Taylor Swift – Cruel Summer (Lyrics Review and Song Meaning)
“Cruel Summer” is the second track on the seventh studio album ‘Lover’ by Taylor Swift.
The much-anticipated 2019 album ‘Lover’ contains 18 tracks on the standard edition including three singles “ME!” featuring Brendon Urie, “You Need to Calm Down” and the title track “Lover.” The new album is in complete contrast to Taylor’s previous album ‘Reputation’ released in 2017, which focused on speaking out her mind against her haters. In this era, however, Taylor Swift is in love, and that reflects throughout the album.
The title of the song is a hint towards Kanye West’s 2012 compilation album ‘Cruel Summer.’ The theme of the song has been based around the very public feud between Taylor Swift and Kanye West surrounding the release of Ye’s 2016 track “Famous.” Listen to the song below.
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Kanye West’s controversial “Famous” single mentions Taylor Swift saying that Kanye made Taylor Swift famous with his stunt at the 2009 VMA where Kanye interrupted Taylor’s acceptance speech for ‘Best Music Video’ award. There on, the two have been at each other’s throats. The “Famous” music video also portrays a naked Taylor Swift-look-alike, seemingly to have slept with a naked Kanye West among a few other famous personalities. Taylor Swift came out to public saying Kanye West did not take her permission to include her name or her figurine in the song. However, Kim Kardashian-West released a phone conversation in which Kanye seemingly have taken Taylor’s blessings for the mention in the song. Thereafter spurred the whole controversy of Taylor being called a snake by Kim Kardashian-West siding with her husband. Taylor Swift wore this comment as armour and made it one of the most prominent icons during her ‘Reputation’ era.
All this drama made the summer of 2016 to be a cruel one that took a toll on Taylor’s mental wellbeing. However, 2016 Summer is also the time whereabout Taylor Swift met her current boyfriend Joe Alwyn. The ‘bad boy’ reference in “Cruel Summer” is an ado to Joe Alwyn. Hence, the song switches back and forth between the good and the bad times in this specific period.
In the first verse of the song, Taylor speaks about sleepless nights with fever because of a bad boy. This could be interpreted in both contexts. Taylor might have had some sleepless nights thinking about the hit on her reputation from the feud with Kanye West. In Taylor’s track “The Man,” she talks about how society tends to believe a man over a woman. So, a similar situation sprung up when Kanye said that he took consent of Taylor prior to releasing the song. On the other hand, her bad-boy lover-Joe Alwyn might have kept her up at night thinking about all the good memories she has had with her. The ‘fever’ sickness could be a reference to being sick in love.
In the pre-chorus of “Cruel Summer,” an interesting lyric appears: “Devils roll the dice, angels roll their eyes/What doesn’t kill me makes me want you more…” This line explains that oftentimes the bad guys are the ones who are in play, the ones who control the news, the ones who control the public. The innocent ones, the angels, can only observe what is happening and roll eyes from the sidelines.
The bridge of the song lays out a story, possibly a real-life experience of Taylor Swift. Among all the public controversies happening around her, Taylor might have seen solace in the comfort of her new boyfriend Joe Alwyn. She snuck in through the garden gate because she does not want to be spotted to spark another rumour. She confesses her love to Joe Alwyn who has accepted her despite what is going on. Taylor knows “I love you” is not the ideal thing Joe would have liked to hear during these troubling times. He was accepting baggage from the view of society. But he did nonetheless.!
Let us hear what you think about “Cruel Summer” by Taylor Swift. Do you have any other interpretations of the lyrics? Drop in a comment below.
The complete album released on August 23, 2019, through Republic Records.