I need to make a confession here. I kind of love Taylor Swift’s music, speak-to-a-managerness of her public persona aside. Reputation notwithstanding, nearly all of her songs are fun, light, frothy, and dare I say, catchy. So if you’ve come to this post looking for some good old fashioned Tay Tay bashing, you’re in the wrong place, reader. I’m kind of a fan.
That said, being a fan doesn’t mean that her music shouldn’t be held to more academic discourse, primarily: What old gods, among other things, is she summoning with her music, now? (You’ll recall that if you played “Shake it Off” at the right frequency it would bring about a plague of locusts that would blanket the area for seven days, and then vanish. 2014 was a simpler time.)
Yes, in case you didn’t know, Taylor Swift’s music is packed with mystical subtext, and of course, being someone who both enjoys researching trans-dimensional creatures and listening to Taylor Swift’s music, it seems like I’m the only one really up for the task to unpack some of the hidden messages in her new album, Lover. Not all of them, mind you, because there are 18 songs on the album and who has time for that?! I’ve skipped “London Boy” because Petr already released his thoughts on it, as a literal London resident, so check it out. Although be warned, he did not get into all the buried bodies that the London Tube was built around, which the song may also be about. If you’re looking for a more in-depth dive there, you’ll have to do it yourself.
So strap in, burn some sage, and let’s get to it. (Note: if you hear a knocking coming from the closet while you’re reading this don’t be too alarmed. That’s just Balagarok coming through because you’ve inadvertently summoned him via the portal in your closet, as all closets are actually portals. He’s relatively harmless as long as you’re not a 13th-century sheep farmer. If you are a 13th-century sheep farmer? Well, friend. Run.)
“I Forgot That You Existed”
I don’t even need to get into the lyrics to tell you what this is about—clearly, this song is about a summoning spell gone awry. Rather than summon the person/entity in question, it ended up erasing them from the human record. I imagine she most likely pulled this spell from an ancient codex one night before she was supposed to go on stage, and the rushed nature of the whole thing. Wanting to cover her tracks, she made it seem like this was probably a song about Kanye West and that whole music video recording/her giving consent thing, but we know the truth, don’t we?
I mean, it’s right there in the title. Who do you think “The Man” is, here?!?!
I believe this song to be entirely about what life would be like for Swift if she were the Ruler of the Bottomless Pit. It’s all in the lyrics:
Every conquest I had made
Would make me more of a boss to you
I’d be a fearless leader
I’d be an alpha type
When everyone believes you
What’s that like?
What else could this song be about?!
I mean, this one is so obvious I was questioning whether to include it here, but I figure why not.
Who is The Archer, in Greek mythology?!
Sagittarius, who is also a centaur.
Clearly, this song is about fighting a centaur and having the fight come to a draw. As we all know, centaurs are a very popular subject in pop music, so I suppose it was time for Taylor to have a song in the genre, too.
I mean, this should be clear to you too, if you’ve watched as much true crime TV as I have over the past 20 years.
The lyrics are supposedly about a relationship that, if the couple were to break up, the singer could never revisit the place that they were so happy in, again.
I never want Cornelia Street again
Which, fine, on the surface that might be what she wants you to think it’s about—but really, you need to dig deeper, literally.
I believe that there’s buried treasure at Cornelia Street. I also believe that Taylor Swift believed that too—and she spent years searching for it. Digging it up, only to never find anything. Cornelia Street is Taylor Swift’s Oak Island. Thus, she never wants it again, because it represents what she could never have: the pirate Anklebuck’s gold doubloons that are supposedly buried there.
“Death By a Thousand Cuts”
Look, there’s hidden meaning here, too, but more importantly, this is probably my favorite song off the album.
Also, this is probably the sister song to “The Man” as her preferred method of torture in the underworld. Just saying.
Obviously, this is a song about the end of the world, written from the perspective of the ancient one that will gleefully wipe out all of existence.
I’m the only one of me
Baby, that’s the fun of me
You’re the only one of you
Baby, that’s the fun of you
And I promise that nobody’s gonna love you like me-e-e
See? This creature loves this world so much that the only way they can express that love is to destroy us all. It’s laid out, explicitly, in the chorus. Start making your plans, friends, because it’s coming for us. Soon.
If you think some of the hidden messages in “Lover” are a bit doom and gloom, don’t despair—Swift leaves us with a message of hope in “Daylight.”
You gotta step into the daylight and let it go
Just let it go
Let it go
This is a message on how to fight some of the dark themes that pervade “Lover.” You can tell that Swift, like me, has studied the things that go bump in the night and believes that light is the only way to combat the darkness. Perhaps she understands better than all of us that the 2001 classic movie Pitch Black wasn’t a fun, sci-fi romp with Vin Diesel but a literal warning of what’s coming for us that she outlined on “Me!” previously in the album.
Swift, never one to shy away from the truth in her music, took that message to heart and opted to end “Lover” with its truth, so that we all may fight the alien creatures/ancient evil that intend to one day take over the world.
Header Image Source: Getty