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Lover Era


By 2019, Taylor had been impossibly famous for nearly half of her lifetime. In the 2010s, she went from country superstar to pop titan. As the decade slowly came to a close she was one of the most accomplished musical acts of all time. But she didn’t rest. Instead, she started using her industry clout to fight for artists’ rights and foster the musical community she wished she had coming up.
Table of Contents

Getting Into A Light Place

The palm trees arrived in February 2019, seven in all, set against a pastel blue backdrop with superimposed stars. It appeared that a new Taylor era was upon the world. Or was it? It was only an Instagram photo, just one more picture in an infinite content scroll. But it also came from a pop star known for prodigious hint-dropping, whose fans turn every piece of info into an online archaeological dig. As expected, the summery post sent Swifties sifting through each detail with a fine-tooth comb. What did the trees symbolize? One Twitter user predicted that the number of stars in the background of the photo hinted at a single drop: “There’s about 60/61 [stars]️. There’s 61 days until April 26, FRIDAY, a SINGLE RELEASE day!” Another said it was the unofficial announcement of TS7: “Okay so in this picture there are 4 palm trees on the left (4 country albums). There are two palm trees on the right (2 pop albums). There is one large palm tree in the middle. This represents her new album.” These may sound like ludicrous conspiracy theories — for the record, they were mostly correct — but they fit firmly within the Taylor Swift Musical Universe. Taylor told EW:

«I posted that the day that I finished the seventh album. I couldn't expect [my fans] to know that. I figured they'd figure it out later, but a lot of their theories were actually correct. Those Easter eggs were just trying to establish that tone, which I foreshadowed ages ago in a Spotify vertical video for 'Delicate' by painting my nails those [pastel] colors.»

During the following weeks, Taylor had fans desperately trying to figure out what all her colorful clues meant. The dark color palette from her reputation era had morphed into Easter pastels. The theories kicked into high gear when she shared a picture of herself reclining on the sixth (visible) step of a staircase. One day later, it was Taylor’s face seen through the center of five fence slats (“There are five holes in the fence!”). With this theory in mind, day zero on the countdown clock would have been March 2. But instead of an album, Taylor ended up appearing on the covers of Elle UK and Elle US, contributing a thoughtful essay on “30 Things I Learned Before Turning 30.”

When a superbloom of wildflowers lured a mesmerizing deluge of Painted Lady butterflies to Los Angeles in mid March, Taylor marked it with an Instagram post, before she attended the iHeartRadio Music Awards that night in a sequin romper and stilettos with shimmery wings attached. When accepting the award for “Tour of the Year” for her “reputation Stadium Tour,” she concluded her speech with the following message to her fans: “I love your passion. I love your attention to detail. I love how much you care. I love seeing all the things you’re posting online, and I just wanted to let you know when there’s new music, you will be the first to know. I love you so much.”

Taylor continued that glittery, pastel aesthetic into late spring, with posts of pink-hued tulle, iridescent rings and a sparkling heart-shaped brooch. Then, on April 13, her promise of new music finally became a reality, as she turned her website into a countdown clock to April 26 and began increasing her social media posts captioned with the date “4.26.” It pretty much confirmed that this teasing would all eventually lead to new music. A mere hours before her 13-day countdown expired, fans flocked to see an art piece they assumed Taylor’s team commissioned from street artist Kelsey Montague. The crowd started screaming in disbelief, when Taylor herself actually showed up to the site shortly after its unveiling. “You guys are amazing for figuring this out because no one knew we were coming, no one knew this was a part of the campaign and what we’re doing,” she said. The image featured a pair of giant, colorful butterfly wings with the caption “ME!”. That same night, Taylor joined ABC’s Robin Roberts for a live television interview in a rainbow-colored sparkling dress, confirming the release of her new single “ME!” – a collaboration with Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco. It was released at midnight on April 26. In the music video for the (conspicuously) bubblegum song, a hissing pastel-pink snake explodes into a kaleidoscope of butterflies. The new era had begun.

Easter Eggs

April and May saw a deluge of Taylor activity, from the release of the new single to dropping more hints in interviews about the record and its title, which was “hidden” inside the “ME!” music video (the most popular fan guesses included the real title, Lover, as well as Kaleidoscope, Home and Daisy). During the promotional campaign for the album the Easter eggs were fun and seemingly everywhere, hinting at moments of Taylor’s past and present without her personally talking about them – at first.

In the wake of 2016, stung by the backlash, Taylor took a three-year break from interviews. The mantra of reputation and subsequent tour was “No explanations.” But her press blackout was a passing phase. With Lover, she could hardly have been more about the explanations. It was clear that she’d come back into a season of openness, and that she considered it her natural habitat. But she had also become better at being able to prioritize what’s important to her. In interviews, she first and foremost wanted to talk about the new music, of course, but she was also ready to explain the past three years of her life, in depth, for the first time. The conversations were often not light ones. “You feel like you’re being completely pulled into a riptide,” she told Rolling Stone when talking about 2016. “So what are you going to do? Splash a lot? Or hold your breath and hope you somehow resurface? And that’s what I did. And it took three years. Sitting here doing an interview — the fact that we’ve done an interview before is the only reason I’m not in a full body sweat.”

The Equality Act

Also in April, spurred by a raft of anti-LGBTQ bills in Tennessee, Taylor donated $113,000 to the Tennessee Equality Project, which advocates for LGBTQ rights. Meanwhile the album’s second single, “You Need To Calm Down” was released in the middle of Pride Month. Its music video provoked a Colorado pastor to call Taylor “a sinner in desperate need of a savior.” It also revived heated debate within LGBTQ communities about the politics of allyship and corporatization of Pride. Why get louder about LGBTQ rights now? It was the assault trial, and watching the rights of LGBTQ friends be eroded, that finally politicized her, Taylor told Variety and Vogue:

«Rights are being stripped from basically everyone who isn’t a straight white cisgender male. I didn’t realize until recently that I could advocate for a community that I’m not a part of. It’s hard to know how to do that without being so fearful of making a mistake that you just freeze. Because my mistakes are very loud. When I make a mistake, it echoes through the canyons of the world. It’s clickbait, and it’s a part of my life story, and it’s a part of my career arc.»

Taylor had further created her own petition in support of the Equality Act, a bill that had been passed by the House of Representatives, and was waiting to be brought for a vote in the Senate. She also also referenced the act in her new video, with an endcard asking her followers to support the legislation by signing her petition. It received over 800,000 signatures, more than doubling her initial 300,000 signature goal.

The Sale of Her Master Recordings

Taylor’s bright and carefree “attitude” of the era came to a sudden halt before Lover was even released. On June 28, 2019, she shared a picture of herself on Instagram wearing sunglasses and a blue floral dress, with a clear sky in the background. “Friday calmness,” she captioned the post. That weekend, she experienced one of the greatest betrayals of her life.

Scott Borchetta, the head of her former label, Big Machine Records, had sold the Big Machine Label Group and its master recordings to Scooter Braun, a manager-mogul, for a reported $300 million – including all masters of Taylor’s first six studio albums. Upon news of the sale, Taylor wrote in a Tumblr post that this was her “worst case scenario” since Braun had been incessantly “bullying” her throughout her career, together with multiple of his clients, first and foremost Kanye West, who had tried to bury her career multiple times. But the worst part, to Taylor, was the fact that Scott Borchetta had decided to sell to Scooter Braun out of all people. She told Rolling Stone:

«When you have a business relationship with someone for 15 years, there are going to be a lot of ups and a lot of downs. But I truly, legitimately thought he looked at me as the daughter he never had. And so even though we had a lot of really bad times and creative differences, I was going to hang my hat on the good stuff. I wanted to be friends with him. I thought I knew what betrayal felt like, but this stuff that happened with him was a redefinition of betrayal for me, just because it felt like it was family. To go from feeling like you’re being looked at as a daughter to this grotesque feeling of 'Oh, I was actually his prized calf that he was fattening up to sell to the slaughterhouse that would pay the most.' […] Here’s the thing: Everyone in my team knew if Scooter Braun brings us something, do not bring it to me. The fact that those two are in business together after the things he said about Scooter Braun — it’s really hard to shock me. And this was utterly shocking. These are two very rich, very powerful men, using $300 million of other people’s money to purchase, like, the most feminine body of work. And then they’re standing in a wood-panel bar doing a tacky photo shoot, raising a glass of scotch to themselves. Because they pulled one over on me and got this done so sneakily that I didn’t even see it coming. And I couldn’t say anything about it.»

But Taylor wouldn’t go down without a fight. In August, the same week Lover was released, she announced she would rerecord her first six albums the following year — starting in November 2020, as soon as she would be contractually able to — in order to regain control of her life’s work. “Thankfully, there’s power in writing your music,” she told Billboard. “Every week, we get a dozen synch requests to use ‘Shake It Off‘ in some advertisement or ‘Blank Space‘ in some movie trailer, and we say no to every single one of them. And the reason I’m rerecording my music next year is because I do want my music to live on. I do want it to be in movies, I do want it to be in commercials. But I only want that if I own it.”

Braun and Borchetta tried to silence her multiple times: In November 2019, they were blocking her from performing her past hits at the American Music Awards, and again forbid her from using them in her yet-to-be-announced Netflix documentary. But Taylor never waivered and instead started teasing that she was looking forward to rerecording: “It’s going to be fun, because it’ll feel like regaining a freedom and taking back what’s mine. When I created [these songs], I didn’t know what they would grow up to be. Going back in and knowing that it meant something to people is actually a really beautiful way to celebrate what the fans have done for my music.”
Lover by Taylor Swift (Republic Records, 2019)


Lover August 23, 2019 This article is about the album. For its title track, see Lover (song).Lover is Taylor’s seventh studio album. It was released on August 23, 2019, through Republic Records. It is her first album to be released under the label since her heavily publicised departure from Big Machine Records in November 2018.

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Lover Fest

Another way she planned to celebrate was her new tour, “Lover Fest.” But it wouldn’t be the same concept as with her previous touring activity. Whereas typically she’d spend nine months in the year after an album release on the road, this time around she wanted to play four stadium dates that would have featured a hand-picked lineup of artists in America and do a trip around the festival circuit in Europe in the summer of 2020. She shared:

«I wanted to be able to perform in places that I hadn’t performed in as much, and to do things I hadn’t done before, like Glastonbury. I feel like I haven’t done festivals, really, since early in my career — they’re fun and bring people together in a really cool way. But I also wanted to be able to work as much as I can handle right now, with everything that’s going on at home. And I wanted to figure out a way that I could do both those things. This is a year where I have to be there for my family — there’s a lot of question marks throughout the next year, so I wanted to make sure that I could go home.»

She was referencing her mother’s cancer diagnosis, the person she’s always been closest to. “Everyone loves their mom; everyone’s got an important mom. But for me, she’s really the guiding force. Almost every decision I make, I talk to her about it first.”

Originally, “Lover Fest” was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. On February 26, 2021, Taylor announced that “Lover Fest” had been canceled and will not be rescheduled. In a social media post she said, “This is an unprecedented pandemic that has changed everyone’s plans and no one knows what the touring landscape is going to look like in the near future. I’m so disappointed that I won’t be able to see you in person as soon as I wanted to. I miss you terribly and can’t wait til we can all safely be at shows together again.”

Fighting For Artists' Rights

Since the release of her first album in 2006, Taylor had grown from a country starlet to an all-conquering pop behemoth. She took up “more space” than any other musician on the planet: a sales and – having belatedly embraced the format with Lover – streaming phenomenon; a powerhouse stadium performer; an award-garlanded songwriter for herself and others; and a social media giant with a combined 278 million followers across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook (which would have made the Taylor Nation the fourth most populous one on earth, after China, India and the US at the time).

Some may have had forgotten Taylor’s influence and power during her more quiet years. But the battle over her masters once again proved that she was the single most important advocate for artists’ rights — everyone from Halsey to Elizabeth Warren rallied behind her cause. For a long time now, she had been unafraid to use her voice on industry matters, whether they pertained to her own stellar career or the thousands of other artists out there struggling to make a living. All of which made her not just the greatest star of the 2010s, but perhaps the most important to the future development of the industry as a more artist-centric, songwriter-friendly business:

«New artists and producers and writers need work, and they need to be likable and get booked in sessions, and they can’t make noise — but if I can, then I’m going to. I know that it seems like I’m very loud about this but it’s because someone has to be.»

This is where being impossibly famous can be a good thing. She expressed hope that she could help make the lives of creators a little easier in the years to come — and a belief that her behind-the-scenes strides would be as integral to her legacy as her biggest singles.
Taylor Swift for Lover (2019)
Taylor Swift for Lover (2019)

Artist of the Decade

As the American Music Awards crowned Taylor the “Artist of the Decade” and Billboard named her the “Woman of the Decade”, at one point she remarked what these awards signified to her: “It means I’ve seen a lot.” Accepting the award for the former, an emotional Taylor told the crowd that the previous twelve months had given her “some of the most amazing times” as well as “the hardest things I’ve gone through in my life”:

«This is an award that celebrates a decade of hard work and heart and fun and memories. All any of the artists or anyone in this room wants is to create something that will last, whatever it is in life. All that matters to me is the memories that I’ve had with you, the fans, over the years. Thank you for being the reason why I am on this stage. May it continue.»

At December’s Billboard Women in Music Awards in particular, she gave an altogether blistering speech, naming names and taking no prisoners, going after the men who now controlled her six-album Big Machine back catalog. One thing everyone who was in the room agreed on is that you could hear a pin drop as Taylor used the speech to get even bolder about the meat of these disputes. Wasn’t it intimidating for her, knowing she might be polarizing an auditorium full of the most powerful people in the business? “Well, I do sleep well at night knowing that I’m right. And knowing that in 10 years it will have been a good thing that I spoke about artists’ rights to their art.”

Miss Americana

On January 15, 2020, Taylor finally released the trailer for her Netflix-produced documentary, Taylor Swift: Miss Americana:

«I’m excited for you to see it. I want to thank Lana Wilson for her curiosity & for wanting to make this film. It’s wild to be sharing so much of my life because it’s scary to be vulnerable! (understatement of the century)»

The film got a prestige slot as the January 23 opening night gala premiere of the Sundance Film Festival before it reached the world as a day-and-date theatrical release and streaming monster on January 31. The documentary spends much of its opening act juxtaposing the joys of creation with the aggravations of global stardom — before taking a more provocative turn in its last reel to focus more tightly on how and why Taylor became politically outspoken. It’s the story of an earnest young woman with a self-described “good girl” fixation working through her last remaining fears of being shamed as she comes to embrace her claws, and her causes.
Taylor Swift performing on Good Morning America (2019)

Lover Fest

Lover Fest Cancelled | 2020 “Lover Fest” was Taylor’s planned sixth concert tour and first music festival tour, in support of her seventh studio album, Lover (2019). It was originally set to begin on April 5, 2020, in Atlanta and conclude in Foxborough on August 1 of the same year.

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An Era Cut Short

All in all, the way Taylor was willing to stand up for herself and others during the Lover era was inspiring to many. She finished the 2010s in a totally different realm from where she started. After having to stay silent for most of her career, she was now consistently using her platform and her art for good after finding her own voice. In December 2019 Taylor turned 30, marking the point at which more than half her life had been lived in public. She was intent on starting her new decade with a stronger self-preservationist streak, and a looser grip:

«You can’t micromanage life, it turns out.»

And she was right. The Lover era was unexpedetly cut short when the Covid-19 pandemic forced everyone to stay at home for the vast majority of 2020. A rumored single release for “Cruel Summer” was scrapped. “Lover Fest” was cancelled. The City of Lover concert and Lover (Live From Paris) album remained the only live recordings from the era that were officially released by Taylor’s team.

At first, Taylor was disappointed and sad that she had to let go of her plans for the rest of the era. But then she got to work. In the isolation of lockdown she found new, unprecedented inspiration, which would lead to her two most acclaimed projects so far.
General Information
Associated AlbumLover
Beginning of EraApril 2019
End of Era
Pastel colors
Pastel-colored menswear
Temporary hair dye
reputation Era (2017-2018)Lover Era (2019-2020)folklore & evermore Era (2020-2021)
Lover's Lounge
Lover Era

Lover (2019)

Lover Songs

Lover Fest

The Eras Tour

City of Lover Concert

Lover (Live From Paris)

Masters Controversy

Taylor's Discography

Taylor's Discography