An image of Taylor Swift performing next to a photo series of a man putting on clown makeup

Taylor Swift Just Clowned the Swifties With ‘reputation (Taylor’s Version)’

The smartest thing Taylor Swift ever did was convince the Swifties that she was a mastermind of epic, puppet-master proportions because it means that they (and I include myself in that) are always looking for hidden clues in mundane actions, such as expecting her to announce the release of reputation (Taylor’s Version) at her last tour date for the year.

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Obviously, that did not happen because we would be insufferable right now. (Keep your comments about Swifties always being insufferable to yourself, pal.) It wasn’t just the Swiftie community convinced reputation (Taylor’s Version); Swift’s sixth studio album and one of two outstanding Taylor’s Version re-releases was going to be announced last night, either. There were multiple articles about it and social posts from unlikely places:

Yes, that is the official account for the Empire State Building getting in on the action. No, I can’t explain any of that further, only to surmise that you’ll find Swifties in the unlikeliest of places. We are legion.

For those of you not in the know on Swiftian lore: when reputation was first announced, it came with the decree: “there will be no explanation there will just be reputation.” She didn’t do any promos or press leading up to its release, which was November 2017. Since this is Taylor Swift we’re talking about, there is a color associated with the album (or era, as she calls it) and it’s black. Thus, the black heart.

So, you know it didn’t happen, but you may be wondering why we thought the announcement was going to happen in the first place. Here’s the thing about Swift: she likes to leave clues for her next steps. In her documentary Miss Americana (which you can watch on Netflix) she talks about planning her next career moves two years in advance. This is a dynamic she knowingly creates and encourages with her fans. Here she is on The Tonight Show admitting as much:

So, in retrospect, the clues pointing towards reputation weren’t that obvious. I will freely admit that now. However, the most glaring was that at each Eras performance, she picks two surprise songs from her vast back catalog of music, and performs them at only that show (with a few notable exceptions.) In the lead-up to the final show of her six remaining 2023 tour dates in Brazil, she had three outstanding reputation songs to play; by the last night, she had only one.

This isn’t entirely tin foil hat, OK? In the lead-up to her announcement of the 1989 (Taylor’s Version) album, she pulled the same thing! She saved her final 1989 song for the night she announced the release. Which she then paired with a reputation song. Making us all think reputation was next!

Then, if you really want to get into the weeds, yesterday before the final Brazil show, her dancers were replying to social posts with black hearts, and posting pictures of themselves wearing black, which again, is a very common color, but also the color associated with the rep era:

Finally, there’s this still image from Swift’s Karma music video, which came out earlier this year:

Blue is the color associated with 1989, and it’s on the 8 o’clock hour, and the black thumb is on the 2 o’clock hour, with the time being almost midnight. 1989 was announced in August (the eighth month) and the minute hand was supposed to be when reputation was announced, with an expected release date in February (the second month.) It’s also theorized that the latte is vaguely in the shape of the reputation album, which if you really want to get into the weeds, sure. Why not? Everything is an Easter Egg, I guess, when it comes to Taylor Swift!

Finally, it was announced earlier this week that her reputation concert movie would be leaving Netflix soon. This obviously raised everyone’s interest because why would it be leaving now?

However, nothing happened last night in regard to a reputation announcement, and we’re all left looking like self-admitted clowns this morning. Thanks Taylor!

Look, I love me some Taylor Swift. She is by far my most listened-to artist this year, last year, and for far too many years back than I care to admit on the internet. I think she’s great! However, I don’t think she’s that in the weeds on these labor-intensive easter eggs people seem to think are planted, simply because in addition to being an artist, she’s essentially CEO of her own billion-dollar brand and who literally has time for that?

Case in point, here is a snapshot of some of the more complicated theories as to why reputation was going to be announced last night:

Here’s another:

(For those who don’t know, Swift’s favorite number is 13 because her birthday is December 13.)

Bless these people, genuinely. I love their enthusiasm, and frankly, wish I was as good at math as they are. But this is too in the weeds for me and my perception of the easter eggs. I think it goes as deep as inserting the number 13 into things, hinting at what comes next with nail polish colors, and possibly throwbacks to previous Eras looks when out and about, but I do not think Taylor Swift is working with calculus-level math to seed clues into everything she does. Again, she is on a massive tour, releasing new music, and has a very public relationship to attend to. Presumably, she does sleep at some point. There simply are not enough hours in the day to go this deep for the clues.

This is what happens when one person says they create clues for fans, and then millions of said fans focus their attention on finding hidden meaning in everything. You’re going to find additional clues, that may pan out by mere coincidence, simply by the amount of collective hours invested in looking for them.

You know who benefits from all of this, though? Taylor Swift. For that, I do think she’s a mastermind, as she claims on her song called, you guessed it, “Mastermind”:

I laid the groundwork, and then
Just like clockwork
The dominoes cascaded in a line
What if I told you I’m a mastermind?
And now you’re mine
It was all by dеsign
‘Cause I’m a mastermind

Taylor Swift

I’m not even mad. Honestly, this gives me something to look forward to. I can’t wait to hear the re-record of “Delicate”, one of my favorite Swift songs of all time. One of these days, the theories will be right, and we’ll all forget about how Swift clowned us on this one. For now though, I will gracefully accept my “L” and keep looking for (obvious) hidden meaning in what she has planned next.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management, Alex Faction)

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Image of Kate Hudson
Kate Hudson
Kate Hudson (no, not that one) has been writing about pop culture and reality TV in particular for six years, and is a Contributing Writer at The Mary Sue. With a deep and unwavering love of Twilight and Con Air, she absolutely understands her taste in pop culture is both wonderful and terrible at the same time. She is the co-host of the popular Bravo trivia podcast Bravo Replay, and her favorite Bravolebrity is Kate Chastain, and not because they have the same first name, but it helps.