1. Arts & Entertainment

Taylor Swift’s ‘Lover’ is out. Here’s an analysis of the lyrics.

Along with an analysis of 99 of her other songs.
Taylor Swift's new album Lover, released Aug. 23, 2019. [Republic Records]
Published Aug. 23
Updated Aug. 23

Hallelujah, we have a new album.

Taylor Swift’s seventh album, Lover, was released at midnight Friday, delivered immediately into the hands of waiting Swifties who had spent months volleying potential names and themes.

I’ll leave reviews to the critics. But you might remember that I’m the person who spent three years analyzing the lyrics in 99 Taylor Swift songs, trying to unlock meaning in the words. Read Look What Taylor Swift Made Me Do here for a refresher.

After last year’s project, I felt compelled to add the new album to the count.

I found a few surprises.

Holy lyrics

Taylor brought the altar to my kitchen countertop with a bunch of never-before-used religious words, including, well, “religion” (three times), “worship” (10 times), “Jesus” (one), “altar” (two) and “devil” (three). False God, a sultry, jazzy song, is the reason for most of the appearances, and by the way, it probably shouldn’t be played at Mass. She reuses religious words from previous albums on Lover, including “God” (7), “holy” (1) and “sacred” (1).

No kaleidoscope here

Despite a colorful promotion with cotton candy merchandise and Lisa Frank-esque vibes, Lover is very blue. Taylor has used the word a total of 28 times, 11 on this album alone. “Blue” is her most-used color ever, even when you take into consideration her album Red.

And despite all those butterfly-heavy promotional photos, there is no sign of the word “butterfly” anywhere on the album. There is a mention of snakes, though!

United, she sings

Patriotic isn’t a word I would normally use to describe Taylor, unless you’re looking at her famous Fourth of July photos. Since the release of Reputation, she has been a little more forthcoming about American politics, urging fans to vote in 2018 elections and asking for signatures and action for the Equality Rights Act to defend LGBTQ rights.

In my deep analysis, I noted she never used the word “country,” as either a pop or country singer. Lover changed that. She said it once referring to America, described things as “American” eight times and sang the often-patriotic phrase “united, we stand.” Her single You Need to Calm Down is directed in part at people protesting the LGBTQ community.

Redemption song

For the second time in 117 songs, she used the word “gay.” Sort of. The first time, on her first, self-titled album, on a song called Picture to Burn, she sings, “So go and tell your friends that I’m obsessive and crazy. That’s fine! I’ll tell mine you’re gay.” That line was later changed to “That’s fine. You won’t mind if I say …”

A lot has happened in the 13 years since that album was released, and Taylor has sharpened her outlook. On You Need to Calm Down, she tells anti-LGBTQ people, “You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace and control your urges to scream about all the people you hate. 'Cause shade never made anybody less gay.”

Out of season

Lover marks the earliest she has ever released an album. All other albums have come out in deep fall or winter. It’s the end of August, so technically this is a summer album, and it shows.

She sings of the season no fewer than 11 times — that’s more than she has ever mentioned any time of year. (But will she ever sing of spring?)

RELATED: I studied Taylor Swift lyrics for three years. Then she invited me to meet her.

Loving ‘Lover’

While she’s still heavy on the word “baby,” there’s a new term of endearment. “Darling” nearly doubled in usage with a count of 16 on this album. Could that be from hanging around with her English boyfriend, Joe Alwyn?

And she has clearly written this album with others in mind. She used the word “you” a whopping 371 times, up from 237 times on Reputation.

Femme flop

She has added to her words for women, singing about depressed damsels on Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince.

Except she still has never used “woman” or “women,” preferring instead “girl” and sometimes “princess.”

Speaking of words used in regards to women, for the first time, she uttered the word that caused her second rift with Kayne West: “bitch.” In The Man, she talks about the inequality of the sexes, saying if she was “out flashing my dollars, I’d be a bitch, not a baller” because she’s a woman. It’s a more business-oriented version of Beyoncé’s If I Were a Boy.

In other words

Taylor is “dreaming” less, down 66 percent from Reputation.

It’s 2019 and the internet finally shows up! And what is she using it to do? “Stalk,” of course. Another new word.

If we were all playing “Drink Drank Drunk” to the Lover album, we’d be just as intoxicated as if we played with the Reputation album. Those words are used nine times on each.

Last thing to know

One of her most-used words, “know,” increased by about 12 percent, from 358 to 409.


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