Taylor Swift’s new album, Lover, is proving to be both a smashing commercial and critical success. But some songs are better than others. To this end, The Los Angeles Times endeavored to rank all 18 tracks, and here are the five best and worst (click on the link for all 18):
- “Me!”: Nix Nix this excruciatingly childish marching-band jam from your customized Lover playlist and forget that one of pop’s smartest lyricists ever rhymed “I’m the only one of me” with “Baby, that’s the fun of me.”
- “London Boy”: Swift seems to be deflecting curiosity about her romance with Joe Alwyn by hauling out every jolly old cliché she can think of.
- “I Forgot That You Existed”: Like an unwelcome leftover from 2017’s revenge-minded Reputation, Lover’s opener goes back to the poisoned well that was (is?) Swift’s feud with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.
- “You Need to Calm Down”: Swift’s overweening attempt to present herself as an ally of LGBTQ folks—whose targeting by bigots this song likens to a superstar’s bad reviews—makes it easy to miss how skillfully she’s almost-rapping over producer Joel Little’s crisp electro-trap beat.
- “Daylight”: In keeping with tradition, Swift closes Lover with a slow, slightly bleary number about cleaning up the rubble behind her (if only to make room for more to come). This one’s plenty pretty, though the melody never quite lifts off in the way it seems to want to.
- “Cruel Summer”: Agony and ecstasy as only Swift at her best can render them. To make too big a deal of the fact that she co-wrote it with Annie Clark (a.k.a. St. Vincent) is to indulge the shallow notion that centrists have no edge. Still, the part of the bridge where Swift shrieks about the devil might be the punkest thing you’ll hear all year.
- “Soon You’ll Get Better”: Returning to her old country sound was probably inevitable. And doing it with her fellow Nashville apostates in the Dixie Chicks? Makes all kinds of sense. But music-business strategy has little to do with the power of this hymn-like ballad, which unsparingly addresses Swift’s mother’s extended battle with cancer.
- “Cornelia Street”: Of course, commitment can breed complacency. So here she worries from her place of stability what it would feel like if it all fell apart — and does so in language as vivid and specific as any in her songbook.
- “Lover”: For a songwriter universally regarded as being preoccupied with falling in (and out of) love, Swift has some beautiful things to say on this album about what it’s like to stay in love–especially on this warm and waltzy title track.
- “Paper Rings”: As peppy as “Me!” but incalculably smarter, “Paper Rings” retrofits the fairy-tale whimsy of Swift’s early work to account for the lived experience of a woman who will turn 30 in December. Grown-ups deserve happy endings too.