A love letter to 'Lover': Why we adore Taylor Swift's lost triumph

You’d be forgiven if the first thing you thought about Taylor Swift’s seventh studio album "Lover" was the same as its first track: "I forgot that you existed."

Sure, the album made a splash when it premiered two years ago on Aug. 23, 2019 (she celebrated the anniversary Monday by joining TikTok), and peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Bubbly singles "Me!" and "You Need to Calm Down" were a far cry from Swift'sdarker "Reputation" era. Third and fourth singles "Lover" and "The Man" solidified Swift’s next chapter as one of happiness, maturity and self-determination.

Then, about six months later (before her "Lover Fest" tour could take off), the COVID-19 pandemic took over the world and canceled crowded live music events.

That didn’t stop Swift from creating music, though. In July 2020, about a year after "Lover," she debuted "Folklore" (which went on to win the Grammy for best album of the year), followed by sister album "Evermore" in November 2020. And then there's her "Fearless (Taylor's Version)" re-recording, which dropped in April, and upcoming "Red (Taylor's Version)," due Nov. 19. 

But what happened to "Lover" in all the hubbub of Swift’s new woodland nymph era and blasts from the past? Nothing, and that’s exactly the problem.

"Lover" stands the test of Swiftian time as her lost masterpiece, an ode to love in all its forms – and one we could surely use right now as we cap off yet another cruel summer.

And more albums to come:Taylor Swift reveals new tracks for 'Red' album after teasing fans: 'Congrats pals'

The 'Lover' era represented a simpler time we'd love to return to

You won't hear any complaints here about the woodsy, cottage-core vibes of "Folklore" and "Evermore," but Swift's loud, colorful and bold looks from the "Lover" era felt daring and carefree in a way we're longing to return to.

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - AUGUST 26: Taylor Swift performs onstage during the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on August 26, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic) ORG XMIT: 775384068 ORIG FILE ID: 1170401695

The glittery release of "Lover" came about six months before COVID-19 changed the world. The splashy aesthetic seeped into Swift's music videos ("Lover" and "You Need to Calm Down") as well as her merchandise (we lived for the pastel-centric Stella McCartney fashion collaboration). 

As much as we love the muted vibes of "Folklore" and "Evermore," living amid the prolonged pandemic makes us nostalgic for the time when solving problems felt as simple as "step(ping) into the daylight and let(ting) it go." 

Our review:Taylor Swift is a kid again on 'Lover,' a big, messy embrace of a new album

We'll always walk down 'Cornelia Street'

While "Lover Fest" never happened, Swift treated us to live performances before the pandemic. We can't stop playing one in particular: The "Cornelia Street (Live from Paris)" recording from her "City of Lover" one-day concert at Paris' Olympia theater. Fans hardly recognized the start of the stripped-down version of the song, but once they did, screams bellowed out from the crowd and they sang along.

Live performances can sometimes sound better than the album recordings – and we'd argue that's the case here. Something about this version's raw energy and Swift's connection to her audience breaks our heart a "Lover Fest" tour never happened. But it also makes us that much more excited for whatever concert she'll concoct for us next.

We'll walk "Cornelia Street" again and again with you, Taylor.

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'Cruel Summer' should have been a single

The aforementioned four singles Swift chose summed up the vibe of this era: Confident and in love but ready to take down anybody who gets in her way or of someone she cares about. 

Aside from being a certified bop, "Cruel Summer" represented Swift's duality as a songwriter. Yes, she's in a steady relationship that prompts beautiful love ballads, but she can also still write a killer song about new relationship anxiety. 

It's a song that deserves to go down in Swift's bridge hall of fame (as does this album's "Death By A Thousand Cuts"). Add to the list of song lyrics we wish we could have belted out during "Lover Fest": "I don't wanna keep secrets just to keep you/And I snuck in through the garden gate/Every night that summer just to seal my fate/And I screamed for whatever it's worth/'I love you,' ain't that the worst thing you ever heard?"

Some fans crossed their fingers that "Cruel Summer" would be released the following summer as a post-album single (which Swift has previously done with "You Belong With Me," "Red" and "Style") and maybe even a music video. Instead, she dropped a whole new album in the summer of 2020 as the world faced a truly cruel summer. 

Two albums later (or three, if we're counting "Fearless (Taylor's Version)," we know Swift is busy with her re-records and has moved on from her "Lover" days. But we'll still scream our hopes that "Cruel Summer" gets its due, for whatever it's worth. 

We actually can't wait:Taylor Swift will drop rerecorded 'Red' album with 30 songs in November: What we know