topped Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone’s "Top 25 Songs of 2017" list. In the United States, it was a sleeper hit, debuting at number 84
on the Billboard Hot 100 after its release as a single. The song has since peaked at number 12, becoming Swift's 41st top 20 entry. It was the fifth song from "reputation" to do so
making it the first album in three years to have five top 20 hits with the last album doing so being Swift's own album "1989" in 2015. The song entered at number 32 on the Mainstream Top
40 and number 37 on the Adult Top 40, peaking at the top position on both radio charts becoming the first single from "reputation" to do so. Billboard noted that compared to
other singles from "reputation", which peaked high initially and then fell, "Delicate" was a slow growing radio smash which gained popularity the longer audiences stayed with it. It also became
the biggest radio hit from the album surpassing "Look What You Made Me Do".