London Boy (song)

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"London Boy"
Song by Taylor Swift
from the album Lover
ReleasedAugust 23, 2019
StudioElectric Lady (New York City)
Genre
Length3:10
LabelRepublic
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Jack Antonoff
  • Taylor Swift
Audio video
"London Boy" on YouTube

"London Boy" is a song by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift from her seventh studio album, Lover (2019). The song was written and produced by Swift, Jack Antonoff, and Sounwave, the latter of whom served as a co-producer. It gives additional writing credit to Cautious Clay, as a result of an interpolation of Clay's song "Cold War". An upbeat bubblegum pop song with reggae influences, it is about an infatuation with a love interest from London, inspired by Swift's experiences in the city.

The lyrics of "London Boy" name-check a range of locations and cultural icons associated with London, from a perspective of a woman from Tennessee, U.S. It features a spoken-word intro by Idris Elba. The song received favorable comments from general music critics, but a mixed reception from British critics, who complimented the production but felt the lyrics do not represent London properly. Upon the release of Lover, it charted on the singles charts of Australia, Canada, and the U.S. Swift performed the song live on BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge and at Capital FM's Jingle Bell Ball.

Background and production[edit]

"London Boy" contains an interpolation of "Cold War" by Cautious Clay (pictured).

Taylor Swift released 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 connection she felt to her fans during her Reputation Stadium Tour (2018).[2] The track list of the album consists of 18 songs. "London Boy" was written and produced by Swift, Jack Antonoff, and Sounwave, with additional writing credit for R&B musician Cautious Clay, a result of an interpolation of Clay's 2018 song "Cold War".[3] The song was recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York.[3]

Cautious Clay was contacted by Swift's team in June 2019, prior to Lover's release, when he was on tour in Bergen, Norway. Swift wanted to interpolate "Cold War" into "London Boy", which he happily accepted. "Cold War" was written and produced entirely by Cautious Clay in June 2017, after he had attended the annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade in Brooklyn. He told Rolling Stone: "[...] I don't know anything about her, really, so, to me, that she would feel it was appropriate to include that interpolation is just pretty surreal."[4]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Musically, "London Boy" is a Britpop[5] and bubblegum pop song, featuring layers of synthesizers and repetitive beats.[6] The song incorporates a minimal, upbeat production, with elements of reggae.[7][8] It contains an interpolation of "Cold War" by Cautious Clay.[3] Lyrically, "London Boy" was inspired by Swift's appreciation of the city of London, England.[9] Swift described the overall inspiration: "With this song, I just kind of wrote about, basically, what it was like to basically be like, 'Bye guys! I'm gonna go here for a long time.' "[9]

The lyrics describe a Tennessean woman's infatuation for a "London boy", and name-check a series of locations and cultural icons typically associated with her own American culture and the love interest's English culture.[10] The beginning features a spoken-word by English actor Idris Elba from when he appeared on The Late Late Show with James Corden in 2017.[11] Throughout the song, Swift mentions Motown Records, Southern California, Bruce Springsteen, Tennessee whiskey, and "American smile" as examples of her own culture, and name-checks the London tourist spots of Shoreditch, Camden Market, Soho, Hackney, Brixton, Bond Street, and the West End.[12][13][14] The love interest is a resident of Highgate, a neighborhood associated with old money and wealth.[10] Swift expresses enjoyment of several cultural activities in London, including having an evening high tea, hearing "stories from uni", and watching rugby at a pub.[10] At one point, Swift declares that she is "a Tennessee Stella McCartney", referencing the fashion designer with whom Swift launched a Lover-inspired sustainable clothing line.[15][16]

Reception and live performances[edit]

Roisin O'Connor of The Independent called "London Boy" one of the most divisive tracks of Lover, adding that "a lot of Brits are taking issue with the lyrics, as they're essentially a tourist's guide to where-not-to-visit in London". She ranked the song 37th on her list of Swift's 100 best album tracks.[17] Jon Caramanica of The New York Times selected the song as one of Lover's weakest moments.[18] In a review for Slate, Carl Wilson thought that the London references are annoying and ineffective.[19] Shon Faye from Dazed similarly expressed distaste towards the lyrics, but noted that it was justifiable for Swift, an American, to have a "wide-eyed naivety" embraced by first-timers in London.[10] Sarah Carson from i lauded the catchy production of "London Boy", but dismissed the lyrics as one of the album's "concessions to silliness and gimmicks".[20] On the positive side, Keira Leonard of The Music complimented the track's lighthearted and rather silly nature.[21] Nick Levine from NME agreed, and opined that the song is not to be taken seriously for its "clumsy fun" sentiments.[22] In The Irish Times, Louis Bruton selected "London Boy" as one of the album's most cheerful songs.[23]

Swift performed "London Boy" for the first time during BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge on September 2, 2019.[24] She later included the song on the set list of her performance at Capital FM's Jingle Bell Ball in London on December 8, 2019.[25]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from the liner notes of Lover.[3]

Charts[edit]

Upon the release of Lover, "London Boy" entered the official singles charts in Australia (ARIA Singles Chart—peaking at number 42), Canada (Canadian Hot 100—peaking at number 54), and the U.S. (Billboard Hot 100—at number 62). It also entered and peaked at number 47 on the UK Streaming Chart, a component of the UK Singles Chart.

Chart positions for "London Boy"
Chart (2019) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[26] 42
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[27] 54
Singapore (RIAS)[28] 30
UK Streaming (OCC)[29] 47
US Billboard Hot 100[30] 62

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. ^ a b c d Lover (liner notes). Taylor Swift. Republic Records. 2019.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  4. ^ Bernstein, Jonathan (September 19, 2019). "How Cautious Clay Ended Up on Taylor Swift's 'Lover'". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on September 11, 2019. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  5. ^ Sheffield, Rob (October 26, 2021). "All 199 of Taylor Swift's Songs, Ranked by Rob Sheffield". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 26, 2021. her Britpop tribute evokes the louche music-hall parodies of London bands from Madness to Blur.
  6. ^ Hunter-Tilney, Ludovic (August 23, 2019). "Taylor Swift: Lover — Cupid's arrow hits the bullseye". Financial Times. Archived from the original on August 24, 2019. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  7. ^ Kornharber, Spencer (August 24, 2019). "Taylor Swift Finds Her Faith on Lover". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on March 4, 2021. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  8. ^ Bruner, Raisa (August 23, 2019). "Let's Anazlye the Lyrics to Every Song on Taylor Swift's Lover". Time. Archived from the original on June 9, 2020. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  9. ^ a b Mastrogiannis, Nicole (August 23, 2019). "Taylor Swift Shares Intimate Details of 'Lover' Songs During Secret Session". iHeartRadio. Archived from the original on August 25, 2019. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c d Faye, Shon (August 23, 2019). "Who is Taylor Swift's London Boy?". Dazed. Archived from the original on November 7, 2020. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  11. ^ Browning, Justin (August 23, 2019). "Taylor Swift's 'London Boy' features a surprise Idris Elba cameo". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on January 5, 2021. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  12. ^ Leskiewicz, Anna (August 23, 2019). "11 very urgent questions I have about Taylor Swift's new song 'London Boy'". New Statesman. Archived from the original on January 25, 2021. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  13. ^ Mead, Rebecca (August 26, 2019). "With 'London Boy', the English Delight in Some Fine Mockery of Taylor Swift". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on March 21, 2021. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  14. ^ Murray, Tom (August 23, 2019). "The lyrics to Taylor Swift's 'London Boy' are like nails on chalkboard to real Londoners". Insider. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  15. ^ "Why Taylor Swift Referenced Stella McCartney on 'London Boy'". Genius. April 19, 2020. Archived from the original on October 4, 2020. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  16. ^ Yotka, Steff (August 20, 2019). "Taylor Swift and Stella McCartney Reveal Their Lover Fashion Collaboration". Vogue. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  17. ^ O'Connor, Roisin (January 31, 2020). "Taylor Swift's 100 album tracks". The Independent. Archived from the original on December 3, 2019. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  18. ^ Caramanica, Jon (August 23, 2019). "Taylor Swift Emerges From the Darkness Unbroken on 'Lover'". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 24, 2019. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  19. ^ Wilson, Carl (August 23, 2019). "Taylor Swift's Lover Is a More Mature (Mostly) Successor to Red". Slate. Archived from the original on November 21, 2019. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  20. ^ Carson, Sarah (August 23, 2019). "Taylor Swift, Lover, review". i. Archived from the original on August 19, 2021. Retrieved August 19, 2021.
  21. ^ Leonard, Keira (August 23, 2019). "We Take You Through Taylor Swift's Brand New Album, 'Lover'". The Music. Archived from the original on July 11, 2021. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  22. ^ Levine, Nick (August 23, 2019). "Taylor Swift – 'Lover' review". NME. Archived from the original on August 23, 2019. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  23. ^ Bruton, Louis (August 23, 2019). "Taylor Swift: Lover review – It's not bitter but her grudges smudge her star power". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on December 25, 2019. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  24. ^ Hussey, Allison; Monroe, Jazz (September 2, 2019). "Taylor Swift Covers Phil Collins' 'Can't Stop Loving You': Listen". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on September 2, 2019. Retrieved September 2, 2019.
  25. ^ Iasimone, Ashley (December 8, 2019). "Taylor Swift Performs 'Christmas Tree Farm' Live for the First Time at Capital FM's Jingle Bell Ball: Watch". Billboard. Archived from the original on December 9, 2019. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  26. ^ "Taylor Swift – London Boy". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  27. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  28. ^ "RIAS International Top Charts Week 35". Recording Industry Association (Singapore). Archived from the original on September 5, 2019.
  29. ^ "Official Audio Streaming Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  30. ^ "Taylor Swift Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved August 17, 2021.

External links[edit]