Whenever Taylor Swift drops new music, she always leaves a trail of Easter eggs – and misdirection – for her fans to obsess over.
She announced yesterday she was dropping a new album called Folklore, inspired by her time in the wilderness during the last couple of months. One of the songs in particular has fans trying to figure out what she’s actually saying.
'Betty' is the 14th song on the album, and it’s about a person called Betty. In the first stanza, Swift sings:
Betty, one time I was riding on my skateboard / When I passed your house / It’s like I couldn’t breathe.
Obviously, her fans had their own interpretations of the song, which appeared to be a love song towards a woman, reviving speculation and rumours about the singer's sexuality.
But people dug in further – and after a couple of hours, they realised that she seemed to be singing from the perspective of someone named James, supposedly a man.
The lyrics to the third stanza of the song are:
I was walking home on broken cobblestones / Just thinking of you / When she pulled up like / A figment of my worst intentions / She said: James, get in, let's drive.
Some went even further and suggested that the song was based on a love story between the former owners of Swift’s home in Rhode Island.
In her notes introducing the new album, she wrote:
In isolation my imagination has run wild and this album is the result. I’ve told these stories to the best of my ability with all the love, wonder, and whimsy they deserve. Now it’s up to you to pass them down.
Fans have pointed out that many more of the songs on this album seemed to be based on imaginary stories or things that happened to someone else – rather than intensely autobiographical, like much of Swift’s previous work.
Either way, it seems like Swift won’t be commenting on it – or even clarifying what she means any further. For most of her fans, that’s probably more than enough.