It takes a lot to overthrow “All Too Well” from the top of any Taylor Swift’s ranking, but “Champagne Problems” was able to — and deservedly so. Its storytelling and lyricism cut through the listener’s heart like a freshly sharpened steak knife. Even a casual Taylor listener knows she loves a turn of phrase, and the way she transformed a simple phrase like champagne problems — which is used to describe a problem that is trivial — into a tragic story of love gone awry is remarkable.
It seems that Taylor’s recently played with the idea of loveable-ness — the ability to be loved, really — since the Lover era. She explored the interpersonal give-and-take of a relationship in songs like “The Archer” and “Peace,” but “Champagne” truly feels like a culmination of exploring this spectrum. The track implicitly asks “What does it take to love someone?” And more importantly, “What does it take for someone to love you? What are they willing to deal with? Will they support us?”
Not always, this story reminds us. In the track two piano ballad, we meet an unnamed character, who’s clearly dealing with emotional and mental turmoil. She’s the butt of the joke, her partner doesn’t emotionally support her, yet she blames herself for the deterioration of the relationship.
The song culminates with a bridge with the same intensity and heartache as “All Too Well,” but this time, it permeates even more maturity, more heartache, and more bite. “All Too Well”‘s “You call me up again just to break me like a promise” has now become “‘She would’ve made such a lovely bride / ‘What a shame she’s fucked in the head,’ they said.” Finding new ways to explore that universal heartache, self-doubt, and that inner monologue of insecurity has always been Taylor’s strongest suit — and in “Champagne Problems,” every lyric, every line, and every execution of her low register paints that picture beautifully, and tragically.
Favorite lyric: “One for the money, two for the show. I never was ready so I watch you go. Sometimes you just don’t know the answer, ’til someone’s on their knees and asks you. ‘She would’ve made such a lovely bride, what a shame she’s fucked in the head,’ they said.”