Taylor Swift’s “ME!” music video is chock full of pastel, hearts, animals, and did we mention pastel?
But it’s also sprinkled with a bunch of clues for fans to unpack. After all, the songstress, 29, has been known for her hidden messages since the beginning of her career. And “ME!” — the single and video for which dropped just after midnight on Friday after 13 days of these hints — is no different.
“ME!” is the first single off of Swift’s seventh studio album, so here’s a deep dive into the seven biggest hints about the seventh era of Swift.
SNAKE TO BUTTERFLY
The video opens with a pink and white snake — the mascot of Swift’s last album/era, “Reputation” — and quickly morphs into a swarm of rainbow-infused butterflies. A universal symbol of metamorphosis, you know, caterpillars, cocoons, the whole shebang, it makes sense Swift is channeling butterflies to signal her own transformation from the edgier “Reputation.” Swift also helped to unveil a “ME!”-inked butterfly mural in Nashville on Thursday, hours ahead of release, effectively announcing that the winged-creatures, or at least what they represent, were going to play a prominent role in the video, if not the whole album.
Swift has a highly documented love of felines, making frequent references to her own cats, Meredith and Olivia. Though cats abound in the video, one kitten in particular led fans to believe Swift was adding to her furry family. Lo and behold: Swift posted a photo of the new addition Friday morning, captioned, “And then there were three…”
The cats featured might also be a nod to “Cats,” set for release just days after Swift’s December birthday. Swift stars as Bombalurina in her first feature role since 2014’s “The Giver.”
The video, and the fashion in it, showcase a broad primarily pastel palette, with a heavy rainbow motif throughout the many sequences — from the multicolored butterflies, to the usage of “rainbow” in the lyrics, to the full-on rainbow shown behind Swift as she dances in a canary-colored pantsuit. Until 2017, Swift was famously tight-lipped about anything bordering on political issues. That changed when she offered her voice to #MeToo after testifying in a sexual assault trial, and subsequently endorsed a Democratic Senate candidate for the 2018 Midterm Elections.
“ME!” as she told ABC, is about “embracing your individuality and really celebrating it.” Urie, who is featured on the single, told PAPER in 2018 that he identifies as pansexual. Troye Sivan, who has long been outspoken about LGBTQ issues, was one of Swift’s guest acts during her “Reputation” stadium tour.
In the “30 Things I Learned Before Turning 30” essay Swift penned for ELLE, published in March, she said, “I’m finding my voice in terms of politics,” and pledged that she will, in fact, “do more to help. We have a big race coming up next year.” Could this be Swift’s way of countering what she described as “disgusting rhetoric?” Quite possibly.
If you look very, very closely, a clock shown behind Urie reads 8:30. Could we be looking at an Aug. 30 album drop? It’d make sense, not least because Swift is turning 30 this year. Given the ELLE essay and 2014’s “1989” title, meant to signify Swift’s birth year, it’s hardly the first time she’s invoked her age as artistic inspiration. Mark your calendars just in case.
A bright pink neon sign, reading “Lover,” is shown on the side of a building. Might we be looking at the title of a follow-up single? Swift has never been shy writing and singing about her personal life, often using it as a launchpad for inspiration. “Reputation” had its fair share of suspected allusions to her current boyfriend, actor Joe Alwyn, most notably in “Delicate” and “Gorgeous,” but overall, Swift has been pretty hush hush about the relationship, so to say we’re due for a tell-all is an understatement.
The lyrics make frequent reference to Swift-specific nostalgia. The sardonic first verse parallels the theme of “Blank Space,” especially with the “psycho on the phone” line. The former video, of course, parodied Swift in a less than stable mindset as a hysterical crying mess one moment, and wielding a knife the next.
In the second verse, Swift makes mention of “that fight out in the rain.” Any Swift fan knows stormy weather is a frequent theme in her love songs, so much so there’s a Bustle article about it. Swift has given rain a shout-out in upbeat (“Fearless”) and sad songs (“Forever & Always”) alike, and “The Way I Loved You” blatantly mentioned “screaming and fighting and kissing in the rain.” One song is even titled “Come In With The Rain.” Maybe, just maybe, this means Album Seven will feature songs in the style of classic, pre-pop Swift.
The sixth era of Swift kicked off with one line: “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ‘cause she’s dead!” In keeping with the snake metaphor, Swift shed the skin of “the old Taylor,” the longstanding nice girl reputation on which her career was built, and she transitioned to a tougher, literally darker persona. From the primarily optimistic lyrics to the romantically styled clothes, “ME!” shows Swift’s love struck persona is back in full force. The transformation from “old” to new and back again is thereby completed when Swift, walking down a grand staircase, encounters a pink phone. And though she doesn’t answer, it’s a clear sign of revival.
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