An Analysis of Taylor Swift’s ‘London Boy’

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Following the release of her seventh album, our In The Middle Associate Hannah Stokes explores why exactly Taylor Swift’s single ‘London Boy’ is causing so many people so much anger.

Released on the 23rd of August, Taylor Swift’s new album Lover sold millions of copies in its debut week alone, becoming one of the most popular albums of the year so far. Whilst being widely praised, a particular song on the album has raised a lot of questions amongst Brits in particular – so much so that earlier this week Swift attempted to clear up any confusion in an interview with BBC Radio 1. Yes, this song is ‘London Boy’, written about Swift’s boyfriend of two years Joe Alwyn who grew up in North London. An attempt at Estelle’s ‘American Boy’ but with less funk and more cringe, ‘London Boyis an amalgamation of British stereotypes and random London locations, with choices obviously made based on rhyming potential above all else. 

I’m sure Joe Alwyn is a lovely guy, but the ‘London Boy’ Taylor is describing sounds a bit terrible.”

The song begins by sampling part of an interview with Idris Elba on James Corden’s Late Late Show – given that T-Swizzle is starring alongside both of these actors on the soon-to-be masterpiece live action Cats, the choice to include this clip kind of makes sense, but it’s a weird choice nonetheless, cashing in on the king of cool in a painfully uncool song. Next, Swift sings about how, despite her overbearing American-ness and love of the cornerstones of America, Bruce Springsteen, Blue Jeans and Tennessee Whiskey, Alwyn’s accent was too much to resist. Cute, but I’m guessing by British accent she means more Downton Abbey and less Del Boy.

As she launches into the chorus, Taylor Swift sings “You know I love a London boy/I enjoy walking Camden Market in the afternoon”. Sorry but literally NO ONE enjoys walking Camden Market in the afternoon (unless you’re 15, when you think it’s the pinnacle of cool) because it’s sweaty and full of people selling shitty t-shirts. Next Swift describes how her London Boy “Took [her] back to Highgate, met all of his best mates”, later explaining how, in one of the worst rhymes in the whole song, “You can find me in the pub, we/are watching rugby/with his school friends”. Rugby? Highgate? Sadly, Taylor Swift’s ‘London Boy’ is starting to sound more like a Durham boy 🙁 Also, if all your S/O does when you come to visit them is make you watch rugby in the pub with their mates, then you should honestly just dump them. I’m sure Joe Alwyn is a lovely guy, but the ‘London Boy’ Taylor is describing sounds a bit terrible.

After proclaiming her love of “high tea” and yet another generic London location, the West End, Swift shouts “Babes, don’t threaten me with a good time” in her best British accent. Whilst many speculated that this was Tay in fact referencing TOWIE icon Gemma Collins, she has shut down this rumour in a recent interview, stating its something that all her British friends “say all the time”. Interesting. Next, in what is shaping up to be the commute from hell, Swift describes going for a night out in Brixton and then visiting Shoreditch in the afternoon, before launching into the bridge which features arguably the worst line in the entire song, “Stick with me, I’m your queen/Like a Tennessee Stella McCartney on the Heath”. This lyric barely makes sense, and apart from being a blatant self promo of her new collab with fashion designer Stella McCartney, what purpose does it serve?

As well as those stated above, my main annoyance with ‘London Boy’lies in the fact that it’s the obvious outlier in a generally decent album. I’m not going to deny that its got a very catchy quality (after listening to it on a loop for the purposes of this article I now, sadly, know all the words) however it’s the lazy lyrics and cringey generalisations that make this song an unbearable listen.

Header Image: Don Arnold