The “old” Taylor Swift is dead, the singer proclaims in her new single “Look What You Made Me Do.”
After a week filled with cryptic teasers and an album announcement, the 27-year-old pop star returned Thursday with an angsty new jam, the first single from her upcoming sixth album, Reputation.
“I don’t like your little games/ Like your tilted stage,” Swift begins in the tune, which she co-wrote with 1989 collaborator Jack Antonoff and includes an interpolation of “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred. “The role you make me play, the fool/ No, I don’t like you.”
Clearly addressing her public image and the spotlight shone on her public feuds and relationships since her first country album was released in 2006, Swift is tongue-in-cheek about the changes in her life: “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now,” she says near the end of the song. “Why?/ Oh, because she’s dead.”
The phone lyrics might also be a reference to her long-running feud with Kanye West, whose wife Kim Kardashian last July leaked video of a phone conversation West and Swift had about his song “Famous,” leading to a they-said-she-said of epic proportions over what Swift did and didn’t know about the song’s lyrical content prior to its release. (“I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex,” he raps in the song. “Why? I made that bitch famous.”)
For listeners trying to find a reference to her feud with former friend Katy Perry, look no further than these lyrics: “The world moves on/ Another day, another drama, drama/ But not for me, not for me/ All I think about is karma.” (In “Swish Swish,” a supposed Swift diss track and response to Swift’s “Bad Blood,” Perry famously sings, “And karma’s not a liar/ She keeps receipts.”)
Also on Thursday night, Swift released a lyric video for “Look What You Made Me Do.” Watch the clip above.
Swift’s first new solo material since 2014’s massively successful 1989, the song gives the world its first impression of Reputation, which arrives Nov. 10 and is available for pre-order on iTunes, Target, TaylorSwift.com, and Walmart. Five versions of the album will be released, with each including a double-sided poster with new art of Swift, according to a press release. 70 pages of content will be included in Target’s special edition of Reputation.
Swift announced Reputation and the release timeline of her new single after sharing mysterious, context-less videos of a snake on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Those teasers came after Swift scrubbed most of her social media accounts last Friday.
Though Swift released her fifth album 1989 in October 2014, she’s remained a large pop culture presence. Three of the LP’s singles — “Shake It Off,” “Blank Space,” and “Bad Blood” — hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, topping the chart for a collective 12 weeks. Two more of its hits, “Wildest Dreams” and “Style,” made it into the chart’s top 10. In 2015, Swift staged the 1989 tour, a commercial juggernaut that also featured appearances from Swift’s numerous A-list friends at nearly every stop.
Swift only performed once in 2016, but remained firmly planted in the news cycle: EDM star and Swift ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris shared that Swift had written his 2016 song “This Is What You Came For,” which featured Rihanna and peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100. Swift also feuded with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian over a vulgar lyric the rapper included about her in his 2016 song “Famous.” She concluded 2016 with new music, releasing a collaborative track with Zayn Malik, “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever,” for the Fifty Shades franchise. (It peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100.)
In 2017, much of the Swift discourse has focused on her simmering conflict with Perry, who made references to Swift during the press cycle for her new album Witness. Swift kept quiet — but added her music back to streaming services just as Witness was being released late on June 8. (The star notably criticized Apple for its streaming practices in 2015, prompting the company to re-evaluate its policies and leading Swift to return to the service. Earlier this year, it was rumored that Swift was considering launching her own streaming service.)
Earlier this month, a Denver judge tossed a case against Swift by former radio host David Mueller, who had sought $3 million from the singer for allegedly getting him fired. Swift testified at the trial and was awarded $1, per her request, after the judge ruled in her favor.