Taylor Swift explains the emotional meaning behind her Cruel Summer lyrics

15 March 2024, 11:32

Taylor Swift explains why Cruel Summer wasn't released as a single

By Sam Prance

Who are Taylor Swift's Cruel Summer lyrics about? Here's what she's said about the song.

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It only took four years but Taylor Swift has finally made 'Cruel Summer' a single. Who and what are the lyrics about though?

Ever since Taylor Swift released Lover in 2019, fans have been obsessed with 'Cruel Summer'. From the euphoric chorus to the scream along bridge, it ranks among Taylor's best work. However, Taylor famously neglected it at the time and did not release 'Cruel Summer' as a single. Fast forward to 2023 and it's become so popular that it's now topping the charts.

READ MORE: Taylor Swift reveals who her August lyrics are actually about

To celebrate it finally being a single, here's everything Taylor has said about the meaning behind her 'Cruel Summer' lyrics.

What are Taylor Swift's Cruel Summer lyrics about?

Who are Taylor Swift's Cruel Summer lyrics about? The meaning explained
Who are Taylor Swift's Cruel Summer lyrics about? The meaning explained. Picture: Kevin Mazur/WireImage, John Medina/Getty Images

Discussing what 'Cruel Summer' is about at the iHeartRadio Lover album release party and secret session, Taylor said: "This song is one that I wrote about the feeling of a summer romance, and how often times a summer romance can be layered with all these feelings of, like, pining away and sometimes even secrecy."

Explaining further, she said: "It deals with the idea of being in a relationship where there’s some element of desperation and pain in it, where you’re yearning for something that you don’t quite have yet, it’s just right there, and you just, like, can’t reach it. So, this has some of my favorite lyrics on it."

Separately in her Lover enhanced Spotify campaign, Taylor said: "I wanted this song to feel like a desperate summer love that might be doomed from the start. My favourite line from this song is, 'I love you. Ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard?'"

Taylor Swift - Cruel Summer (Official Audio)

Who is Taylor Swift's Cruel Summer about?

Like many Taylor songs, Taylor has never confirmed who 'Cruel Summer' is about. Based on the context of the lyrics, some fans have guessed that the song is about her past relationship with British actor Tom Hiddleston. It lasted a summer.

Taylor famously met Tom at the Met Gala on May 1, 2016. She broke up with Calvin Harris that June and on June 14, 2016, Taylor and Tom were photographed kissing on the beach near her house in Rhode Island. Taylor and Tom then dated for three months before splitting in September 2016 when Taylor began dating Joe Alwyn.

Others have speculated that the song is actually about Joe who Taylor also met at the Met Gala in 2016. Based on the fact that 'Cruel Summer' came out during Taylor's relationship with Joe, this probably makes a lot more sense.

There's a fan theory that Taylor's "And I snuck in through the garden gate / Every night that summer just to seal my fate" lyric is a reference to the Hampstead Heath pub The Garden Gate. The pub is in the area where Joe lives so there's a chance that Taylor and Joe used to go there a lot when they were together.

Most of the other songs on Lover were also inspired by Taylor's relationship with Joe so it is not a stretch to guess that 'Cruel Summer' would be about him too.

Taylor Swift - 'Cruel Summer' lyrics

VERSE 1
Fever dream high in the quiet of the night
You know that I caught it
Bad, bad boy, shiny toy with a price
You know that I bought it

PRE-CHORUS
Killing me slow, out the window
I'm always waiting for you to be waiting below
Devils roll the dice, angels roll their eyes
What doesn't kill me makes me want you more

CHORUS
And it's new, the shape of your body
It's blue, the feeling I've got
And it's ooh, woah-oh
It's a cruel summer
It's cool, that's what I tell 'em
No rules in breakable heaven
But ooh, woah-oh
It's a cruel summer with you

VERSE 2
Hang your head low in the glow of the vending machine
I'm not dying
We say that we'll just screw it up in these trying times
We're not trying

PRE-CHORUS
So cut the headlights, summer's a knife
I'm always waiting for you just to cut to the bone
Devils roll the dice, angels roll their eyes
And if I bleed, you'll be the last to know, oh

CHORUS
It's new, the shape of your body
It's blue, the feeling I've got
And it's ooh, woah-oh
It's a cruel summer
It's cool, that's what I tell 'em
No rules in breakable heaven
But ooh, woah-oh
It's a cruel summer with you

BRIDGE
I'm drunk in the back of the car
And I cried like a baby comin' home from the bar (Oh)
Said, "I'm fine," but it wasn't true
I don't wanna keep secrets just to keep you
And I snuck in through the garden gate
Every night that summer just to seal my fate (Oh)
And I scream, "For whatever it's worth
I love you, ain't that the worst thing you ever heard?"
He looks up, grinnin' like a devil

CHORUS
It's new, the shape of your body
It's blue, the feeling I've got
And it's ooh, woah-oh
It's a cruel summer
It's cool, that's what I tell 'em
No rules in breakable heaven
But ooh, woah-oh
It's a cruel summer with you

OUTRO
I'm drunk in the back of the car
And I cried like a baby comin' home from the bar (Oh)
Said, "I'm fine," but it wasn't true
I don't wanna keep secrets just to keep you
And I snuck in through the garden gate
Every night that summer just to seal my fate (Oh)
And I scream, "For whatever it's worth
I love you, ain't that the worst thing you ever heard?"

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