Over the years, my feelings about Taylor Swift have varied wildly. From going to one of her concerts when I was in high school, to writing scathing reviews of some of her more recent work, Taylor and I have been on a journey together for over a decade. My thoughts about her are always evolving, and with her new song “You Need To Calm Down,” we might finally be entering a positive chapter.
Back in April, Taylor Swift kicked off her new era with her single “Me!”. I was really ready to embrace this new chapter with open arms, but things quickly went south. I’m all about having a good time, but Taylor’s new song felt like it was better suited for an episode of Sesame Street than a pregame playlist. The candy-coated video didn’t help things, and the entire effort came across like a high-budget music video for kids. Taylor, who turns 30 later this year, seemed lost, and a little desperate. Is this really what she thought we wanted from her?
The single underperformed by Taylor Swift’s standards, so at least I wasn’t the only one who was confused by this direction. I’m all for rainbows and catchy pop music, but I don’t want to be shouted at about spelling. The biggest question left in the wake of “Me!” was what Taylor Swift would put out next. Yesterday, she finally announced her album, called Lover, that will be released in August. Along with the album announcement, we also got a new single, and…
I love it.
After the perplexing elementary school vibes that she brought with her last single, Taylor Swift has finally returned to form. “You Need To Calm Down” is classic Taylor Swift from top to bottom, with a trademark long title, a hook that’s instantly catchy, and lyrics that are already burned into my head after approximately three listens. Okay, like 10 listens, but only for research purposes.
This song sounds like the best of the 1989 era, with layered vocals and synth beats that sound both moody and triumphant at the same time. There are some Reputation influences in there too, but luckily not the vague talk-rapping about her enemies. Hopefully that’s gone for good.
As for the lyrics, Taylor Swift really takes a step out of her bubble here by centering “You Need To Calm Down” as a pro-LGBTQ empowerment anthem. The lyrics contain references to Pride parades, GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), and men wearing gowns. In the prechorus, Taylor sings:
You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace
And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate
‘Cause shade never made anybody less gay
Basically, Taylor is telling people to stay in their lane, and that putting other people down doesn’t actually accomplish anything. Whatever your feelings about Taylor Swift, it’s nice to see her including messages like this into her music. She still has a wider impact than anyone else in music, so she actually has the power to influence people who might not be exposed to Pride parades on a regular basis.
Over the past year, Taylor Swift has become more active in the political sphere, something that she was hesitant to do for years. It’s refreshing to see her owning her status as an ally, especially during Pride month. We could argue about whether she’s benefitting from it, or how genuine it is, but sometimes it’s just nice to have visible support from people in places of power.
Of course, this is still a Taylor Swift song, so there are some classic Taylor references to snakes and crowns, but overall, “You Need To Calm Down” feels like a major step in the right direction for 2019 Taylor Swift. Whereas “ME!” almost felt like a publicity stunt, Taylor’s second single feels like an organic step in the right direction. There’s no argument that Taylor Swift can write catchy hooks and lyrics, so this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.
Hopefully you like this song as much as I do, because Taylor Swift is going to be everywhere over the next couple of months. She still has an 18-track album coming later this summer, so that’s a lot of opportunities for things to go very wrong or very right, but I’m at least cautiously optimistic now.
Images: Shutterstock; betches, taylorswift / Instagram; taylorswift / YouTube
Hell might officially be frozen over, because Taylor Swift and Katy Perry’s feud has officially been squashed. I really wasn’t sure this day would ever come, and the shock is still wearing off. These two have hated each other for years, but I guess all good drama comes to an end. It’s the end of a pop culture era, so let’s go over the new developments, and take a little walk down memory lane.
Katy announced the peace treaty on her Instagram on Tuesday night, with a photo of a plate of cookies with the words “peace at last” written in icing. The cookies look f*cking delicious, but I have a few questions about how this photo came about.
First of all, who supplied the cookies? Did Taylor Swift bring a plate of cookies to Katy Perry’s house? Did she have them delivered by someone else? Did they hang out and bake the cookies together? And I’m even more fascinated by the icing. Those letters were obviously not professionally piped on the platter (I hope), so who did it? Taylor? Or did Taylor send instructions and Katy piped the letters herself? Did one of their assistants do it? Will I get ANY work done today? Sadly, I have answers to exactly zero of these questions.
Taylor did quickly comment on Katy’s photo, so there’s no question that the peace offering was real.
That’s a lot of heart emojis, but it’s pretty on brand for Taylor Swift’s recent rebrand as a human rainbow. If anything, the timing of this makes perfect sense, because both Taylor and Katy are gearing up to release new albums. The feud made sense in the past, but both of them are going for more of a positive, happy vibe lately, so the ~bad blood~ doesn’t really fit with their images anymore. I’m sure there were other important developments in them not hating each other anymore (like maybe them both being in happy relationships and John Mayer being less in the public eye/dating pool), but the publicity can’t hurt for either of them.
Now that these two have publicly buried the hatchet (for now), let’s take a look back at the seven-year saga that is Taylor Swift and Katy Perry’s feud.
Going back to the early years of their careers, Katy and Taylor were friends. Things first took a sour turn in 2012, when Katy Perry started dating John Mayer, who Taylor had previously had a relationship with. I don’t know all the specifics of how this went down, but we all know it’s never a good idea to get involved with your friend’s ex. In the immortal words of Gretchen Weiners, that’s just like, the rules of feminism.
The John Mayer thing was an issue, but things really went south over drama surrounding backup dancers on their tour. First, Taylor Swift purportedly stole some of Katy Perry’s backup dancers for her tour, and then some dancers later jumped ship from Taylor back to Katy. The whole thing was a mess, and it was was pretty much what killed any friendship they had.
They each released a song that was obviously about the other—Taylor Swift had “Bad Blood,” and Katy Perry released a full-on diss track with “Swish Swish.” At the time she released “Bad Blood,” Taylor said it was about a “straight-up enemy” pop star who “basically tried to sabotage an entire arena tour.” Yeah, subtle, no idea who she could be referring to.
Perhaps the height of pettiness in this feud came in 2017, when after years of criticizing Spotify for their practices of compensating artists, Taylor Swift suddenly had a change of heart. She released her entire music catalogue to Spotify on the exact same day that Katy’s new album Witness was released. Honestly, I’m not a fan of Taylor Swift, but this is so savage that I have to applaud.
Things in the feud started to thaw last year, when Katy Perry sent Taylor Swift a letter before her tour, along with a literal olive branch. Just famous people sh*t.
The letter and the olive branch were a nice gesture, but things took another step forward a couple weeks ago, when Taylor added Katy’s new song “Never Really Over” to her official Apple Music playlist. At that point, it was only a matter of time until Taylor Swift and Katy Perry’s feud officially ended, and so the plate of cookies didn’t come as a total surprise.
So, where do we go from here? Now that Katy and Taylor are on good terms, there’s big speculation that the two could have a collaboration on one of their upcoming albums. That would definitely be a big moment, and it’s probably the only thing that would get me to stop listening to “Old Town Road” on repeat.
Images: Shutterstock; katyperry (2), taylorswift / Instagram; Giphy
Last night, Taylor Swift ended the long wait for new music, and her song “ME!” has been polarizing across the internet (and in the Betches office, lmao). While I’ve already gone into detail on my feelings about the song, there’s no doubt that there’s a lot to unpack here. In particular, the music video is a four-minute explosion of colors and images, and there are no coincidences in the world of Taylor Swift. Whether you like her or not, you can’t deny that she is meticulous about the clues and Easter eggs she hides within her videos.
Taylor Swift’s intense army of fans have already combed through the video and found a lot of hidden things, but I know that you, a non-superfan who is probably at work right now, does not have time for that. So I’ve decided to break everything down here. What does Taylor have up her sleeve next? Let’s walk through some of the biggest theories and questions about “ME!”
On the YouTube livestream for the video premiere, Taylor Swift revealed that there is a secret hidden somewhere in the video. V mysterious. Fans obviously lost their minds when she said this, and they won’t rest until they figure it out. Right now, the prevailing guess is that Taylor secretly got engaged to Joe Alwyn, as evidenced by Brendon Urie’s proposal to her in the video. This definitely isn’t verified, but it could be true.
Taylor and Joe are engaged???? Is that the secret she's keeping for months? @taylorswift13 @taylornation13 pic.twitter.com/iDwqeC4B2v
— ????????? (@candiceXtayswft) April 26, 2019
While an engagement would be exciting, there’s another theory about the secret that’s honestly pretty lame…
After the proposal in the video, Brendon gives Taylor a kitten. This, plus the fact that the mural in Nashville has three cats, made everyone think that Taylor now has a third cat. This has now officially been confirmed, because Taylor posted a selfie with her new cat this morning. So, we know that the third cat is real, but we still don’t actually know whether this is what the secret is about. If Taylor doesn’t reveal an engagement pretty soon, then it’s probably about the cat. Boo.
The Dixie Chicks
One video Easter egg that actually has me really excited is the possible reveal of a collaboration with The Dixie Chicks. In the apartment at the beginning of the video, there’s a portrait of The Dixie Chicks hanging on the wall, and rumors of a collab between them and Taylor were already starting to spread before the video. Additionally, look at this tweet that they sent after the video premiered:
— Dixie Chicks (@dixiechicks) April 26, 2019
It’s all happening.
She wants to break fucking free ????? !!!! pic.twitter.com/g93umGBs2n
— Mayi (@9march2) April 26, 2019
I needed a second to wrap my mind around this one. Throughout Taylor Swift’s onslaught of Insta teasing, butterflies have been one of the main themes. What do they mean?? The butterflies were first referenced in the video when the snake exploded at the beginning, but there might be a larger metaphor at play here. Based on how the sky looks in the video, it seems like the whole thing might take place inside of a giant chrysalis (aka the shell where a butterfly turns into a butterfly). “ME!” represents the beginning of a metamorphosis into a new era, and this is a way of visualizing it. If this is the beginning, then it makes sense that after this, Taylor Swift will break out of the chrysalis as a beautiful butterfly. I believe it.
The Queer Message?
I’m going out on a limb for this one, and I have no idea if it’s true. Leading up to the video, there were rumors that Taylor Swift was going to come out as bisexual or queer. This obviously wasn’t directly addressed in the song or the video, but there’s a possibility that there are still some queer symbols present. First of all, there are rainbows everywhere. Of course, rainbows occur in nature, but no one in 2019 is unaware of the rainbow’s significance to the LGBTQ community. Taylor had to know that this would cause conversation, and she still went ahead with it.
Going a little deeper, there’s a lyric where Taylor says that she’s “Like a rainbow with all of the colors.” This could just be referring to her vibrant personality, but the repeated use of the rainbow theme definitely makes you wonder. Like I said, it’s likely that nothing in this video/song is a coincidence. Whether Taylor is trying to say anything about her personal sexuality, the rainbow theme is a nice tribute to the LGBTQ community.
The Upcoming Music
Obviously, there are going to be more songs and an album after this, and it appears that Taylor might already be dropping some hints about what’s coming next. First, people are fixating on the appearance of the word “Lover” in the video. Many are saying that this could be the next song from the album, and possibly even the Dixie Chicks collaboration. We’ll see.
is the next track going to be called “Lover”? #TaylorSwiftTONIGHT pic.twitter.com/XuCYA7rjoV
— nikkie is ME! (@delicatenik) April 26, 2019
People also think that Taylor might have included a clue to when her album is going to be released. In the video, we see a clock that’s set to 8:30, and for this reason, people are saying the album could be released on August 30th. I’m less than convinced about this one, mostly because that seems like a really long time to wait, but I’ve been wrong before.
We’ve got a long way to go in terms of Taylor Swift speculation, so I’ll leave it at that for now. I’m sure there are hundreds more symbols buried deep in the music video, but I really have other things to get done. Let me know which ones you spotted!
Images: Shutterstock; @candicextayswft, @dixiechicks, @9march2, @delicatenik / Twitter; @taylorswift / Instagram
Over the past decade, I’ve had a fraught relationship with Taylor Swift. While I was openly critical of Taylor during her last album/era, I haven’t always had issues with her. Back in 2013, I was thrilled to attend Taylor’s Red Tour, and I have no problem admitting that I think most of her music is great. So when Taylor Swift started teasing her big new project, I was honestly excited. I wasn’t a fan of the Reputation era, but I was ready to start fresh with 2019 Taylor.
At midnight on Thursday, Taylor Swift released her new single and video, “ME!”, featuring Brendon Urie of Panic at the Disco. Brendon was a perfect choice, because he’s very talented, very hot, and most importantly, very fun. From what we know so far, that’s what new-new-Taylor (or new-old-Taylor, I can’t tell) is all about: FUN! The video for “ME!” begins with a snake exploding into a cloud of butterflies, signaling that the angst of Reputation is officially gone.
But other than convincing us that she’s ready to be bubbly again, I’m not sure I get what she’s going for with this song. Lyrically, it’s a pretty straightforward declaration about how great she is, with the most memorable lyric being “You can’t spell awesome without ME!” In the past, Taylor has written some really beautiful, moving lyrics, and these feel like elementary school poems in comparison.
“I’m the only one of me / baby that’s the fun of me.”
While the song is definitely catchy, it feels like it was meant to play during the credits of an animated kids movie. The video, which was released at the same time as the song, only helps to drive this family-friendly vibe home. Taylor Swift and Brendon Urie are a couple arguing in French (why?), but then they go outside and everything turns into some kind of rainbow fantasy world, complete with hundreds of extras in penis-colored marching band outfits. The visuals really drive home the idea that old-new-Taylor is FUN!, and it is! The video is fun! Seeing Taylor Swift and Brendon Urie do their best Hairspray imitation is fun! Flying on umbrellas over the rooftops of Paris is fun! But that doesn’t take away the fact that this song is…baffling.
Like I said, it’s catchy, but then the whole thing gets derailed for the bridge, which starts with Taylor shouting “Hey kids, spelling is fun!” I’m sorry, but I am a grown-ass adult, and I don’t want a song on my Spotify playlist in which I’m being lectured about the joy of spelling. I left that sh*t behind in 4th grade, and I have no desire to go back.
Of course, “ME!” will most likely be a major hit, if only because Taylor Swift has some of the most dedicated fans in the world. The entire rollout strategy of this new era, from the months of clues on Instagram, to the YouTube livestream, feel designed to appeal mainly to the Taylor Swift diehards. In fact, she commented in the YouTube stream that the video contains a secret that she’s been keeping for months, which of course the fans are having a field day with. Right now, the top theory seems to be that she’s engaged to Joe Alwyn, because in the video, she turns down an engagement ring from Brendon Urie.
Taylor and Joe are engaged???? Is that the secret she's keeping for months? @taylorswift13 @taylornation13 pic.twitter.com/iDwqeC4B2v
— ????????? (@candiceXtayswft) April 26, 2019
Other theories include that the clock in the video is a hint about the album release (8/30, if you’re too lazy to look it up), that Taylor now has a third cat, and that there will be a Dixie Chicks collab on her new album. I’m super here for that third one, by the way.
So this means @dixiechicks is confirmed. Right? @taylornation13 @taylorswift13 #eastereggs ??♀️ pic.twitter.com/JKZ8WaxoYL
— ??? (@FrecklesSwiftie) April 26, 2019
I’m really hoping that this is another “Shake It Off” situation, where the first single from the album is kind of just a fun throwaway, but right now I don’t get what Taylor Swift is going for with this vibe. From this song/video, all I’m really getting is that she’s into rainbows and butterflies, but then the actual song is still just about how great she is. It’s a nicegirl anthem, with just the right amount of narcissism (she probably thinks of it as “self-love”). Maybe this has always been Taylor Swift’s brand, but it’d be nice to see a little more growth by now.
If you’re reading this and you love the song, that’s great. I don’t think it’s awful, I just don’t get what we’re supposed to do with it. I’m really not here to bash Taylor Swift, I just want her to explore her full potential (and give us iconic bops). Maybe her next song or the album will be more of a step forward, but for now, I guess we’ll just practice our spelling.
Images: Universal Records; @taylorswift / Instagram; @candicextayswft, @frecklesswiftie / Twitter; Taylor Swift Vevo / YouTube