Taylor Swift's "Look What You Made Me Do"
Taylor Swift debuted her video for “Look What You Made Me Do” during Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards. The visual includes references to Swift’s own history (one of the tombstones in the graveyard reads “Nils Sjoberg,” the pseudonym Swift used to write Calvin Harris’ track “This Is What You Came For”) and nods to her feuds with Katy Perry, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, and more. Ahead, a look at some Easter eggs you might have missed.
Dawn of the Dead
The “Look What You Made Me Do” video opens with Swift literally crawling out of a grave, a visualization of the single’s breakout line, “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh! ‘Cause she’s dead!”
Swift teased the release of “Look What You Made Me Do” and her forthcoming album, Reputation, by posting cryptic videos of what was later revealed to be a snake on social media. Snakes played a big part in Swift’s feud with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.
In this not-so-subtle shot from the video, Swift literally sips tea given to her by one of the snakes.
Katy Perry isn’t mentioned in “Look What You Made Me Do,” but Swift certainly looks a lot like the singer in this shot, which recalls the short haircut Perry debuted during the promotional cycle for her recent album, Witness.
Sings Swift, “I don’t like your kingdom keys/ They once belonged to me/ You asked me for a place to sleep/ Locked me out and threw a feast.” Fans have speculated the reference to a “feast” ties to Perry’s single, “Bon Appetit.”
Wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with a tiger (perhaps a reference to Perry’s hit “Roar”) and surrounded by women wearing cat masks (Perry’s fans are called Katycats), Swift sings, “The world moves on, another day, another drama, drama/ But not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma.” Who was the last pop star to sing about “karma”? Try Perry, on her diss track “Swish Swish,” which is presumed to be about Swift (“Your game is tired/ You should retire/ You’re ’bout as cute as/ An old coupon expired/ And karma’s not a liar/ She keeps receipts”).
“Maybe I got mine,” Swift sings while storming toward the camera with a baseball bat and that aforementioned tiger sweat-shirt on full display, “but you’ll all get yours.” Notable is what’s scrolling on the banner in the background: Swift and her video cohorts just robbed a streaming company. There’s plenty of history there to unpack: Back in 2014, Swift pulled her music from services like Spotify, writing in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, “It’s my opinion that music should not be free.” A year later, she criticized Apple Music in an open letter for its policies around free, three-month trials. Now, of course, Swift has returned to streaming platforms: She added her catalog back to Spotify and other services on June 8… the night before Perry’s Witness album was released.
In the past, Swift has been accused of manufacturing her friendships — and in the “Look What You Made Me Do” video she leans into that narrative, holding court over a literal manufacturing plant called “Squad U.”
Moments after commanding the room full of future squad members, Swift is left with a group of women in seeming tatters. It recalls the speculation that went viral online after her friend Lorde scoffed at the notion of a Swift “squad” during an interview this year. “It was never some exclusive club or secret society, but a wide circle of people, some of whom I know, and some who I’ve never met, like most wide groups of friends,” she said. Lorde later clarified that Swift is a “dear friend” whom she loves “so much.”
The sequence that sparked dozens of memes because of its visual similarities to Beyoncé’s Lemonade actually connects back to Swift’s celebrity romances. Remember when Tom Hiddleston wore an “I ❤️ T.S.” tank top during Swift’s Fourth of July celebration in 2016? Swift certainly does: all of her backup dancers are wearing the same logo on their clothes. Also important, at least according to Swift fans online, is the number of men behind her in these shots (which possibly ties to the number of high-profile relationships Swift has purportedly had in the past).
Top of the Lake
Further proof the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now? This epic shot of Swift standing atop versions of herself from past videos…
Swift’s lucky number is 13 and she used to draw it on her hand before each live show.
The Greatest Show on Earth
At the 2012 MTV Europe Music Awards, Swift performed “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” while wearing a bedazzled red blazer and top hat. At that ceremony, Swift won Best Female Artist over… Katy Perry.
Friends with Money
Swift wore a “Junior Jewels” shirt in the “You Belong With Me” video, but here it appears with a twist: the names written on her tee belong to “squad” members like Este Haim, Martha Hunt, and Selena Gomez. But not all the supposed members are referenced. As fans noted, Karlie Kloss, Lorde, and Ruby Rose (who defended Swift against Perry after “Swish Swish” was released) are not seen on the shirt.
The yellow sports car Swift crashed earlier in the video reappears here — perhaps a reference to Maserati she cites in the lyrics to the Red title track — only to explode as Swift walks toward the camera with a leopard on a leash. It may be a reach, but: Perry drove a yellow sports car in the “Waking Up in Vegas” video, which Swift had proclaimed as a favorite in July 2009.
The “Look What You Made Me Do” video ends with Swift confronting her Swifts…
The Sixth Sense
“Stop making that surprised face, it’s so annoying,” zombie Swift tells surprised Swift.
“Stop acting like you’re so nice,” EMAs Swift tells Nashville Swift, “you are so fake.”
Snakes on a Plane
The Swift who crashed the sports car notes she’s getting “receipts” and planning to “edit” the footage later — a seeming reference to the Snapchat video Kim Kardashian posted after Swift claimed she didn’t know about Kanye West’s infamous “Famous” lyric (“I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/ Why? I made that bitch famous”). In Kardashian’s video, West is heard telling Swift about the first part of his lyric, to which she replied, “It’s obviously very tongue-in-cheek either way… And I really appreciate you telling me about it. That’s really nice.” Later, in response to the conversation’s release, Swift said in a statement, “Where is the video of Kanye telling me he was going to call me ‘that bitch’ in his song? It doesn’t exist because it never happened. You don’t get to control someone’s emotional response to being called ‘that bitch’ in front of the entire world … While I wanted to be supportive of Kanye on the phone call, you cannot ‘approve’ a song you haven’t heard.”
Being John Malkovich
“I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative,” Swift says, repeating the statement she made after the Kardashian-West feud boiled over into public. To which all the other Swifts respond, “Shut up!”