It started with a countdown. From the moment Taylor Swift posted the ticking timer last month, it's been all eyes and ears on the former snake queen. And for the first time in a long time, she's giving us what appears to be a traditional album rollout, complete with scheduled releases, a slew of radio and print conversations, and televised appearances. If her rule of the Reputation era was "there will be no explanation," the TS7 motto seems to be more, "you can't spell 'comment' without 'me!'"
So what do we know about Swift's seventh album so far? Well, not much, conclusively — which is exactly how she likes it. But thanks to her restored interest in interviews and her clever easter eggs, there's plenty we can surmise about the tightly guarded project. Check it out below, and keep this page bookmarked — we'll be adding more intel as it comes in.
"ME!" is probably a diversion
Swift's lead singles tend to be red herrings that offer little insight into the album to come (see: "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," "Shake It Off," and "Look What You Made Me Do"). Swift admitted in her Entertainment Weekly cover story, "A lot of the time I'll pick a first single because I like the feeling it conveys, knowing that there's a lot more on the album that's very different from that first single."
Expect "ME!", released in April, to be a similar deflection for a project that'll cover the "emotional spectrum," as she told the mag. "I definitely don’t wanna have too much of one thing. You get some joyful songs and you get the bops, as they say... [and also] "really, really, really, really sad songs."
The deeper stuff, then, will come later, as with Swift's previous eras. She puts the "WANEGBT"'s out first, and saves the "All Too Well"'s for the album.
It'll be more Red than Rep
Swift's fourth album, 2012's Red, bridged her country and pop eras, and was the closest thing she's given us to a traditional "singer-songwriter" record. Notably, that was a term Swift used in EW when describing TS7. She explained, "This time around I feel more comfortable being brave enough to be vulnerable, because my fans are brave enough to be vulnerable with me. Once people delve into the album, it'll become pretty clear that that's more of the fingerprint of this — that it's much more of a singer-songwriter, personal journey than the last one."
It could be, then, that her decision to unearth deep cuts on the Reputation Tour — like Red's "Holy Ground," "The Lucky One," and "All Too Well" — was less a nostalgic trip and more a foreshadowing.
New label, new collaborators?Getty Images
Upon the end of her contract with Big Machine Records last year, Swift famously signed a landmark deal with UMG and Republic Records. Of course, artists aren't confined to their label when choosing collaborators, but they're certainly encouraged to work with labelmates, and Republic has some interesting candidates on its roster. Swift's new cohorts include powerhouses like Ariana Grande and Drake — the latter of whom she's long been rumored to collab with — as well as some of her own personal friends, like Lorde, Hailee Steinfeld, and Jonas Brothers. Could one or more of these artists have earned a spot on TS7?
She worked with new people behind the scenes
Upon the "ME!" video's arrived in April, it was surprising to see that Swift co-directed the candy-coated dream alongside veteran Dave Meyers. For one, Meyers had never helmed a Swift video before. More notably, it meant that she was broadening her scope of directors — if you'll remember, every video from the Reputation era, and about half from the 1989 era, were directed by Joseph Kahn.
Elsewhere behind the scenes, "ME!" marked Swift's first time working with producer Joel Little, a frequent Lorde and Khalid collaborator. Whether she also reunited with some of her go-to producers — like Jack Antonoff and Max Martin — is still TBD, but she did tell Zane Lowe, "I did work with some new people this time around, which is really fun."
It had a tight turnaround
Swift told EW that she made TS7 in less than three months, revealing that she posted her infamous palm trees pic on IG the day she finished the album. That was on February 24, and she played her final Reputation Tour show on November 21, so there wasn't much time between leaving the stage and hitting the studio.
She recalled to Kiss 92.5, "I pretty much got into the studio when I got off tour and stayed there. I was very ready to make the next thing. I knew exactly what I wanted to make next."
Even so, when Ellen DeGeneres asked her this week if the album was finished, Swift gave a surprisingly loosey-goosey answer. "Yeah," she said, "unless I write something else, and then I'll just put it on the album."
You'll need a lot of time to listen to it
Swift told EW that her impending project will be her lengthiest to date, which means it'll be at least 17 songs long (Red, her current lengthiest release, has 16 tracks). She said, "I started to write so much that I knew immediately it would probably be bigger. ... There's a lot of a lot on this album."
That revelation has bolstered the popular fan theory that TS7 could be a double album, or that it'll comprise 30 songs to commemorate her 30th birthday this year. The conspiracies abound!
If art mirrors life, there could be a lot of love songsGetty Images
Consider this: For the first time in her career, Swift is about to drop an album while dating the same person she was with at the time of her last album. (No shade; just facts.) That'd be British actor Joe Alwyn, whom she had already been dating for a year when Reputation arrived in 2017. It's her longest public relationship by far, and even though she and Alwyn admirably keep things away from the public eye, it could mean we're in for some of Swift's deepest love songs yet.
There are layers upon layers of clues in "ME!"
Swift has a well-documented history of planting breadcrumbs for detective-minded Swifties to discover. But she may have outdone herself with "ME!", admitting that there are "dozens" of references hidden in the vid.
In a Capital FM interview, she explained, "First round is stuff that they can see that predicts what will happen in a couple months. There's second-tier easter eggs which will be revealed upon the album. Then there's third-tier easter eggs, which are the most deeply embedded easter eggs, which will be shown on the tour." Exhausted yet?
We already know what the album is called... kinda
On Twitter, Swift divulged that "the new album title is actually revealed somewhere in the video AND so is the title of the second single." She indicated to Lowe that many fans had picked up the album name already, and there are more than a few popular guesses making the rounds. Among them: Home, Daisy, Heart, Lover, and Kaleidoscope.
New era, fresh aesthetic
Gone are the darkness and snakes that defined the brooding Reputation era. As you've certainly picked up by now, Swift is embracing a sunnier, more pastel-hued aesthetic for TS7, which fans picked up on back in February with her IG overhaul.
"I really was just trying to change up my Instagram aesthetic to get ready for the new album," she explained to Fox Melbourne. "I was just posting pastel pictures to try to go from a dark to a light, and kind of show them what the color scheme would be for the next album."
In an iHeartRadio interview, Taylor further described this era as "mischievous", "glittery", and "a little bit more playful than last time." She echoed that sentiment with Lowe, adding that it's "much more playful and actually inward-facing," and more about her as a person. "It's kind of taking those walls down from around you that I felt like I had to put up."
She owes it all to her fans
The speed with which she made her new album, the positive energy surrounding it, and the lightness of her new aesthetic can all be credited to her Swifties, she says. She explained to Lowe, "I really do credit the fans for the complete resurgence of exuberance and excitement towards music and making new music. And the way that I felt about this enthusiasm towards making new music is what made me get in the studio so fast and just make music really quickly after the tour. I was looking out into the crowd and seeing so much love and care and these people really, really are so wonderful to me and they really were the ones that made me feel like no, I'm ready to put out new music."
She added, "I'm ready to kind of do it a little bit more like I used to. I feel more comfortable."
Sounds like the Old Taylor isn't dead after all.