Every Song Ranked on Taylor Swift’s ‘Lover’: Critic’s Picks

First thing’s first: Taylor Swift’s seventh studio album, Lover, is 18 tracks long, and none of the tracks are bad. It’s a testament not only to Swift’s skill as a songwriter and curator of different sonic approaches, but of the album’s ability to avoid huge missteps, or even slow stretches.

Upon its release, Swift fans have been exploring the long-awaited new full-length and deciding on which songs are their favorites. We offer our own humble opinion in this practice.

Here are all the songs on Taylor Swift’s Lover, ranked.

18. London Boy

There are plenty of heavy moments on Lover, but "London Boy" bursts with cheeky joy, an homage to a transatlantic romance with a Idris Elba/James Corden snippet at the top and lines like “You can find me in the pub, we are watching rugby” to prove Swift’s U.K. bona fides. “London Boy” is knowingly silly, and while it never quite pulls off its premise, it’s also entertaining enough as an indulgence on the track list.

17. ME!, feat. Brendon Urie

With or without the “Spelling is fun!” line, the lead single of Lover now sounds fairly removed from the album’s general tone, especially considering how prominently Panic! at the Disco’s Brendon Urie is featured as a duet partner. Toss on “ME!” when you need a blast of kid-friendly euphoria.

16. Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince

With cheerleader chants punctuating her despair, Swift grasps at straws and a fractured U.S. reality: “American glory, faded before me, now I’m feeling hopeless, ripped up my prom dress,” she sings as the percussion lurches forward ominously. “Miss Americana” and its political subtext makes for the album’s most ambitious moment, and while the result isn’t quite pristine, it’s a fascinating pose for Swift to try and hit.

15. I Think He Knows

“I Think He Knows” finds Swift reaching into her bag of tricks and grabbing everything that will result in giddy fun, from pre-chorus rapping to sexual overtones to a falsetto-driven chorus to whiffs of funkiness. “Hand on my thigh/ We could follow the sparks, I’ll drive,” she declares with an alluring wink, pulling off the song’s primary objective.

14. I Forgot That You Existed

Feeling “in my feelings more than Drake” on the album opener, Swift spends the intro track shrugging off -- and literally giggling at -- her haters. The minimal, elastic production reinforces the playful mood and allows Swift’s personality to shine through.

13. Afterglow

“Why’d I have to break what I love so much,” Swift laments, as the drums widen and “Afterglow” barrels toward an epic chorus that echoes the most shimmering moments of 1989. Swift’s vocal take conveys an urgency that juxtaposes the sumptuous production, on a song that doesn’t bloom at first but arrests the listener after a few listens.

12. The Man

This biting look at gender dynamics within both the pop industry and celebrity-driven culture scores points for its wry humor and honest perspective; it’s also just a complete jam, with Joel Little co-writing another song with a rumbling beat and crackling synths. “The Man” will draw attention for its searing subject matter, but it’s also one of Lover’s most complete productions.

11. Paper Rings

Antonoff’s fingerprints are all over tambourine-shaker, which kicks off with the line “The moon is high, like your friends were the night that we first met” and races through a happy-go-lucky bubblegum vibe from there. With an electric guitar snaking through and a showy hook, “Paper Rings” is going to be an absolute blast on Swift’s next tour.

10. The Archer

“I’ve been the archer, I’ve been the prey,” Swift sings, referencing romantic ordeals but also nodding to the times in her public life that she’s been the target of derision, and other times where she’s had to strike back. Distant and melancholy, “The Archer” sounds even more effective in the context of the full-length.

9. Death by a Thousand Cuts

Swift sounds defeated as voices echo, bits of production whir around her and she shrugs during this aching breakup song “I get drunk, but it’s not enough.” Standard post-relationship fare for Swift, although there is a notable level of maturity -- even jadedness -- injected into lines like, “My heart, my hips, my body, my love/ Trying to find a part of me that you didn’t touch.”

8. Cornelia Street

Projecting a tiny moment of compassion onto a wide screen, Swift creates a classic story-song and allows her vulnerabilities to breathe. “Cornelia Street” peaks when the production drops out and the song morphs into a momentary piano ballad, creating one of the album’s most powerful moments.

7. You Need to Calm Down

Can we collectively admit that “You Need To Calm Down” is a knockout Taylor Swift single? Although some of the pro-LGBTQ lyrics feel like overreaching, the intent is pure and the words are meaningful; meanwhile, the hook packs a wallop, and the song title has already entered the cultural lexicon.

6. Soon You’ll Get Better, feat. Dixie Chicks

Intimate and blindingly sorrowful, “Soon You’ll Get Better” meditates on sickness by describing the shards of reality around it, from the harsh light of a doctor’s office to the feelings of selfishness that inevitably come with prolonged grief. The Dixie Chicks help with harmonies in a nifty bit of country-pop synergy, but this song is so personal it almost feels like eavesdropping to listen to it.

5. Lover

The title track is true to its name, all wide-eyed romance in a bewitching waltz buoyed by guitar strums. As a pre-release track, “Lover” is significantly different than singles like “ME!” and “You Need to Calm Down,” but its attention to detail and confidently expressed emotion recalls some of the early highlights of Swift’s career.

4. It’s Nice to Have a Friend

Distant harmonies, steel drums, vocals from the Regent Park School of Music and a story of the way simple gestures and schoolyard infatuations can morph into everlasting bonds mark one of the most original songs in Swift’s entire catalog. Short and sweet, “It’s Nice to Have a Friend” could potentially unlock new avenues for Swift as a songwriter moving forward; for now, it’s a poignant reminder of what she can accomplish as a writer.

3. False God

A Taylor Swift slow jam? Yes, please. This sultry faux-R&B track features saxophone blasts, pinpoint lyrical passages and an absolutely killer beat drop near the midway point. “False God” feels like both new territory for Swift and a major mood; keep this on repeat, because it’ll go down smooth every time.

2. Cruel Summer

With Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, providing a co-write and some guitar work, this standout is constructed around a massive, dreamy chorus that Swift handles expertly. “I’m drunk in the back of the car, and I cried like a baby coming home from the bar,” she declares on a provocative bridge that recalls “Out of the Woods,” another Jack Antonoff co-production.

1. Daylight

A grand finale that encapsulates much of what precedes it, “Daylight” is overpowering as a self-referential coda (“I once believed love would be burning red/ But it’s golden, like daylight,” she sings) and an exaltation to the healing power of love. Although there are strands of “Daylight” throughout Lover, this is one of the most successful instances of Swift’s maximalist pop sound to date.


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