Taylor Swift reveals how Game of Thrones (and Arya's kill list) inspired reputation
Taylor Swift began binge-watching Game of Thrones in 2016. Though she’d heard rumblings about a Red Wedding, the pop star managed to stay away from most major spoilers. “I can avoid pretty much any information,” she tells EW. “For a couple years, every time I’d see my name in print, I’d throw the phone. If you can avoid your own presence, spoilers [are] easy.”
Though she began watching the show for pleasure, her interest soon made its way into her life in different ways. As she reveals here for the first time, the dark and twisted world of George R.R. Martin began to infiltrate her music. “So much of my imagination was spent on Game of Thrones,” she says. “At the time, I was making reputation and I didn’t talk about it in interviews, so I didn’t reveal that a lot of the songs were influenced by the show.” (Shout out to EW’s James Hibberd, who called that one.)
Swift adds that reputation ended up turning into a split album, with one side featuring weaponized songs about vengeance, and the other exploring love and looking to find “something sacred throughout all the battle cries.” Sounds like the recipe for an epic, Westerosi-style plot.
“These songs were half based on what I was going through, but seeing them through a Game of Thrones filter,” Swift says. “‘Look What You Made Me Do’ is literally Arya Stark’s kill list. ‘King of My Heart’ was influenced by Khal Drogo and Daenerys. It’s even got this post-hook of drums — I wanted them to sound like Dothraki drums.” She also wrote lines based on plots from season 7 right before the record dropped. “‘I Did Something Bad’ I wrote after Arya and Sansa conspire to kill Littlefinger,” she says. That and “Look What You Made Me Do,” she adds, “are very Cersei vibes, too. Daenerys as well.”
Though she hasn’t confessed the Thrones connection to any cast members (she’s met both Sophie Turner and Emilia Clarke), Swift did tell series creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff once at a party. “I was sitting there going, ‘Do I tell them? Is that weird? No one asked for this information.’ [But] one of the first things they said was ‘Our daughters love your music.’ I’m like, ‘This is my in.’” (The showrunners were flattered by Swift’s fandom.)
While Swift loves adding little clues in her songs for fans to find, GoT influenced her to up her game. “My entire outlook on storytelling has been shaped by [Thrones] — the ability to foreshadow stories, to meticulously craft cryptic story lines,” she says. “So, I found ways to get more cryptic with information and still be able to share messages with the fans. I aspire to be one one-millionth of the kind of hint dropper the makers of Game of Thrones have been.”
Another reason Swift loves the show is the way it builds characters. “You find yourself identifying with different characters several times an episode,” she says. “You go from hating someone to loving someone. You see someone as cold, and then you see the reasons behind why they do what they do. I just feel so lucky to exist when Game of Thrones is coming out.”
So who does she think will end up on the Iron Throne? “Daenerys, Arya, or Sansa,” she says. “But if I’m being realistic, I think Sansa has the skill set and the ability to delegate and put on a brave face but a stoic demeanor.” Then what happens to Arya? “Arya [would] be Hand of the King.” And then, hopefully, Swift will write an anthem called “Not Today.”
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