Taylor Swift fans have had a very faith-based relationship with the new material she’s rolled out in advance of her new album — having faith that the album would really be as intimate and personal as promised, after the mindful froth-pop of the first two singles, “Me!” and “You Need to Calm Down.”
That faith was rewarded Tuesday as Swift released a third song from the upcoming “Lover.” “It’s not the next single, it’s just a song I love on the album,” she said in an Instagram Live video chat. “I know that can be confusing with the songs that come out. I haven’t made a video for it or anything. It’s just a glimpse into another side of the album I wanted to show you” — the turning “Red” side.
Although the track takes on a more strictly electronic tone than anything on the fan-fave “Red” album, the confessional tone of the lyrics will be familiar to anyone who loved tracks like “All Too Well” (which Swift made a perhaps intentional point of mentioning twice in her Instagram Live video). The happy reaction to the tune’s more balladic tone was immediate: “This is the Taylor we fell in love with. Lyrics. First. Always,” said one top comment underneath the YouTube premiere of a lyric video.
It is, in fact, the new album’s fabled Track 5. “There’s a lot that’s covered, emotionally,” she said about the coming release. “And I really wanted to give you track 5 before album came out. Track 5 is kind of a tradition that really started with you guys, because I didn’t realize I was doing this, because as I was making albums, I don’t know why, but instinctively, I was putting a very emotional, honest track as track 5,” she said, pointing to a succession of songs that includes “White Horse,” “Dear John,” “All Too Well,” “All You Had to Do Was Stay” and, from her last album, “Delicate.” At some point it became deliberate, Swift said. “Because you noticed this, I kind of started to put the songs that were really honest, vulnerable and personal as track 5. That has definitely happened in the case of track 5 on ‘Lover.'”
She pointed out that it’s one of the tracks on which she collaborated with Jack Antonoff, and added, “It will be out imminently. I think it might even be out now, if not in the next three minutes or something. You don’t have to wait till midnight or anything.” She acknowledged some of the Easter eggs that led up to the release, like cupids playing in a band during the “Me!” video, her friend Haley shooting an arrow into a bullseye that said 5 in the more recent “Calm Down” clip, and “arrows pretty much everywhere.”
The lyrics reflect a suspicious state of mind in a seemingly happy relationship where old fears arise easily: “Combat, I’m ready for combat / I say I don’t want that, but what if I do? / ‘Cause cruelty wins in the movies… / Dark side, I search for your dark side / But what if I’m alright, right, right, right here? … / All of my heroes die all alone / Help me hold on to you.” Late in the song, she changes the “heroes” line to a different reason for the fear that things have to end tragically: “All of my enemies started out friends.”
(Although she doesn’t mention it in her fleeting video commentary, it’s probably not coincidence that the archer is the astrological sign for the Sagittarius.)
Swift had other reasons for the Instagram chat besides heralding Track 5. She was also pitching the four deluxe editions of the CD that will be on sale at Target Aug. 23, which between them include “120 pages of my diaries,” scanned from the originals. “I found some crazy stuff in there. I found the original lyrics of ‘All Too Well,’ which I didn’t even know was in my diaries. It’s everything from being 13 and coming home from a bad day at school to Grammy night… I’ve always used the metaphor of I open up my diary and share it” with listeners via music, she said, “but this is taking it a step further. This is actually doing it. … I wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate the 13th year of this thing we’ve got going on.”
Swift also offered thanks for the 10 MTV VMA nominations she picked up earlier in the day, saying she’d been alerted by a phone call from friend and “Calm Down” costar Todrick Hall. “It’s a fan-voted thing. So if you wanted to vote for it, I wouldn’t object to it.” She also urged fans to go online in support of her petition in favor of the Equality Act, hoping to get it over the half-million mark.