What’s the opposite of chemistry?
Taylor Swift really thinks ‘Lover’ ought to be a wedding song. Nobody else thinks so, but she does. So after the song only peaked at a paltry No.10 on the Billboard Hot 100 (cue Taylor’s entire A&R team committing hara-kiri in disgrace) she’s gone for a remix and roped in a ringer in the form of Shawn Mendes.
We were actually a fan of ‘Lover’ in it’s original form. The title track from a patchy album, ‘Lover’ was nonetheless a mature & smoky barroom ballad. It was the best written song on the album, and one of the better written Taylor songs period (she has sole writing credit).
This remix adds nothing. If anything, it takes away. Taylor won’t be happy if couples aren’t slow-dancing to this at every tacky first dance in America, so we get cutesy staccato strings added to the mix, like there’s a gang of cherubs playing fanfare on your shoulder.
The ‘Lover (Remix)’ achieves the kind of amorphous kiddy-bop sound you’d expect to hear in a Disney movie. Cloying doesn’t even cover it. Listening to this is like inhaling candy floss. The tone is so cutesy-poo, the sound so sugar-coated it’s enough to rot your teeth. Mendes may be a superstar in waiting but he doesn’t fit the song well. ‘Lover’ is about staring into someone’s eyes and saying “Let’s grow old together“: something a 21 year old underwear model probably doesn’t know a great deal about.
It is sort of refreshing for the older Taylor to rope in a hearthrob collab, since it’s usually the other way round, but she would have done well to seek out a more mature voice. John Mayer maybe, if they hadn’t dated. And if he wasn’t sleezy. Even, God help me, Ed Sheeran (they’ve collabed before) might have sounded more convincing reading his vows.
Shawn Mendes acheives the unthinkable in actually making the cringey “Ladies and Gentlemen will you please stand” bizarre sing-song interlude even more excruiating, by adding his own am-dram poetry. “I’d go down with the Titanic, it’s true.” I’m begging for someone to take him at his word.
It’s a dishearteningly crap yet puzzlingly enormous ret-con duet, the likes of which we haven’t seen since roughly a year ago with Ed Sheeran’s ‘Perfect Duet’ featuring Beyoncé. Like that song the ‘Lover’ remix is a blatant cash-grab, a guest singer added after the fact for purely monetary reasons. They don’t even harmonise, since Shawn Mendes recorded his vocals a week before release in a booth in Brisbane.
We aren’t adverse to people making money, we just can’t pretend it’s any good.