We decode every Easter egg and conspiracy theory surrounding Taylor Swift’s Folklore: Karlie Kloss, Joe Jonas, Kanye West...
This is us trying
In what is considered one of the most unprecedented moves of 2020, Taylor Swift has dropped her eight album, Folklore, without any of her usual fanfare. That is, no cryptic tweets, teasing trailers, or cleverly cropped cover art to be analysed to death in the lead-up to its release. Shocking, indeed — almost as much as Folklore being Swift's first foray into the alternative genre; an introspective look into her psyche that is "sad, beautiful, tragic."
Taylor Swift said save 2020— FLETCHER (@findingfletcher) July 23, 2020
And yet, that's not to say Swift's wistful, escapist collection of songs is lacking its share of truth bombs and tea. From Joe Jonas to Ryan Reynolds, here's every single Easter egg, conspiracy theory, and celebrity mention from T.Swift in her 16-strong track list. Get those tinfoil hats on, folks. It's about to get real speculative — and shady — in here.
Betty is a queer anthem about... Karlie Kloss?
Yes, we mean the Trump-adjacent, Victoria's Secret model who was once a card-carrying member of Swift's girl gang. Rumours were rife about the nature of their relationship in 2014, where the media and fans theorised that the inseparable pair were dating. See: the now-deleted black and white photos off Swift's Instagram, featuring Kloss kissing her cheek and reports of their stay at a secluded inn in the woods "suitable primarily for couples." Their falling-out in 2018 was a quiet affair, though their rift was obvious seeing how Kloss did not invite Swift to her wedding to businessman, Joshua Kushner.
UMMMM???? BETTY IS SO GAY????? IS ANYONE ELSE HEARING THIS?????? pic.twitter.com/HrSYYmVJfC— nat (@sharpobjects) July 24, 2020
Now, onto the actual context of track 14. Betty is written from the perspective of James, a 17-year-old teenager in love with a classmate named Betty. Unsurprising and heteronormative, you might think, except it's been established that Swift is named after the one-and-only James Taylor. This has led many to believe that James is, actually, a reference to herself. It doesn't help that Betty is a common nickname for Elizabeth, which — coincidentally! — is Kloss's middle name. Dun dun dun.
Betty also (supposedly) reveals the name of Blake Lively and Ryan Reynold's third child.
The rumours cropped up as the names of Lively and Reynolds' two older daughters, James and Inez, are featured in the lyrics of Betty, prompting fans to hypothesize that Betty is the name of their third child. We can't say we're too surprised. Swift has, after all, already featured their oldest daughter, James, on Gorgeous; a track from her Reputation era.
Invisible String includes a shout-out to Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner.
Ah, remember the infamous 27-second phone call that was Joe Jonas's and Taylor Swift's breakup? Thankfully, the pair has (mostly) reconciled, with Swift mentioning both him and wife, Sophie Turner, on track 11. "Cold was the steel of my axe to grind / For the boys who broke my heart," she wrote. "Now I send their babies presents." This is clearly in reference to the couple, who are expecting their first child any day now.
The Last Great American Dynasty is about a famous debutante.
That's Rebekah West Harkness, who once owned the Rhode Island coastal mansion that Swift purchased in 2013 for approximately USD17 million. The tune is based on the love story between Harkness and her husband, William. Some have suggested that perhaps Betty is about her, as she was affectionately referred to as Betty by her loved ones.
Peace potentially contains a dig at Kanye West.
Fans are claiming that the line "but there's robbers to the east, clowns to the west" is a reference to the 2020 presidential candidate (jk). It doesn't help, of course, that West had tweeted he was going to release his new album, Donda, on 24 July, before swiftly deleting all evidence of it. Interesting...?
clowns to the west as in kanye west is a clown— هبة - hiba (@holyswiftdreams) July 24, 2020
Cardigan is likely about Harry Styles.
It doesn't help that Swift chose to release Folklore on 24 July, aka the day of One Direction's ten-year-anniversary. This is coupled with marked similarities between Swift's Cardigan music video and Styles's Falling, which features the respective stars drowning as they tinkle away at the piano. A macabre parallel? Perhaps.