Back to School Music: 'Lover' by Taylor Swift

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Taylor Swift released her seventh album, Lover, on August 23, just in time for the back-to-school season. While she worked with longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff, Swift did not collaborate with Max Martin and Shellback for the first time since 2012’s Red. With new co-writers and a lighter vibe than the dark Reputation (2017), no one quite knew what to expect. Since I am a long-time Swiftie, I decided to break down each of the album’s 18 tracks (the most ever on a Taylor Swift album).

  1. 1. “I Forgot That You Existed”

    This song, in which Swift moves on from past drama, contains the only reference to any feuds on this album (a drastic change from her previous release, Reputation). Despite all the hype, “I Forgot That You Existed” is not one of the best songs on this album. It is a real earworm, though, and I’ll probably be nodding my head along to this song within the next month or two.

    Best Lyric: “Your name on my lips, tongue tied / Free rent living in my mind”

  2. 2. “Cruel Summer”

    This is one of the best songs on the album. The musical arrangement is current enough while also being unique, and the lyrics are superb. “Cruel Summer” should’ve been the third single she released from this album, if only because of the seasonal correlation.

    Best Lyric: “I don’t wanna keep secrets just to keep you”

  3. 3. "Lover"

    The third single of this album, “Lover” is an incredibly romantic track, and one of three songs that Swift wrote by herself. My first thought when I listened to the song was that this is the definition of wearing your heart on your sleeve. The song also received acclaim from Swift’s peers, including Keith Urban, Niall Horan, Shawn Mendes, and Lily Aldridge.

    Best Lyric: “My heart’s been borrowed and yours has been blue / All’s well that ends well to end up with you”

  4. 4. "The Man"

    Swift worked with another new co-writer, Joel Little, on this track, and it is a stinging call-out of the rampant and systemic misogyny in our society. I want to scream along as she sings, “I’m so sick of running as fast as I can, wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man” because deep down, I know I would have more advantages in life if I were a man. On a lighter note, I laughed out loud when I first heard the line about Leo DiCaprio — talk about a serial dater. 

    Best Lyric: “They wouldn’t shake their heads and question how much of this I deserve”

  5. 5. "The Archer"

    Released as a promotional single, “The Archer” doesn’t sound like anything Swift has released before. It’s not just the sound; the lyrics show just how much Swift has evolved over the past few years into someone who is aware of her shortcomings and mistakes. The slow but steady melody finally begins to pay off in the bridge and closes with a beautiful outro.

    Best Lyric: “And I cut off my nose just to spite my face / Then I hate my reflection for years and years”

  6. 6. "I Think He Knows"

    While it is not one of the strongest tracks on the album in terms of lyrics, its happiness is contagious, especially the chorus. I can’t help but want to dance when she sings, “You got my heartbeat skipping down 16th Avenue.”

    Best Lyric: “His footprints on the sidewalk / Lead to where I can’t stop / Go there every night”

  7. 7. "Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince"

    Don’t be fooled by the high school metaphors: they are used to convey Swift’s perspective on the current state of American affairs. In my mind, I visualize it as a dark take on what it is like to be a teenager in the present moment. The subtle but cuttingly honest lyrics, combined with the atmospheric production, make “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince” a standout track.

    Best Lyric: “American stories burning before me”

  8. 8. "Paper Rings"

    This song has pop-rock and pop-punk influences that oddly reminds me of Avril Lavigne (without the angst). It shouldn’t work, but somehow, it does. You can’t help but want to rock out and dance along to this sweet song about finding happily ever after.

    Best Lyric: “Cat and mouse for a month or two or three”

  9. 9. "Cornelia Street"

    This is the second track Swift wrote alone, and it is stellar. In the summer of 2016, Swift rented a townhouse on Cornelia Street in the West Village while her other Manhattan residence was being renovated, and it is rumored that the early stages of her relationship with her current boyfriend, Joe Alwyn, played out there. There are so many excellent lyrics in this song, it’s hard to pick one, and the thunder during the final chorus is a subtle yet epic touch.

    Best Lyric: “We bless the rains on Cornelia Street / Memorize the creaks in the floor”

  10. 10. "Death By A Thousand Cuts"

    The musical arrangement unfortunately drags this track down a bit, but it boasts many of the best lyrics on the entire album. I have a feeling that “Death By A Thousand Cuts” will grow on me in the months ahead.

    Best Lyric: “Paper cut stings from our paper-thin plans”

  11. 11. "London Boy"

    This is an ode to the hometown of her boyfriend, Joe Alwyn (and to Joe himself), and in my opinion, it is the worst song on the album. “London Boy” is way too cheesy, and it is painfully obvious that Taylor did not put much thought into the locations she namechecked, which is highly uncharacteristic of her. If you’re going to write a song about London, do it right. 

    Best Lyric: “They say home is where the heart is / But that’s not where mine lives”

  12. 12. “Soon You’ll Get Better" (feat. The Dixie Chicks)

    This track is an ode to Taylor’s mother, whose cancer returned earlier this year, and she said she doesn’t know whether she’ll be able to perform this song live. I don’t blame her: I started crying thinking about my own mom on the first listen. “Soon You’ll Get Better” is one of Taylor Swift’s most honest tracks to date — the songwriting is beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. 

    Best Lyric: “But who I am supposed to talk to? / What am I supposed to do if there’s no you?”

  13. 13. "False God"

    This track is severely underrated, but it is one of my favorites. The musical arrangement, especially the jazz horn, is to die for and perfectly complements the visual nature of the lyrics, some of which are among the best lyrics on the entire album.

    Best Lyric: “Staring out the window like I’m not your favorite town / I’m New York City”

  14. 14. "You Need To Calm Down"

    One of this summer’s anthems, “You Need To Calm Down” finally sees Swift declare explicit support for the LGBTQ+ community. It has a catchy beat, but compared to all of the other songs on the album, it doesn’t quite measure up.

    Best Lyric: “But we figured you out / We all know now, we all got crowns”

  15. 15. "Afterglow"

    This is a perfectly good track, but at the end of the day, “Afterglow” doesn’t have any quality unique enough to stand out on this album. If there weren’t so many tracks to sift through, perhaps I would like it more.

    Best Lyric: “This ultraviolet morning light below / Tells me this love is worth the fight”

  16. 16. “ME! (feat. Brendon Urie of Panic! At the Disco)”

    The lead single of the album, “ME!” was incredibly misleading. From this song, you would never know that Swift is one of the most talented songwriters of her generation; the lyrics are incredibly basic. People have also complained that the song is too peppy, but I am not of that opinion. If there is a saving grace to “ME!”, it is its ability to instantly brighten your mood.

    Best Lyric: “I promise that you’ll never find another like me”

  17. 17. “It’s Nice To Have A Friend”

    Try as she might to have a summery album, Taylor Swift and winter are inseparable, and “It’s Nice To Have A Friend” is living proof. This song doesn’t sound even remotely similar to anything Swift has ever released, and the voices of a children’s choir from Toronto are incredibly haunting. I’m sure I’ll be listening to “It’s Nice To Have A Friend” on repeat when the holidays come around.

    Best Lyric: “Sidewalk chalk covered in snow / Lost my gloves, you give me one”

  18. 18. "Daylight"

    Another self-written and underrated track, “Daylight” is the perfect choice for an album closer. You can literally feel the darkness of the Reputation era lifting in this song. Swift is clearly in a happier place now, and we’re all reaping the fruits of her joy with this excellent song and album.

    Best Lyric: “I’ve been sleeping so long in a 20-year dark night / And now I see daylight, I only see daylight”