Taylor Swift sashayed into American living rooms Sunday night (May 17) with her televised concert special, City of Lover. Amid pandemic-related concert cancellations, it could be the only time fans get to see her perform this year.
The hour-long “release party,” as she called it, was recorded in September 2019 in Paris, marking the first time she had performed in public most of the songs from her latest studio album, Lover. She told the audience, “This album is about all different types of love.”
Opening with the self-empowering singalong “ME!,” the television special was comprised exclusively of music from Lover. Swift offered upbeat performances complete with back-up dancers, singers, and musicians in front of colorful video montages, while balancing those celebratory numbers with solo turns in the spotlight, alternating acoustic guitar and grand piano.
Missing were the large-scale theatrics and pyrotechnics of Swift’s previous stadium tour, but there were plenty of constants on display: her remarkable songwriting, enduring mutual fan/superstar adoration, and, of course, red lipstick.
As Swift’s music and life evolves, at her core remains the same songwriter who first visited the MusicRow offices as a teenager in 2006: confident, passionate and unafraid to bare the details of her life in song.
She told the audience in Paris, “With my songwriting I’ve always wanted to take a moment, like a snapshot of a feeling, and explore that feeling,” before singing the vulnerable “The Archer.”
Armed with only a black acoustic guitar, she performed “Death By A Thousand Cuts,” and current hit single, “The Man.”
Before segueing into “Cornelia Street” she shared that she wrote the song in the bathtub. “A lot of times I’ll write songs about nostalgia and memories…I use songs almost like photographs, so I can go back and remember a time and remember what it was like to experience it…and this is definitely one of those nostalgic ones.”
She also touched on the many facets of love explored through her album. “Love is chaos, love is madness, love is joy, love is…equality,” she said. “And anyone who disagrees with that, in my opinion, needs to calm down,” before singing… well you guessed it (“You Need To Calm Down”).
Closing with “Lover,” Swift said, “If I had to pick a song that is probably my favorite, I would have to say it’s [this one]. I got the idea alone in the middle of the night, and stumbled over to the piano…It’s moments like that in songwriting that keep it my favorite thing to do in the world, it keeps it magical and it keeps it mysterious.”
The City of Lover soundtrack dropped after the show. The televised special attracted a 0.5 rating among viewers 18-49, and 3.6 million viewers, besting NBC and CBS, according to Variety. The concert special is sure to score in streams, and is already available on Disney+ and Hulu.