City of Lover

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City of Lover
City of Lover (ABC Special) by Taylor Swift.png
Poster for the ABC TV special
DateSeptember 9, 2019
Duration
    • 60 minutes (concert)
    • 42 minutes (TV broadcast)
VenueOlympia
Paris, France
TypeOne-day concert
PerformerTaylor Swift
Released
    • May 15, 2020 (TV air)
    • May 16, 2020 (streaming)
Personnel

City of Lover was a one-day concert by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was held at the Olympia theater in Paris, France, on September 9, 2019, slightly over two weeks after the release of Swift's seventh studio album Lover (2019).

The concert was reserved for fans who had won tickets through online contests or album purchases. The set list consisted of 16 songs, with eight from Lover and eight from Swift's other albums. City of Lover ran for one hour, and was the only concert that Swift held at a music venue to promote Lover, after the planned sixth concert tour Lover Fest world tour was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 15, 2020, a TV special titled Taylor Swift: City of Lover, filmed at the concert, was broadcast on ABC in the United States. Compared to the original concert, the TV special only included the eight Lover tracks, and ran for 42 minutes including commercials.

The City of Lover concert and its corresponding TV special received positive reviews from media publications, who lauded Swift's stage presence and intimate engagement with fans. Some publications noted that Swift's concert at the Olympia—a venue with a 2,000-seat capacity—was a rare move for her after her 2018 Reputation Stadium Tour, which sold out venues with tens of thousand of seats. A few critics complained that the TV special should have included the whole 16-song set list instead of just the eight Lover songs. The TV special was made available on Hulu and Disney+ for a few weeks since May 16, 2020.

Background[edit]

American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift released her seventh studio album, Lover, on August 23, 2019, through Republic Records.[1] Described by Swift as a "love letter to love itself", Lover explores the "full spectrum of love", inspired by the connections with fans during Swift's Reputation Stadium Tour (2018).[2] The album received positive reviews from critics, who lauded its free-spirited production Swift's songwriting for showcasing her maturity as an artist.[3] It enjoyed commercial success, peaking atop the albums chart in countries including Australia, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States,[4] and was the world's best-selling album by a solo artist of 2019.[5]

To celebrate the album's release, Swift held the City of Lover concert, a one-off concert at the Olympia music hall in Paris, France, on September 9, 2019. Prior to the event, tickets were not available for the public, but were reserved to fans who had bought the album to enter online contests from a select 37 countries around the world.[6] Due to the event's secrecy among selected fans, there were no widespread promotional campaigns for it.[7] The City of Lover concert was the only concert Swift held at a music hall to accompany Lover,[6] after the planned Lover Fest concert tour was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[8]

The City of Lover concert marked Swift's first concert at a music hall in France since her 2011 Speak Now World Tour.[9] She had also held a small performance on a boat by the Seine in 2013 to perform songs from Red.[10] Before, Swift had not had attained commercial success in France to the same extent as in the United States or East Asia—during its first week of release, Lover sold 7,500 copies in France first-week, compared to one million units in China or nearly 700,000 copies in the United States.[7][9] Swift told Le Parisien in a May 2019 interview that she deemed it a "priority" to hold a concert again in France after eight years.[11]

Concert synopsis[edit]

The concert was held at the Olympia in Paris (interior pictured).

The title of the concert plays on the nickname of Paris as the "City of Love".[12] There were a total of approximately 2,000 attendees, all of whom had won tickets to the concert through online contests or album purchases.[13] The concert's set list is primarily made up of songs from Lover, including the singles "Me!", "You Need to Calm Down", "Lover", "The Man", and the album tracks "The Archer", "Death by a Thousand Cuts", "Cornelia Street", and "Daylight".[6] Concertgoers were given LED-illuminated wristbands that flickered and flashed in sync with each song Swift played.[6]

After opening the concert with "Me!", Swift greeted the crowd in French, "Bonsoir Paris! Je suis Taylor, enchantée!" before switching to English.[9][10] She then sang "Blank Space" (from her 2014 album 1989) and "I Knew You Were Trouble" (from her 2012 album Red).[6] She proceeded with "The Archer", over dense synth reverberation,[13] before performing two songs from her back catalog—"Love Story" (from her 2008 album Fearless) and "Delicate" (from her 2017 album Reputation).[6][10] After "Delicate", Swift explained to the audience about her songwriting process and introduced them to an "acoustic session" which featured songs she performed on an acoustic guitar and a piano: "With this album, everything I wrote, I wrote it with one instrument. I wrote with my guitar or with my piano, so I thought to myself that I wanted to try them out for you. sing the same way tonight, live, because this is my first time playing them in front of you."[10][14]

During the six-song acoustic session,[11] Swift performed stripped-down versions of "Death by a Thousand Cuts", "Cornelia Street", and "The Man". In-between each song, Swift shared with the audience her songwriting inspiration and context.[10] She then performed two songs from Red—"Red" and "All Too Well"—on a grand piano.[6] She followed with "Daylight" before embracing a more upbeat sound for "Style" (from 1989).[10] Two songs from Lover—"You Need to Calm Down" and "Lover"—followed, before the concert wrapped with "Shake It Off"—the lead single from 1989.[6] The City of Lover concert ended without an encore.[6]

Television and digital releases[edit]

On May 17, 2020, the concert was aired as a one-hour special, titled Taylor Swift: City of Lover, on ABC. The following day, it was made available for on-demand streaming on Hulu and Disney+.[15][16] Media publications opined that the release was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to Swift's planned Lover Fest world tour to support Lover being postponed, and ultimately cancelled.[17] While the actual concert consisted of 16 songs and ran for an hour, the TV special only included the eight songs from Lover, and ran for a length of 42 minutes (including commercials).[18] The ABC premiere attracted 3.63 million viewers, which The Hollywood Reporter described as "so-so numbers".[19] Following the ABC premiere, the live versions of the Lover songs were released to digital music and streaming platforms,[16] except "The Man", which had been previously released on February 18, 2020.[20]

Reception[edit]

Upon completion, the City of Lover concert received positive feedback from the European press. Most critics were particularly fond of the acoustic session, which showcased Swift's songwriting crafts and intimate connections with the audience.[6][9] The French webzine Melty deemed it a "memorable night".[10] Hannah Mylrea from the British magazine NME gave the concert a five-star rating, lauding Swift's stage presence, vocals during the acoustic numbers, and intimate interaction with the audience.[6] Also awarding the concert a five-star rating, Sarah Carson from the British newspaper i deemed Swift a "confident and commanding performer" with a more laid-back and self-asserted attitude. Carson appreciated Swift's decision to play the 2,000-seat Olympia rather than stadiums as on her previous world tour, Reputation Stadium Tour (2018): "It's one of the inevitable tragedies of fame that when a singer-songwriter transcends to 'superstar', world tours and stadiums and spectacles shove special little gigs like this to distant memory – to see Swift so close, in a historic room, all gilt and deep red velvet, was a privilege."[13] In an article for the French magazine Les Inrockuptibles, Ahlem Khattab noted that Swift had had limited commercial success in France, because she had prioritized the English-speaking countries and East Asia. Through the City of Lover concert, Swift proved herself to be a capable musician and performer, which could possibly pave a path to French success.[12] Le Monde journalist Stéphane Davet was otherwise skeptical about whether City of Lover could turn Swift into a pop star in France, but concluded that it "doesn't matter".[9]

The ABC TV special received positive reviews in the American press, although some critics felt that the 42-minute run was rather too short. Chris Willman of Variety lauded Swift's storytelling abilities through both her songs and her conversations regarding behind-the-scene conception of her music. Willman was also impressed by Swift's simplistic appearance in a black dress and black boots, and the minimal lighting, which fostered an intimate setting.[21] Alexis Lanza from North by Northwestern was similarly positive, but questioned whether Swift only included the Lover songs was the result of the ongoing masters controversy with Swift's former record label.[17] In The Philadelphia Inquirer, Dan DeLuca considered the concert to be a showcase of Swift's "gift for marrying personal stories to undeniable pop hooks", but felt that the 42-minute run was not successful in promoting Lover—a "not-so-new-anymore album"—and the TV special should have included the whole set list.[18] In a 2021 article commemorating Lover's two-year anniversary, USA Today deemed "Cornelia Street" a highlight on City of Lover: "Something about this version's raw energy and Swift's connection to her audience breaks our heart a 'Lover Fest' tour never happened."[22]

Set list[edit]

This is the set list for the City of Lover concert.[6] The songs that featured on the ABC TV special are marked with a dagger (dagger).[18]

  1. "Me!" dagger
  2. "Blank Space"
  3. "I Knew You Were Trouble"
  4. "The Archer" dagger
  5. "Love Story"
  6. "Delicate"
  7. "Death by a Thousand Cuts" dagger
  8. "Cornelia Street" dagger
  9. "The Man" dagger
  10. "All Too Well"
  11. "Red"
  12. "Daylight" dagger
  13. "Style"
  14. "You Need to Calm Down" dagger
  15. "Lover" dagger
  16. "Shake It Off"

References[edit]

  1. ^ Collins, Katie. "Taylor Swift's Lover: How to stream and buy the album now on Apple, Spotify, Amazon". CNET. Archived from the original on August 25, 2019. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  2. ^ Suskind, Alex (May 9, 2019). "New Reputation: Taylor Swift shares intel on TS7, fan theories, and her next era". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on August 12, 2019. Retrieved August 17, 2019.
  3. ^ Moniuszko, Sara (August 23, 2019). "Taylor Swift 'Lover' reviews: Critics are enamored by the 'earnest,' 'romantic' new album". USA Today. Archived from the original on August 23, 2019. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  4. ^ "australian-charts.com – Taylor Swift – Lover". Hung Medien. Archived from the original on February 28, 2021. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  5. ^ "Biggest-selling album worldwide for a solo artist (current)". Guinness World Records. Archived from the original on July 9, 2020. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Mylrea, Hannah (September 10, 2019). "Taylor Swift's The City of Lover concert: an intimate celebration of her fans and career". NME. Archived from the original on November 25, 2020. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Taylor Swift Fans Descend on Paris for 'City of Lover' Concert". Reuters. September 9, 2019. Archived from the original on April 17, 2021. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  8. ^ Blisco, Elise (February 27, 2021). "Taylor Swift officially cancels Lover Fest tour because of 'unprecedented pandemic'". USA Today. Archived from the original on March 12, 2021. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  9. ^ a b c d e Davet, Stéphane (September 10, 2019). "Musique : opération séduction de Taylor Swift à l'Olympia" [Music: Taylor Swift's operation of seduction at the Olympia]. Le Monde (in French). Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g "Taylor Swift éblouit Paris lors du City Of Lover Concert à l'Olympia, notre récap'" [Taylor Swift dazzles Paris with City of Lover concert at l'Olympia, our recap]. Melty (in French). September 11, 2019. Archived from the original on November 24, 2020. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  11. ^ a b Glaubitz, Sabine (September 10, 2019). "Taylor hält Hof in Paris – Auftaktparty mit euphorischen «Swifties»" [Taylor Swift holds court at Paris's Olympia – a euphoric party with "Swifties"]. Die Zeit (in German). Retrieved September 22, 2022 – via Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
  12. ^ a b Khattab, Ahlem (September 26, 2019). "Taylor Swift est-elle enfin à la conquête de la France ?" [Is Taylor Swift finally conquering France?]. Les Inrockuptibles (in French). Archived from the original on April 7, 2020. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  13. ^ a b c Carson, Sarah (September 10, 2019). "Taylor Swift – City of Lover, L'Olympia, Paris: this tiny show was magical, intimate, and unique". i. Archived from the original on September 17, 2021. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  14. ^ Garvey, Marienne (May 18, 2020). "Taylor Swift's 'City of Lover Concert' was an intimate, stripped-down performance". CNN. Archived from the original on January 27, 2021. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  15. ^ Kaufman, Gil (May 8, 2020). "ABC To Air Taylor Swift 'City of Lover' Concert Special". Billboard. Archived from the original on May 9, 2020. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  16. ^ a b Lipshutz, Jason (May 17, 2020). "Taylor Swift City of Lover Concert: Best Moments". Billboard. Archived from the original on May 25, 2020. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  17. ^ a b Lanza, Alexis (May 26, 2020). "Taylor Swift: City of Lover review". North by Northwestern. Archived from the original on April 14, 2021. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  18. ^ a b c DeLuca, Dan (May 18, 2020). "Taylor Swift's 'City of Lover' concert special was brief and bittersweet. Remember live music?". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on May 18, 2021. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  19. ^ Porter, Rick (May 18, 2020). "TV Ratings: 'American Idol' Finale Tops Sunday, Down From 2019". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on August 28, 2020. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  20. ^ "Taylor Swift Releases 'The Man – Live from Paris' Song and Video... and it's Glorious: Stream It Now". Billboard. February 18, 2020. Archived from the original on May 5, 2020. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  21. ^ Willman, Chris (May 18, 2020). "Taylor Swift's Acoustic Side Commands Center Stage in 'City of Lover' Special". Variety. Archived from the original on April 2, 2021. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  22. ^ Yasharoff, Hannah; Oliver, David (August 23, 2021). "A love letter to Lover: Why we adore Taylor Swift's lost triumph". USA Today. Retrieved September 22, 2022.

External links[edit]