Lover (album)

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Lover
Taylor Swift - Lover.png
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 23, 2019 (2019-08-23)
RecordedNovember 2018 – February 2019
Studio
  • Electric Lady (New York City)
  • Golden Age West (Auckland)
  • Golden Age (Los Angeles)
  • Electric Feel (Los Angeles)
  • Metropolis (London)
Genre
Length61:48
LabelRepublic
Producer
Taylor Swift chronology
Reputation Stadium Tour Surprise Song Playlist
(2018)
Lover
(2019)
Live from Clear Channel Stripped 2008
(2020)
Singles from Lover
  1. "Me!"
    Released: April 26, 2019
  2. "You Need to Calm Down"
    Released: June 14, 2019
  3. "Lover"
    Released: August 16, 2019
  4. "The Man"
    Released: January 27, 2020

Lover is the seventh studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, released on August 23, 2019, through Republic Records. As the executive producer, Swift enlisted producers Jack Antonoff, Louis Bell, Frank Dukes, and Joel Little for the album. Lover is primarily a pop, synth-pop, electropop, and pop rock record with a retro style, encompassing diverse genres such as country, funk, dream pop, folk, rock and roll, R&B, bubblegum pop, pop punk, and indie pop. Defined by Swift as "a love letter to love itself", Lover celebrates the full spectrum of love, using light and bright tones that depart from the dark nature of its predecessor, Reputation (2017). The album's music videos and art direction marked a change in Swift's visual appearance, which embodied a summer aesthetic consisting mostly of pastel colors.

Lover contains collaborations with Brendon Urie and The Dixie Chicks. It was preceded by three singles, all of which entered the top-ten of the Billboard Hot 100: "Me!" and "You Need to Calm Down" peaked at number two, while the title track reached number 10. Breaking a string of records, all 18 tracks of Lover charted simultaneously on the Hot 100, including "The Man" which peaked at number 23 and later became the fourth single. Lover was praised by critics, who commended Swift's songwriting conveying emotional maturity and growth; however, a few critics found the album lengthy and sprawling.

Moving 867,000 units first-week in the United States, Lover debuted atop the Billboard 200, giving Swift her sixth consecutive number-one album in the country. It debuted at the top spot in many others, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, Norway, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. Lover was the best selling album of 2019 in the US; it has been certified 2× Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for exceeding 2 million units in the country. Globally, Lover was the top-selling studio album of 2019, selling over 3.2 million pure copies worldwide, and set the Guinness World record for the biggest-selling album of the year by a solo artist. To support the album, Swift was set to embark on the Lover Fest tour in 2020, but many dates were cancelled or postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lover scored several accolades, including a nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards; the singles "You Need to Calm Down" and "Lover" were nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance and Song of the Year, respectively. The album's visuals were nominated for 17 MTV Video Music Awards, winning four: Video of the Year, Video for Good, Best Visual Effects and Best Direction. Lover further won the Favorite Pop/Rock Album at the American Music Awards of 2019 and Album of the Year at the 45th People's Choice Awards. Lover appeared on several year-end best-music lists of 2019.

Background[edit]

Swift posing in front of the butterfly-shaped mural in The Gulch, Nashville, Tennessee, on April 25, 2019, where she announced that new music would be released by the end of her thirteen-day countdown. The mural included the title of the lead single, "Me!", which was released at midnight.

Speculation of the album began on February 24, 2019, when Swift posted a photo of seven palm trees with a pastel blue backdrop and superimposed stars on her Instagram account, which the singer later confirmed was the day she finished the album.[1][2] The post generated widespread theories online, with the majority of media and fans interpreting it to be about Swift's seventh studio album.[3][4][5] Entertainment Weekly opined that the theories "may sound like ludicrous conspiracy theories—for the record, they were mostly correct—but they fit firmly within the Taylor Swift Musical Universe (it's like the Marvel Cinematic Universe but with more guitars and fewer Stan Lee cameos)". Swift later commented, "I couldn't expect [my fans] to know that. I figured they'd figure it out later, but a lot of their theories were actually correct. Those Easter eggs were just trying to establish that tone, which I foreshadowed ages ago in a Spotify vertical video for "Delicate" by painting my nails those [pastel] colors".[2]

On April 13, Swift released a countdown on her official website, counting down to midnight EDT (UTC−04:00) on April 26.[6] On April 25, several news outlets reported that a mural of a butterfly in The Gulch neighborhood of Nashville, Tennessee, painted by street artist Kelsey Montague,[7] is connected with Swift's upcoming release.[8] As the word "Me!" was added to it by Montague, a crowd of several hundred had gathered at the mural.[9] While Montague was initially told that the mural was commissioned as promotion for ABC, ESPN and the 2019 NFL Draft,[10] Swift appeared at the mural and revealed that it was, in fact, part of her countdown promotion and that she would be interviewed by Robin Roberts during the NFL Draft broadcast with further information.[11] At midnight, she released the album's lead single, "Me!" featuring Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco, along with its accompanying music video.[12]

I started writing in diaries when I was 13. These are the four deluxe editions of this album [Lover], and each one contains 30 pages of my diary entries from my life. Because you know, metaphorically, I've been sharing my diaries for years, so I figured why not just do it for real?

— Swift, on releasing her diary entries, Elle[13]

Swift encouraged fans to find the forthcoming album's title in the "Me!" video. In a May 2019 interview for The Independent, Swift was asked about the clues to the album title; she answered "I think you see it once, and you hear it twice", which led fans to believe that Lover is the title, as the word appears once in the video and twice in the lyrics of "Me!". In the video, the word Lover appeared on a neon light-up sign in the background.[14][15] On June 13, 2019, she confirmed the album title in an Instagram live-stream, and that Lover would be released on August 23, 2019.[16] Swift also announced that the album's second single, "You Need to Calm Down", would be released the next day on June 14, followed by its music video three days later.[17] On July 22, Swift revealed information about the deluxe edition of the album; the next day, "The Archer" was released as the only promotional single from Lover.[18] A week prior to the album release, on August 16, Swift released the title track as the third single from Lover and revealed the album's track-list on her social media.[19]

Conception[edit]

Inspired by the "positive energy" she felt during her Reputation Stadium Tour, Lover was conceived by the "symbiotic relationship" Swift has with her fans, who led her to feel a "tonal shift", and helped her "dig out of the darker era of Reputation". Swift stated she had an epiphany during the tour, that "despite the caricature that she thought had been created of her, there were many people who saw what others had simply refused to"; she added: "I would look out into the audience and I'd see these amazing, thoughtful, caring, wonderful, empathetic people". Swift explained, "so often with our takedown culture, talking shit about a celebrity is basically the same as talking shit about the new iPhone. So when I go and I meet fans, I see that they actually see me as a flesh-and-blood human being. That—as contrived as it may sound—changed [me] completely, assigning humanity to my life". At the tour's end, Swift channeled this positive energy into the making of Lover.[2]

Swift described Lover as a romantic one, stating that it was "not just simply thematically, like it's all love songs or something. The idea of something being romantic, it doesn't have to be a happy song. You can find romance in loneliness or sadness or going through things in your life... it just looks at those things through a romantic gaze".[16] In a Vogue interview published in August 2019, Swift described the album as a "love letter to love, in all of its maddening, passionate, exciting, enchanting, horrific, tragic, wonderful glory".[20] On August 23, Swift described the album as "a celebration of love, in all its complexity, coziness, and chaos".[21] In an Instagram post dated September 17, 2019, Swift defined Lover as an album that feels like "fields, sunsets, + SUMMER".[22] In an interview with Zane Lowe for Beats 1 on October 30, 2019, Swift said she considered Lover a return to "singing about my life in the way I actually experience it", unlike "through a filter of extremes" as is the case with Reputation. She added the album was the first time she wrote about "love that was very real", compared to earlier songs such as "Love Story" (2008).[23] Swift told People that, compared to the "theatricality" of Reputation where she "said everything [she] needed to say", Lover turned out to be the album where she was no longer "answering to something".[24] She explained to Entertainment Weekly, that the true distinction between the two albums is the delivery: "This time around I feel more comfortable being brave enough to be vulnerable, because my fans are brave enough to be vulnerable with me. Once people delve into the album [Lover], it'll become pretty clear that that's more of the fingerprint of this – that it's much more of a singer-songwriter, personal journey than the last one [Reputation]".[2]

Title[edit]

While promoting the album in a YouTube livestream on August 22, Swift revealed that the album was originally titled Daylight before she wrote the song "Lover" which changed her mind; she stated: "I decide an album title based on something that has a nice theme to it and a ring; it's very mood board how I go about [it]. The only time I ever started with a title was Reputation. That was the only time I started an album with a title so I began writing songs around that word. For this album, I actually thought the title of this album was going to be Daylight for a couple months. Then I wrote 'Lover' and I was like 'That's the title'".[25] In the voice memos for Lover, which are found on the deluxe editions of the album, Swift further explained that after she wrote the song, she knew it would be the title and that it would "depict the tone for the record, and it's been a real catalyst for what this album has become."

[Lover is] an album about all different forms of love. Even when love hurts, this album is about the full spectrum that love makes us feel, so I was like, this album is definitely going to be called Lover.

— Swift on choosing the album title, On Air with Ryan Seacrest[26]

Recording[edit]

Man performing with a guitar
Swift recorded Lover at various locations, but much of it was recorded at the Electric Lady Studios (pictured) in New York City.

Swift started recording the album after the conclusion of her Reputation Stadium Tour in November 2018, channeling the "positive energy" she gathered during the tour into the studio.[2] The album was recorded in three months, finishing on February 24, 2019,[2] though a Cautious Clay sample used for "London Boy" was approved in June of the same year.[27] Much of the album was recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York City,[28] while some recording took place at Golden Age West in Auckland, New Zealand, Golden Age, and Electric Feel Studio, both in Los Angeles, and Metropolis Studios in London.[29] Swift said she approached the recording as though she were giving live performances, and that much of the album were nearly whole takes.[30] In a January 2020 interview with Variety's Chris Willman, Swift revealed that "Only the Young", the song for her 2020 Netflix documentary Miss Americana, was held back from being included in Lover.[31]

Writing and production[edit]

Swift wrote Lover from an "open, free, romantic, whimsical place"; she added that the album felt "aesthetically very daytime", whereas its predecessor Reputation (2017) was "all cityscape, darkness, full Swamp Witch".[32] Swift stated that she tried "not to go into making an album with any expectation"; she started to "write so much" that she "knew immediately it [Lover] would probably be bigger" than her other studio albums.[2] Swift was the sole writer of three tracks—"Lover", "Cornelia Street" and "Daylight"; the rest were co-written with the producers. She co-produced every song and served as the sole executive producer of the album. Swift also highlighted that every song on Lover were written specifically for the album, devoid of leftovers from other albums; citing "This Love" as an example, which she had written closer to Red (2012), but ended up being on 1989 (2014). Her percussion credits for the track "Paper Rings" made Lover her first album since 1989 that she actively participated in instrumental recordings.[33]

Man performing with a guitar
Jack Antonoff, Swift's frequent collaborator since 2013, co-produced the majority of Lover.

Swift produced Lover with frequent collaborator Jack Antonoff, as well as first-time collaborators Joel Little, Louis Bell, Frank Dukes, and Sounwave.[29] Swift and Antonoff first worked together on the song "Sweeter than Fiction" for the 2013 film One Chance; Antonoff went on to write and produce on two of Swift's albums—1989 (2014) and Reputation (2017), as well as the song "I Don't Wanna Live Forever" for the 2017 film Fifty Shades Darker. Antonoff co-wrote eight and co-produced eleven songs in the album. Little, known for being the lead singer of the punk band Goodnight Nurse and for his work with Lorde, co-wrote and co-produced four songs, including the singles "Me!" and "You Need to Calm Down". Bell and Dukes, who worked with artists including Camila Cabello and Post Malone, co-wrote and co-produced three songs. Swift co-produced tracks with Bell, Dukes, and Little from November to December 2018. Meanwhile, Swift worked with Antonoff on the album from January to February 2019. Sounwave has co-writing and co-producing credits on the song "London Boy"; other artists with writing credits include St. Vincent, Cautious Clay, and Brendon Urie.

I was sitting up at the piano up in my loft, and I had the chorus. It just kind of happened immediately. It was one of those ones that I wrote very, very, very quickly; and I was working out the cadence of the first verse and it just sort of fell together. But then I took some time to write the bridge, because I wanted to really level up with that bridge. That one would for me would be less of a ranting bridge and more of a story-time fable type bridge. Sometimes, I like to imagine a bridge as like a sort of fairytale lullaby fable expanding upon a song that has been not as detailed until that point. "Can I go where you go/ Can we always be this close forever and ever" is less detail, then when you go to the bridge and you realize like, oh, it just got really personal in the bridge. It expands on it all.

— Swift on writing the title track, Rolling Stone[34]

"Lover", the title track, was written by Swift on piano, late at night at her home in Nashville, Tennessee; Swift messaged a voice memo of the song to Antonoff. The next day, Swift flew to New York City to work on the song with Antonoff and recording engineer Laura Sisk, at the Electric Lady Studios. Swift played the song on the piano for them; herself and Antonoff produced the final version of the song during a six-hour recording session, using a "space echo" reverberation effect, a Paul McCartney-inspired bassline, a "washy" piano, a "dream sequence wedding" mellotron, a 12 string, live drums and a "snare hit really hard with a brush".[35][36]

I think that when people make art, other people make art and especially women who make art, I find it highly inspiring. I watched this movie on Netflix called Someone Great. I cried watching the movie. For about a week, I start waking up from dreams that I'm living out that scenario—that that's happening to me. I'd have these lyrics in my head based on the dynamics of these characters and I went in the studio with Jack Antonoff.

— Swift on writing "Death by a Thousand Cuts", E! News[37]

"Death by a Thousand Cuts", the tenth track on Lover, was inspired by the character dynamics between the lead characters of Someone Great, the 2019 Netflix romcom film written and directed by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson.[37]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Reputation was so far from what I usually do. And Lover feels like a return to the fundamental songwriting pillars that I usually build my house on. It's really honest; it's not me playing a character. It's really just how I feel, undistilled. And there are a lot of very personal admissions in it. And also, I love a metaphor. I love building on the metaphor for a very long time. You know, the whole of Reputation was just a metaphor, but this [Lover] is a very personal record. So that's been really fun.

— Swift comparing Lover to Reputation, Rolling Stone[34]

The standard edition of Lover consists of 18 tracks, making it the longest studio album in Swift's catalogue thus far. The deluxe edition adds two bonus voice memos that feature demo versions of the tracks "I Forgot That You Existed" and "Lover". Swift worked with producers Jack Antonoff, Joel Little, Louis Bell, and Frank Dukes to achieve the album's desired sound.[38] Many songs on Lover, such as "Cruel Summer", "Lover", "I Think He Knows", "Paper Rings", "Cornelia Street", London Boy", "False God", "Me!", "Afterglow", "Daylight", are presumed to be about Swift's partner, British actor Joe Alwyn.[39][40][41]

Composition[edit]

Lover is primarily a pop record,[42] encompassing synth-pop, pop rock,[43][44] electropop[45][46] and retro elements,[47] with motifs of different styles of music such as country, pop punk, indie-pop, folk rock, and quiet storm.[48] The album's texture has been described as lighter, brighter, dreamy, glossy and breezy,[21][43][49][45] departing from the dark, heavy, hip hop-influenced sound of its predecessor Reputation,[50][51] returning to the 1980s-inspired synth-pop of 1989.[52][45][49] Lover has been described as a "solid mix of upbeat pop bangers, dreamy pop songs, heavy bass beats that make you want to clap along and devastatingly sad ballads",[53] spanning from "earnest, twangy love songs to unapologetically bubblegum anthems".[49] Bryan Rolli, a Forbes senior contributor, termed the album "a collection of explosive retro-pop bangers",[54] while Variety's Chris Willman called it "one big pop bubblegum blast of a record".[55]

The A.V. Club noticed the "kind of uniform sonic mood board last heard on 1989"; how Lover mixes "contemporary touchstones" and "indie-electropop" with "plenty of piano and modernized spins on retro flourishes".[47] Rolling Stone found the album's dominant sound to be "sleekly updated" 1980s pop-rock and dreamy throwback.[43] Apple Music noted that most of Lover is "baked in the atmospheric synths and '80s drums favored by Jack Antonoff".[56] The Daily Telegraph stated that Lover "balances the virtues of Americana songcraft with slick, modern pop production", and a sound that is "clean and lean, employing standard chord progressions and mid-tempo rock rhythms, subtly updated with ear-snagging digital sparkles".[45] The funk and rock and roll elements of Lover were compared to works by Prince (especially the albums 1999 and Sign o' the Times) and Bruce Springsteen.[57][58][59][45] Tracks such as "Lover", "Paper Rings" and "Soon You'll Get Better" tease Swift's return to her country roots.[49] Billboard deemed Lover as a pop record of varying tempo—"dialing up the intensity" in some tracks, while "offering some of the most straightforward song structures" of Swift's career in others—preventing any "jarry transitions" or "notable swoons" across the track-list.[60]

Lyrics and themes[edit]

Dubbed as Swift's most romantic and free-spirited work yet,[61][56] Lover is "a celebration of love, in all its complexity, coziness, and chaos"[62] and "a love letter to love, in all of its maddening, passionate, exciting, enchanting, horrific, tragic, wonderful glory",[61] presenting Swift's most mature understanding of love yet.[52][55] The album is characterized by themes of contentment, emotional evolution, and "leaving the past behind", using songs that "suggest a way forward"[51][43] and heart-on-sleeve lyricism.[63][54] Lover is designated as Swift's recalibration, evolving from the themes of Reputation.[64][51] Hope, new beginnings and flourishment were highlighted as the album's principle mood;[53] however, the lyrical scope covers diverse themes such as self-love, individuality, romantic devotion, feminism, political criticism, grief, mental health, familial love, friendship, and LGBT rights, "decisively weaving them into a contained whole".[60][65] Lover comprises "a full range of human emotion", in which Swift embraces "all aspects of her personality".[66]

The album's highly detailed lyrics have been found reminiscent to that of Swift's old-school work, where "characters were drafted with novelistic specificity",[67] especially the "personal lyricism" of Speak Now (2010)[49] and the confessional songwriting of Red (2012).[68] The songs on Lover are observed for largely coming "from a place of contentment and satisfaction in the middle of a strong relationship, rather than chronicling its downfall", which has been cited as the main difference between Lover and its predecessors like Speak Now, Red and 1989;[69] Lover sees Swift reaching "a point of contentment in artistic and personal self-perception".[70] The album is "saturated" in Swift's "personal mythology", packed with autobiographical details, emotional clarity and wisdom,[59][45][47][71] to which "the minor war between past doubts and current happiness adds sophisticated lyrical shadings".[55] Critics further noticed how Lover provides "glimpses" and "peeks" into Swift's inner life, using lyrics that are "both intensely specific and also universally relatable", "lifting a curtain to reveal the three-dimensional interiority behind two-dimensional paparazzi photos" and delves into "love's day-to-day joys" that "drop just enough breadcrumb hints into reality to make songs more believable".[49][47]

Open-hearted love songs dominate Lover, and examines love "in all its aspects". The songs consist of "diary-honest" lyrics, "cathartic" bridges, "unalloyed ebullience", "clever couplets and witty turns of phrase"; while also celebrating Swift's sense of humor, departing from the serious Reputation persona. As seen in "The Man", "Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince" and "You Need to Calm Down", the album incorporates politically charged lyrics, a previously less explored territory for Swift, while also embodying Americana-inspired songwriting.[49][42][45][53][55] The Daily Telegraph attributed the "romantic zippiness" of "Paper Rings" and "I Think He Knows" to that of Broadway musicals.[45] Many songs on Lover continue Swift's self-assertive attitude and a sense of authority that has been observed in her preceding works.[72] The album has also been theorized as a part of a trilogy. MTV opined: "If 1989 is Swift's pop magnum opus, a high-pitched trumpeting into a newfound universe of freedom and independence, and Reputation reflects the scorn felt when the reality of the world’s cruelty drives her to distress, then Lover marks a trilogy complete. It is a pastel-hued compromise between the good and the bad—not in spite of who she's been, but because of who she's been".[65] The Quietus argued Lover could be the finale to a Red and 1989 trilogy (considering Reputation as an odd standalone), or the first part to a new trilogy constituting Swift's future projects.[73]

Lover has been defined as a "distillation of everything that Swift has already accomplished, different components condensed to reflect her current interests and longtime strengths as a singer-songwriter"[74] and a "dazzling, bursting compendium of pompous hope, modest love, and sobering grief, as well as a journey to make peace with the past".[75] Rolling Stone compared the album's introspection to that of David Bowie's Low, Joni Mitchell's Hejira, Al Green's The Belle Album and Carole King's Tapestry, and opined that Lover also has many sharp "therein lies the issue" moments, like Reputation; however, Swift "dials down the Therein Factor a couple notches to make room for a whole avalanche of emotion".[59] MTV stated that the album "can be seen through the prism of three different relationships: Swift and love, Swift and fame, Swift and her audience".[65] Vulture wrote Swift "crafted a song cycle celebrating the sensation of meeting someone you'd happily spend the rest of your life with".[67] The A.V. Club opined that Lover finds Swift in a "confident headspace, secure in the knowledge she has no need to prove herself to anybody".[47] Apple Music editors' note summarized that the album sees Swift in love—"pure, steady, starry-eyed, shout-it-from-the-rooftops love".[56] MTV condensed "there's a hard road to the freedom that exists in surrendering to the best and worst this world has to offer, a path that Lover's 18 songs traverse with a peaceful grace".[65] Metro outlined that all 18 tracks of Lover "work together, meandering their way lyrically from contentment to anger to lust to infatuation to heartache and back again, allowing for the full spectrum of love".[53]

Songs[edit]

The punchy opening track "I Forgot That You Existed" is a light-hearted pop rap and post-tropical house song, where Swift declares her indifference to her detractors and farewell to the events that inspired Reputation, with a reference to Drake and his 2018 song "In My Feelings".[51][76][43][77] The song is set to a cheery, minimalist, and syncopated arrangement of piano and finger snaps.[77][78][58] "Cruel Summer" is a breezy, ethereal synth-pop and industrial pop song,[79][51][80] about the "feeling of a summer romance" with elements of "desperation and pain in it, where you're yearning for something you don't quite have yet".[76][63] The song has a ranting bridge,[81] and a burbling production[82] consisting of a pulsating, throbbing "synth-swirl",[83][71] robotic voice effects[72] and distorted vocals.[80] "Lover", the title track, is a slow, whimsical, reverb-soaked country and indie folk ballad with waltz tempo, vintage instrumentals, and romantic lyrics that reference traditional marriage vows;[84][57][85][81][50] it has been compared to Mazzy Star's "Fade into You".[50][44]

In the fourth track, "The Man", Swift imagines the media's treatment of her if she were a man,[55] over a production featuring flashy harmonies, murky synths, and rumbling beats.[20] The song is a commentary on patriarchy and sexist double standards that women experience, and namechecks actor Leonardo DiCaprio.[85] "The Archer" is a vulnerable synth-pop, dream pop, and alternative ballad with a slow groove, artful lyrics and an 80s sensibility,[81][86] building a tense production with kick drum thumps, reaching a "feverish" climax as it progresses.[87][88] Its title is a reference to the symbol of Swift's zodiac sun-sign, Sagittarius.[86] Swift channels her insecurities, anxiety, and existential crisis in the song; some critics compared the song to "All Too Well", the fifth track in Swift's 2012 album Red.[50][52][44] "I Think He Knows" is a sparse funk-inflected tune with the "spikiness" of post-punk and the "romantic zippiness" of Broadway musicals. It sees Swift examining the blossoming of a relationship, speculating how much the subject can surmise her feelings for him, mentioning Music Row.[42][89][88][45] The song exhibits a humorous and playful tone, starting with Swift's "chatty" vocals over stripped-down finger snaps and a slinky bass, slowly building momentum into a dramatic falsetto chorus, dotted by breathy sighs and downbeats.[90][81][57][56]

"London Boy", the eleventh track on Lover, begins with a brief spoken-word intro excerpted from an episode of The Late Late Show with James Corden, where British comedian James Corden (pictured middle) interviews British actor Idris Elba (pictured left). British fashion designer Stella McCartney (pictured right) is also name-dropped in the song.

The gloomy seventh track "Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince" is a melodramatic synth-pop protest song based on a high school parable, reminiscent of Swift's 2009 song "You Belong with Me". Marked with peppy cheerleader chants,[91][57] Swift expresses her disillusionment at the state of US politics, using the song as a metaphorical critique.[91][47][45] Critics compared the song to works by Bruce Springsteen, Lana Del Rey and Halsey.[63][84][81] The glammy and high-spirited "Paper Rings" is a pop rock, punk rock,[52] new wave, and surf-pop[47] song with a power pop arrangement[88] and rockabilly rhythm.[55] It sees Swift committing to a relationship,[51] declaring she would marry her lover with just rings made of paper.[92] The song is characterized by tambourine jingles, old-school "Ramones-style" background shouts[81][42] and Swift's muffled vocals,[58] reminiscing early 2000s pop.[72] "Cornelia Street" is a narrative ballad named after a street in Greenwich Village where Swift rented a townhouse, as her Tribeca residence was being renovated.[93] In the song, she expresses fears that her fledging relationship might not survive,[44] over a lush, stuttering synth base and a "flute-like" keyboard line, ending with a final crescendo.[81][53][72][65]

The tenth track, "Death by a Thousand Cuts", is a fast-paced alt-country breakup song and torch song, with an ornate guitar, a tinkling piano section and quivering synths.[81][47][51][45][50] Described as a "nostalgic recollection of a great, lost love",[85] the song was inspired by the 2019 Netflix romcom film Someone Great, which in-turn was inspired by the song "Clean" from Swift's 2014 album 1989.[37] The goofy and gleeful "London Boy" is a dub-influenced paean with swinging rock and roll beats.[43][45] It is an ode to Swift's partner, actor Joe Alwyn and the city he lives in, London. The song features a spoken intro from actors Idris Elba and James Corden who star with Swift in the film Cats, shouts-out designer Stella McCartney with whom Swift launched a fashion line inspired by Lover;[76][42][94] and mentions a variety of London locations: Camden Market, Soho, Highgate, Brixton, Shoreditch, West End, Hackney, Bond Street, and Hampstead Heath;[95] some critics drew parallels with Ed Sheeran's "Galway Girl".[47][96] The hushed country ballad "Soon You'll Get Better" features slide guitars and the Dixie Chicks contributing banjo, fiddle, and backing vocals;[63][58] Swift addresses her parents' battle with cancer, especially her mother's second diagnosis, using detailed and intimate lyrics.[97][85] The song's texture has been compared to lullabies and prayers.[81]

"Soon You'll Get Better", the twelfth track on Lover, features backing harmonies by American country music band the Dixie Chicks; it marks Swift's second female collaboration in her albums, following "Breathe" featuring Colbie Caillat, the seventh track on her 2008 album Fearless.

The seductive thirteenth track "False God" is a sensuous, minor-key, slow-burning R&B and quiet storm ballad[98][43] with elements of jazz[45] and trip hop.[53] A lone "bluesy" saxophone,[53] hiccuping vocal samples,[88] and trap beats[42] intertwine with Swift's sultry vocals and lyrics invoking religious imagery.[63][44][81] The song sees her discussing redemptive sex and the worthwhile "trials and tribulations of love".[53][85] The bright and bubbly "You Need to Calm Down" is an LGBT-friendly electropop anthem, that takes aim at internet trolls, bullies, and homophobes alike,[68] over unhurried synth beats and cascading chorus echoes.[81]

"Afterglow", the fifteenth track, is an incandescent ballad that sees Swift apologizing to a romantic partner for the impending failure of a relationship,[55][47] propelled by a slow and heavy bass.[53] It has been described as a stadium anthem, showcasing some of Swift's best vocal performance.[99] In the catchy bubblegum pop and synth-pop song "Me!",[100][101] driven by a marching band drumline,[102] Swift duets with Brendon Urie on self-affirmation and individualism.[70][89] In the indie pop cut "It's Nice to Have a Friend", Swift paints the progression of a romance from childhood into adulthood,[89][103] with her vocals exhibiting a tone of innocence,[81] backed by steelpans, harps, tubular bells and punctuated by a trumpet solo and church bells near the middle.[103][50][63] The song samples the track "Summer in the South" from the album Parkscapes by the Toronto-based Regent Park School of Music.[104] The final track "Daylight" is an introspective ballad that documents her past and where she heads in the future.[47] Advancing from a slow build to a smooth pop melody,[81] the song makes reference to Swift's 2012 song "Red", which many interpreted as a sign of Swift's personal growth and more mature understanding of love.[52] The song (and the album) concludes with a spoken word monologue from Swift:[55]

I want to be defined by the things that I love. Not the things I hate, not the things I'm afraid of, the things that haunt me in the middle of the night. I think that you are what you love.


Artwork and aesthetic[edit]

Cover artwork[edit]

The cover artwork of Lover was shot and edited by 24-year-old Colombian photographer and collage artist, Valheria Rocha; she, along with Swift, handled the art direction of the photographs used for the album's campaign.[105] Murals painted by street artist Kelsey Montague were also used to support Lover.[106]

I think about Lover, and all the glitter heart eyes it inspired and the way people photoshopped themselves on the cover: everyone, from my neighbor to Ellen DeGeneres. There's a level of iconicness and relatability that made the cover influential. People saw they could easily make their own versions of Lover and I think it makes them feel a little closer to Taylor.

— Valheria Rocha, Art director of Lover, "We've Entered a New Age of Kitschy Album Artwork", Entertainment Weekly[107]

The cover artwork features Swift in her signature red lips, with a heart-shaped pink glitter arrangement surrounding her right eye, before a cloudy sky dominated by pink and blue hues, as well as a yellow light leak. The album title is etched above Swift's head, in a slanted, pink, glittery, cursive font.[105] PicsArt, in collaboration with Swift, made a special "Taylor Swift Replay" feature available, using which the users can edit themselves on to the cover art.[108]

The logo of Lover is the album title, written in a slanted, deep pink, glittery, cursive calligraphy font.

Aesthetic[edit]

The aesthetic of Lover has been described as daytime,[32] summer,[89] and spring,[109] incorporating butterflies,[85] hearts,[110] floral[109] and kitsch,[107] and consisting heavily of pastel colors.[111] The aesthetic has also been employed in several public appearances and live performances throughout the Lover era.[112][113][114][115] Swift teased the aesthetic on Instagram before the album was announced, departing from the dark, gothic, serpentine black and white color scheme of its predecessor, Reputation (2017).[109][116] Swift further defined Lover as open fields and sunsets;[22] calling it a "festival-y" album, while discussing the album's accompanying tour, the Lover Fest.[117]

Release and promotion[edit]

Distribution[edit]

Lover was released on August 23, 2019, through Republic Records; it's the first album by Swift to be released under the label since her departure from Big Machine Records in November 2018.[118] The album is also the first to be completely owned by Swift herself.[57] The standard edition was physically released on CD, cassette tape,[119] and vinyl,[120] as well as made available for digital download and streaming. It is the first time Swift made her album available for streaming on its release day, and the first time she made an album available for digital purchase directly on her website. The deluxe edition comes in four versions, each containing a CD, two bonus audio memos and a blank journal, with different bonus content of Swift's old diary entries, photos, and a poster.[18] The deluxe editions are distributed exclusively by Target in the US,[121] and on Swift's official website globally.[122]

Marketing[edit]

Swift teased her seventh studio album through cryptic hint-dropping and "easters eggs" on social media. Entertainment Weekly wrote, Swift "has perfected the pop culture feedback loop: She shares updates about her life and drops hints about new music, which fans then gobble up and re-promote with their own theories, which Swift then re-shares on her Tumblr or incorporates into future clues. It's like a T-Swift-built Escher staircase of personal memories and moments that tease what's next". Swift commented that she loves "that they [fans] like the cryptic hint-dropping. Because as long as they like it, I'll keep doing it. It's fun. It feels mischievous and playful". The magazine added that Swift "has designed the ultimate artistic scavenger hunt – and it's easy to get swept up in its drama, even if you don't listen to her music", and that she makes the audience "feel like they're on the journey with her".[2]

A few weeks before the expected release of Lover, Swift invited a select group of fans to private listening parties called Secret Sessions, to listen to the album, a tradition which began with 1989 in 2014. These sessions were held in London,[123] Nashville,[124] and Los Angeles.[125] Audio recordings of the sessions were played on iHeartRadio.[76] Swift partnered with Amazon in the lead-up to the release, with Amazon featuring Lover-themed designs on some of their cardboard delivery boxes.[126] On August 20, Swift released an exclusive playlist on Spotify, which incrementally revealed lyrics from the album.[127] The next day, Swift unveiled a line of clothing and accessories designed in collaboration with British fashion designer Stella McCartney.[128] She gave interviews on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon; the earlier was Swift's first talk show in three years.[129][130] She appeared on the magazine covers of Rolling Stone,[131] Vogue's coveted September issue,[132] British Vogue,[133] Entertainment Weekly[134] and People.[135]

The New York Times highlighted Swift's "old-fashioned" way of releasing Lover, from the release of its lead single "Me!" till the album release. The newspaper stated that Swift is "steady in her traditional pop playbook, with radio singles, music videos, magazine covers, television appearances and a stream of things for sale, all on schedule", even though the majority of the music industry has adapted to the digital era.[28]

Live performances[edit]

Swift performed songs from Lover on several televised events. On May 1, 2019, Swift and Urie made the first live performance of "Me!" at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards at Las Vegas, Nevada.[136] The duo performed the song again at the season finale of the sixteenth season of The Voice on May 21.[137] Swift performed "Me!" solo at the finale of the fourteenth season of Germany's Next Top Model on May 22.[138] On May 24, she appeared on The Graham Norton Show as a musical guest, performing "Me!".[139] On May 25, Swift performed "Me!" at the quarter-finals of the eighth season of The Voice: la plus belle voix, the French edition of The Voice.[140]

On July 10, Swift headlined the Amazon Prime Day Concert 2019 in New York City, performing "Me!" and for the first time "You Need to Calm Down", as well as a selection of songs from her previous albums.[141] On August 22, the day before the album's release, Swift performed a free concert at Central Park in New York City on Good Morning America.[142] Swift then performed "The Archer" on a YouTube livestream later that day.[143] Swift opened the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards with a medley of "You Need to Calm Down" and "Lover" on August 26, where she also won three awards.[144] On September 2, Swift performed "London Boy", "Lover", "The Archer" and "You Need to Calm Down" for BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge.[145]

On October 5, Swift performed "Lover" and "False God" on Saturday Night Live, hosted by actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge.[146] On October 11, she performed "Lover", "The Man", "Death by a Thousand Cuts", along with "All Too Well" from Red (2012), on NPR Music's Tiny Desk Concert at Washington, D.C.[147] On October 19, Swift performed "Me!", "Lover", and "You Need to Calm Down" at the We Can Survive charity concert in Los Angeles.[148] On November 7, she performed "Me!" for Nippon TV's Sukkiri Morning Show in Tokyo, Japan.[149] On November 10, Swift headlined the Alibaba Singles' Day Countdown Gala in Shanghai, China, where she performed "Me!", "Lover", and "You Need to Calm Down", televised across China.[150] On November 24, Swift performed a medley of her greatest hits, including "The Man" and "Lover", at the 2019 American Music Awards in Los Angeles, where she received the Artist of the Decade trophy.[151] On December 8, she performed "Me!", "London Boy", "Lover", and "You Need to Calm Down" at Capital FM's Jingle Bell Ball 2019 in London.[152] On December 13, Swift performed "Me!", "Lover", and "You Need to Calm Down" at iHeartRadio Z100's Jingle Ball in New York City.[153] On December 14, she performed "Lover" at the finale of BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing.[154] On April 18, 2020, Swift performed "Soon You'll Get Better" for the One World: Together at Home concert, which raised funds for the World Health Organization's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.[155]

City of Lover concert[edit]

On September 9, 2019, to celebrate the album release, Swift played a one-off City of Lover concert at L'Olympia in Paris, France, where she performed "Me!", "The Archer", "Death by a Thousand Cuts", "Cornelia Street", "The Man", "Daylight", "You Need to Calm Down", and "Lover", along with songs from previous albums.[156] On May 17, 2020, the concert was aired as a one-hour special, titled Taylor Swift: City of Lover, on ABC; the special was also made available for on-demand streaming on Hulu and Disney+ since the following day.[157][158] Following the ABC premiere, the live versions of the Lover tracks "Me!", "The Archer", "Death by a Thousand Cuts", "Cornelia Street", "Daylight", "You Need to Calm Down", and "Lover", recorded at the City of Lover concert, were released to digital music and streaming platforms,[158] except the live version of "The Man", which was already released to the platforms on February 18, 2020.[159] The ABC premiere attracted 3.63 million viewers, becoming the number-one network program of its time-slot that day.[citation needed]

Tour[edit]

On September 17, 2019, Swift announced the Lover Fest, a concert tour set to begin in the summer of 2020, starting on June 20, 2020, in Werchter, Belgium and concluding on August 1, 2020, in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Swift intended to play two shows at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles as part of the "Lover Fest West", and two shows at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough as part of the "Lover Fest East", in addition to ten festival dates in Europe and two shows in Brazil. Swift explained on social media that "The Lover album is open fields, sunsets, + SUMMER. I want to perform it in a way that feels authentic. I want to go to some places I haven't been and play festivals. Where we didn't have festivals, we made some."[160] The tour was to be her first visit to a number of European countries and her first official concerts in Latin America.

Due to the growing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, all 2020 festival dates planned for the tour were cancelled, with the US and Brazil shows postponed and to be rescheduled to sometime in 2021.[161]

Singles[edit]

"Me!", the lead single of Lover, features Brendon Urie, the vocalist of the American rock band Panic! at the Disco. It is Swift's first lead single to have a featured artist.

Lover was supported by four singles and a promotional single; all of which charted inside the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100—three of them reached the top ten.

"Me!" featuring Urie of Panic! at the Disco serves as the lead single of Lover. It was released along with its symbolic music video on April 26, 2019.[12] The music video amassed 65.2 million views within its first day of release, breaking the 24-hour Vevo record previously held by Ariana Grande's "Thank U, Next", also breaking Swift's personal record set in 2017 with the "Look What You Made Me Do" music video, which garnered 43.2 million views on its first day. "Me!" broke several streaming and sales records, including the biggest single-week jump in the Billboard Hot 100 history, when it moved upward by 98 spots.[162] It peaked at number two in the US and Canada, while reaching the top three in many other countries.[162]

"You Need to Calm Down" was announced as the second single during Swift's album announcement livestream on Instagram, on June 13, 2019, and was released the following day along with its lyric video.[16] The accompanying music video, released four days later,[163] had special appearances from guests such as Katy Perry, Ryan Reynolds, and LGBTQ+ personalities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Laverne Cox, Adam Lambert, RuPaul, Adam Rippon, Billy Porter and the "Fab 5" cast of Queer Eye.[164][165] It debuted and peaked at number two on the Hot 100.

"Lover", the title track, was announced as the third single on August 16, 2019, by Swift at the 2019 Teen Choice Awards.[166] On August 15, 2019, Swift announced on her social media that the music video for the song would premiere during a live Q&A session on YouTube the day before the album release, on August 22, 2019.[167] The music video adapts a Christmas aesthetic, featuring a dollhouse with seven distinctly-colored rooms, inside a snow globe.[168] On the Hot 100, the song debuted at number 19 and peaked at number 10, becoming the third consecutive top 10 single from Lover.[169]

"The Man", upon the release of Lover, debuted and peaked at number 23 on the Hot 100; it was highest-peaking non-single track from the album.[170] On January 27 and 28, 2020, The song was serviced to the US adult contemporary and pop radio formats as the fourth and final single from the album.[171] The single quickly became pop radio's most added song of the week dated January 27, 2020, picked up by 87 Mediabase-monitored pop stations.[citation needed] It further became adult contemporary radio's most added song of the week, picked up by 26 Mediabase-monitored Hot AC stations.[citation needed] Its official music video was released on February 27, 2020 and saw Swift portray a male alter-ego named "Tyler Swift", voiced by Dwayne Johnson. The video—Swift's solo directorial debut—was met with praise from critics for its satire and features cameos from Swift's father Scott Swift and TikTok star Loren Gray.[172]

Promotional single[edit]

"The Archer" was released as the album's only promotional single on July 23, 2019.[173] Swift explained it would not be a single and it was meant to showcase a side of the album unseen by fans with the first two singles ("Me!" and "You Need to Calm Down"). Therefore, the song would not receive an accompanying music video; however, a lyric video accompanied the song's release.[174] On the Hot 100, the song debuted at number 69, eventually peaking at number 38.[170]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Album of the Year73/100[175]
AnyDecentMusic?7.2/10[176]
Metacritic79/100[177]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[66]
And It Don't StopA−[178]
The Daily Telegraph4/5 stars[45]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[70]
The Guardian3/5 stars[63]
The Independent4/5 stars[179]
NME4/5 stars[42]
Pitchfork7.1/10[52]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[43]
The Times4/5 stars[180]

Lover received positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 79 based on 26 sources.[177]

Rob Sheffield from Rolling Stone called the album "overpowering" and a "career-capping masterpiece".[59] Also in Rolling Stone, Nick Catucci wrote Lover is "evolutionary rather than revolutionary", and expanded that it "feels like an epiphany: free and unhurried, governed by no one concept or outlook, it represents Swift at her most liberated".[43] Annie Zaleski from The A.V. Club called the album "one of [Swift's] strongest, most relatable albums to date... unburdened by external expectations and her own past."[47] Jon Caramanica from The New York Times described Lover as "reassuringly strong" and "a palate cleanse, a recalibration and a reaffirmation of old strengths" compared to Reputation (2017), defining it as a "transitional album designed to close one particularly bruised chapter and suggest ways to move forward—or in some cases, to return to how things once were".[51] Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times commended the album's maturity and emotional wisdom, calling it "very impressive". He further described the album as "grown-up, complex pop".[71] Billboard's Jason Lipshutz summarized the album as "whimsical, moving, imperfect, exhilarating", adding it was "a towering work that's worth both close analysis on headphones and scream-alongs on stadium speakers".[60] Writing for Vulture, Craig Jenkins stated that "the old Taylor is back on Lover and the best she's been in years" and added that the album is "the most complete full-length she's delivered in years".[67] Time's Dana Schwartz opined that Lover is a "lovechild between Speak Now and 1989, lifting the personal lyricism from the former and the synth-pop production from the latter".[49]

Bryan Rolli, a Forbes senior contributor, called Lover a "masterful, heartfelt pop spectacle", where Swift "refuses to cop to too many younger trends"; instead, "she perfects a winning formula, shooting her anthemic love songs and heart-on-sleeve lyricism skyward with '80s synthesizers and enough gang vocals to fill a stadium by herself". He deemed Lover as "musically and lyrically rich, fulfilling in the same way that staying up all night and having a heart-to-heart conversation with an old friend is".[54] Nora Princiotti of The Boston Globe labelled Lover as "satisfying pop" that dips back into many of Swift's "creative wells", with songs that "snatch elements from all over her past", instead of "going for a clear, new sound like she did on her previous two albums"; she added that the result is a "dreamy record that makes good use of its stylistic freedom".[57] Nick Levine from NME considered Lover to be "more sprawling and further from flawless" than 1989 (2014), but it succeeds due to Swift's "frequently dazzling" melodies, and the "loved-up lyrics are ultimately quite touching." He concluded that despite "the odd dud", the album is a "welcome reminder of her songwriting skills and ability to craft sonically inviting pop music".[42] Alexandra Pollard from The Independent awarded the album four stars out of five, writing "there is a brilliant album among the 18 songs, if only it had been pruned a little".[58] Reviewing in his Substack-published Consumer Guide column, Robert Christgau preferred Lover over Reputation's celebrity concept and admired Swift for focusing her talents on songs about love, which he said is a more relatable theme "for female pop fans with their own lives, not just unfortunates ensnared by the vicarious vagaries of celebrity culture".[178]

In a less favorable review, Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine wrote the album "attempts to be something to everyone" but "lacks a unified sonic aesthetic".[50] Alexis Petridis from The Guardian called Lover "too long" and appears to be an attempt by Swift to "reassert her commercial dominance". However, he remarked Swift's songwriting as better "than any of her competitors" and praised "False God" and "It's Nice to Have a Friend" for being "more satisfying".[63] Writing for The Observer, Kitty Empire summarized the album as a "kitsch-leaning festival of humour, pastels, butterflies and the desire not to be defined by negatives", but also wonders if it might be "a partial retrenchment until Swift decides what to do next", giving it three stars out of five.[68]

Year-end lists[edit]

Numerous publications placed Lover in their 2019 year-end best-albums lists. Most notably, Rolling Stone critic Rob Sheffield and Variety critic Chris Willman named Lover the best album of 2019. Some of the album's tracks were also included in many 2019 year-end lists: Billboard ranked "Cruel Summer" and "Lover" at the tenth and twenty-first spots in its list of 100 best songs of 2019, respectively;[181] Rolling Stone placed "Cruel Summer" at number four in its list of 50 best songs of 2019;[182] Herald-Tribune listed "You Need to Calm Down" as the second best;[183] Uproxx named "Cornelia Street" as the seventh best song of 2019;[184] Slate placed "Lover" amongst the top 10 best songs of 2019;[185] "The Archer" and "Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince" were named the sixth and nineteenth best songs of 2019 by Slant, respectively;[186] Stereogum placed "The Archer" in the top 10 of its 100 best songs 2019;[187] The Fader placed "I Think He Knows" at number eight on its list of 25 best pop songs of the year.[188] Furthermore, Good Morning America listed Lover among the 50 most notable albums of the 2010s decade.[189]

Lover on year-end lists
Critic/Publication List Rank Ref.
The A.V. Club Annie Zaleski's 10 Best Albums of 2019 2 [190]
Billboard The 50 Best Albums of 2019 3 [191]
Chorus.fm Chorus.fm's Top 25 Albums of 2019 7 [192]
City Pages The 75 Best Albums of 2019 19 [193]
Esquire The Best Albums of 2019 Placed [194]
The Fader The Best Albums of 2019 Placed [195]
Flood The Best Albums of 2019 15 [196]
Good Morning America 50 of the Best Albums of 2019 6 [197]
The Guardian The 50 Best Albums of 2019 29 [198]
The Harvard Crimson The Top Albums of 2019 10 [199]
The Independent The 50 Best Albums of 2019 19 [200]
Las Vegas Weekly Favorite Albums of 2019 8 [201]
Los Angeles Times The Best Albums and Songs of 2019 10 [202]
Michigan Daily Top 25 Albums of 2019 20 [203]
MTV Albums of 2019 Placed [65]
The Music The Music's Best Albums Of 2019 7 [204]
musicOMH musicOMH's Top 50 Albums Of 2019 22 [205]
The New York Times Best Albums of 2019 14 [206]
NME 50 Best Albums of 2019 41 [207]
Paper Paper's Top 20 Albums of 2019 20 [208]
Paste The 15 Best Pop Albums of 2019 12 [209]
People The 10 Best Albums of 2019 3 [210]
PopBuzz The 20 Best Albums of 2019 18 [211]
PopCrush 25 Best Albums of 2019 Placed [212]
PopSugar 47 Albums That Made 2019 Seem Almost Bearable 30 [213]
Q Q Magazine's 50 Albums of the Year 2019 35 [214]
Rolling Stone 50 Best Albums of 2019 4 [215]
Rob Sheffield's Top 25 Albums of 2019 1 [216]
The San Diego Union-Tribune 9 Albums That Helped Me Survive 2019 8 [217]
Slate The Best Albums of 2019 Placed [185]
Star Tribune Our Music Critic's 10 Best Albums and Concerts of 2019 7 [218]
The Sunday Times The 100 Best Records of the Year Placed [219]
Uproxx The Best Albums of 2019, Ranked 25 [220]
USA Today The 10 Best Albums of 2019 3 [221]
Us Weekly The 10 Best Albums of 2019 7 [222]
Variety Chris Willman's Best Albums of 2019 1 [223]
WJBC Best Albums of 2019 3 [224]
The Young Folks Top 50 Albums of 2019 31 [225]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Lover and its singles received three nominations at the 62nd Grammy Awards. The album was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album, which is Swift's third consecutive nomination in the category, following 1989 (2014) and Reputation (2017). "You Need to Calm Down" was nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance while the title track "Lover" was nominated for Song of the Year.

Swift scored wins in all her six nominations at the American Music Awards of 2019, becoming the most awarded artist of the night and the most awarded artist in the AMAs history (29 wins), extending her record in the categories of Artist of the Year, Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist and Favorite Pop/Rock Album. Additionally, she was crowned as the Artist of the Decade.[226][227]

Lover's music videos garnered four wins at the MTV Video Music Awards: Video of the Year and Video for Good for "You Need to Calm Down"—having previously won the former for "Bad Blood" (2015), Swift tied Rihanna and Beyoncé as the only female acts to win the top prize twice—and Best Visual Effects for "Me!" in the 2019 show, and Best Direction in 2020 for "The Man".[228][229][230] She also won Best Video for "Me!" and Best US act at the 2019 MTV Europe Music Awards,[231] Best Female Video International for "Me!" at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards Japan,[232] Best International Artist for Lover at the ARIA Music Awards of 2019[233] and the Best Solo Act in the World at the 2020 NME Awards.[234]

Lover led Swift to win International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI)'s Global Recording Artist of the Year for 2019; she previously won the award for 1989 in 2015.[235] The album was further awarded the 2019 Guinness World record for the Biggest-selling album worldwide for a solo artist.[236]

Awards and nominations for Lover
Year Organization Award Result Ref.
2019 People's Choice Awards Favorite Album of the Year Won [237]
American Music Awards Favorite Pop/Rock Album Won [238]
ARIA Music Awards Best International Artist (Lover) Won [233]
2020 Grammy Awards Best Pop Vocal Album Nominated [239]
Japan Gold Disc Awards Album of the Year (Western) Won [240]
Best 3 Albums (Western) Won
RTHK International Pop Poll Awards Best Selling Album (English) Won [241]
Guinness World Records Biggest-selling album worldwide for a solo artist (2019) Won [236]
CD Shop Awards Music Jacket Creative Awards Won [242]
iHeartRadio Music Awards Pop Album of the Year Won [243]
Billboard Music Awards Top Billboard 200 Album Pending [244]

Commercial performance[edit]

Pre-release[edit]

With 178,600 pre-adds on Apple Music within one day, Lover is the most pre-saved album by a female artist as of July 2019; it is also the most pre-saved pop album on the platform.[164][245] Republic Records founder and chairman, Monte Lipman, reported album pre-sales worldwide were nearly one million.[246] Target confirmed Lover is its best-selling music pre-order of all time, surpassing the record previously held by Swift's own Reputation (2017).[247] In China, Lover sold over 201,300 pre-sales units on NetEase Music, 15,882 units on KuGou and 4.69 million song downloads on QQ Music.[248] It became the fastest western album to receive a 3× diamond certification in the history of QQ Music and made Swift the first female artist to have three albums, after 1989 (2014) and Reputation (2017), reach this mark. Two days before its release, Lover had exceeded a total digital sales volume of ¥8.7 million in China.[249]

United States[edit]

In the US, Lover sold around 450,000 copies in its first day, earning the biggest sales week of 2019, breaking the first-week sales record of Jonas Brothers' Happiness Begins (357,000) in a day.[250] Lover debuted at number-one on the Billboard 200 chart, generating more than 867,000 units with around 679,000 pure sales, becoming the biggest debut week since Swift's own Reputation. It is Swift's sixth number-one album in the country; she also became the first female artist in US history to have six albums sell more than 500,000 copies in a single week. Lover earned more than 226 million streams across all platforms in the US in its first week, marking the second largest streaming week of all time among albums by women.[251] Additionally, Lover outsold all the other 199 albums on the chart combined that week, the first album to achieve this feat since Reputation.[252] Billboard noted that the album's opening week sales were aided by its four Target-exclusive collectible deluxe CD editions as well as dozens of merchandise bundles sold through Swift's website.[251] Swift tied Beyoncé for most consecutive number-one debuts on the Billboard 200 for a female artist, at six albums.[253] Amazon asserted on Twitter that Lover is the biggest debut in the history of Amazon Music.[254] In its second week on the Billboard 200, Lover moved 178,000 units and descended to number two, a decrease of 79% from the previous week.[255] This marked the largest second week sales of 2019 in the US.[citation needed] In its third week, it remained stable at number two with a further 104,000 units moved.[citation needed] By January 2020, Lover had spent 17 weeks inside the top 10 of the chart, five more weeks than its predecessor, Reputation.[256][unreliable source] Lover went on to spend a total of 18 weeks inside the top 10 of Billboard 200.[257] In August 2020, following the release of Folklore, Swift's eighth studio album, Lover climbed back to number 18 on the Billboard 200.[258]

All 18 tracks from Lover charted simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100, breaking numerous records—the most simultaneous Hot 100 entries among women, the most simultaneous Hot 100 debuts among women, the album by a female artist with most simultaneous Hot 100 entries and the album by a female artist with the most simultaneous Hot 100 debuts—all of which were previously held by Billie Eilish and her 2019 debut studio album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?.[170] Bolstered by Lover, Swift held the number-one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Songwriters chart for three consecutive weeks,[259] and returned to the top spot of the Billboard Artist 100 chart for a thirty-seventh week, extending her all-time record as the longest running number-one act on the chart.[260] Lover and its singles were noted for having better chart performances compared to Reputation and its singles.[256][unreliable source]

By the end of 2019, Lover had sold 1.085 million copies in the US (which includes 386,000 digital copies and 699,000 physical copies), making it the top selling album of 2019 in both physical sales and overall sales. It is Swift's fourth album to become the best-seller of the year, following Fearless in 2009, 1989 in 2014 and Reputation in 2017. Lover was also the only 2019 release to reach the one-million mark. The album also generated more than 2.191 million album-equivalent units in 2019, landing third on the Nielsen Music/MRC Data's list of the year's most-consumed albums and fourth on the 2019 Billboard 200 Year-End chart.[261][262] As of February 2020, Lover has moved over 2.3 million units in the US.[263] In March 2020, the album was certified 2× platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, denoting 2 million units moved in the country.[264]

Other markets[edit]

In Canada, Lover debuted at number-one on the Billboard Canadian Albums Chart, selling 47,000 units in its first week,[245] becoming Swift's sixth consecutive chart-topper in the country.[265] By the end of 2019, the album had moved over 181,000 units (including 61,000 pure copies) in Canada.[266]

In Europe, Lover gave Swift her highest debuts on many charts thus far in her career. In the United Kingdom, it debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart with 53,000 units, consisting of 35,000 traditional sales. It made Swift the first female artist to have four chart-topping albums in the 2010s decade.[267] It also was the year's fastest-selling female digital album in the UK, surpassing Ariana Grande's Thank U, Next.[268] The album is certified Gold by the British Phonographic Industry for selling over 100,000 copies in the country. In Ireland, the album debuted at number one on the Irish Albums Chart, making Swift the only female artist with four chart-topping albums in the country in the 2010s decade.[269] Lover also went number-one in Belgium, Estonia, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, Spain and Sweden.[245]

In Australia, Lover debuted at number one on the ARIA Albums Chart, becoming Swift's fifth consecutive chart-topper in the country. It also posted the biggest first-week sales of 2019 in the country and all of the 18 tracks from the album appeared in the top 75 of the ARIA Top 100 Singles Chart.[270][271] The album was certified 2× Platinum in the country, denoting over 140,000 copies earned. Lover also debuted atop the albums chart in New Zealand, becoming Swift's sixth number-one album in the country.[245]

In China, Lover was a massive success, topping the best-selling digital albums lists of all major Chinese music platforms. It became the first international album in Chinese history to surpass 1 million units within a week of its release, setting the record for the biggest sales week for an international artist in the country.[272] By the end of 2019, it became the best-selling and most consumed album of the year in China.[273] Lover has been certified 3× Diamond by QQ Music.[249] It is one of the best-selling digital albums of all time in China. Following 1989 and Reputation, Lover is Swift's third album to rank in the all-time top 10, making her the first non-Chinese act to achieve this; all the three releases have exceeded 1 million digital units in the country.[273][236] In Japan, Lover debuted at the third spot on the Oricon Albums Chart with only three days of tracking, moving over 27,500 units.[245]

Worldwide[edit]

Lover sold more than 3.2 million pure copies worldwide in 2019.[274] Republic Records reported that the album earned 3 million units in global consumption in its first week.[245] The strong global sales of Lover led the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) to name Swift the number-one best selling artist of 2019, earning the honor for the second time, her first being in 2014 after the release of 1989, making Swift the first female artist to do so.[235]

Lover was the best-selling studio album of 2019, setting the Guinness World record for the biggest-selling album worldwide for a solo artist, marking Swift's seventh Guinness record.[236] Lover was also the best-selling album by a female artist, second overall, behind Japanese band Arashi's greatest hits album 5x20 All the Best!! 1999–2019.[274] It is Swift's fourth consecutive album following Red (2012), 1989 (2014), and Reputation (2017) to place second on IFPI's annual chart, which has been tracking worldwide pure album sales since 2012. In February 2020, Universal Music Publishing Group reported that Lover has exceeded 5 million units in global consumption.[275]

Track listing[edit]

Track listing and credits adapted from the album liner notes, Apple Music and Tidal.[29][56][276]

Lover – Standard edition
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."I Forgot That You Existed"
2:51
2."Cruel Summer"
  • Swift
  • Antonoff
2:58
3."Lover"Swift
  • Swift
  • Antonoff
3:41
4."The Man"
  • Swift
  • Little
3:10
5."The Archer"
  • Swift
  • Antonoff
  • Swift
  • Antonoff
3:31
6."I Think He Knows"
  • Swift
  • Antonoff
  • Swift
  • Antonoff
2:53
7."Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince"
  • Swift
  • Little
  • Swift
  • Little
3:54
8."Paper Rings"
  • Swift
  • Antonoff
  • Swift
  • Antonoff
3:42
9."Cornelia Street"Swift
  • Swift
  • Antonoff
4:47
10."Death by a Thousand Cuts"
  • Swift
  • Antonoff
  • Swift
  • Antonoff
3:19
11."London Boy"
3:10
12."Soon You'll Get Better" (featuring Dixie Chicks)
  • Swift
  • Antonoff
  • Swift
  • Antonoff
3:22
13."False God"
  • Swift
  • Antonoff
  • Swift
  • Antonoff
3:20
14."You Need to Calm Down"
  • Swift
  • Little
  • Swift
  • Little
2:51
15."Afterglow"
  • Swift
  • Bell
  • Feeney
  • Swift
  • Bell
  • Dukes
3:43
16."Me!" (featuring Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco)
  • Swift
  • Little
  • Urie
  • Swift
  • Little
3:13
17."It's Nice to Have a Friend"
  • Swift
  • Bell
  • Feeney
  • Swift
  • Bell
  • Dukes
2:30
18."Daylight"Swift
  • Swift
  • Antonoff
4:53
Total length:61:48
Lover Target and Japanese deluxe edition[277][278]
No.TitleLength
19."I Forgot That You Existed" (piano/vocal)3:30
20."Lover" (piano/vocal)5:39
Total length:70:57
Lover – Japanese special edition DVD[278]
No.TitleDirector(s)Length
1."Me!" (music video)4:09
2."Me!" (lyric video)
  • Swift
  • Jordan Lynn
3:15
3."Me!" (behind the scenes: The Story of Benjamin Button) 3:09
4."Me!" (behind the scenes: Je Suis Calme) 3:17
5."You Need to Calm Down" (music video)
  • Swift
  • Drew Kirsch
3:31
6."You Need to Calm Down" (lyric video)Cheryl Lee2:58
7."You Need to Calm Down" (behind the scenes: Pop Queen Pageant) 2:55
8."You Need to Calm Down" (behind the scenes: Taylor Park) 2:55
9."You Need to Calm Down" (behind the scenes: Morning Routine) 3:01
Total length:29:10

Notes[edit]

  • ^a signifies a co-producer
  • "The Archer" contains an interpolation of the nursery rhyme "Humpty Dumpty".[279]
  • "London Boy" contains a sample of "Cold War" by Cautious Clay and a snippet of James Corden interviewing Idris Elba.[29][55][280]
  • "Me!" is stylized in all caps, and the album version does not contain the spoken lyrics "Hey, kids, spelling is fun!"[281]
  • "It's Nice to Have a Friend" contains a sample of "Summer in the South" by the Toronto-based Regent Park School of Music.[282]

Personnel[edit]

Adapted from the album liner notes.[29]

  • Taylor Swift – all vocals; writer (all tracks); producer (all tracks); executive producer; journal entries (deluxe); personal photographies (deluxe); packaging creative direction; percussion (track 8)
  • Jack Antonoff – producer, keyboards, programming, recording (tracks: 2, 3, 5, 6, 8–13, 18); writer (tracks: 2, 5, 6, 8, 10–13); piano (tracks: 3, 8, 9, 12, 18); live drums (tracks: 2, 3, 8, 9); acoustic guitars (tracks: 3, 6, 8, 12); electric guitars (tracks: 6, 8, 18); percussion, bass (tracks: 3, 8, 11); vocoder (track 2); synthesizers (track 10); guitar (track 10); wurlitzer (track 12); background vocals (track 8)
  • Louis Bell – producer, writer, programming, recording (tracks: 1, 15, 17); keyboards (track 1)
  • Frank Dukes – producer, writer, guitar, programming (tracks: 1, 15, 17)
  • Joel Little – producer, writer, recording, keyboards, drum programming (tracks: 4, 7, 14, 16); synths, guitar (track 16)
  • Laura Sisk – recording (tracks: 2, 3, 5, 6, 8–13, 18); background vocals (track 13)
  • Annie Clark – writer, guitar (track 2)
  • Serban Ghenea – mixing (all tracks)
  • John Hanes – mix engineer (all tracks)
  • Randy Merrill – mastering (all tracks)
  • Grant Strumwasser – assistant (track 1)
  • John Rooney – assistant (tracks: 2–6, 9–13, 18)
  • Jon Sher – assistant (tracks: 2, 6, 8, 11)
  • Nick Mills – assistant (tracks: 8, 11, 18)
  • Joe Harrison – guitar (tracks: 1, 15, 17)
  • Serafin Aguilar – trumpet (track 1)
  • David Urquidi – saxophone (track 1)
  • Steve Hughes – trombone (track 1)
  • Michael Riddleberger – live drums (tracks: 2, 13)
  • Sounwave – co-producer, writer (track 11)
  • Cautious Clay – writer (track 11)
  • Sean Hutchinson – live drums (track 11)
  • Mikey Freedom Hart – keyboards (track 11); background vocals (track 13)
  • Evan Smith – keyboards, saxophones (tracks: 11, 13)
  • Emily Strayer – banjo (track 12)
  • Martie Maguire – fiddle (track 12)
  • Dixie Chicks – featured artist (track 12)
  • Brandon Bost – background vocals (track 13)
  • Cassidy Ladden – background vocals (track 13)
  • Ken Lewis – background vocals (track 13)
  • Matthew Tavares – guitar (tracks: 15, 17)
  • Brendon Urie – featured artist, writer (track 16)
  • Valheria Rocha – photography
  • Andrea Swift – personal photographies (deluxe)
  • Scott Swift – personal photographies (deluxe)
  • Joseph Cassel – wardrobe stylist
  • Riawna Capri – hair
  • Lorrie Turk – makeup
  • Josh & Bethany Newman – packaging art direction
  • Parker Foote – packaging design
  • Jin Kim – packaging design
  • Ryon Nishimori – packaging design
  • Abby Murdock – packaging design

Charts[edit]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[337] 2× Platinum 140,000double-dagger
Canada 181,000[266]
China 1,782,546[338]
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[339] Gold 10,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[340] Platinum 15,000double-dagger
Norway (IFPI Norway)[341] Platinum 20,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[343] Gold 221,654[342]
United States (RIAA)[344] 2× Platinum 2,300,000[263]
Summaries
Worldwide (IFPI) 3,800,000[274]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Release formats for Lover
Region Date Format(s) Edition(s) Label Ref.
Various August 23, 2019 Standard Republic [276]
CD [345]
Deluxe [346]
United Kingdom Cassette tape Standard Virgin EMI [347]
Europe Universal [347]
United States August 30, 2019 Republic [348]
Australia November 1, 2019 Universal [349]
Brazil November 2, 2019 CD [350]
United States November 15, 2019 Vinyl Republic [120]
United Kingdom Virgin EMI [351]
Europe Universal [351]
China August 23, 2020 [352]

See also[edit]

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