Buckle up, folks - there's a lot going on here...
If Taylor Swift is anything as an artist, it’s meticulous. Over the last few days, she’s been papped around New York wearing a series of pastel outfits, knowing full well that speculation would follow. And now that the video for ‘ME!’ is out, it’s crystal clear that every single outfit – from the princess gown she wore to the Time 100 Gala, to her tie-dyed jacket – were carefully picked out to point towards her seventh album’s soft aesthetic. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The megastar has been hiding cryptic clues in her music for years, and the run-up to ‘ME!’ – and album seven – has been no exception. Earlier this year, eagle-eyed fans spotted that on the official ‘Reputation’ calendar, there is a mysterious butterfly wax seal stamped onto April 13, which also happens to be National Scrabble Day.
And so naturally, fans lost their shit when they spotted this photo of Taylor playing Scrabble with her mum, along with the caption “let the games begin”. Oh, and a quick Scrabble fun fact – the letters on Swift’s board are worth a collective seven points. This just happens to be Taylor’s seventh album Coincidence? Nah.
On April 13, a countdown appeared on her website, counting down to…. you guessed it, April 26 (AKA. the release date of ‘ME!’). Is there anything that Swifty doesn’t think of??
And so naturally, the visual is crammed full with hidden gems, hints, and symbols. “Okay, regarding Easter Eggs,” Taylor Swift posted on Vevo. “There are a lot of them in this video. Some you’ll find out right away, and some will take a minute to reveal their meaning (omg why am I talking like a sorcerer)”.
Here’s every easter egg we could spot….
The Exploding Snake
In a clear throwback to Swifty’s previous persona – for her sixth album ‘Reputation’ the star referenced Kim Kardashian calling her a snake, and embraced the insult as she went full pantomime villain – the ‘ME!’ video opens with yet another snake. This time, though it’s a pretty pink creature, slithering across rainbow cobbles; less like Nagini, more like if Mary Poppins had a friendly pet python hidden in her bottomless carpet bag. And then, the snake in question suddenly explodes, transforming into a flurry of butterflies. It’s the symbolic start of a new era, sure, but also – remember that butterfly stamp on the ‘Reputation’ calendar, by the way? Yep, she’s thought of everything.
It’s not the only nod back to her previous album: there are several other links to ‘Look What You Made Me Do’. In a reversal of her infamous line “the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? ‘Cos she’s dead!” this video features a fully-functioning landline, and the reappearance of another rejected engagement ring.
Niche Taylor Swift trivia
Fitting considering that this is a song all about ‘ME!’ – there are tonnes of references to Taylor Swift’s past sprinkled through the video. One fan dug up her first ever MySpace profile picture – in which she’s wearing a vintage Garland Elementary Spelling Bee Champion t-shirt – when they heard the lyric “spelling is fun”. Others quickly spotted the link to that Scrabble teaser post we mentioned earlier on.
That Christmas tree in the video’s spoken scene – which is entirely in French, more on that shortly – is deliberate, too. Swift grew up in Pennsylvania, on a Christmas tree farm. “ It was just the most amazing, magical way to grow up,” she told Philly Mag back in 2008.
Bonus fact: The video also stars Olivia Benson and Meredith Grey – Taylor Swift’s cats!
More about that French obsession…
Why the hell is Swifty having an argument – in French?! – with ‘ME!’ guest star Brendon Urie during her music video. Well, the squabble is strikingly similar to the opening scene of Panic! At the Disco’s video for ‘But It’s Better If You Do’ – so there’s that. But beyond being a tribute to Urie’s band, there may well be more to it…
Many listeners have picked up on the fact that the fantastical world of ‘ME!’ nods strongly to the feel of stage musicals, and Swift’s strong pastel aesthetic has an uncanny resemblance to the work of French new wave director Jacques Demy. It’s surely not down to chance alone that Demy made his own pastel-hued musical called The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. The scene where Brendon Urie floats over Swift’s city clutching onto his very own brolly is most likely a deliberate nod to the cinema icon’s rainbow influence.
The French flavour doesn’t stop there. Swift’s intricately choreographed dance sequences recall several other famous New Wave film scenes: mainly this playful sequence in Jean Luc-Godard’s Bande à Part. It’s a country and language that she’s clearly fond of, too. Way back in 2013, she slipped effortlessly into French – in the middle of a performance of ‘We Are Never Getting Back Together’, no less – like it was no big deal.
Possible hints about album number seven
Aspiring detectives have noticed that as Taylor Swift sings the lyric “there’s a lot of cool chicks out there” the camera shows a picture of country-leaning group Dixie Chicks on the wall – and it has led to speculation that they might well guest on her seventh album. It’s only fuelled by the cowboy boots that Swift wears elsewhere in the video, and Dixie Chicks posted a possible hint on Twitter earlier on, too.
Fans have also pointed out that Taylor often teases future track titles in her music videos. Which brings us to the pink ‘Lover’ neon sign in the distance, shown when she’s perched on a unicorn. A possible future single? An album title? Watch this space.
Is Taylor a secret telly buff?
Now, we’re not sure about the hidden meanings behind this one, but a few people have pointed out that Taylor Swift’s unicorn has some fairly evil blue eyes – just like zombie dragon Viserion from Game of Thrones.
Elsewhere, she’s seen wearing a dress that look makes her look suspiciously like the lead character of Killing Eve, TV’s most likeable psychotic murderer Villanelle. And what is Swifty singing as she wears this dress? “I know that I went psycho on the phone”. Apt.
Finally, any clues about a release date?
Elementary, my dear Watson. Blink and you’ll miss it, but at one point Brendon Urie stands in front of a clock. The time? 8.30. It’s leading fans to speculate about an August 30 release date for album number seven, which sounds plausible enough.
We’ll just have to wait and see.