“Definitive” is pretentious and everyone has their own opinions. I just like the phrase “definitive ranking” ok?
Lover really had to grow on me. First listen through, I wasn’t super impressed. But after I listened more and more, I think this might be her most diverse and unique album to date.
There’s always the trope that singer/songwriters create their best work when heartbroken. Take the brilliancy that is Adele’s 21. I think it can be really challenging to write songs when you’re in a healthy and happy relationship, but this didn’t disservice Taylor at all. Though I definitely like certain songs over others, Lover showcases a plethora of emotions: fear, displacement, frustration, and joy, and does so really well.
Here is the not-definitive-but-kind-of-definitive ranking of the songs from Lover:
Her first single is typically always the weakest, and frankly, the most annoying. It’s a bummer that this is the one Brendon Urie was featured on, but what can ya do. From “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage” to “You can’t spell awesome without ‘me’!” Yikes.
So this was originally going to be the title track and PTL she changed her mind because this is probably the most boring and forgettable song on the record. I really have nothing to say about this song lol. I’ve listened to it a bunch and can’t even hear it in my head right now as I type…
16. London Boy
I keep waiting for me to cave on this one, but it ain’t happening. I just find it basic and pretty annoying. V happy she’s happy but this song does nothing for me.
15. The Archer
This song had SO much potential. “I’ve been the archer, I’ve been the prey.” That’s so beautiful! But I was frustrated when it didn’t go anywhere production wise and it just feels draggy and her vocals were a bit strange. Great lyrics though and a really bold choice for her stylistically.
14. Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince
There’s a lot to unpack here… and I’m not sure 100% if it works. It seems like a dark reflective of our youth and a bit of a political statement, but it’s a bit cryptic for Taylor and I don’t find myself wanting to listen to this one over and over. That being said, I like what she’s trying to say here (at least I think I do?) and again, it’s a new choice for Taylor.
13. Paper Rings
I can’t help but think this is yet another dig at John Mayer… in “Half of my Heart,” the song she was featured on from 2009, there’s a line that says “half of my heart is a shotgun wedding to a bride with a paper ring.” Is Taylor attempting to express how happy and far removed she is from that phase of her life that she would marry Joe Alwyn even if it was with a paper ring? Who knows. Who cares?
This one’s fun. I picture this going in the credits of a movie like Hitch. This one had to grow on me but I’m a fan.
12. Soon You’ll Get Better
This one is really pretty and meaningful as it’s about Taylor’s mom’s battle with cancer. She had the Dixie Chicks sing on it as their her mom’s favorite band. My only complaint is she should’ve had them sing more!
11. It’s Nice To Have A Friend
I’m just super intrigued by this song. The steel drums, the ethereal, it’s-a-small-world ooo’s, and it’s the shortest song she’s ever released. I dig it.
10. The Man
I listened to the Rolling Stone podcast Music Now and they shared my amusement at the line “…wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man” and there were like “bish quicker than 14??” I obviously understand the statement this song is making, just hearing it from her is a bit humorous. But this was an early standout for me. The production is super tight and most of the lyrics resonate all too well like: “when everyone believes ya…what’s that like?”
9. You Need to Calm Down
I love this one. I think what works really well for “You Need to Calm Down” is the fact that it’s not angry, revenge Taylor. It’s laid-back, confident Taylor just being like “please don’t bully me at 7am, ok?” The harmony “uh-oh” stack in the chorus is super catchy and the whole song is just a bop.
I won’t expand on my thoughts on wether or not I think she was capitalizing on PRIDE (yikes!) or not with the music video, because as one of my favorite tweeters said “Taylor becoming a LGBTQIA⁺ ally is like your mom joining Instagram,” but regardless, it was fun to see the cast of characters doing their thing, wherever they sit on the sexuality spectrum.
Late in the album at track 15, “Afterglow” is a great respite before the obnoxious, Pixar-esque “ME!” It gives me “Wildest Dreams” vibes and I just think the chorus melody is wonderful. We also rarely here Taylor owning up to her own ish and it’s quite refreshing.
7. Cruel Summer
This song is pop perfection. The only reasons it’s not in the top 5 are 1. “oooo ooohhhh” does not rhyme with “summerrrr.” I know that’s picky but it bugs me. I also think that the chorus could’ve hit much harder production/mix wise. It feels pushed back sonically and it’s a bummer. But the melodies are wonderful and it’s become a favorite. Amazing bridge.
6. I Forgot That You Existed
This is also laid-back, confident Taylor! And everyone can relate to this. Time is the ultimate healer, and it’s the best feeling when someone that plagues your thoughts and dreams for months and months suddenly just…doesn’t exit in your brain anymore.
5. False God
I just KNOW she felt SO cool having that jazzy sax in this one (thx Jack). This is another bold choice for Taylor and I gotta give her respect for that. I think it’s super unique instrumentation and lyrics wise and it’s one of my favorites!
4. I Think He Knows
This song is so Jack (Antonoff) it kills me. It could basically be a Bleachers song — the melody, the dry production, the bass line, everything. So that’s probably why this one is so high up on my list! It’s a bop.
Lover isn’t the one I listen to the most on this list, but I had to rank it high. When it came out as a single I found it cheesy and predictable. But I think sometimes I can be jaded and think something is basic when it’s really just simplistic and beautiful, and I love how it’s a return to OG Taylor.
2. Death By A Thousand Cuts
Ok so this title is kind of ridiculous, but I really love this one. Taylor has written many a song about a specific suitor, so I love that this one is about a fictitious heartbreak. Sometimes specificity feels universal, but in this case, I feel like universality feels universal. “I look through the windows of this love even though we boarded them up” is an A+ line.
1. Cornelia Street
This has been my no brainer #1 since my first listen through. I love a song that pulls you into a specific place. This feels like a beautiful combination of “All Too Well” from Red and “Delicate” from reputation. “Cornelia Street” is a perfect song. The lyrics are nostalgic, specific and relatable, and the way it’s arranged ebbs and flows with the emotions it’s attempting to express.
Anyone else feel like the instrumental intro is the 2019 pop reimagining of “Only One” by Yellowcard (2003)? Just me?