Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince

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"Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince"
Song by Taylor Swift
from the album Lover
ReleasedAugust 23, 2019 (2019-08-23)
  • Golden Age (Los Angeles)
  • Golden Age West (Auckland)
  • Joel Little
  • Taylor Swift
Audio video
"Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince" on YouTube

"Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince" is a song by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, taken from her seventh studio album Lover (2019). She wrote the song a few months after the 2018 U.S. midterm elections to capture her disillusionment with the American political climate. Produced by Swift and co-writer Joel Little, "Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince" is an atmospheric gloomy synth-pop song with marching band-styled percussion and background cheerleading shouts. Its lyrics use high school imagery to depict the protagonist's struggles navigating through a flawed system, with allusions to a troubled love story.

Most music critics praised the track's production, poetic lyricism, and layered messages, but a few were unimpressed with Swift's efforts to write a political song. Some journalists noted "Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince" as Lover's most political song and that it represented Swift's decision to become more socially engaged, departing from her previous apolitical stance. After Lover was released, the song charted on the singles charts in Australia, Canada, Scotland, and Singapore. In the United States, it peaked at number 49 on the Billboard Hot 100. Its title is the namesake to Swift's 2020 documentary film, Miss Americana, and it served as the opening number on the Eras Tour (2023).[1]

Background and production[edit]

American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift's seventh studio album, Lover, was released through Republic Records on August 23, 2019; it was her first album after she ended her 12-year contract with Big Machine Records.[2] Recorded after Swift finished her Reputation Stadium Tour in November 2018, Lover was inspired by her recalibrated personal life after the controversies leading up to her sixth studio album, Reputation (2017).[3][4][note 1] The love she received from fans despite her tarnished "America's Sweetheart" reputation in the press, which "[assigned] humanity to her life", inspired her to embrace positivity and vulnerability.[4][6] Lover predominantly consists of open-hearted love songs celebrating the ups and downs of love and represents her mature understanding of a sustainable relationship,[7][8] with a bright and atmospheric sound incorporating 1980s-influenced pop rock and electropop.[9][10]

A few Lover songs reflected Swift's evolved perception of contemporary American politics. She had been warned against getting involved in politics by her record label since she started out as a country music singer in 2006,[note 2] and did not publicly endorse any candidate for the 2016 U.S. presidential election. After witnessing the political events affecting the rights of certain people,[note 3] she became disillusioned with the contemporary American political climate and decided to abandon her previous apolitical stance. In the 2018 U.S. midterm elections, she endorsed Democrat candidates for her home state of Tennessee—her first time publicly voicing her political opinion.[11][12] The most explicitly political song on the album is "Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince", which she wrote a few months after the midterm elections.[11][13] Swift wrote and produced the track with New Zealand producer Joel Little, who recorded it at Golden Age Studio in Los Angeles and Golden Age West Studio in Auckland. The song was mixed by Serban Ghenea, assisted by John Hanes, at MixStar Studios in Virginia Beach.[14]

Music and lyrical interpretation[edit]

"Miss Americana" is an atmospheric, gloomy synth-pop song.[15] It features a slow-burning production with a refrain backed by marching band-styled percussion, dreamy synthesizers, and syncopated piano tunes.[16][17] Reflecting Swift's political disillusionment, "Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince" uses a high school imagery to critique the contemporary American political climate; it likens the political scene to a high-school setting.[9][18][19] Rolling Stone critic Nick Catucci described the narrative as a parable.[9] In the September 2019 cover issue for Rolling Stone, Swift said she thought the high school imagery was an appropriate metaphor because she found the social events of a traditional American high school could alienate certain people, similar to "our political landscape ... like we need to huddle up under the bleachers and figure out a plan to make things better".[13]

In the melancholic, ambient opening, Swift sings about her disenchantment, imagining herself with her "pageant smile" on a homecoming: "American glory faded before me / Now I'm feeling hopeless, ripped up my prom dress / Running through rose thorns, I saw the scoreboard / And ran for my life."[16][19][20] As the song progresses, she sings about how depressed she is witnessing "my team is losing / Battered and bruising / I see the high fives / Between the bad guys."[18] The refrain is more upbeat and alludes to a troubled love story, with Swift singing "It's you and me, there's nothing like this / Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince / We're so sad, we paint the town blue / Voted most likely to run away with you," over cheerleading-styled background vocals shouting "Go! Fight! Win!"[16][18][21]

According to some music critics, compared to the bright-eyed high-school imagery on Swift's earlier songs about teenage experiences like "Love Story" (2008) or "You Belong with Me" (2008), the high-school imagery on "Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince" is darker and represents the parallel between the flawed high school and the flawed political system.[16][18][22] In Variety, Chris Willman wrote that the line "The damsels are depressed" depicts how women are at a disadvantage in this political climate, and the line "They whisper in the hallway, 'She's a bad, bad girl' " alludes to Swift's hesitation to endorse Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election for fears of being seen as "another Hillary-loving Hollywood witch".[18][note 4] The troubled love story, in the views of Alexis Petridis from The Guardian, reflects not only Swift's familiar trope of two young lovers vowing to leave their small town together, but also the political climate under the presidency of Donald Trump.[23] As noted by Lindsay Zoladz from The New York Times, the track also refers to sexual violence through the lyric, "Boys will be boys then, where are the wise men?"[24]

Reception and commentary[edit]

In Lover album reviews, critics praised the lyrics of "Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince". Some were impressed by Swift's effort in creating a political song,[9][25] with Alexis Petridis from The Guardian lauding the track as being superior to other pop stars' "woke" attempts.[23] Time's Dana Schwartz remarked that the song contains some of Swift's most poetic lyricism[21] and the Los Angeles Times critic Mikael Wood selected it as one of the album tracks that demonstrated her emotional maturity.[26] On a less positive side, Anna Gaca of Pitchfork complained that the production, which she compared to the music of Lana Del Rey, was unoriginal.[27] A few critics were unimpressed with Swift's political motivation.[28][17][29]

"Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince" received extensive commentary on its own. Will Gottsegen from Spin considered "Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince" to be a song that encapsulates both the cheerful, bright tones of Swift's releases in her early career, and the dark tones on Lover's preceding studio album Reputation (2017). Gottsegen wrote that the song exemplifies the "ecstatic and free" attitude of Lover overall, but is still affected by the media drama surrounding Swift's personal life around the Reputation era, praising it as the album's highlight for being a "conceptual evolution, and a love story for increasingly precarious times."[16] In an op-ed for Teen Vogue, Claire Dodson wrote that "Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince" successfully captures the disappointment at American politics, and likened the song's theme to the content of Euphoria, a contemporaneous drama series dealing with issues in contemporary America such as body insecurity, transphobia, and drug addiction.[30] Writing for Variety, Chris William felt that "Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince" would be a great "protest song" because, in his opinion, the song effectively conveys Swift's deep sorrow and disappointment towards American politics, which is rare among other protest songs where "anger feels like a lifetime condition, not something that's been arrived at as the culmination of a long character arc." William added that "songs about the United States as a creeping dystopia tend not to be very interesting, or listenable; a song about the U.S. of 2019 as a homecoming-game horror movie is something else".[18]

Slant Magazine named it the nineteenth-best track of 2019.[31] In a 2022 retrospective, The New York Times critic Lindsy Zoladz felt the high-school imagery of "Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince" might undermine adult listeners on a superficial listen, but asserted the song has a "dark vision" that addresses cruelty, depression, and sexual violence ("Boys will be boys then, where are the wise men?") under a high-school camouflage, and addresses those topics more directly than any of the songs Swift wrote as a teenager. Zoladz added that the song's title "alludes to a larger world outside the high school walls, and the greater systemic forces that keep such patterns repeating well into adulthood."[24]

Commercial performance[edit]

Upon the release of its parent album, "Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince" debuted and peaked at number 49 on the US Billboard Hot 100, simultaneously charting with the other seventeen tracks of Lover. It also entered the official charts in Australia, Canada and Scotland.[32]

Miss Americana[edit]

"Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince" inspired the title of Swift's 2020 Netflix documentary, Miss Americana, directed by Lana Wilson, that follows Swift's life and career over several years.[33] The song was used in the documentary's trailer.[34]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from Tidal[14]

  • Taylor Swift – vocals, songwriting, producing
  • Joel Little – producing, songwriting, drum programming, keyboards, recording engineer
  • John Hanes – mix engineering
  • Serban Ghenea – mixing


Chart performance for "Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince"
Chart (2019) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[35] 32
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[36] 47
Scotland (OCC)[37] 92
Singapore (RIAS)[38] 19
UK Audio Streaming (OCC)[39] 63
US Billboard Hot 100[40] 49
US Rolling Stone Top 100[41] 16


  1. ^ Most notably, Swift's dispute with rapper Kanye West and media personality Kim Kardashian in summer 2016, after West released the single "Famous", led to an internet cancel movement denouncing her as a "snake".[5]
  2. ^ Swift contended this was a consequence of the Dixie Chicks controversy in 2003, when the Dixie Chicks was ostracized by the country music audience after publicly criticizing President George W. Bush.[11]
  3. ^ Among the events that influenced Swift's political outlook included a sexual assault trial that she won in 2017, the MeToo movement, the restrictions on LGBT rights, the rise of American nationalism, and white privilege.[11]
  4. ^ Swift also said one of the reasons she remained silent on public matters was that she needed to protect her mental health after her dispute with West.[11]


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