Get Yourself A Paper Ring: "Lover" Album Review (Part One)

Taylor Swift's seventh album was long awaited and much anticipated by Swifties and media critics alike. I would know -- I was one of the Swifties who didn't know what to expect prior to the album's August 23 release.  My boyfriend and I sat on the couch, anxiously waiting to hear her new music when 10pm came around and Spotify had the music uploaded. Ultimately, we were far from disappointed. Each song on the album is incredible (minus track 16) and there’s a song for anyone, even those who don’t consider themselves Taylor affiliates.

Without further ado, here’s my take on the first half of the Lover album in this two part series. 

1. I Forgot That You Existed

Why this song is important: IFTYE is the perfect transition between the Reputation and Lover eras. Swift throws shade at who is believed to be her ex Calvin Harris (who, by the way, has no love songs written about him- speculation is that Swift’s “Getaway Car” is about Taylor cheating on him, but that’s it). Swift’s blunt admission that she forgot he existed reminds listeners of Reputation’s “Look What You Made Me Do,” but this time, she acknowledges that her memory loss is not due to hate or love, but simply indifference, completely describes Lover. As repuation’s “Call It What You Want” foreshadowed, Lover is all about caring only for those who care about you and letting those who abuse or manipulate you fall by the wayside. IFTYE is a great song to listen while you do morning chores, walk to class, or after you realize that someone who used to affect your happiness no longer does. Listeners will be surprised how quickly they resonate with this song as everyone has someone who caused them hurt that they no longer care about or even remember. 

The most important line: “It isn’t love it isn’t hate it’s just indifference.”

2. Cruel Summer 

Why this song is a bop: For those who lived for the lights, drama, and beat of Reputation (@me), this song is our hail Mary. CS’s bright and smooth melody reminds listeners of rep’s “Getaway Car,” 1989’s bridge for “Out of the Woods,” and the anguish of RED’s “I Knew You Were Trouble.” Every lyric kills me while the next revives me and is perfect for past midnight drives. The song completely explains the phenomenon of catching feelings for someone who originally was only a hookup. I especially stan the lyrics, “I’m always waiting for you to be waiting below,” a call to Swift’s “Love Story.”

Fun Fact: rep’s “Don’t Blame Me” and CS’s pre-chorus share the same melody. 

3. Lover

Why this song is EVERYTHING ALL THE THINGS ALL OF IT: “Lover” is so happy I always feel like crying when I’m listening to the song. The song isn’t particularly sad, but the lyrics are so full of devotion that listeners can almost palpate how strong the connection is between Taylor and her lover (presumed to be Joe Alwyn). “Lover” has some intense wedding vibes, which is why so many Swifties are speculating if Taylor is married to Joe. The romantic vibes of “Lover” have the magic of Swift’s “Red”, but includes a genuine understanding of what true love is that Taylor’s previous albums lack. This song is best understood while a listener is in a truly enchanting romance, but that is not to say the song is impossible to relate to if you’re single. In fact, I would say that this song means more to those who were single when they first started listening to it and then begin a long-term relationship. 

Who is this song meant for: Anyone who appreciates Elvis Presley’s “Falling in Love,” which is everyone. 

4. The Man

Why this song is a MUST for every college girl: To be honest, I wasn’t excited about this song. I mean, I’m all for women’s empowerment but some feminist hits right now seem to focus on the same cliches: you’re beautiful the way you are, you can do anything, and you don’t need a man to do those things. Don’t get me wrong, these messages are all important, we have just heard them over and over. Taylor’s “The Man” focuses on how she would personally be viewed if she did everything the same in her life, but she happened to be a man instead of a woman. Swift has faced a lot of sexist criticism for writing songs about her past love interests (even though men do the same thing and are praised for it) and that her dad bought her career. “The Man” is a response to these claims and Swift executes her points perfectly in a boppy, somewhat angry melody and background music. Anyone can resonate with the song’s messages, but especially driven young women. 

A line worth noting

“What's it like to brag about raking in dollars [as a man]

And getting bitches and models?

And it's all good if you're bad

And it's okay if you're mad

 

If I was out flashin' my dollas [as woman]

I'd be a bitch, not a baller

They'd paint me out to be bad

So it's okay that I'm mad.” 

5. The Archer

Why this song is BRUTAL: This song is Swift’s reflection about the patterns in her behavior, especially in relationships. She states that she’s always “ready for combat” and is unsure who could truly stay with her romantically. This entire song, for not having any sort of climax, is riddled with anxiety. The persistent electronic background music throbs throughout the song and Swift’s voice is quiet, but worried. Listeners may think that she alone is attempting to hold both her relationship and herself together. Swift’s anxiety that she is truly the reason her relationships fail is most evident in the song’s bridge, where she admits that she can see right through herself. 

Who needs this song: Those who have finally accepted their problematic behaviors and are ready to accept themselves for who they are. 

6. I Think He Knows 

Why this song is necessary, periodt: For following “The Archer”, whose whole livelihood is based on insecurity, “I Think He Knows” is a confident bop that both Taylor and Swifties desperately needed. Taylor has sung about her crushes never noticing her in her earlier music,  such as “Teardrops on My Guitar,” “Superman,” and “You Belong With Me,” but unlike these songs, ITHK doesn’t reflect on why she’s not noticed by her crushes. Instead, the entire song is an expression of why she is noticed by her crush. She understands that she’s amazing and isn’t afraid to express her confidence or her interest in a guy she likes. The song has a happy vibe perfect for getting ready or in the early stages of a relationship.

Consider listening when you’re: Feeling yourself

7. Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince

Why this song is surprising: My first impression of MATHP was that this song had some major Lana Del Rey vibes. If you have heard even one LDR song, you would know what I’m saying. Structured in a metaphorical high school meant to represent the status of the American politics, the bridge of the song includes a parody of “Go, Fight, Win!” which is especially haunting. If “Cruel Summer” had the lightness of Swift’s “Getaway Car,” MATHP parallels the darkness. I would recommend this song to anyone, including those who are not Taylor Swift fans, due to the complexity and uniqueness this song holds against Taylor Swift’s traditional setlists.

The most important line: “You play stupid games, you win stupid prizes.” 

 8. Paper Rings

Why this song is an actual party: With a beat reminiscent of 50s and 60s dance music, Swift’s “Paper Rings” has an air of nostalgia but also endurance. The lyrics explore a relationship that doesn’t need money or materials to sustain itself; instead, the relationship is built on mutual desire to be around each other, both as friends and as lovers. The songs romantic vibes and speed also calls back to the old Taylor, including songs like “Stay Stay Stay” and “Holy Ground” from Red and “Hey Stephen” from Fearless. If you feel like your relationship resembles “Paper Rings” perfectly, you are probably ready for a paper ring yourself. 

Who would enjoy this song: Anyone who stans for old time music, but with modern messages. 

9. Cornelia Street

How this song explains a phenomenon in love we don’t typically talk about: “Cornelia Street” is in reference to a rental home Swift stayed in during a renovation of her New York apartment and supposedly is where Joe Alwyn and Taylor Swift began their relationship. While the song explores a relationship’s blooming stages, the song also mentions how important places and events are to relationships. As Swift remarks that she hopes she never loses her lover because she could never walk Cornelia Street again after, listeners are reminded that lost relationships sour more than just an ex. After a breakup, coffee shops and restaurants you used to visit together are now banned, movies and music you shared are ruined, and events you went to are no longer available to you because the memories of your relationship existing there are too painful. This phenomenon is a double-edged swored though- if you break up, places are forever changed for you, but if you stay together, it only makes the place more special to your relationship. Over all, the slow but honest and upbeat song is a great reminder of what makes relationships great and how relationships change not only our emotional life, but also the places we visit and the things we do. 

Fun fact: Swift rented the Cornelia Street townhouse for almost $40,000/month (HELLO?)

Part 2 coming next month…...

 

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