Taylor Swift’s ‘Lover’ Shows Lyrical Maturity

Taylor isn't crying over boys anymore.
August 28, 2019
8 mins read

Swifties are overjoyed with the release of Taylor Swift’s new album, “Lover,” at the end of last week. The style and content of the album drastically departs from the angsty aggression of “Reputation,” and many have been quick to compare this album to some of her previous work.

With a softer overall sound, sweeter lyrics and more instrument-based sounds, elements of “Lover” are reminiscent of her albums “Red” and “Speak Now.” Although the mixing and stylings on many of the new songs echo her previous work, there are many important distinctions that make “Lover” unique.

Swift has grown significantly in her writing. She has often been criticized for writing only about struggling relationships and lovers that have done her wrong. Although this stereotype does not give a full picture of any of her previous albums, these overgeneralizations cannot even be applied to “Lover.”

Each song shows off a new element of Swift’s songwriting and portrays maturity in discussing many of the same themes from her teenage writing days. The following five songs demonstrate the lyrical growth on Swift’s new album.

1. “I Forgot that You Existed

In much of Swift’s previous work, like hit songs “Shake It Off” and “Look What You Made Me Do,” she combats her critics. Swift has often called out those who have been barriers to her success, personal happiness and relationships with tones ranging from optimistic self-love to angsty blame.

“I Forgot that You Existed” offers a mature look at past conflicts by discussing moving on from issues to live a happy life of letting go. With the lyrics “Your name on my lips, tongue tied / free rent living in my mind,” this song begins similarly to others in Swift’s catalog. But, rather than criticizing the subject of the song, she discusses how she simply no longer thinks about them.

By letting go of conflict, her mind has been “peaceful and quiet.” By proudly claiming “It isn’t love. It isn’t hate. It’s just indifference,” Swift demonstrates that she is able to move past conflicts that have plagued her career in the past. She has often been criticized for not letting anything go, but “I Forgot That You Existed” clearly demonstrates that growing older has given her a new perspective.

2. “The Man

Similar to Beyoncé’s “If Were a Boy,” “The Man” ponders how the artist’s experience would be different if she were male. Many of the lyrics focus on the double standards placed on women and how different vocabulary is used to describe the same actions of men and women. The song also explores questions that many women face about their personal lives, competency and expectations that men rarely need to think about.

In the past, Swift has been criticized for her serial dating habits, causing many people to disrespect her. “The Man” compares this to the love lives of Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney, who are both famous for dating a long list of women. These men are not degraded for their personal choices and are often celebrated for their “conquests.” By pointing out this double standard, Swift creates a dialogue about how women are viewed differently than men in the media.

Swift also mentions the difference in vocabulary that is used to describe men and women in the music industry. Men who show off their wealth, possessions and lifestyle in their music are considered “ballers,” but women who act similarly are often viewed as “b—hes.”

For example, in Ariana Grande’s song “7 Rings,” the artist was criticized for her “baller” attitude when singing about money, cars and jewelry. Many male musicians have been doing this for years, but critics were quick to jump on Grande for promoting materialism. In “The Man,” Swift points out this and other double standards within the music industry.

3. “It’s Nice to Have a Friend

With simple guitar chords and haunting background vocals, this song certainly stands out on the album. The song begins with a simple description of young kids becoming friends at school. The simple acts of kindness highlighted in the first verse demonstrate the value of friendship in a young person’s life.

Each verse develops a vision of friendship for a new era. The second verse discusses the late-night party games and naughty antics of college kids.

Interestingly, the third verse describes a classic wedding scene. In a song about friendship, this might seem out of place.

Swift digs into the idea that, at its core, a marriage is a friendship. By shifting her discussion of relationships away from boys that don’t call back and toward considering the foundations of a solid marriage, it is clear that Swift has matured in her conceptualization of relationships.

4. “Soon You’ll Get Better”

In collaboration with the Dixie Chicks, “Soon You’ll Get Better” discusses the struggle of illness and caring for those who are sick. Dedicated to Swift’s mother, who battled cancer for several years, the song is exceedingly raw. With simple guitar chords and beautiful harmonies, it is truly a touching tune.

The song describes the struggles of those who are sick and looks at the challenges that caregivers face. Caregivers need to support the person who is sick with optimism and enthusiasm, while they themselves must cope with the possibility of losing a loved one. By asking both complex and simple questions, the song illustrates Swift’s amazing writing skills.

5. “Afterglow

Swift has often been criticized for blaming her past boyfriends for their relationship issues and playing the victim. “Lover” moves past many of these unfair generalizations. In “Afterglow,” Swift takes ownership of the problems that she has caused.

Proclaiming that “it’s all me” and that “I’m the one that burned us down,” Swift seems to have no issue taking responsibility. The lyrical content of the song shows a maturity about relationships that has not always been present in Swift’s music. As she has grown up, she has learned more about herself and her place in relationships.

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