As we approach a week since Taylor Swift’s seventh LP, Lover, graced our eardrums, it is time to begin dissecting her arguably most layered songs to date. Crown jewel of Lover, ‘Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince’, is a deeply metaphorical track, which she says, via her ‘Love, Taylor: Lover Enhanced Album’ playlist, is meant to convey “the disillusionment with our crazy world of politics and inequality, set in a metaphorical high school… I wanted it to be about finding one person who really sees you and cares about you through all of the noise”.
Prior to Lover, Swift strayed away from overt political opinions, and despite frequent support of Obama during his presidency, Swift kept her opinion to herself when it came to the Clinton vs Trump showdown of 2016. Swift explained why she felt the need to hold back in her recent Vogue interview, detailing how she pondered whether her endorsement of Clinton would be “a liability” due to the downfall of her own reputation at the hands of Kim Kardashian and her husband that same summer. Her desperation and frustration at her own inability to speak up is all over ‘Miss Americana’.
The tracks opening lines refer to politics in her own timeline, referencing her performance of the track ‘Crazier’ in 2009’s ‘Hannah Montana: The Movie’, singing “You know I adore you, I’m crazier for you/ Than I was at 16, lost in a film scene”. 2009 was also a year into the Obama administration’s first term, which Swift told the Guardian clouded her self-awareness in the political climate: ““The things that happen to you in your life are what develop your political opinions. I was living in this Obama eight-year paradise of, you go, you cast your vote, the person you vote for wins, everyone’s happy!” she says. “This whole thing, the last three, four years, it completely blindsided a lot of us, me included”.
Fast forward to 2016, and Swift is “feeling hopeless” as she likely ponders her ability to not hurt Clinton’s campaign. She mentions seeing “the scoreboard” running “for her life”, likely talking about Clinton, losing the election despite winning the popular vote.
As she builds towards the chorus, Swift makes reference to her own reputation at the time, saying “no cameras catch my pageant smile”, alluding her not being caught on camera for almost six months following her downfall. The chorus brings further reference to the incident, as “They whisper in the hallway, ‘She’s a bad, bad girl’”. The summer 2016 election was also the summer during which Swift began dating actor Joe Alwyn, which allows her to fit the concept of love nicely into the politics of ‘Miss Americana’, as she does here, saying he loved her despite her reputation. The line “We’re so sad, we paint the town blue” has a layered meaning for Swift, acting on both a personal and political level. The use of both emotion and colour alludes to Swift’s tendency to use colour psychology in her lyrics, while the use of blue indicates Swift’s democratic leaning.
In the second verse, Swift delves into a post 2016 election world, where her “team is losing”, perhaps referencing the Trump administration’s various attacks on the rights of minorities across the country. Swift makes another few digs at Trump, saying “American stories/ burning before me” suggesting Trump’s continued attacks on immigrants, who he often deems not American. She also references Trump’s infamous Locker-room talk scandal, using the classic phrase “boys will be boys” and turning it on it’s head to ponder “where are the wise men”.
The second pre-chorus shows a turn in hope, as Swift alludes to growing frustrations as her “muffled cries”, while introducing the promise of hope that “the storm is coming”. This change in perspective is continued as she again plays on a classic phrase, this time the cheerleader chant “GO! FIGHT! WIN!”. On the bridge, she captures the helplessness of losing the election brought about as she repeats “And I don’t want you to GO!/ I don’t really wanna FIGHT!/’Cause nobody’s gonna WIN!”, before turning it around with renewed hope and determination to keep fighting for what she believes in as she chants “And I’ll never let you GO!/ ’cause I know this is a FIGHT!/That someday we’re gonna WIN!”.
On ‘Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince’, Swift goes full metaphor to wonderful results, and while it may appear like merely another high school-based love song for Swift, her fans know it is so much more than that. Instead, it is confirmation. Confirmation that she is liberal, she accepts them for whatever they may be, and that she is going to fight for them until she wins.
Check out our full review of Taylor Swift’s Lover here!