Fact: Taylor Swift is a 10-time Grammy Award-winning musician that, regardless of whether or not you adore her, will find her way back into the spotlight.
She’s known for subtly dropping casual pop culture bombs that get us talking, get us to, within seconds, care again. 1989, her first pop effort, met mega success after hits like “Bad Blood” implied a not-so-quiet war with former (or current?) pop arch-nemesis Katy Perry. And on the album, she continued to drop hints at past relationships with boyfriends like Harry Styles, John Mayer, and Jake Gyllenhaal.
During her 2015 1989 tour, she maintained her spot in the headlines week after week, welcoming celebrity friends on stage. Some felt appropriate (Lorde, Selena Gomez, Karlie Kloss), while others, from our perspective, felt a little more random (Beck, Kobe Bryant, the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team).
Regardless, she got us to pay attention. And she’s now done it again.
To quickly summarize a week’s worth of events, Taylor first caused an Internet commotion after clearing her social media feeds last Friday. She followed up on Monday and Tuesday with cryptic videos of a slithering snake and on Wednesday finally took to Instagram and Twitter with images and news of an upcoming album, Reputation, and a new single set to drop the following evening.
On Thursday around 11:30 p.m. ET, "Look What You Made Me Do,” finally dropped, and we have a lot of thoughts. From our perspective, this is Taylor Swift saying, “I’m back, and I'm not taking anymore B.S.”
Now, there are several reasons as to why Swift has chosen this song for her powerful comeback. What first comes to mind? Drama. As Billboard points out, a batch of snakes appeared in the comment sections of Swift’s social media accounts after she and ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris feuded over the nature of “This Is What You Came for,” a hot track featuring Rihanna.
The intro of the new song could be alluding to not just Calvin, but a cast of exes: "I don't like your little games / Don't like your tilted stage / The role you made me play / Of the fool, no, I don't like you / I don't like your perfect crime / How you laugh when you lie / You said the gun was mine."
But most popularly, the snake boils down to the Kardashian West clan. On Kanye West’s “Famous” Life of Pablo track, the headline-maker raps about making Swift famous, and referred to her both by name and as “b—.” Later, Swift’s camp released a message claiming that Swift never approved of the use of her name in the song, calling it “misogynistic.”
Then, Kanye’s wife, Kim, got involved by posting Snapchats of a recording in which Swift and West are heard discussing the track and she essentially signs off on it. Kim followed up with a tweet that urged fans to watch an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians in which she addresses the “Famous” drama.
She also shared another tweet using plenty of snake emojis, writing, “Wait it’s legit National Snake Day?!?!?! They have holidays for everybody, I mean everything these days!”
To make a long story short, Kardashian West never actually called Swift a snake, but it was the implication of her social media message. For that, the fact that Swift returned to music with videos of actual snakes, is major. Therefore, the intro, and particularly the line, "I don't like your titled stage," may actually refer to Kanye West, who played on a titled stage during his Saint Pablo tour.
That’s one theory.
On the other hand, “Look What You Made Me Do,” again, her new single, could be a direct response to the sexual assault case she bravely won. Swift was awarded $1 after a jury found former radio host David Mueller guilty of assault and battery against Swift, who claimed he touched her butt. He originally sued her for defamation.
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The case, of course, made headlines, and Swift, rightfully so, was lauded for showing women not to hide as victims of assault, but instead to fight back. “Look What You Made Me Do,” then, finds Swift waving her feminist flag, sending a super positive message to women across the globe.
And, then, the chorus, "But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time / Honey, I rose up from the dead / I do it all the time / I've got a list of names and yours is in red, underlined / I check it once then I check it twice, oh!," could mean that Mueller, or anyone for that matter, will not keep her down.
If this is her intent, we commend her.
If it’s more about coming back for Kim and Kanye, we had higher expectations.