Taylor Swift went live on Instagram last night to announce her seventh studio album, Lover, due on August 23.
The album will feature 18 tracks, more than any previous Swift album, and come in four different deluxe physical editions, all featuring “unique content”, including audio of “the full creation” of two songs from the record.
The deluxe editions will be available through Target in the US, and worldwide via Swift’s website. The album, which also comes in a standard CD edition, is available for pre-order (iTunes actually put the album up before the live video started) and pre-save now, although Swift quipped: “It’s not mandatory.”
With the album already available for pre-save on streaming services, it will debut there at the same time as it is available for sale. That represents a change in approach for the star, who has previously windowed her albums, including Reputation, on streaming services. Swift, however, has more fully embraced the format since then, and now has over 35 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
“It’s romantic in tone,” Swift said of the album, as “a huge number” of fans joined the livestream. “Not just thematically, like it’s all love songs. Because the idea of being romantic, it doesn’t have to be a happy song. You can find romance in loneliness or sadness or going through conflict or dealing with things in your life.”
Swift also revealed the album cover, shot by Valheria Rocha, and trailed a collaboration with designer Stella McCartney, based on Lover. But it’s the prospect of a new Swift album that will have the music industry salivating, as she stands alone, even amidst a landscape well-populated with returning pop giants. Her most recent four albums all sold over one million US copies in their first week on sale.
Her biggest-selling UK album, 1989, has sold 1,245,808 copies, according to the Official Charts Company, and she played stadiums here on her last, highly-acclaimed Reputation tour in 2018. The new record will be the first album release via her groundbreaking new deal with Republic Records in the US, while Virgin EMI remains her UK label partner.
Meanwhile, the second song from the record, You Need To Calm Down, dropped at 5am UK time. Written and produced by Swift and Joel Little, on first listen, it sounds more contemporary and electronic than – but every bit as catchy as – its showtune-influenced predecessor, Me!
Lyrically, YNTCD takes on trolls, haters and online media critics with pithy ripostes such as, “Say it in the street, that’s a knockout/But say it in a tweet, that’s a copout”; “Taking shots at me like it’s Patrón”; “Control your urges to scream about the people you hate/Cos shade never made anybody less gay” (Swift has recently been campaigning for the Equality Act, which would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination); and “I see you out there on the internet/Comparing all the girls who are killing it”.
In her livestream, Swift alluded to her fans’ love of Easter eggs and, as well as noting that the title of the new single was trailed in the video for Me!, Swift decoders will find plenty of other references to dig into in You Need To Calm Down (eg “Snakes and stones never broke my bones” throws back to the Reputation-era). But it’s the gigantic, megawatt chorus (“Can you just not step on my gown/You need to calm down”) that really signals Swift’s renewed determination to own the pop mainstream.
The video for You Need To Calm Down will premiere on Good Morning America on June 17, and then appear on YouTube, with Swift promising it will be "worth the wait".
Me!, featuring Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco, dropped in April and shattered a string of streaming records in its opening 24 hours. It went on to hit No.1 on the Global Spotify Chart and No.1 on iTunes in 85 countries, while Swift became the first ever international female artist to debut at No.1 on the UK Airplay Chart. Me! has become Swift’s one of biggest UK airplay smashes to date, and was still at No.2 last week. It has sold 237,762 UK copies so far, according to the Official Charts Company.