I already briefly mentioned it once, but here's what happened since then:
* I spontaneously became a fan of Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince for delightful reasons that will have to wait for the Music List reveal.
* I've had the CD checked out from the library since March, intending to fall in love with it at some point on my evening commute this year -- driving being my preferred way to meet a hotly anticipated album -- but then I lost my evening commute and wasn't doing much other driving, either.
* Fortunately, that changed come early June, when I finally started feeling okay about driving 15-20 minutes to pretty places to walk, and here we are. I tentatively started testing it out a week ago.
* Side note: I have so far not opened the booklet or investigated any of the lyrics beyond the brief snatches my ears can pick out. It's possible I will cleave to some of them harder if they turn out to tell beautiful stories or something.
1. I Forgot That You Existed: pretty catchy! Not as much as Welcome To New York, but enough to get me paying attention. When I first started testing the waters, I didn't play this CD straight through -- I tried to acclimate myself to the tracks that grabbed me best, one by one, so that I wouldn't hit any snags -- and this one immediately made the cut after 14 and 7.
2. Cruel Summer: "Devils roll the dice, angels roll their eyes" caught my ear as soon as I heard it -- I now remember seeing that couplet written out somewhere -- and I decided I like the on/off beat pattern to that part of the chorus, while the song itself conveys the feeling of summer well. When I let this one in after the above, that was the first time I really felt the old magic of listening to a new Taylor Swift album come back.
3. Lover: I skirted this at first because I don't care for this word, and the song is still kind of dull and lazy-sounding to me, even though I like its opening lyrics. (We can leave the Christmas lights up 'til January / this is our place, we make the call)
4. The Man: I didn't want to like this, but damn is it catchy. Have to say it's a fave.
5. The Archer: Back in 2019, when I was debating letting myself love one more song early, I sampled clips of a few tracks and mostly forgot about them, but for some reason I just really liked the look of this one and decided it was gonna be one of my favorites. I think it's down to 2 favorite lyrics: Who could ever leave me, darling / But who could stay?, which feels like the most tragically on-point lyric about her ever, and "all of my heroes die all alone," which is also sad/beautiful/tragic, in a different way.
6. I Think He Knows: I have so far mainly skipped over this one and its uninspiring/unmemorable title in my impatience to bounce from one favorite straight to the next. The finger-snapping currently annoys me, too.
update: however, this one has randomly improved enough to listen to. It gets catchy when it gets to the chorus. Skippin' down 16th Avenue!
7. Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince: CURRENT CHAMPION OF MY HEART. I am so excited to tell you the stupid reason, because without it I probably would not be impressed by this track, but because of it I don't really think of Taylor as the "bad bad girl" in the song, and so I love everything about this from music to lyrics.
8. Paper Rings: Tragically, I saw that title months ago and my brain has rudely associated it with Ariana Grande's 7 Rings ever since. :( Would love to judge it on its own merit! But I'm not there yet. From what I've sampled it's SO cute and bouncy but I just can't.
update: I finally realized what it reminds me of -- Stay Stay Stay. And much like that one, it sounds almost like it belongs on an earlier album. Not in a bad way, it just throws me a off a bit when most of this album has a dreamier sound.
9. Cornelia Street: This title is just so beautiful -- especially since Buzzfeed did an article on the title location that Taylor rented and oh my god it is ALSO gorgeous -- that I'm not ready. Skipped for now.
second update: I love it more with every single listen.
10. Death By A Thousand Cuts: My brain: Paper Rings: The Sequel?? But if and when I get past that, my brain really likes this understatedly (I'm making it a word) catchy beat and the fact that the title is preceded by "saying goodbye is," which is decent imagery.
11. London Boy: My brain just keeps saying "American Boy" (the Kanye West/Estelle song) and won't let it in yet.
update: I have forced one full listen. This is kinda catchy. I can see myself not skipping this track once I get into the CD. However, it also doesn't compel multiple listens on its own.
12. Soon You'll Get Better: I wasn't immediately grabbed by this lullaby, but then I looked at the CD and saw "FEATURING DIXIE CHICKS" and now I am all for it. Still not my favorite, but good for a slow song. Feels like a throwback to her earlier work.
[edit: oh, this is about her mom, isn't it? K. Just looked up the lyrics and at some point I'm 100% gonna cry over this one. Possibly by the time I finish writing this sentence.]
13. False God: IDK, my brain keeps associating this phrase with Halsey every time I get to it, and that's not sitting right with me.
update: ugh, is that jazz saxophone? Even subdued, my ears say not today.
14. You Need to Calm Down: as we know, this is the only one I let in the door last year, however accidentally. Still love its super-bounciness, still sing along with it, even if it feels more over the top and commercial than the rest of the album.
15. Afterglow: It's nice, but so far hasn't totally grabbed me. I think I'll enjoy it as part of the set, though. It might be a sleeper hit; it has that feeling, even if I currently can't tell it apart from Daylight.
16. ME!: Turns out this is very very catchy and it almost gets me every time, but then I hear That Jackass voice and combined with the trumpets (WHEN HAVE TRUMPETS EVER BEEN FEATURED IN A TAYLOR WORK*), it's instantly intolerable. I hope that one day it will not be, because honestly 95% of my rage is just that "Urie" is the ugliest, most terrible last name a person could have (it's one step away from urine and urea!) and I can't forget that's who this is. His voice isn't terrible, it's just not remarkable, either. And I have heard it way the hell too much on the radio thanks to High Hopes.
*genuine question. maybe they have been! maybe I loved them! but the visceral NO I had to their sound makes me feel like this is new and unwelcome
update: slowly if grudgingly coming around. I think I can manage to avoid hitting "skip to next track" in the car, at least.
17. It's Nice To Have A Friend: sorry, I can't hear this over the sound of me gagging on its title's cloying babyishness. And yes, I have Demi Lovato's cheesy, actually-made-for-children "The Gift of a Friend" in my library, but something about this title on top of the fact that # 16 previously contained the actual lyric "hey kids, spelling is fun!" like she in any way deserves to still have fans who are kids after that last album just really pisses me off. I want it to be a good song, but I'm not there yet.
update: oh my god, now that I have forced one (1) listen, this is a such a pretty song, with the high pitched vocals, and the whatever this unusual string-plucky instrumentation is...it sounds like a song from a recent Vanessa Carlton album got lost and ended up here. (is there any higher praise from me
(THE STYLE WHIPLASH THO between the song above and this one...)
18. Daylight: A lovely closer. I like the echoing repetition on the chorus.
(side note: I just ran across a comment that this is what Taylor was going to call the album, until she wrote track 3, and now I am EXTRA MAD because as much as I hate the word "lover," the word "daylight" is actually one of my favorite words in the English language and would have been such an apt metaphor for coming out of the darkness. I want to live in a world where this album has a better title and doesn't have that snoozefest of a song.)
In conclusion: oh my god, turns out I want this so bad that I don't know if I can wait to find it secondhand and cheap, or even secondhand. I want to order a shiny brand new copy (with diary entries!) this summer and unwrap it with breathless joy like back in the olden days. I might buy it from Half Price Books during Coupon Week next month if I see it, and if I don't, I can't be held responsible for my actions. My brother technically owes me a birthday present.