Taylor Swift has been in American music for over a decade, and she has grown and transformed before our eyes. To say she is the same wide-eyed, curly-haired, country sweetheart we knew in 2006 would be remiss and grossly ignorant of the woman she is today. Though she debuted as a country artist, Taylor Swift has made a complete transition into pop music beginning with her album 1989 in 2014.
Her latest album, Lover, features 18 new, fresh songs that are quite the turnaround from her previous one, reputation, which came out in 2017. For both albums, Swift worked closely with Jack Antonoff who helped co-write and co-produce many of the songs. Reputation, came out on the heels of destruction of Swift’s reputation as one of America’s sweethearts. Rumors were swirling around the singer as she was tied up in a very public feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West over a song West had written and referenced Swift in. After this, Swift went on a bit of a hiatus and very intentionally took herself out of the spotlight. The sound and tone of reputation was a reflection of the anger Swift felt and a very direct nod the artist made toward all of the rumors that were being spread about her. Most of the love songs on this album were about something secret and furtive, whereas on Lover all of the songs are lighter and shouting about her love. Swift remained active in the public eye, from her sexual harassment case to her very vocal advocacy on voting to her latest case with her former label.
In late April 2019, Swift dropped a new single, “Me!” that featured Panic! at the Disco’s Brendon Urie. This was the first indication of a new album that was to come, and throughout the summer, Swift hinted about Lover on her social media platforms, making the formal announcement after the release of her second single “You Need to Calm Down.” This song was written for the LGBTQIA+ community and was released during Pride Month. After this, she released two more songs from the 18-track album, including the title song “Lover” a few days prior. Lover officially dropped on August 23, 2019 to positive criticism.
Lover, feels like a fresh new start for Taylor Swift. As mentioned before, it is a complete 180 from her album, reputation. Each song is easy on the ears and catchy enough to stay in your head for the rest of the day. The opening song “I Forgot That You Existed” feels like the clean sound that Swift is going for in this album. The lyrics tell a story about being upset by something or someone and then one day being free of the fixation. In her “Storyline” on Spotify, Swift writes that it “closes the book on ‘reputation’ in resolving the whole conflict with a shrug.” While not every song is upbeat and positive, they all deliver the clever wordplay that we’re so familiar with from her. Her song “Soon You’ll Get Better” features the Dixie Chicks which is bold because of the criticism they faced in the early 2000s. The song is a nod to her country roots, and it is a clear political stance as the Dixie Chicks were extremely anti-Bush. The fourth song in particular, “The Man,” is a biting-but-playful commentary on patriarchy and the challenges she faces as a woman especially in the music industry. Some other songs to keep an ear out for are “Cornelia Street” and “Death by a Thousand Cuts” where Swift discusses the finer details of her favorite subject, love. While her lead singles are catchy and certainly important (“You Need to Calm Down” in particular), the richness and depth of this album comes from her B-side songs. The lyrics and melodies of the B-sides show more character and add more layers to Swift’s musings not only on love, but life as well.
Sophie Schmidt is a senior studying Professional Writing with a minor in Asian Pacific American Studies. She hopes to work as an acquisitions editor in a publishing house, but might also end up writing your BuzzFeed quizzes. When she’s not in class or at various club meetings, Sophie can be found curled up with her cat with her nose stuck in a book.