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London Boy

Lover (2019)

“London Boy” is track eleven on Taylor’s seventh studio album, Lover (2019). It is an ode to her boyfriend at the time, Joe Alwyn.  The song incorporates a voice sample of Idris Elba and James Corden.
Table of Contents

Background and Production

Taylor released Lover on August 23, 2019. Describing the album as a “love letter to love itself”, it explores the “full spectrum of love”, inspired by the connections she felt with her fans during her “reputation Stadium Tour” (2018). The track list of Lover consists of 18 songs. “London Boy” was written and produced by Taylor, Jack Antonoff, and Sounwave, with additional writing credit from R&B musician Cautious Clay.

Clay was contacted by Taylor’s team in June 2019, prior to Lover‘s release, when he was on tour in Bergen, Norway. Taylor wanted to interpolate the rhythm of Clay’s 2018 song “Cold War” into “London Boy”, which Clay happily accepted. This makes him only the second artist ever to be interpolated on one of Taylor’s songs (after Right Said Fred on “Look What You Made Me Do”). He told Rolling Stone: “I don’t know anything about her, really, so, to me, that she would feel it was appropriate to include that interpolation is just pretty surreal.”

Lyrical Theme

An upbeat song with reggae influences, “London Boy” is about Taylor’s infatuation with her new boyfriend from London, inspired by her experiences in the city. Having mostly escaped the public eye during her relationship with Joe Alwyn, she finally shared some of the most memorable experiences she’d enjoyed. She told fans at the iHeartRadioLover Secret Session“:

«With this song, I wrote about what it was like to say, ‘Bye guys, I’m gonna be here [in London] for a long time.’ There’s a voice that you’ll hear in the beginning of [the song] and it’s Idris Elba’s talking about London. In the bridge, there’s a name check of Stella McCartney. I went over to her place, played her the song and she was like, ‘Oh my God, let’s do something!’ And I was like, ‘Okay!’ And that’s why we have a merch collaboration.»

The lyrics name-check a range of locations and cultural icons associated with England’s capital city from the perspective of a woman from Tennessee (USA).

Live Performances

Taylor sang “London Boy” a couple of times during the promotion run for Lover in 2019. She first performed it stripped down during her set at the BBC Radio 1 “Live Lounge” in London, and a second time at Capital‘s “Jingle Bell Ball” on December 8.

Critical Reception

“London Boy” is one of the most divisive tracks of Lover, particularly for its stereotypical portrayal of English culture and the city of London. Sarah Carson from i lauded the catchy production of “London Boy”, but dismissed the lyrics as one of the album’s “concessions to silliness and gimmicks”. In a review for Slate, Carl Wilson thought that the London references were annoying and ineffective. Shon Faye from Dazed similarly expressed distaste towards the lyrics, but noted that it was justifiable for Taylor, an American, to have a “wide-eyed naivety” embraced by first-timers in London. On a positive side, Keira Leonard of The Music complimented the track’s lighthearted and rather silly nature. Nick Levine from NME agreed, and opined that the song is not to be taken seriously for its “silly fun” sentiments.

Commercial Performance

Upon the release of Lover, during the week ending September 7, 2019, “London Boy” peaked at No. 62 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Lyrics

[Spoken Intro]
Idris Elba: “We can go driving in, on my scooter, ah, you know, just round London”
James Corden: “Oh”

[Verse 1]
I love my hometown
As much as Motown
I love SoCal
And you know I love Springsteen
Faded blue jeans
Tennessee whiskey
But something happened
I heard him laughing
I saw the dimples first and then I heard the accent
They say home is where the heart is
But that’s not where mine lives

[Chorus 1]
You know I love a London boy
I enjoy walking Camden Market in the afternoon
He likes my American smile
Like a child when our eyes meet
Darling, I fancy you
Took me back to Highgate
Met all of his best mates
So I guess
All the rumors are true
You know I love a London boy
Boy, I fancy you

[Verse 2]
And now I love high tea
Stories from uni and the West End
You can find me in the pub, we
Are watchin’ rugby
With his school friends
Show me a gray sky
A rainy cab ride
Babes, don’t threaten me with a good time
They say home is where the heart is
But God, I love the English…

[Chorus 2]
You know I love a London boy
I enjoy nights in Brixton, Shoreditch in the afternoon
He likes my American smile
Like a child when our eyes meet
Darling, I fancy you
Took me back to Highgate
Met all of his best mates
So I guess
All the rumors are true
You know I love a London boy
Boy, I fancy you

[Bridge]
So please show me Hackney
Doesn’t have to be Louis V
Up on Bond Street
Just wanna be with you, wanna be with you
Stick with me, I’m your queen
Like a Tennessee Stella McCartney
On the Heath
Just wanna be with you, wanna be with you, wanna be with you

[Chorus 3]
You know I love a London boy
I enjoy walking SoHo, drinking in the afternoon (Yeah)
He likes my American smile
Like a child when our eyes meet
Darling, I fancy you (You)
Took me back to Highgate
Met all of his best mates
So I guess
All the rumors are true (Yeah)
You know I love a London boy
Boy, I fancy you (I fancy you)

[Outro]
So please show me Hackney
Doesn’t have to be Louis V
Up on Bond Street
Just wanna be with you, wanna be with you (I, I fancy you)
Stick with me, I’m your queen
Like a Tennessee Stella McCartney
On the Heath
Just wanna be with you, wanna be with you, wanna be with you
I fancy you (Yeah)
I fancy you (Ooh)

General Information
ArtistTaylor Swift
AlbumLover
ReleasedAugust 23, 2019
Written2018-2019
StudiosMetropolis (London)
Electric Lady (New York City)
Conway (Los Angeles)
Length3:10
LabelRepublic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Jack Antonoff
Sounwave
Cautious Clay
ProducersJack Antonoff
Taylor Swift
LOVER CHRONOLOGY
Death By A Thousand CutsLondon BoySoon You’ll Get Better
Single Certification
RIAA Gold Status
Live Performance
Official Audio