I'm Clifford Stumme, and I use literary analysis and research to explain the deeper meanings of pop songs. Feel free to leave a comment or to email me at with questions or ideas!

What does "Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince" by Taylor Swift mean?

What does "Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince" by Taylor Swift mean?

Lyrics Meaning of “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince“

Today we're talking about the most controversial and the most complicated song from Taylor Swift's album Lover; and that song is "Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince". Why is it complicated and potentially controversial? Well, because it's about politics; and Taylor Swift has been getting steadily more and more woke; she didn't really do too much reputation, but especially on the "Lover" album, there were a couple of songs at least that have strong political, or at least social commentary overtures, that show her taking this new trend towards being a little bit more politically active; which is also coincided with some of what she has been doing on Instagram recently as well.

She said in an interview with Elle,

I'm finding my voice in terms of politics. I took a lot of time educating myself in the political system

and then she said,

I saw so many issues that put our most vulnerable citizens at risk, and felt like I had to speak up to try and help make a change. Only as someone approaching 30 did I feel informed enough to speak about it to my 114 million followers
— Taylor Swift

A lot of people have been questioned why she didn't get more involved in the 2016 election; and she said that she kind of thought that if she had given her opinion, it wouldn't have really helped the person she wanted to help; and she was also kind of going through some stuff, so she didn't feel like she was in a good place to take the kind of comments and feedback she'd get from people, if she decided to take a political stance.

If anyone's doubting what her political opinions are, she said in the Elvis Duran show,

We're a democracy, at least were supposed to be, where you're allowed to disagree, dissent, and debate. I really think that [Donald Trump] thinks this is an autocracy

Taylor Swift -if you didn't know- tends to fall a little bit more on the liberal side, with the Democratic side of American politics; and according to a couple of other interviews, she definitely meant "Miss Americana" to be kind of a political statement in a way;

This song is about disillusionment with our crazy world of politics and inequality, set in a metaphorical high school. I wanted it to be about finding one person who really sees you and cares about you through all the noise

She also says to Rolling Stone,

It’s about the illusions of what I thought America was, before our political landscape took this turn, and that naivety that we used to have about it
— Taylor Swift

Which is really interesting to me, because she's using this metaphor of an American high school, which is supposed to be the super ideal cool place, that is a part of the American experience or whatever; but it's not always as great as it turns out to be; and a lot of times, there are people in high schools who ruin it for other people who are there as well; which is what she is saying that's happening with American politics.

A lot of fans are also picking up on some of the things that she said; and there's a couple of interesting claims in here; but take them with a grain of salt. One person says that two of her friends were at secret sessions, and the main focus of this song is finding and holding on to love through trials and tribulations, such as the current political state of the country. Another person claims that in the secret sessions; she said that verse one was an ode to her past, while the second verse is the only one that's political; which would kind of make sense, if she's saying in the first verse like "hey look, this is high school, it had some good parts" then she realises that it's not, "oh wait! it's trashed", and then she moves on to part two; and so it's almost like this story of high school and of politics are going the same direction.

So let's go ahead and take a look at some of these stanzas. In verse one she sings,

Verse One

You know I adore you, I'm crazier for you
Than I was at 16, lost in a film scene
Waving homecoming queens, marching band playing
I'm lost in the lights

That's American high schools; such a great time; we've got these homecoming queens, it's flashy, it's a show, it's great and exciting; but then, something changes, she says,

American glory faded before me
Now I'm feeling hopeless, ripped up my prom dress
Running through rose thorns, I saw the scoreboard
And ran for my life (Ah)

This is where it starts to transition to maybe be about American politics; but it's definitely this idea of "look, you kind of remember some of the good things about high school, and it supposed to be a good experience, but there's a lot of bad stuff that goes on there too"; it's especially telling that "American glory faded before me", the American glory of high school, and according to Taylor Swift, American glory politically.

Now let's go ahead and jump to the chorus where she sings,


It's you and me, that's my whole world
They whisper in the hallway, "She's a bad, bad girl" (Okay)
The whole school is rolling fake dice
You play stupid games, you win stupid prizes
It's you and me, there's nothing like this
Miss Americana and The Heartbreak Prince (Okay)
We're so sad, we paint the town blue
Voted most likely to run away with you

Now the colour blue could be a reference to the Democratic Party; and the voting obviously seems like a reference to American politics; but she's really tying the stories of American politics and high school together; just like she did on "You Need To Calm Down", which I thought was super clever, where she kind of conflated her struggles with the struggles of LGBTQ+ community, and with the struggles of female pop stars in general; she was telling all three stories at once, because she found a lot of similarities, and the narratives in the kind of difficulties, or the detractors they were facing. So she blends two stories in this song as well; "they're whisper in the hallway she's a bad bad girl", it's because she's got a bit of bad reputation; "the whole school is rolling fake dice", and so you think that there is a fair chance for everybody; but in reality, some people are just playing the game better than others, and they've set up traps and tricks to get what they want out of other people; and when she says "you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes", there would be a lot of people who would agree that high school is basically a stupid game; like if you win your homecoming queens, or prom queens... I don't know, I was home-schooled, whatever; but yeah, you win stupid prizes; it really doesn't matter if you were the prom queen or whatever; but she finds solace in what she calls "the heartbreak prince", as it comes back to this person, who's being like this rock for her through all of the difficulties and the struggles; and that's really what the song comes down to, whether you're talking about American politics or high school, it is finding somebody who gets you through those difficult times.

Verse Two

My team is losing, battered and bruising
I see the high fives between the bad guys

Apparently she's confirmed in the secret sessions that this is the part about politics; so it seems like she's talking about the Democratic party losing; and the "bad guys" would be some of who she might consider the nastier Republicans, or just other politicians in general.

Leave with my head hung, you are the only one
Who seems to care

So even when this struggle comes after her, she goes back to the heartbreak prince, who seems to care about her.

Americans story is burning before me
I'm feeling helpless, the damsels are depressed
boys will be boys then, where are the wise men?
darling I'm scared (Ah)

That seems to be kind of an offhanded reference to the #MeToo movement, because "boys will be boys" seems to be like a common excuse given to guys who act incorrectly; she says "the damsels are depressed", so they're being taken advantage of; and finishes it by asking about the whereabouts of the wise men in the world. Then when she says "darling, I'm scared" is like asking "where are the people who we were supposed to be able to trust to lead us? I am scared"

And then finally we get to the bridge where she re-purposes a high school chant "go, fight, win", to instead be,


And I don't want you to (Go), I don't really wanna (Fight)
'Cause nobody's gonna (Win), I think you should come home
And I don't want you to (Go), I don't really wanna (Fight)
'Cause nobody's gonna (Win), I think you should come home
And I don't want you to (Go), I don't really wanna (Fight)
'Cause nobody's gonna (Win), just thought you should know
And I'll never let you (Go) 'cause I know this is a (Fight)
That someday we're gonna (Win)

So it ends on this hopeful note, "I'll never let you go, 'cause I know this is a fight that someday we're gonna win"; and so she hopes that the world is going to end up being a better place; but whether it is or not, she's confident in her heartbreak prince; and the fact that where she's at, he'll help her get through the difficult times.

I'll just end with one more quick thought; I really think that Taylor Swift did an amazing job of including political commentary into a song; unlike so many artists, as they do a bad job of this, where it's just like too heavy-handed, and so over the top; it's like they're just beating people over the head with their opinions; almost literally any time you get an entertainer, and try to have them get into some serious political topic, where they're trying to convince people to agree with them, you're just going to have a real mess; because they don't know how to convince and entertain at the same time; it's a whole new skill set, that most people just don't have; "Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince" is a really good example of her being woke, without being awkward and obnoxious; and I think part of the power of it, is that she takes something that is so big and heavy, and instead of leaving it there, and being like "hey, there's this big problem we all need to solve", like "we need to all vote for who I want us to vote for"; she instead brings it down, and makes it very very personal; she ties it into some experience from her life, that might also be an experience from some of our lives, so we can actually relate to it, connect to it, and so we can feel what she feels; and she does such a good job being very subtle about that; I don't think the overall message is subtle; but how she ties in the political message to the personal message helps the whole thing just feel more real. I seriously think that Taylor Swift needs to teach a master class on how to be politically woke in your music; and there are a few other artists I could name who might want to take that class.

Anyway, thank you so much for reading this; go ahead and listen to the song yourself, and let me know what do you think about it, and if I've missed anything.

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