Well, she was never really gone. A week ago today (August 18) Taylor Swift wiped her social media accounts and website clean, including avatars and all tweets, sending her legions of alarmingly adoring followers into meltdown.
They say a week is a long time in politics, but a week on social media? Eternity. Is she quitting? Is she dead? Is this the apocalypse?
Of course, most of us took a discerning guess that this in fact meant that new music was imminent from T-Swizzle. And that, oh-so-predictably, she would emerge ‘reinvented’ – but how?
The sweet ‘country-pop singer-songwriter’ tag, now a fading memory, was shaken off long ago when ‘Shake It Off’ catapulted Swift into the pop stratosphere and our subconscious forever more.
It’s far from unheard of for artists to ‘reinvent’ with each new album, but with ‘1989’’s array of formidable singles still peppering the airwaves, does Swift really need to depart from the sound that made her a superstar?
The answer is an intriguing, bewildering, internet-breaking yes. On Monday (August 21), a strange, grainy ten-second video of what appeared to be a snake slithering in darkness was posted on Swift’s social media channels.
It duly received a million Instagram likes. Another similar video appeared at exactly the same time on Tuesday, and by Wednesday the snake was hissing and biting at us, its blood-red eyes a genuinely unsettling precursor to the announcement of – you guessed it – Swift’s new album ‘Reputation’, to be released on November 10.
Rather bluntly, the next piece of information was “FIRST SINGLE OUT TOMORROW NIGHT”, that being Thursday night in the US and the early hours of Friday here in the UK.
Before we get to said-single, we need to talk about the significance of the snake. Unless you have been living under a rock – rather like a snake – since last summer, you must surely have deduced that Swift herself is the snake.
Her split with DJ Calvin Harris and the subsequent fallout regarding her claim to have written Harris’ and Rihanna’s hit single ‘This Is What You Came For’ led to an almighty Twitter feud, with ‘#TeamCalvin’ referring to Swift using the snake emoji.
Then came the almighty wrath of Kardashian-West. The infamous ‘Famous’ feud arose when Swift called Kanye West out for the song’s line ‘I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / I made that bitch famous’.
Swift’s claim that she had not given the go-ahead to the misogynistic lyric was shot down when Kim Kardashian posted a Snapchat video of a recorded phone conversation between West and Swift.
While the ‘that bitch’ tag was not mentioned, the singer did appear to be open to the inclusion of the first part of the slur. And here we went again, Kardashian tweeting about ‘National Snake Day’ and her followers adopting the inventive hashtag ‘#TaylorSwiftIsASnake’.
Mystery solved. Taylor Swift is embracing the snake, and her fans love it. It’s hard to imagine her marketing team losing much sleep over this one. Swift might as well have tweeted ‘I know I am, but what are you?’ at Harris, West and Kardashian. Her Twitter bio currently reads ‘The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now’. It’s so predictable, no-one saw it coming.
And now, the first single from ‘Reputation’ is here. It’s called ‘Look What You Made Me Do’. It is too soon, and this is not the place to discuss it in any detail, but we’ll just leave this tweet here.
One more thing, perhaps coincidental – perhaps not. A quick Google search will tell you that 2017 is the Chinese Zodiac year of the rooster. You might have to dig a little deeper to find that 1989, Taylor Swift’s birth year and title of the mega-hit predecessor to ‘Reputation’, was the year of the snake.