Taylor Swift’s new album, ‘Lover,’ is what we need in pop

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Taylor Swift’s new album, ‘Lover,’ is what we need in pop

Taylor Swift in her most recent music video for the title track off of her new album

Taylor Swift in her most recent music video for the title track off of her new album "Lover."

Sony / ATV Tree Publishing

Taylor Swift in her most recent music video for the title track off of her new album "Lover."

Sony / ATV Tree Publishing

Sony / ATV Tree Publishing

Taylor Swift in her most recent music video for the title track off of her new album "Lover."

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Taylor Swift’s seventh studio album, “Lover,” dropped Friday, Aug. 23, and there is much to discuss. The 29-year-old singer-songwriter has been in the game for 13 years since the release of her 2006 self-titled debut, and she proves with her latest work that she isn’t going away just yet. 

Swift was catapulted into the spotlight at only 16 years old with the release of “Tim McGraw” named after the famous country musician. However, much has changed for her since then. 

Swift won the Grammy for both Best Country Album and Album of the Year for her second studio album, “Fearless,” at the age of 20. She is still the youngest artist in history to have won an Album of the Year at the Grammys and was only the third country artist to do so. 

Her albums have received critical acclaim from both fans and critics alike. She began to experiment with more pop influences with her 2013 release, “Red,” and soon solidified herself as a pop artist with the release of  “1989,” an ode to musical styles of the year it’s named after.

Her album “1989” would mark her first collaboration with producer Jack Antonoff, who would be the primary producer of her sixth studio album, “Reputation,” where she boldly proclaimed that the “old Taylor is dead.” 

However, the change in style did not hold the album back. The “Reputation” album sold over 1 million copies within the first week of its release, and the tour of the same name sold $266 million, making it the highest-grossing U.S. tour since tracking began. 

Antonoff’s production is also central in telling the story of “Lover.” 

“He’s one of the most amazing people to create with because of his versatility. He produced and wrote ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ with me, and then we made the song ‘Lover’ which is worlds away,” Swift said in an interview on the Elvis Duran Show. “With Jack, he’s so excited by music, and it just makes you want to keep putting out ideas.” 

However, the months leading up to the album have been fraught with stress.

Her label Big Machine Records was sold to the umbrella company Ithaca Holdings under Scooter Braun, who she alleged stimulated her feuds with older celebrities. Swift currently plans to re-record her older albums to own her masters in response.  

“Your heart belongs in the art you made. And the person who bought my art has never made any art in his life, so he doesn’t understand the personal connection when you make something and someone buys it out from under you,” Swift said. “There’s so many people who want to be musicians, and they need to stand up for themselves and fight for their right to own their work.” 

© 2019 Taylor Swift

This is far from the pop star’s only struggle.

The most infamous are recorded within a number of think-pieces. And more think-pieces. And even collections of think-pieces.

Little to say, critics have far from restrained their judgment on the singer, commenting on everything from her relationships to her physical appearance to her bad blood with other celebrities, the last of which would be her inspiration for “Reputation.” 

“You can either stand there and let the wave crash into you and you can try as hard as you can to fight something that’s more powerful and bigger than you, or you can dive under the water, hold your breath, wait for it to pass and while you’re down there, try to learn something,” Swift said in an interview with the Guardian  over her feud with celebrities Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.

With this new album, Swift stands her creative ground.

Critics will say that it is conventional pop, but then again, so is all pop music. Swift isn’t trying to be a revolutionary. After all, she already is. She’s making music for her fans, and it’s incredibly fun to listen to. 

Her primary focus on this new record is her relationship with British actor Joe Alwyn, who she started dating back in 2016.

If I had to choose only one word to describe this album, it would be “fun.”

At 18 tracks and clocking in at just over an hour, the songs are made for the streaming era. She doesn’t dwell too much on each track, and before you know it, you are onto the next. This keeps the album from dragging and makes it consistently dynamic. 

In the lead-up to the album, she released several singles, with the first, “Me!” in April.

When I first heard “Me!” I must admit that I was initially apprehensive. But then I remembered that this is Taylor Swift. She has yet to deliver an album that has been anything less than entertaining. 

Her next release was “You Need To Calm Down,” which demonstrated her solidarity with the LGBTQ community and made her support for the Equality Act common knowledge, a bill that would offer protections for the LGBTQ community in housing and employment. The petition has gained half a million signatures thus far. In addition, she name drops the LGBTQ organization GLAAD and proclaims that “shade never made anybody less gay” with the music video featuring several popular LGBTQ celebrities

© 2019 Taylor Swift

However, there is much content to cover on the album itself, which is certain to sustain the hype with four deluxe editions

The album opener, “I Forgot That You Existed,” keeps the cheeky lyrics from “Reputation,” while offering a transition between the two albums.

While “Reputation” had darker visuals, “Lover” has a bright pastel color palette. Yet, “I Forget That You Existed” offers a balance between the darkness of the former and the brightness of the latter through its lyrics, melody, and energy.

Fans are already speculating who the song is about, but little to say, she didn’t come to play. 

“I forgot that you existed / it isn’t love, it isn’t hate, it’s just indifference,” Swift croons over a chill beat. 

Next is the album highlight, “Cruel Summer,” a song first teased in the music video for “You Need To Calm Down.” Taylor Swift has been notorious in teasing her music, from cryptic posts on Instagram to hiding song and album titles in plain sight in her videos. Even the title of the album was hidden in the music video for “Me!.”

“Every choice that I make tends to get very-detailed oriented when it comes to hinting and easter eggs. So when I’m planning these things, the whole time I’m rubbing my hands together like ‘they’re going to love this, they’re going to be so excited,’” Swift said. 

The title track, “Lover,” is about as romantic as you would expect. Written in 6/8 time signature, “Lover” is an unorthodox pop song that revels in the joys of being in love. 

Following is the synth ballad, “The Archer.” Fans speculate that the most emotional songs from Swift’s discography always end up as the fifth track on her albums, and this would help to confirm that theory.

“Who could ever leave me darling / But who could stay?” she echoes. 

In “The Man,” Swift poses the question of what her career would have been like if she were a male singer in the industry rather than a female one. 

“I’m so sick of running, as fast as I can / wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man,” she ruminates.

“The Man” has quickly become a fan favorite, and its message is resounding. 

“As women, we deal with perception issues. There are specific words that are used for women, and specific words used for men who do the same exact thing,” Swift said. “A man does something ‘strategic.’ A woman does something ‘manipulative.’ When we talk about gender equality, it starts at perception. The lyrics in this song is what I’ve been trying to say for a very long time.” 

© 2019 Taylor Swift

She even discusses events of a more personal nature on this album, such as her collaboration with Dixie Chicks, “Soon You’ll Get Better,” about her mother’s struggle with cancer. It brought tears to my eyes as I recalled the last song she dedicated to her mother, “The Best Day” which was released nearly a decade ago. Both are country ballads and evoke a sense of strong emotion. 

“And I hate to make this about me / but who am I supposed to talk to / what am I supposed to do / if there’s no you?” Swift whispers over a soothing guitar. 

My personal favorite song is “Death By A Thousand Cuts,” which combines clever lyrics with experimental production, all tied together by a haunting melody. 

Swift described how the song, and the rest of the album, came to be.

“[Breaking up] is an important part of the story to tell.” Swift said. “That was when I really started to reimagine the scope of this album. It’s not just about flowers and sunshine, because that’s not it at all. There is a wide-ranging emotional spectrum on this album, and that’s why I love it so much.”

Songs like “London Boy” and “Paper Rings” remind me of the romantic, wholesome pop music that we are missing from the radio nowadays, while others like “Cornelia Street” are more melancholic. 

However, the album’s greatest flaw is its lack of cohesiveness. The 18 tracks all channel different vibes, that, when coupled together, feel mismatched. Nonetheless, what the album lacks in a cohesive narrative it makes up for in fun. 

I’ve always been a fan of Taylor Swift. Some of my earliest memories are of being in the car to her 2008 album “Fearless” on a CD. I’ve missed the energy in music that is displayed on full blast here and it’s safe to say that as soon as the final track “Daylight” ended, I was ready to play “Lover” all over again.

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