Your Information to the Many, Many References Taylor Swift Drops within the Lover Album


In the end, Lover is here. Taylor Swift’s seventh studio album — clocking in at a meaty 18 tracks, her longest album but — arrived Aug. 23 to fulfill her legion of followers and provides listeners loads to stew over as they parse via the insider references, Easter Eggs and lyrical twists that make the Swiftian universe a richly textured world of its personal.

Right here’s our rundown of the numerous, many references Swift drops, from mentioning her historical past as a tabloid goal to aligning herself as an LGBTQ+ ally to calling out bullies and trolls. However above every part, as Swift has regularly mentioned, the album “is very much a celebration of love, in all its complexity, coziness, and chaos.” Let’s dig into the Lover references.

1. “I Forgot That You Existed”

Drake and Taylor Swift attend the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards on the Barclays Middle on August 25, 2013 in New York Metropolis.
Andrew H. Walker—WireImage

Swift kicks issues off with a lightweight mission assertion of kinds: insisting that she’s moved on — whether or not it’s from an ex or a feud stays a thriller. She does, nevertheless, borrow a flip of phrase from rapper Drake when she sings that she was “In my feelings more than Drake, so yeah,” calling again to his hit music “In My Feelings.” “Got out some popcorn as soon as my rep started going down,” she additionally accuses an unnamed foe — a doable clapback at her critics. (She additionally wore a Drake pin on her jacket in her Leisure Weekly cover profile — a transfer that’s now clear.)

2. “Cruel Summer”

Swift’s summers was once all about her annual celebrity-studded Fourth of July party at her property in Rhode Island. However in “Cruel Summer” she suggests the season has taken a flip for her as she tries to hide a brand new love curiosity: “I don’t wanna keep secrets just to keep you.” (Some speculate that’s a line that may very well be drawn from experiences together with her present boyfriend, actor Joe Alwyn. One refrain lyric — “Devils roll the dice, angels roll their eyes” — might be acquainted to followers who saved a pointy eye in her music video for “Lover,” the place it appeared because the identify of a board sport, too. And she or he’s been sporting small cube insignia throughout her promotional tour on her garments. Plus, within the “You Need to Calm Down” video, Ellen DeGeneres acquired a “cruel summer” tattoo — foreshadowing the title.

3. “Lover”


Put out only a week earlier than the album launch as her third single, the title observe “Lover” is an acoustic, folksy tune that’s, sure, a love music. It additionally hides some vital references to her physique of labor and present self: on Reputation‘s “New Year’s Day,” she waxed poetic about an after-party scene. In “Lover,” she’s again to the home occasion, however this time it’s cozier. “We can leave the Christmas lights up til January,” she suggests, like she’s already making ready for the massive soiree to come back. “This is our place, we make the rules.” In her bridge, which takes the tone of a singsong marriage ceremony vow, Swift hides much more hints: “Swear to be overdramatic and true to my lover,” she says, a doable wink on the tabloid fodder of her previous which have turn into a part of her public profile. Then there’s the music video, which not solely takes place in a snow globe (a reference to a lyric from 1989) but additionally features a board sport referred to as “King of Hearts” (there’s a “King of My Heart” music on Fame), contains a portray of her new kitten and even has a New 12 months’s occasion scene.

4. “The Man”

Gareth Cattermole—Getty Pictures

In “The Man,” Swift makes an announcement about sexist double requirements round her decisions. “They’d say I played the field before I found someone to commit to, and that would be okay for me to do,” she sings — referring to the continuing protection of her public life across the individuals she’s chosen so far. (Because of her recognition, her supposed romantic pursuits have made headlines.) She additionally mentions individuals questioning “how much of this I deserve, what I was wearing, if I was rude” — all criticisms which have been leveled at her, however which don’t discover targets in male stars of comparable standing within the public eye as typically. “I’d be just like Leo in Saint Tropez,” she goes on within the lyrics. It’s arduous to think about that’s not an overt nod to Leonardo DiCaprio, who’s well-known for his luxe yacht events in Mediterranean locales. These completely different requirements are a topic she addressed directly in an interview with radio host Elvis Duran. “A man does something strategic. A woman does the same thing? Calculated. A man stands up for himself. A woman throws a tantrum,” she defined. “You can go on and on. A man is confident, a woman is smug… where we need to continue talking about gender equality as a whole subject is, it starts at perception.” This music looks like an open continuation of that dialog.

5. “The Archer”

“Track five is sort of a tradition,” Swift shared in an Instagram live stream earlier than releasing “The Archer.” “Instinctively I was kind of putting a very vulnerable, personal, honest emotional song as track five.” She additionally admitted to dropping hints alongside the best way: “There were cupids playing in the band in the ‘Me!’ video, there have been arrows pretty much everywhere… and the most obvious Easter egg, my friend Hayley was kind enough to unveil that,” she mentioned, describing the second within the “You Need to Calm Down” video the place fellow pop artist Hayley Kiyoko shoots an arrow right into a bull’s eye emblazoned with the quantity 5.

Then there’s the lyrics: followers of the numerous views on Swift’s public persona will know that when she sings “I’ve been the archer, and I’ve been the prey,” she’s most probably referencing the headlines through which she’s been a central determine in public feuds or associations with different celebrities, in addition to the ways in which she’s been capable of personal her narrative and preserve her dominance within the pop panorama. (As for Perry, Swift told the BBC recently that they’ve “been on really good terms for a while.”)


6. “I Think He Knows”

Country Music bars on Broadway in Nashville.
Nation Music bars on Broadway in Nashville.
John Greim—LightRocket through Getty Pictures

“I Think He Knows” is the love music you write within the first flush of a giant crush, that a lot is obvious. Hidden in plain sight are a number of vital references: one to a mysterious 16th Avenue, which is definitely a avenue in Nashville’s Music Row. (Swift retains a house in Nashville.) After which there are the “indigo eyes” of her love curiosity. (Some wasted no time earlier than speculating there’s an Alwyn connection who, for the document, has blue eyes.)

7. “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince”

Taylor Swift performs onstage during the 2019 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 1, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Taylor Swift performs onstage in the course of the 2019 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Backyard Enviornment on Could 1, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
John Shearer—Getty Pictures for dcp

All through her musical profession, Swift has performed on basic American highschool tropes — marching bands, soccer groups and cheerleaders, promenade queens. In “Miss Americana,” Swift appears to be achieved with the so-called cool children and able to transfer on to different pastures, calling herself the superlative “most likely to run away with you.” However first she’ll play some Easter egg video games together with her previous work. “You know I adore you, I’m crazier for you than I was at 16, lost in a film scene,” the music begins. That’s a reference to the music “Crazier” she carried out in 2009’s Hannah Montana: The Movie. Then there are the “homecoming queens, marching band playing” that evoke highschool (the marching band, specifically, has been a operating theme for Swift, who typically clothes up as a bandleader and included a marching band within the “Me!” music video). “Now I’m feeling hopeless, ripped up my prom dress, running through the rose thorns” retains up her play on phrases; Swift held a prom-themed occasion back in 2008 at which she was queen after her hit “Our Song” reached the highest chart spot. (Swift missed her personal highschool promenade throughout highschool.) And on “Blank Space” she sings about “Rose gardens filled with thorns.” There’s additionally one other point out of cube — this time, “the whole school is rolling fake dice.”

8. “Paper Rings”

So Swift actually, actually likes somebody — sufficient to forego the “shiny things” she likes for extra mundane “paper rings.” The music is a breathless, rock-tinged experience, nevertheless it sneaks in some callbacks to particular Swift moments: “I want to drive away with you,” she sings, recalling her songs like “Getaway Car.” “I want your dreary Mondays,” she provides, which appears like a follow-up to the “I want your midnights” of Fame‘s “New Year’s Day.”

9. “Cornelia Street”

“Cornelia Street” sounds candy and eccentric as a music title, nevertheless it’s really additionally an actual place: an iconic avenue in New York’s West Village the place she has a history. (There’s additionally a Cornelia Avenue in North London, though Swift hasn’t been noticed there.) This isn’t Swift’s first New York-centric music (“Welcome to New York,” anyone?) nevertheless it provides a brand new aspect to her connection to the town. “We were a fresh page… filling on the blanks as we go” looks like an replace on the lyrics of “Blank Space” (“I’ve got a blank space baby — I’ll write your name”), this time with an earnest romance within the tone. She’s additionally vocal about being an avid journal author, documenting her feelings in her diaries. And she or he’s talked about ingesting together with her lover earlier than; on 2017’s “Delicate” she requested them to make her a drink. Now they’re “drunk on something stronger than the drinks in the bar.” After which there are the Cornelia flowers she’s been utilizing to brighten promotional performances currently, which now are clear references to this music.

10. “Death by a Thousand Cuts”

One of many album’s unhappy songs, “Death by a Thousand Cuts” sees Swift in ache. “You said it was a great love, one for the ages / But if the story’s over, why am I still writing pages?” she sings. Pages and journals are a recurring motif throughout the album and currently for Swift, who has been handing out clean journals to followers at listening periods. “Paper cut stains from my paper-thin plans” may very well be taken some ways — in a single interpretation, possibly these paper rings from a number of songs in the past aren’t holding up so properly. And quite a lot of her different traces in “Death by a Thousand Cuts” name again to different songs and imagery from her oeuvre, from “Gave up on me like I was a bad drug” (see: “Don’t Blame Me”‘s “Lord save me, my drug is my baby”) to the boarded-up home windows of “Call It What You Want” which are reiterated right here.

11. “London Boy”

Presenters Taylor Swift and Idris Elba speak onstage during the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 06, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.
Presenters Taylor Swift and Idris Elba communicate onstage in the course of the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Resort on January 06, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.
Handout/NBCUniversal—Getty Pictures

In case you’re confused by this music opening up with the distinctive voice of Idris Elba, who’s talking about driving somebody round on his scooter, it helps to know that Elba is a costar of Swift on the upcoming movie adaptation of the musical Cats. And the voice clip is from an look Elba made on James Corden’s present (Corden is one other Cats actor). Past that, individuals on-line had been quick to note that Alwyn occurs to be British. As for the music’s content material: “London Boy” is principally a litany of British references — from “uni” (the U.Okay.’s time period for school) to “best mates” (finest pals) to locations like Camden Market, Highgate, the West Finish, Bond Avenue, Brixton, Hackney, the Heath and Soho (there’s one in London, too). Then there’s her shout-out to Stella McCartney, the British designer with whom she turned pals whereas in London and collaborated with on a brand new vogue assortment.

12. “Soon You’ll Get Better,” feat. the Dixie Chicks

Honoree Taylor Swift accepts the Milestone Award from Andrea Swift onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
Honoree Taylor Swift accepts the Milestone Award from Andrea Swift onstage in the course of the 50th Academy Of Nation Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
Cooper Neill—Getty Pictures

For her solely music that includes different artists on Lover, Swift tapped nation royalty the Dixie Chicks for a young lullaby of a tune. Their look was hinted at within the music video for “Me!” — that confirmed a framed photograph of the Dixie Chicks on the wall whereas she sang “There’s a lot of cool chicks out there.” However “Soon You’ll Get Better” is maybe the album’s most tender observe, through which Swift sounds near tears. Followers theorize the topic is her mother, Andrea, who has battled cancer. In an essay for Elle printed within the spring, Swift opened up about her household’s struggles with the illness: “Both of my parents have had cancer, and my mom is now fighting her battle with it again. It’s taught me that there are real problems and then there’s everything else. My mom’s cancer is a real problem,” she wrote then. Within the music, she echoes that sentiment: “This won’t go back to normal, if it ever was / It’s been years of hoping… soon you’ll get better,” she sings. Swift is thought to be near her mother, making the music particularly poignant.

13. “False God”

“False God” sees Swift at her most downtempo as she compares her relationship with a faith of its personal, raining metaphors down on her listeners. (“I know heaven’s a thing / I go there when you touch me, honey / Hell is when I fight with you / But we can patch it up good / Make confessions and we’re begging for forgiveness / Got the wine for you.”) She additionally flicks at a transatlantic relationship (“We were stupid to jump in the ocean separating us / Remember how I’d fly to you?”) and New York once more (“You’re the West Village/ You still do it for me, babe”). And there’s the road “I can’t talk to you when you’re like this,” which Swift mentioned in French within the opening for the “Me!” music video.

14. “You Need to Calm Down”


In “You Need to Calm Down,” Swift doubles down on her lyrical and visible references. The music video options every part from a cat face on a watch (she loves cats) to a cellphone case that spells out “Lover” to a again tattoo that reveals off a snake metamorphosing right into a cloud of butterflies (a nod to her evolution out of the Fame period and into the Lover one). There are star cameos from the likes of Laverne Cox, the lads of Queer Eye, Hayley Kiyoko (who seems as an archer and shoots a goal with the quantity 5 — which, as it could prove, is a nod to the fifth place observe place of “The Archer”), Ciara, Adam Rippon, Billy Porter and plenty of extra. There’s a protest march that Swift later explained is a reference to protesters who usually trouble her followers throughout reveals. There’s a drag queen pageant through which the women are dressed up as the numerous faces of pop in the present day (Woman Gaga, Cardi B, Beyoncé amongst them), alluding to the best way the media typically pits feminine stars towards one another. There’s Katy Perry herself as a hamburger (like she dressed as for this spring’s Met Gala after occasion) giving a hug to Swift, in a French fries costume — formally quashing their perceived feud. And there’s the lyrics themselves, that are rife with references to LGBTQ+ rights (“Why get made when you could get GLAAD?”) and brush off haters and trolls (“Don’t step on our gowns.”)

15. “Afterglow”

“Afterglow” is an apology music — “I don’t wanna do this to you… it’s all me, just don’t go, meet me in the afterglow.” It’s additionally crammed with Swift’s favourite metaphors, explicit the colour blue — which pops up usually all through the album — in addition to the lyric “Fighting with a true love is boxing with no gloves,” which conjures up reminiscences of her battle-ready “Bad Blood” part.

16. “ME!” that includes Brendon Urie

As her re-introduction following the Reputation period, “ME!” got here throughout as a pointedly vivid, optimistic subsequent step for Swift. She kicked issues off within the music video with a snake reworking right into a cloud of butterflies as an allusion to her personal evolution from one album (and persona) to the following. After which got here the delicate hints: extra cats (which she loves — sufficient that she’ll even be showing within the upcoming film adaptation of the musical Cats), a wall of work that includes literal chicks and the nation icons the Dixie Chicks (which foreshadowed their characteristic on the album), plenty of rainbows (nodding to her extra public standing as an ally), cinematic flicks at works just like the Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Mary Poppins, Singin’ within the Rain and Moulin Rouge!, her new kitten and a heart-shaped kaleidoscope (a reference to lyrics from her older music “Welcome to New York”). Lyrically, the music is a bit more indirect. However followers will know that her singing “I know that I went psycho on the phone” is a wink to a line from Fame‘s “Look What You Made Me Do” (“The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Because she’s dead!”), whereas the remainder of “ME!” is primarily an affirmation of self and a present of newfound confidence.

17. “It’s Nice to Have a Friend”

Gentle and plinking, “It’s Nice to Have a Friend” echoes considered one of Swift’s early songs — “Mary’s Song (Oh My My)” from her 2006 debut album, about childhood pals who develop as much as get married. That’s additionally the destiny of the protagonists in “It’s Nice to Have a Friend,” who go from “School bell rings, walk me home / Sidewalk chalk covered in snow” to “Church bells ring, carry me home / Rice on the ground looks like snow” within the house of some verses. There’s additionally a point out of the “pink sky, up on the roof” — pink being one other of the colours that Swift has tied this album to visually, and the roof being one other place she mentions throughout completely different songs.

18. “Daylight”

Swift finishes issues off on a vivid be aware. “I once believed love would be burning red,” she sings, “but it’s golden, like daylight.” That’s a direct throwback to her album Purple. Different lyrics on “Daylight” had been hinted at in her promotional supplies, just like the “love letters” she shared on Spotify that included the traces “Luck of the draw only draws the unlucky… I wounded the good and I trusted the wicked / Clearing the air, I breathed in the smoke.” In a live stream ahead of the album launch, Swift mentioned that the mission as an entire “felt aesthetically to me very daytime, very sunlit fields,” which turns into abundantly clear on “Daylight.”

Write to Raisa Bruner at


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