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If you’re going to sing a love song to a city, you should get your facts straight.
“London Boy,” a track on Taylor Swift‘s new album Lover, has actual Londoners feeling skeptical about its authenticity. The song, which purports to be about a romance between Swift and an unnamed Brit—likely her current boyfriend, actor Joe Alwyn—seems to get some key facts about The Big Smoke all wrong.
Even if you don’t know much about London, corny lines like, “And now I love high tea, stories from Uni, and the West End / You can find me in the pub, we are watching rugby with his school friends,” hint that the song might not be totally based on real-life experiences.
British Twitter users have been picking apart Swift’s bonafides, and Londoners definitely have their doubts. It appears we might have another “Welcome to New York” on our hands.
There are logistical issues. The travel that Swift maps out in the song would be difficult even for veterans of the London Underground. While they don’t have to deal with the likes of Andrew Cuomo sabotaging their subways, some things are still impossible for a legitimately functioning transit system.
Taylor Swift's "London Boy' is super-nice, but the idea of doing Shoreditch in the afternoon, Brixton in the evening and then back to Highgate is giving me major London Underground anxiety #TaylorSwift #Lover pic.twitter.com/0WHoi9R59R— Neil Studd (@dustlined) August 23, 2019
There are other geographical nitpicks as well.
Taylor Swift’s London Boy grew up in fucking Epsom. We do not claim him.— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) August 23, 2019
If Taylor Swift’s London song wanted to be truly authentic, she’d moan about having to get from Brixton to Shoreditch and then say ‘sorry, City Mapper says it’s going to take 79 minutes’— Jessie Thompson (@jessiecath) August 23, 2019
There is even a question of whether or not Taylor knows what goes on in the course of a London afternoon.
Taylor Swift’s new album has a track about London and I Have Some Concerns— Sharon O'Dea (@sharonodea) August 23, 2019
1) No one enjoys walking Camden Market in the afternoon
2) Ditto an afternoon in the pub with our red trousered brethren while the rugby is on
3) Friends don’t make friends go to to the West End
And some of her claims were immediately written off as wishful thinking.
London Boy is a bop but the bit about her enjoying watching rugby with his school friends is ridiculous, no woman present when rugby boys are together has ever had a good time— Abby Tomlinson (@twcuddleston) August 23, 2019
Of course, it didn’t take long for people to start cooking up more accurate versions of the song.
i dunno, that taylor swift london boy song looks pretty legit to me pic.twitter.com/YupkRrgnny— a a dril (@demarionunn) August 23, 2019
And others predicted the inevitable conclusion of yet another Taylor Swift backlash cycle.
Taylor Swift’s “London Boy” contains all the markers of the British bourgeoisie (rugby, Highgate, high tea), while “American Boy” by Estelle and Kanye West, with it’s references to Ribena and the New York Subway, is an anthem for the international working class. In this essay I w— Clare Patterson (@clarepttrsn) August 23, 2019
Despite its geographical issues and clichés about the city, you have to admit that “London Boy” is a catchy song, and a lot of fans love it.
I think London Boy is my favorite on Lover. Feels like it’s written like a country song buts it’s all dressed up like a pop song. Super cool.— Ryan Hurd (@RyanHurd) August 23, 2019
London Boy (2019) pic.twitter.com/RqamGAX8hx— Carly Heading (@carlyylalaa) August 17, 2019
You can listen to the full song below:
Brenden Gallagher is a politics reporter and cultural commentator. His work has been published by Motherboard, Complex, and VH1. He’s the co-founder of Beer Money Films, an indie production company. Based in Los Angeles, he works in television drama as a writers assistant.