Lover: Song-by-Song Analysis And Review

Two days after the release, Lover became the top-selling album of 2019. Swift’s music is enjoyed around the globe by millions every single day. (Photo courtesy of Natalie Gore)
Photo courtesy of Natalie Gore

By: Natalie Gore

Two days after the release, Lover became the top-selling album of 2019. Swift’s music is enjoyed around the globe by millions every single day. (Photo courtesy of Natalie Gore)

Lover, Taylor Swift’s seventh studio album, was released at midnight on August 23. Much different from her previous album Reputation, Swift has developed a brighter, sweeter, and thoroughly exciting soundtrack. Lover is an ode to Taylor’s love, whether it be for a city, a person, or a memory. 

Equality, forgiveness, and passion are three repetitive themes that appear throughout Lover. Since almost completely removing herself from the view of the media, Swift has returned with a much lighter and happier vibe. Throughout the album, she reminisces of old times but praises the new and celebrates what she has been given in life at this moment. 

  • I Forgot That You Existed

The first song of Swift’s new album is actually rather reminiscent of the “old Taylor”. Although the song illustrates her poppy, eighties vibe, there are nonetheless underlying remnants of her former songs. “I Forgot That You Existed” tells the song’s recipient that Swift does not care. Although she has experienced heartbreak, pain, and loss in the past, the singer has now found peace. Swift forgets that her monsters exist and moves on to better things and happier times. 

  • Cruel Summer

Despite previous drama between Demi Lovato and Swift, they have made amends over “Cruel Summer”. Lovato posted on Instagram praising Swift’s song and the rest of Lover, in an effort to end the feud and spread positive energy among female artists. The song itself entails uncertainty and chaos at the beginning of a relationship. Most likely, Swift is referencing her bond with Joe Alwyn, her current boyfriend. Although they are now in a committed relationship, the couple met while Swift was dating Calvin Harris. Since then, “Cruel Summer” illustrates the idea that the singer’s life has been a whirlwind of love and lust. 

  • Lover

Swift’s third and title track of the album is a dedication to her boyfriend and moreover, love. The song entails simple moments and romanticizes the little things in life. When Swift sings “This is our place, we make the rules”, she emphasizes that she now feels shared power with her lover in their relationship. Instead of letting others dictate how things go for the pair, Swift and Alwyn are now in control of their own lives. They can spend good, fun time together and no longer fear others’ opinions and influence. 

  • The Man

“The Man” is one of Swift’s most politically charged songs of the track. The artist sings about the double standard, explaining that if she were male she could do many things that she is currently scrutinized for. Taylor Swift described that the song is rather a “thought experiment” as she wonders how people would talk about her if she was a man. Rather different from Swift’s previous music, “The Man” questions gender inequality in modern society. 

  • The Archer

The fifth song of Lover is a slower track, describing the artist’s vulnerability in all of her relationships. She describes pain and heartbreak, two feelings that Swift is often directly associated with. The song also follows fans’ “fifth track theory”. The theory states that the fifth track of every album Swift releases is always the most emotional. 

  • I Think He Knows

“I Think He Knows” is an uptempo beat entails Swift crushing on her possible boyfriend’s every move. Although she has not yet directly expressed her feelings for the guy, the lyrics and the title give the notion that the guy already knows how she feels. Explaining that he has “a boyish look that I like in a man”, Swift attempts to further demolish her reputation of dating older men. Now in a relationship with Joe Alwyn who is younger than her, the singer is again defying her former standards. Overall, the sixth track is cheerful and bright, much like the rest of Lover

  • Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince

Similar to “The Man”, Lover’s seventh track is a song with political intensity. However, instead of an upbeat and fast-paced beat, the song is rather slow and somber. Swift sings, “American stories burning before me/I’m feeling helpless, the damsels are depressed/Boys will be boys, then where are the wise men?”, calling out the current government and more specifically, President Trump. The President is often criticized for how he treats women, as he has been accused of sexual harassment on more than one account. Swift, a victim of sexual harassment herself, chooses to disagree with the treatment and make a statement with this song. 

  • Paper Rings

“Paper Rings” may be the happiest and radiant song of the album. Swift tells listeners that she has a side that is rather materialistic, singing that she likes shiny things. Then, she goes on to explain that she would marry her significant other with paper rings, illustrating that tangible things do not matter if she has her lover. Formalities are no longer necessary when all Swift cares about is her partner, who she is now very committed to.

  • Cornelia Street

In 2016-17, Swift really did “rent a place on Cornelia Street” in Manhattan, New York. In a beautiful and marvelous attempt to romanticize a location, the artist reflects on the memories she associates with the street. 2016 also happens to be the year that Swift met current boyfriend Joe Alwyn, and she is most likely referring to time she spent with him on Cornelia Street. A song that Swift self-wrote, she is again a bit more vulnerable and open about her feelings. 

  • Death By A Thousand Cuts

The tenth track of Lover is a song of irony. Listeners first hear what sounds like another cheery song, only to find out that the song is about anything but happiness. Inspired by “Someone Great”, a Netflix Original movie, the track compares heartbreak to painful, slow death. Throughout the lyrics, Swift sings that even mind-altering drugs like alcohol are not powerful enough to help her forget the heartbreak. Death by a thousand cuts in literal terms is an ancient form of Chinese torture, meant to torment prisoners instead of suddenly killing them. Similarly, Swift’s heartbreak in the song is tormenting and follows her no matter where she goes. 

  • London Boy

“London Boy” is almost a direct tribute to Alwyn, a London native. Although the couple has managed to stay out of the spotlight, Swift reveals some of her best times with Alwyn. With a plethora of references to locations in England, the artist entails all of the new places Alwyn has shown and taught her about. Yet again, Swift uses the eleventh track to affirm her love and dedication to her boyfriend. 

  • Soon You’ll Get Better (feat. Dixie Chicks)

In a flashback to her country music days, Swift’s twelfth track is a dedication to her mother. Throughout the past five years, Swift’s mother has been battling cancer and was re-diagnosed this past March. It does not come as much of a surprise that the singer dedicated a song to someone so important in her life, as Swift has done this before with “The Best Day” on the Fearless album. However, Swift explained that it was a tough family decision whether or not to include the track on Lover because it is extremely emotional and personal. 

  • False God

“False God” is a song that juxtaposes Swift and her lover (presumably Alwyn) with religion. The track is rather sultry and contains elements of spirituality as well as sexuality. Swift compares heaven to being touched by her lover, two things that are almost a direct contrast. The relationship that she sings about is sacred and is something bigger than either party involved. A similar style to “Dress” from her reputation album, Swift reveals a darker and more sensual side of music. This may perhaps be a nod to adulthood simply because Swift’s older music is more teenager-esque and she wants to demonstrate growth and maturity. 

  • You Need To Calm Down

The last strongly politically influenced song of Lover is the fourteenth track of the album. “You Need To Calm Down” is the second single of the album, an ode to self-love and LGBTQ+ rights. The song calls out haters and unequal rights after Swift’s continuous support of rights regardless of sexuality and gender. Swift sings, “Why are you mad when you could be GLAAD?”, a play on words acknowledging the GLAAD organization. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) received a “very generous donation” from Swift in June while the artist also formed a petition in support of the Equality Act. In recent months, Swift has been extremely expressive about her political views and moral values, and “You Need To Calm Down” is a perfect example. 

  • Afterglow

“Afterglow” is a song of reminiscence and acceptance. Swift tells the listener that she sabotaged a relationship by overthinking and acting out because of her fears. Much of a contrast from any other breakup song she has ever written, Swift uses “Afterglow” to take blame for hurting her partner and to ask for forgiveness. Yet again, the artist demonstrates maturity as she is now able to be accountable for her own actions and take things into her own hands. “Afterglow” is an extremely beautiful track and a complete difference from anything Swift has ever made before. 

  • ME! (feat. Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco)

Swift’s single “ME!” is where the excitement of Lover began, as the song and music video were the first from the album. Similar to “You Need To Calm Down”, the sixteenth track is an anthem of self-love and individuality. Swift preaches that confidence is key, and being yourself is the most important tool to finding happiness in life. The song initially surprised listeners, simply because it has a quite different sound and message than mature and dark reputation

  • It’s Nice To Have A Friend

The second to last song of Lover is told as a dreamy memory of childhood, where two children meet and spend every second together. Then, as the song comes to an end, the two children are adults getting married. Similar to “Mary’s Song (Oh My My My)” from Swift’s first studio album, childhood love blossoming into adulthood companionship is a recurring theme throughout her music. Although a rather short track, it still maintains the happy and light vibe of Lover

  • Daylight

The perfect anthem to end Lover is “Daylight”. The 17 previous songs take listeners through a journey of many emotions Swift and lots of others have experienced throughout life. “Daylight” is an acceptance of past pain and mistakes as well as a realization of what currently matters. Although Swift has been unlucky with love in the past, she now has Alwyn, what or rather whom she’s been searching for all along. The song explains that the singer only wants to think about her current love, forgiving but never forgetting the past. 

Swift’s seventh album Lover is a tipoff to her maturation and self-realization. Throughout the album, the artist acknowledges and accepts her past but welcomes the future. Meanwhile, celebrating in the present is her biggest task to accomplish. A story of whimsical and bright love is what Lover brings to the table, music for all kinds of people.


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