While Reputation was an epic clap back at the bullshit she fielded in 2016, Lover returns to a more Taylor-driven collection both lyrically and musically. There’s something comforting about this, even for me, who admittedly is not a “real” Swifty and cannot listen to the majority of her work before 1989.
Standout Tracks from the Album Lover
This album easily passes the rule of three (meaning it contains 3 amazing songs, making it worth the purchase), but there are some crazy standout tracks that blew me away.
False God: Now I should probably full disclosure that I listened while doing a walk through Brooklyn in the nighttime. When this saxophone opens it I just stopped in my tracks and went, “Oh shit we’re going there.” The song mentions NYC of course, but it just feels like New York City. It’s impossible to describe, but it just nails it. I felt like I was listening to nights of my own life. This lounge, soulful tune gave me serious vibes. I loved the sampling, the lyrics reminiscent of slivers of Hozier, and overall chillness. It feels totally different from all of her other work, and I was blown away. It’s my top pick from the album, but again, I’m bias. I do hope she makes more music like this because it is exactly me.
Cornelia Street: This is SUCH a quintessential Taylor Swift song. Like it’s painful for me to even mention it here because of this, but the songwriting in it is so stupid good, I simply must. The entire song tells a story, as many of her classic Tay songs do, but how she weaves it… oh man, I just love it. Then she takes it to anthem style just before the end and you’re totally rocking out to it. This song will be a “holy wow” moment live. My favorite is how the k and C blend in the chorus line “I’ll never walk Cornelia Street again.” It’s simply brilliant. And if you are a big weirdo like me, moments of this will pull you immediately to “The Old Apartment” by Bare Naked Ladies.
Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince: The first time I heard this song, I hated it. I really hated it. I think I actually skipped it less than a minute in the first listen and then when I committed to a full album listen I finally heard it in full. It’s probably the most Lana Del Rey-feeling song she’s ever done but once you get into it, the emotion overcomes you. Then she plays with the high school cheer Go! Fight! Win! and I couldn’t help but grin at her cleverness. I especially love the deep vocal range she plays with here, giving it that noir/femme fatale essence.
Death By A Thousand Cuts: Another song I needed more than one listen to fully appreciate. I just love the use of instrumental repetition to reinforce the concept of a thousand cuts.
Daylight: The final track is usually a quiet one, and “Daylight” is no different. Gorgeous singing and use of color callbacks to prior records.
What’s This About Teen Vogue?
“ME!” did literally nothing for me (or Julie), and I was worried this album would be a dud until Taylor dropped the video for “You Need To Calm Down.” Game. Changer. If you haven’t seen it, watch it now. Try to keep tally of all the LGBTQIA celebs and sign her petition to support the Equality Act while you’re at it:
Now, I’ll admit my headline was a wee bit intentionally a clickbait title, but I believe “You Need To Calm Down” and “The Man” really make the shift Teen Vogue made in recent years. As I’ve said, I’m not a longtime Swifty, so maybe I’m entirely off base, but I never got the impression any sociopolitical commentary was being made explicitly in the lyrics of her prior records. Certainly not for the entirety of a song. That changed with these two tracks.
What this tells me is that Taylor’s audience keeps up. As someone who has been to one of her concerts, I can promise you the majority of her fans are still SUPER young. Like average age of sixteen, with a lot of eleven year olds bringing that average down. Right in the target age range of Teen Vogue. As TN moms (contributors and readers alike) can attest, kids these days both know and care about what is happening in the world. And business savvy millennials like former Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue, 32-year-old Elaine Welteroth—and 29-year-old Taylor Swift—are ready to give them what they want.
As Emma Hinchliffe noted in her 2017 Mashable article, “[Teen Vogue] takes teenage girls seriously, assuming their interest in both civil rights and Ariana Grande.” That is precisely what Taylor Swift does with her album Lover.
In “You Need To Calm Down”, the lyrics call out anyone spewing hate, with quite specific references to Pride, which was going on when the video dropped (e.g., “Sunshine on the street at the parade” and “Why are you mad? When you could be GLAAD?”). The song also goes on to speak to critics pitting women against each other, rather than celebrating how amazing they all are in its final verse:
And we see you over there on the internet
Comparing all the girls who are killing it
But we figured you out
We all know now we all got crowns
In “The Man” Taylor takes on double standards between men and women, citing exactly how differently she would’ve been treated throughout her career if she were instead a man. I recommend reading the lyrics to this song even if you never plan to give it a listen. Here’s a snippet that really resonated with me:
They’d say I hustled
Put in the work
They wouldn’t shake their heads
And question how much of this I deserve
What I was wearing, if I was rude
Could all be separated from my good ideas and power moves
I hope Taylor keeps up this trend and continues to speak to and sing about civic and sociopolitical issues.