Cryptic and Machiavellian: The History of Taylor Swift Easter Eggs
Photo courtesy of Grier Calagione
This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s summer editorial intern Grier Calagione. Find her on Instagram at @g_fac. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at email@example.com.
Being a swiftie is an emotional and physical time commitment. It takes dedication and hard work. Since her debut album Taylor Swift has been leaving “easter eggs” for her fans. These are clues about her next move, whether it’s pointing at a single, remix or entire album drop, fans pay careful attention to Taylor’s every decision. Today’s article will give an overview of Taylor and the swifties’ longtime egg hunt.
Swift’s history shows two main ways she hints to her fans, first was the era of the CD booklet and then the era of music video mentions.
When discussing her debut album with Jimmy Fallon Swift stated “I wanted to do something that incentivized fans to read the lyrics because my lyrics are what I’m most proud of out of everything that I do… When I was a kid, I used to read through CD booklets and just read the teeny, tiny print and obsess over it.”
In the Debut, Fearless, Speak Now and Red lyric books every letter was lowercase, but capitalized letters spelled out a clue, and vice versa for 1989. For example, the capitalizations in the booklet for the song “Last Kiss” spelled out “Forever and Always,” a track from her previous album, therefore linking the two songs.
In her Red album, the capitalized letters in 22 gave the message “ASHLEY DIANNA CLAIRE SELENA.” The names of her best friends at the time Ashley Avignone, Dianna Agron, Claire Kislinger and Selena Gomez, respectively. But my favorite CD booklet easter egg was from 1989. The lowercase letters throughout the lyrics spelled out the story of an entire relationship, with each sentence being a song. The letters read:
“We begin our story in New York (“Welcome To New York”). There once was a girl known by everyone and no one (“Blank Space”). Her heart belonged to someone who couldn’t stay (“Style”). They loved each other recklessly (“Out of the Woods”). They paid the price (“All You Had To Do Was Stay”). She danced to forget him (“Shake It Off”). He drove past her street each night (“I Wish You Would”). She made friends and enemies (“Bad Blood”). He only saw her in his dreams (“Wildest Dreams”). Then one day he came back (“How You Get The Girl”). Timing is a funny thing (“This Love”). And everyone was watching (“I Know Places”). She lost him but she found herself and somehow that was everything (“Clean”).”
After the old Taylor Swift died and the Reputation era began, Taylor became even more coded with her fans. There were no press interviews for this album, no lyric clues and nobody had heard from the artist in a year. This was the beginning of Taylor’s habit of leaving her whispers in music videos.
We entered the Rep Era with the music video for “Look What You Made Me Do,” a song many believe to be about her feuds with Kanye West and Scooter Braun.
“Literally the whole video is just an Easter egg, “There are thousands of Easter eggs. There are some that people still haven’t found. It will be decades before people find them all,” Swift said to Entertainment magazine.
My favorite clue from this video was the $1 bill that was symbolic of her court case win against DJ David Mueller. After he groped Swift at a meet-and-greet he was fired from his label and he sued, she countersued for a single dollar.
She continued the music video clues into her Lover Era, specifically in the videos for “Me!” and “The Man.” In “Me!,” Swift revealed the name of the next single “You Need To Calm Down,” as well as the album title (Lover) by writing it in the background of a scene. Another easter egg in this video sent the fans spiraling, a poster for The Chicks can be seen at the line “There’s a lot of cool chick out there,” hinting at the album’s collaboration with the band.
But perhaps the most famous easter egg of all time is the graffiti wall from “The Man.” We see a man standing at the center of a wall with each of her album names in a seemingly unordered circle around him, with the word Karma in the center. This video came out in February of 2020, well before the world ever even heard of the re-recorded albums. Three years later and the pieces fall into place. The graffiti is acting as a clock, showing the order of the rerecordings and hinting at her most recent album “Midnights,” with lead single, you guessed it, “Karma.”
Whether you’re sitting at home analyzing every clue, hue, phrase and face that Taylor shows or just rocking out to her lyrical genius, being a swiftie is pretty fun. TikTok fans spend hours making predictions based on details invisible to the naked eye, but nothing gets past a swiftie.
What are your favorite Taylor Swift easter eggs? Let us know in the comments!