The cryptic snakes were indeed a sign: Taylor Swift has officially announced the date and name of her sixth album, putting an end to a week of feverish speculation. Reputation will be released Nov. 10, with the first single due to drop Thursday night.
After shedding her previous skin/Instagram/Twitter over the weekend, Taylor Swift has this week been posting mysteriously scaly videos, prompting fans to speculate that a new album was forthcoming and that it would have something to do with the snake emoji that has come to define her on social media. On Wednesday morning she dropped a third such video, and now, the big reveal. The album’s title seems to confirm that this album will likely have to do with her problematic rep as a sneaky, two-faced superstar.
The snake emoji came to be associated with Swift during 2016, when public feuds with her ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris (over her involvement in ghostwriting a Rihanna hit) and the Kardashian-Wests (over her disputed pre-approval of lyrics in Kanye’s controversial song “Famous”) made headlines. For over a year, her detractors have flooded the comments of every Swift post with reptiles. Last month, fans attempted to reclaim National Snake Day, and now, it looks like Tay Tay herself might be trying to co-opt the serpentine label.
This would not be the first time Taylor Swift has turned the obsessive hatred she seems to inspire into art. Before being known for being fake and reptilian, she was most derided for being a serial dater (despite dating no more people than your average twentysomething) and a crazy ex-girlfriend who wrote unsubtle hits about her former beaus. In 2014 she blew the haters away with the “Blank Space” video, in which she parodied her media persona by smashing up a car with a golf club, cutting up her ex-boyfriend’s clothes, and stabbing a cake with a knife.
Taylor Swift’s music has always been about controlling the narrative. Early on this took the form of writing songs about her high-profile break-ups. Reputation should be no exception.