If you haven’t heard about Taylor Swift’s new single, album announcement, and “edgy” rebranding, it’s about time to crawl out from under the rock you’ve been hiding and pick a side like the rest of the country. Of course I’m asking, are you Team Taylor or Team Kimye?
The world premiere of the music video for Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do”, the first single from her newly announced album Reputation, aired at the MTV Video Music Awards Sunday night. This was fitting for many reasons, one being that the single and video are riddled with thinly veiled jabs at West and Kardashian, and another being that the VMA’s are exactly where this long-running feud first started back in 2009. And the video premiere was a not-so-subtle reminder that the fight is far from over. Let’s recap the events that brought us here, to a new era of Taylor that is unapologetically ready to fight back.
In September of 2009, Swift won Best Female Video at the MTV VMA’s for “You Belong With Me”. Of course this led to the infamous interruption that shook the world to its core when Kanye jumped on stage during Swift’s acceptance speech to basically imply that Beyoncé deserved the award more. Beyoncé ended up winning Video of the Year that the same award show for “Single Ladies” and let Taylor come up on stage and finish her acceptance speech like the goddess she is.
Following this was several he-said, she-said’s about whether or not West apologized, but Swift eventually publicly accepted the apology. The Kanye-Taylor firestorm was tamed for a few years, and the Internet seemed content when they were photographed amicably talking at the 2015 Grammy Awards. At the VMA’s that year, Taylor presented Kanye with the Video Vanguard Award, including a touching anecdote about how West’s The College Dropout album was the first one she ever bought on iTunes. Taylor took to her Instagram account later that night posting a photo of flowers that West had sent her, with a caption that claimed the two were “BFF’s”. All was calm between the duo, but obviously that couldn’t last long.
Fast forward to February of 2016, when Kanye’s The Life of Pablo dropped. The highly anticipated album was met with a lot of buzz on social media, but namely the track “Famous” caused a stir. In one line in particular, a line I’m sure we’re all familiar with by now, West takes credit for Swift’s fame. One of her representatives was quick to point out that West did not ask for approval before using her name in his song. Taylor herself spoke out about the incident during her acceptance speech for Album of the Year at the 2016 Grammys, along with a fierce humble-brag that made sure everyone was aware that she was the “first woman to win album of the year twice”.
Kanye was not moved by the speech, and instead went forth in releasing the music video for “Famous” a few months later. The controversial video featured naked wax figures with the likeness of several scandalous celebrities (Donald Trump, Chris Brown & Rihanna, Bill Cosby, to name a few), one of whom was Taylor Swift. This is when things started to get really good, if you love celebrity drama like I do. July 18th, 2016, Kim Kardashian tweeted out a link to her Snapchat account, paired with some ominous snake emojis that would become instantly iconic. On her Snapchat, Kim released recordings of a phone call between Taylor and Kanye in which he reads her the lines for Famous and she responds saying it is “a compliment” to be mentioned in his song. Cue the Internet losing its mind, creating hashtags and spamming Swift’s social media accounts with snake emojis. Taylor couldn’t stay silent about the incident for long, and took to Instagram to beg to be “excluded from this narrative” in a now-deleted post (more on that later). The Internet was quick to uncover their detective side, pointing out proof that the note could have possibly been written at an earlier date.
What’s a VMA show without mention of the feud? At the 2016 award show, Kanye took the stage yet again and gives a callback to the throwdown that incited it all. He joked that he is “always wishing for Beyoncé to win” (aren’t we all?), even if his own “Famous” video lost to hers for Video of the Year. Coincidentally but not surprisingly, Queen Bey did in fact bring home the 2016 Video of the Year award for “Formation”.
All of this brings us to right about now. Taylor wiped her entire social media presence clean early last week before posting three short videos of a snake, undoubtedly alluding to the snake reference made by Kim and her fans last year. With these videos came the announcement of her single, her album, and her album cover (above). TSwift fans went wild with anticipation, and while I am not a huge fan of her myself, I have to admit I was excited to see what kind of tea she would be spilling on this new album. And she did not disappoint with the “Look What You Made Me Do” video.
I could decode all of the references in LWYMMD, but that would take up an entirely separate post. For now, let’s look at the basics:
- “I don’t like your little games/I don’t like your tilted stage” Internet users speculate that this is a reference to the floating and yes, tilted, stage Kanye used during his Saint Pablo tour
- THE SNAKE IMAGERY By this point we knew this was coming. One scene in the video has Swift sitting at a gold throne surrounded by snakes. One of the snakes is even pouring her TEA. I can already imagine how many times I will see that gif on Twitter.
- Et tu, Brute? More on the gold throne, the arms and legs have “et tu, Brute?” etched on them. This is that infamous line from Julius Caesar when his friends literally stabbed him in the back.
- The bathtub of jewels Ok, this one is a stretch. There is a scene in the video where Taylor is laying in a clawfoot bathtub filled with jewelry. I thought nothing of it until Kardashian fans pointed out that during Kim’s robbery in Paris last year, the robbers stole millions of dollars worth of jewelry and then put a tied-up Kim in the bathtub. Even with how edgy the new Taylor is, I’m going to put a hard “NOPE” on this theory.
- “I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative” Taylor outright repeats the last line from the statement she released after Kim posted the videos of the phone call to her Snapchat. At the end of the music video one of her “old Taylor” personas says this line, and other personas spout other lines that haters have been quoted as saying about her
What do y’all think about all of this? It’s a lot to unpack, but we have definitely not heard the last about this feud. Based on this new single, I imagine there’s much more to be said about Kanye and Kim on the album, and I will be keeping a close eye on social media for Kanye or Kim’s response.