I’ve thought about Taylor Swift every day since she released her single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” the first off her upcoming album, Reputation. This is partly because it’s my job—I write about entertainment, after all—but mostly because I’m a huge pop-music nerd. And as a huge pop-music nerd, I spend a lot of my time on Tumblr because the social media platform is a hotbed for fan theories of all kinds, especially ones about Reputation. I’ve covered several of them for Glamour, but I’ve never fully explored the Swift fandom on Tumblr—until this week. I spent hours in the trenches of it, and, honestly, I’ll never be whole again.
My eyes are bloodshot. My ears are hot. I haven’t stopped scratching my skin. And it’s all because of Taylor Swift Fan Theory Tumblr. Swift has only released two songs and one music video off her new album, and yet there are easily 1,000+ fan theories about it floating around the Internet. That’s nuts. The Swifties aren’t playing games; they take the tiniest details in her work and turn them into 700-word theories that read like War & Peace book reports. And after reading them all, I may have to enter early retirement. Seriously, my left eye won’t stop twitching. Someone call Nils Sjöberg.
And get this: Stewing in this pool of Swift-stan jargon caused me to conjure up my own Reputation hypotheses. (Reading 6,000 convoluted sentences about how Swift’s blinking in the “Look What You Made Me Do” video obviously means XYZ apparently wasn’t enough!) I was particularly proud of one that, in my mind, brilliantly connected the Reputation album cover and the 15 Taylors at the end of the video. I presented said hypothesis to my editor, who quickly pointed out a very obvious hole. I’m not kidding when I say I wanted to swan-dive off the nearest cliff in that moment. This is what stan Tumblr does to you! It makes you lose your goddamn mind!
It’ll probably be all for naught, too. I’m fairly confident that none—yes, none—of the Reputation theories out there are actually true. Why? Before Swift dropped “Look What You Made Me Do,” everyone thought her next album was about space—like, the stars and planets and shit—and Reputation is definitely not about space. Taylor Swift fans are the only people on Earth who can convince you the sky is actually green, not blue.
That being said, here are the best theories I found on my journey. C’mon, what else are you going to do until November 10? (Personally, I’ll be in a padded room with no computer or Wi-Fi access. The teardrops are no longer on Swift’s guitar. They’re on my keyboard.)
“…Ready for It?” is actually about how Tay’s boyfriends can never escape the public eye.
Each Taylor in the “Look What You Made Me Do” video represents a song on the album.
The Biker Taylor in the “Look What You Made Me Do” video represents “…Ready for It?”
One of the songs on Reputation is the eight-minute version of “All Too Well.”
The real reason why Swift clears her throat at the beginning of “…Ready For It.” Yes, there are literally theories about Swift’s bodily functions.
Each song on the album will address one of Swift’s “reputations.”
The Richard Burton/Elizabeth Taylor connection in “…Ready for It?”
“…Ready for It?” is about Swift’s current boyfriend, Joe Alwyn, not Harry Styles.
Swift is the 13th snake in the “Look What You Made Me Do” video.
All the Taylor personas have tried (and failed) to “save” their reputations.
The actual Taylor is on the plane!!!! The plane!!!! Unrelated: What does sunlight look like? I forgot.
The dancers take off their jackets after Swift snaps her fingers in the “Look What You Made Me Do” video to illustrate how she supposedly “brainwashes” men.
What the ellipses in the “…Ready for It?” title mean.
This meta AF theory.
This track list hypothesis.
Why only half of Swift’s face is covered in newspaper print on the Reputation cover.
Could this all just be a greatest hits album? Context: I was hallucinating by this point on my deep-dive.
Why Swift originally teased this era with “brace for impact.”
The hidden clues on her Instagram.
And the wildest for last: Why she’s smiling while sleeping in the “Look What You Made Me Do” video.