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Music / Lover

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"It's a cruel summer with you."

"Ladies and gentlemen, will you please stand?
With every guitar string scar on my hand
I take this magnetic force of a man
To be my lover."
— "Lover"

Lover is American singer and songwriter Taylor Swift's seventh studio album, released August 23rd, 2019. It was her first album with the record label Republic Records, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group.

Musically, the album is more similar to the upbeat Synth-Pop of 1989 than the Darker and Edgier reputation (though it lacks to contributions of Max Martin, who produced both). While not quite a Concept Album, it explores themes of love and friendship, particularly her feelings for her long-term romantic partner, Joe Alwyn. Despite its relative optimism, it is generally slower and more reflective than her past albums, containing some of Swift's first explicitly political songs (most notably the pro-LGBTQ+ single "You Need To Calm Down" and the glass-ceiling critique "The Man"). It's also her longest album at 18 tracks,note  though that number is somewhat inflated by a number of sub-3-minute songs.

The album was meant to be accompanied with "Lover Fest", a touring quasi-festival featuring Swift and her favorite artists. The COVID-19 Pandemic ended that and cut short the promotion of Lover, forcing Swift to pivot into a new era of her career.

Preceded by reputation, succeeded by folklore (2020).
  1. "I Forgot That You Existed" (2:51)
  2. "Cruel Summer" (2:58)
  3. "Lover" (3:41)
  4. "The Man" (3:10)
  5. "The Archer" (3:31)
  6. "I Think He Knows" (2:54)
  7. "Miss Americana and The Heartbreak Prince" (3:54)
  8. "Paper Rings" (3:42)
  9. "Cornelia Street" (4:47)
  10. "Death by a Thousand Cuts" (3:19)
  11. "London Boy" (3:10)
  12. "Soon You'll Get Better" (featuring Dixie Chicks) (3:22)
  13. "False God" (3:20)
  14. "You Need to Calm Down" (2:51)
  15. "Afterglow" (3:43)
  16. "Me!" (featuring Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco) (3:13)
  17. "It's Nice to Have a Friend" (2:30)
  18. "Daylight" (4:53)
  19. "All of the Girls You Loved Before" (3:41) (Bonus Track)

And I promise that nobody's gonna trope you like me-e-e-eh:

  • Album Closure: The final track is "Daylight," a slow, introspective song where Swift explicitly addresses all that she's learned. It ends with a monologue that delivers the album's thesis statement: "You are what you love."
  • Album Title Drop:
    • The third track is literally called "Lover," so the word is all over the place.
    • "Me!" also uses it:
      Babydoll, when it comes to a lover, I promise that you'll never find another like me.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: "Cruel Summer":
    Bad, bad boy, shiny toy with a price
    You know that I bought it
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: "Cruel Summer" has the lyric, "For whatever it's worth, I love you. Ain't that the worst thing you ever heard?"
  • Be Yourself: The message of both "You Need to Calm Down" and "ME!".
  • Breakout Character: "Cruel Summer" was so beloved by fans and the general publics even years after the album's release that it was finally released as a single in June 2023, nearly 4 years after the album's release.
  • Break-Up Song: Another album that lack these types of songs, owing to the fact that the album primary focus on the relationship with her then-boyfriend Joe Alwyn. The one exception is "Death by a Thousand Cuts" is about the pain the narrator felt after a break up (which Swift confessed she wrote after watching a romcom rather than based on a specific experience).
    Saying goodbye is death by a thousand cuts
    Flashbacks waking me up
    I get drunk, but it's not enough
    'Cause the morning comes, and you're not my baby
  • The Cameo: Idris Elba does the spoken word segment on "London Boy".
  • Can't Act Perverted Toward a Love Interest: Inverted in "Lover":
    And you'll save all your dirtiest jokes for me
  • Call-Back: The final track, "Daylight," has one to her fourth album, Red, specifically the line from the title track, "Loving him was red."
    I once believed love would be burning red,
    but it's golden.
  • Changed for the Video: Inverted. The line "Hey kids. Spelling is fun!" was removed from "ME!" shortly before the album's release, possibly because of the negative reception to the line in the music video.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: "It's Nice to Have a Friend" shows the progression of the narrator and their childhood best friend becoming a couple and eventually getting married.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The music video for "Lover" is set in a house with seven rooms, each with its own color. Fans immediately connected each color with one of Taylor's seven albums — green for Taylor Swift, gold for Fearless, purple for Speak Now, red for Red, blue for 1989, black for reputation, and pink for Lover. Taylor later confirmed on her Tumblr that this was intentional.
  • Color Motif: The color blue is mentioned frequently in this album, being brought up in "Cruel Summer," "Lover," "Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince," "Paper Rings," and "Afterglow."
  • Continuity Cavalcade:
    • Since it was the lead single, the video for "ME!" is jampacked with references to both her older works, her personal life, and this album.
    • The video for "The Man" shows a wall with "Fearless," "Speak Now," "Red," "1989," and "Reputation" graffiti on it, referencing the titles of her previous albums.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: She compares her break-up to this in "Death by a Thousand Cuts."
  • Door Slam of Rage: Taylor's character and her love interest played by Brendon Urie have an argument in the music video for "ME!" which ends when Taylor walks out of the apartment and slams the door for good measure.
  • Double Standard: "The Man" is all about how differently she would be treated if she were, well, a man. She hypothesizes that she gets seen as "a bitch not a baller" because of the higher standards to which women celebrities are held.
    I’d be a fearless leader
    I'd be an alpha type
    When everyone believes you
    What's that like? ...
  • Drowning My Sorrows: She attempts it after a break-up in "Death by a Thousand Cuts," with little success.
    I get drunk, but it's not enough
    'Cause the morning comes and you're not my baby
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: In "Paper Rings," she comments:
    I like shiny things
  • Exact Words: It was rumored that the video for "You Need To Calm Down" would feature Taylor and Katy Perry, dressed as a burger and French fries, kissing. Taylor said it was false, and she didn’t lie—the two didn't kiss.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: In "London Boy," after falling in love with the titular boy, the narrator loves everything English.
    And now I love high tea, stories from Uni, and the West End
    You can find me in the pub, we are watching rugby with his school friends
    Show me a gray sky, a rainy cab ride
    Babes, don't threaten me with a good time
    They say home is where the heart is
    But God, I love the English
  • Gay Aesop: The second verse and pre-chorus of "You Need To Calm Down" call out homophobes; the video for the song features many LGBT celebrities and contains anti-homophobia/pro-Gay Pride imagery throughout.
    You are somebody that we don't know
    But you're comin' at my friends like a missile
    Why are you mad when you could be GLAAD? (You could be GLAAD)
    Sunshine on the street at the parade
    But you would rather be in the dark ages
    Makin' that sign must've taken all night

    You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace
    And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate
    'Cause shade never made anybody less gay
  • Gratuitous French: The music video for "ME!" begins with her and Brendon Urie from Panic! at the Disco having an argument in French for no real reason except that it sounds more dramatic.
  • Grief Song: "Soon You'll Get Better," a song about dealing with a loved one's serious illness. She based it on her experience of her mother's battle with cancer.
    I hate to make this all about me
    But who am I supposed to talk to?
    What am I supposed to do
    If there's no you?
  • Hotter and Sexier: Both “Cruel Summer” and “False God” highly imply being on the receiving end of oral sex which is more explicit than anything in any of her other work.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: "The Archer" has a lot of this. Swift admits her immaturity, tendency to playing the victim, tendency to seek feuds as well as her past hypocrisy about denying them while fully capable of inflicting emotional pain on other people. She herself acknowledge that this is the most honest, emotional, vulnerable, and personal track in this album.
    Combat, I'm ready for combat
    I say I don't want that, but what if I do?

    Easy they come, easy they go
    I jump from the train, I ride off alone
    I never grew up, it's getting so old

    I've been the archer, I've been the prey
    Who could ever leave me, darling
    But who could stay?
  • "I Am Great!" Song:
    • "I Think He Knows":
      He's so obsessed with me, and boy, I understand. Boy, I understand.
    • "Me!" can basically be summed up as, "I know I can be a lot, but I'm amazing, and anyone would be lucky to have me."
      And you can't spell "awesome" without "me"
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Hinted at in "The Archer," where she asks, "Who could ever leave me, darling? But who could stay?"
  • Insecure Love Interest: "Cruel Summer," "The Archer," "Cornelia Street," and "Afterglow" all hint that the narrator is insecure and scared her lover will leave her.
  • Intercourse with You: "False God" has some pretty heavy subtext to this effect.
    The altar is my hips
  • I Resemble That Remark!: The music video for "Me!" starts with Urie and Swift getting into an argument, culminating with Swift exclaiming "Je suis calme!" (I am calm).
  • It's All About Me: "ME!" has this bit of Self-Deprecation:
    I know I tend to make it about me
  • It's All My Fault: "Afterglow" is her apology after having a fight with someone she loves and hurting them.
    Why'd I have to break what I love so much?
    It's on your face, and I'm to blame, I need to say
    Hey, it's all me, in my head
    I'm the one who burned us down
  • Laugh of Love: She laughs happily at the beginning of "London Boy."
  • Lighter and Softer: Much more upbeat and colorful than reputation.
  • Love Hurts: Despite the high number of love songs in this album, this trope pops up a couple of times to show how deeply in love and filled with anxiety the narrator is:
    • The pressure to keep her relationship in "Cruel Summer" secret is what makes the summer so "cruel".
    • The narrator from "Cornelia Street" is terrified about if her love interest ever walk away from her because she is afraid that her heartbreak would never mend:
    I hope I never lose you, hope it never ends
    I'd never walk Cornelia Street again
    That's the kind of heartbreak time could never mend
    I'd never walk Cornelia Street again.
    • "Death By A Thousand Cuts" has the narrator reeling from the aftermath of a break up that she is clearly not over.
    • "False God" is about making up after a fight with the narrator's English love interest.
    • "Afterglow" is about the narrator apologizing to her love interest after a particularly bad fight and how she needs reassurance that they still loves her even with her flaws.
  • Love Is a Drug: Mentioned in "Death by a Thousand Cuts":
    Gave up on me like I was a bad drug
  • Love Is Like Religion: In "False God," she pledges religious devotion to her paramour, even if it turns out to be a "false god".
    We might just get away with it
    The altar is my hips
    Even if it's a false god
    We'd still worship this love
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "The Man" is a bitter song about Double Standard to an airy tune.
  • Mad Libs Catch Phrase: The "spelling is fun!" line from "ME!" tended to be changed for live performances depending on the context (when it opened the Billboard Music Awards it became "Vegas is fun!", and "Finales are fun!" when performed on the season finale of The Voice).
  • Mood Whiplash: "Soon You'll Get Better" is perhaps the saddest song on the album and is sandwiched between "London Boy", a song about how much she loves a London boy, and "False God". Even if one considers "False God" to be a song on the sadder side, immediately following it is "You Need to Calm Down", one of the most upbeat songs on the album.
  • Motor Mouth: She says some lines of "I Think He Knows" and "You Need to Calm Down" really fast.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: "Afterglow" is about her feeling massive guilt after having a fight with someone she loves and hurting them.
  • Ode to Apathy: In "I Forgot That You Existed," she celebrates her indifference towards a former friend who's hurt her. For a long time, she was mad at them and upset about everything they did but now, she feels peaceful and nice.
  • Pass the Popcorn: One of the crimes of the subject of "I Forgot That You Existed" is treating the singer's problems like a show, signified by this trope:
    I forgot that you
    Got out some popcorn
    As soon as my rep started going down, down, down
  • Prayer Is a Last Resort: "Soon You'll Get Better," which is about the narrator's parent suffering a serious illness.
    Holy orange bottles, each night I pray to you.
    Desperate people find faith, so now I pray to Jesus, too.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Bitch", the saltiest word on the album, is used twice on "The Man".
  • The Power of Apathy: “I Forgot That You Existed” is about how for a long time, she was mad at a former friend and upset about everything they did but is now at a place where indifference is all she feels, and it's peaceful and nice.
  • The Power of Love: The main theme of the album. Swift even said it's a love letter to love itself.
  • Record Producer: Lover was the first of Swift's albums to be entirely co-produced by her. It also marked the departure of Max Martin from her oeuvre after his contributions to many of her biggest hits from the prior three albums; instead, the majority of the songs were co-produced with Jack Antonoff, with a few other contributions from Joel Little and Louis Bell.
  • Revisiting the Roots: "Soon You'll Get Better" is her first country-inspired song since Red. Bonus points for including Dixie Chicks as guest musicians.
  • Romantic Rain: The "ME!" video ends with Taylor and her love interest dancing in a (rainbow) rainstorm.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The beginning of "ME!"'s video shows a snake exploding into butterflies. Snakes were a symbol of Taylor's more defensive, edgy reputation, and the video is showing that that mood and persona will not be part of the new album, only exacerbated by the pastel fantasy visuals of the video and brightness of the song.
  • Secret Relationship: "Cruel Summer":
    I don't wanna keep secrets just to keep you
    And I snuck in through the garden gate
    Every night that summer just to seal my fate
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: She harmonizes with herself on "The Man," "I Think He Knows," "London Boy," and "You Need To Calm Down."
  • Self-Deprecation: "The Archer" has a lot of this:
  • Sequel Song: Lyrically, "Daylight" shows the narrator's Character Development since the "Red" era, specifically featuring Arc Words from its title track. ("I once believed love would be burning red, but it's golden like daylight.") In terms of sound and theme, many fans have it pinned down as the spiritual successor to the "1989" track "Clean," which is the album's final track like "Daylight."
  • Shout-Out: To Drake in "I Forgot That You Existed".
    In my feelings more than Drake
  • Sick Episode: "Soon You'll Get Better" is about a close relative being sick and the singer hopes desperately for them to get better.
  • Silly Love Songs: A lot of the album - if the song isn't about Love Hurts, is about the highs and joy of love. This isn't surprising given that the album is based on her relationship with Joe Alwyn:
    • "Cruel Summer" is about being deeply in love in a relationship that has to be kept secret.
    • "Lover" is about the joy of a long term stable relationship and how the narrator wants to envision and build their future together. The chorus is basically a wedding vow.
    • "I Think He Knows" is about the narrator being so infatuated with her love interest that she can't even form the words to articulate her feelings but she "think he knows" her feeling towards him.
    • "Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince" on the surface speaks about a high school romance.
    • "Paper Rings" details falling so deeply in love to the point that she would marry her partner "with paper rings".
    • "Cornelia Street" details how her relationship deepened when the narrator moved in with her apartment and how terrified she would be if they ever broke up to the point that she "would never walk Cornelia Street again".
    • "It's Nice To Have A Friend" is about a Childhood Friend Romance and how the couple is still best friends to each other after they got married.
    • "Daylight" is about ignoring the past and looking to the future with her love interest and how she will step in to her future with her love.
    • The narrator of "All of the Girls You Loved Before" gushes about how much of a good person her love interest is and how all of the women her love interest has encountered (including their mom and "all of the girls [they] loved before") helps made them into the person she fell in love with.
  • Slut-Shaming: "The Man" points out that women celebrities are held to higher standards about their love lives than men celebrities (and specifically calls out Leonardo DiCaprio as an example).
    They'd say I played the field before I found someone to commit to
    That would be okay for me to do
    Every conquest I had made would make me more of a boss to you
  • Spoken Word in Music: The album ends with a recording of Taylor speaking, ending with, "You are what you love."
  • "Spread Wings" Frame Shot: Taylor Swift commissioned Kelsey Montague to create a mural of butterfly wings to pose in front of to promote her "ME!" music video.
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • "Cruel Summer":
      Said, "I'm fine," but it wasn't true
    • Discussed and averted in "Death by a Thousand Cuts."
      I can't pretend it's okay when it's not
  • Take That!: The entirety of "You Need to Calm Down," where she makes fun of homophobes and internet trolls.
  • Title Track: Track #3 is also called "Lover."
  • Turn to Religion: A line from "Soon You'll Get Better":
    Desperate people find faith
    So now I pray to Jesus too
  • Umbrella of Togetherness: The music video for "ME!" has a scene where she's dancing in strange colourful thick rain and her Love Interest played by Brandon Urie comes to her with an umbrella which they share and dance off under. They share an umbrella in the live version as well.
  • Womanchild: "The Archer":
    I never grew up, it's getting so old
  • We Used to Be Friends:
    • "The Archer" says, "all of my enemies started out friends."
    • "I Forgot That You Existed" is about getting over hurt feelings about a former friend.

"I wanna be defined by the things that I love. Not the things that I hate. Not the things that I'm afraid of—I'm afraid of... or the things that haunt me in the middle of the night. I—I just think that... you are what you love."