It's been a week since Taylor Swift’s ninth studio album and SECOND ALBUM THIS YEAR, evermore, dropped, and it's like Christmas came early.
Announced via social media only 16 hours before its release, this "sister record" to Swift's album folklore is moody and atmospheric, filled with fingerpicked ballads, colorful pop music, and some of Swift's first country songs in years.
"To put it plainly, we just couldn't stop writing songs. To try and put it more poetically, it feels like we were standing on the edge of the folklorian woods and had a choice: to turn and go back or to travel further into the forest of this music. We chose to wander deeper in ... I've never done this before. In the past I've always treated albums as one-off eras and moved onto planning the next one after an album was released. There was something different with Folklore. In making it, I felt less like I was departing and more like I was returning. I loved the escapism I found in these imaginary/not imaginary tales. I loved the ways you welcomed the dreamscapes and tragedies and epic tales of love lost and found into your lives. So I just kept writing them."
So in grand YA Friday tradition, we have paired each new 15 songs with a YA book. Take a listen and be sure to check out the titles below!
The first song on the album, Swift said, "is about intrigue, desire, and the complexity that goes into wanting someone." Saying, "it sounds like casting a spell to make somebody fall in love with you."
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the genuine possibility of being apart.
2. champagne problems
The second song details the story of a woman who shocks her would-be fiancé and their loved ones by turning down a marriage proposal and leaving them hanging (right before Christmas). Swift stated that the song is “one where longtime college sweethearts had very different plans for the same night, one to end it and one who brought a ring.” The protagonist seems to have a history of mental illness, which the town subsequently stigmatizes in their gossip about the failed proposal.
10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Cue devastation.
Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents' house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That's when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.
When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she's started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.
This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever... or is it?
3. gold rush
The third track is a song depicting the jealously she has because she is attracted to someone who attracts everyone else. Because of this, she has to stop picturing her life with them. It is about daydreaming about someone then snapping out of it. She is catching herself getting the idea of this person stuck in her head. Swift said the song "takes place inside a single daydream where you get lost in thought for a minute and then snap out of it."
More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood
Danyal Jilani doesn't lack confidence. He may not be the smartest guy in the room, but he's funny, gorgeous, and going to make a great chef one day. His father disapproves of his career choice, but that hardly matters. What does matter is the opinion of Danyal's longtime crush, the perfect-in-all-ways Kaval, and her family, who consider him a less than ideal arranged marriage prospect?
When Danyal gets selected for Renaissance Man--a school-wide academic championship--it's the perfect opportunity to show everyone he's smarter than they think. He recruits the brilliant, totally-uninterested-in-him Bisma to help with the competition. Still, the more time Danyal spends with her, the more he learns from her, the more he cooks for her, the more he realizes that happiness may be staring him right in his pretty face.
4. 'tis the damn season
The fourth song follows the story of "Dorothea, the girl who left her small town to chase Hollywood dreams—and what happens when she comes back for the holidays and rediscovers an old flame.”
New Year's Kiss by Lee Matthews
Tess and her opinionated older sister Lauren are spending the week after Christmas at the snowy Evergreen Lodge in Vermont, and they aren’t happy about it. Their stern grandmother, who owns the holiday resort, is not known for her warmth and good humor. But when shy, straight-laced Tess meets Christopher in the lobby, things are suddenly looking up. And when she decides to get out of her comfort zone and create a bucket list of things to accomplish before the New Year-like singing in public and skiing a black-diamond slope-Christopher is happy to help, even as he keeps a secret that could turn everything upside down. When the ball drops, will Tess and Christopher share a magical kiss-or will Tess start the new year off alone?
5. tolerate it
The fifth track is about the continuous struggle of wanting love from someone who isn’t even paying attention to anything you do for them.
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell
The day they got together was the best one of Freddy's life, but nothing's made sense since. Laura Dean is popular, funny, and SO CUTE ... but she can be really thoughtless, even mean. Their on-again, off-again relationship has Freddy's head spinning — and Freddy's friends can't understand why she keeps going back.
When Freddy consults a local mystic's services, the mysterious Seek-Her, she isn't thrilled with the advice she receives. But something's got to give: Freddy's heart is breaking in slow motion, and she may be about to lose her very best friend as well as her last shred of self-respect. Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends and the insight of advice columnist Anna Vice to help her through being a teenager in love.
6. no body, no crime
Swift said the sixth song "was inspired by my obsession with true crime podcasts/documentaries." It is an imaginative take on a true crime story, featuring HAIM band member Este Haim—good friends of Swift's—as the center of a missing persons case after being cheated on by her husband.
Sadie by Courtney Summers
Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.
But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.
When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.
The seventh song has a deceptive title—as it is about moving on from a decaying relationship but acknowledging the bits of joy that existed within a more destructive, hurtful context. It’s ultimately a hopeful song—what was bad was also good at times, and there will be good things still to come.
Swift also mentioned that this was the last song written on the album—finished just a week before release.
Imagine Us Happy by Jennifer Yu
Stella lives with depression. Her junior year goals are pretty much limited to surviving her classes, staying out of her parents’ constant fights, and staving off unwanted feelings enough to hang out with her friends Lin and Katie.
Until Kevin. A quiet, wry senior who understands Stella and the lows she’s going through like no one else. With him, she feels less lonely, listened to—and hopeful for the first time since ever…
But to keep that feeling, Stella lets her grades go, and her friendships slide. And soon, she sees just how deep Kevin’s own scars go. Now little arguments are shattering. Major fights are catastrophic. And trying to hold it all together is exhausting Stella past the breaking point. With her life spinning out of control, she’s got to figure out what she truly needs, what’s worth saving—and what to let go.
The eighth song on the album was also the first song that Taylor Swift wrote for this album.
Swift referred to the titular character as a “girl who left her small town to chase down Hollywood dreams.” Track four, “tis the damn season,” is likely the story of her return back home for the holidays, and this song seems to be told from the point of view of an old hometown lover.
Due to another track on the album being titled “marjorie,” this song may be about Dorothea West, the sister of Marjorie West, who disappeared when she was five years old. Both girls grew up in Pennsylvania, just as Taylor did.
Love Scene, Take Two by Alex Evansley
Teddy Sharpe is kind of famous. He might actually be on his way to being really famous, especially if he'd nailed an audition for the lead role in the movie adaption of the newest bestselling young adult book series. There's just one problem: He totally blew the audition. And he's stuck in a tiny North Carolina airport. And his maybe-ex-girlfriend kind of just broke up with him.
The weekend isn't exactly looking good until Bennett Caldwell, author of the very book series he just auditioned for, takes pity on him and invites him to her family's lake house. Away from the glitz and glam of Hollywood for a few days, Teddy starts to relax . . . and somehow he and Bennett just click. But dating is hard enough when you aren't the subject of several dozen fan blogs, and the Internet is full of juicy gossip about Teddy and Bennett . . . gossip that Bennett might not be prepared to handle.
9. coney island
In the ninth track is a collaboration with the band, The National. The song explores the phenomenon of being so consumed in a relationship to the point of losing your own identity, and feeling hollow after the relationship ends. Coney Island is a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York that is a famous tourist location.
Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi
After a year of college, Pablo is working at his local twenty-four-hour deli, selling overpriced snacks to brownstone yuppies. He’s dodging calls from the student loan office and he has no idea what his next move is.
Leanna Smart’s life so far has been nothing but success. Age eight: Disney Mouseketeer; Age fifteen: first #1 single on the US pop chart; Age seventeen, *tenth* #1 single; and now, at Age nineteen…life is a queasy blur of private planes, weird hotel rooms, and strangers asking for selfies on the street.
When Leanna and Pab randomly meet at 4:00 a.m. in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn, they both know they can’t be together forever. So, they keep things on the down-low and off Instagram for as long as they can. But it takes about three seconds before the world finds out…
The tenth song tells the story of a married woman falling in love with a person who is not her husband, leading to an affair.
Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten
When Sasha’s best friend Xavier gets back together with his cheating ex, Ivy, Sasha knows she needs to protect him. So she poses as a guy online to lure Ivy away.
But Sasha’s plan goes sickeningly wrong. And she soon learns to be careful of who you pretend to be because you might be surprised by who you become…
11. cowboy like me
The eleventh track is a country-style song reminiscent of Taylor’s early days. It tells the story of two swindlers who fall in love through a cat-and-mouse fling “while hanging out at fancy resorts trying to score rich romantic beneficiaries.”
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created 'perfect' life is about to unravel before her eyes. She's forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for: her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect.
Alex is a bad boy, and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon, Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.
12. long story short
The twelfth track is a brisk-paced overview of the public demonizations and feuds chronicled in her previous album, reputation. This song finally offers confirmation of resolution and peace with Taylor finally feeling confident that that stage of her life has subsided.
The song is also a particular ode to Taylor’s current boyfriend, Joe Alwyn, who she began dating around the time of the drama, and emphasizes that he has always been her “safe place” throughout the turmoil.
Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Today, she hates him.
It’s the last day of senior year. Rowan Roth and Neil McNair have been bitter rivals for all of high school, clashing on test scores, student council elections, and even gym class pull-up contests. While Rowan, who secretly wants to write romance novels, is anxious about the future, she’d love to beat her infuriating nemesis one last time.
Tonight, she puts up with him.
When Neil is named valedictorian, Rowan has only one chance at victory: Howl, a senior class game that takes them all over Seattle, a farewell tour of the city she loves. But after learning a group of seniors is out to get them, she and Neil reluctantly decide to team up until they’re the last players left—and then they’ll destroy each other.
As Rowan spends more time with Neil, she realizes he’s much more than the awkward linguistics nerd she’s sparred with for the past four years. And, perhaps, this boy she claims to despise might actually be the boy of her dreams.
Tomorrow…maybe she’s already fallen for him.
Track thirteen is a tribute to her late grandmother Marjorie Finlay, who passed in 2003, and was an opera singer and helped inspire Taylor to pursue music. Appropriately, the thirteenth track, “epiphany” evermore’s sister album, folklore, was in part about her grandfather, Dean.
Due to another track on the album being titled “dorothea,” this song could be about Marjorie West, who disappeared when she was five years old. Both girls grew up in Pennsylvania, just as Taylor did.
Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.
Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate her sister's loss, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.
Track fourteen is a wild industrial-folk number with Nine Inch Nails-style drums in which the narrator lays into an ex who can’t stand the idea that she’s still mad at him.
All Our Worst Ideas by Vicky Skinner
When Amy, on her way to becoming valedictorian of her graduating class and getting accepted to her dream school, gets dumped by her long-term boyfriend, she takes a job at a record store to ease the pain. She needs a distraction, badly.
Oliver, Amy’s record store co-worker, isn’t so sure about Amy—his complete opposite—but what he is sure of is his decision not to go to college. He just can’t figure out how to tell his mother.
As they work late-night shifts at the record store, Amy and Oliver become friends and then confidantes and then something more. Still, when Amy has a hard time letting go of what she thought was her perfect future with her ex, she risks losing the future she didn’t even know she wanted with Oliver.
The titular closing track is a meditative piano ballad featuring Bon Iver and tracking the narrator’s journey from a seemingly unending period of deep depression and hurt, to a place of hope and healing.
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.