The song follows a relationship that lasted through a summer — though not much longer. “I thought of you all summer long,” croons the track, which describes the regret over infidelity and how their relationship came to an end. While there’s no official break down of the song from Swift’s team, it seems pretty obvious that the song is from the point of view of a guy, named James (who is named in the song). Some are suggesting it’s part of a larger arc, with “cardigan” being from Betty’s point of view, “illicit affairs” being about the cheating and subsequent relationship breakdown, and “betty” being from the man’s perspective.
However, for LGBTQ+ fans of the singer, that explanation doesn’t fly. Instead, the queer girls are going crazy on social media over a theory that Swift isn’t singing as a man on ‘betty’ but as herself, meaning this is her (subtle) way of coming out.
Swift put out the album as a surprise drop, announcing its release only hours before in an Instagram post. “folklore” is the artist’s eighth studio album, and Swift says she never thought it would be released during the pandemic.
“Most of the things I had planned this summer didn’t end up happening, but there is something I hadn’t planned on that DID happen. And that thing is my 8th studio album, folklore,” wrote Swift in the caption of a recent Instagram post. “Surprise Tonight at midnight I’ll be releasing my entire brand new album of songs I’ve poured all of my whims, dreams, fears, and musings into. I wrote and recorded this music in isolation but got to collaborate with some musical heroes of mine. … The times we’re living in keep reminding me that nothing is guaranteed. My gut is telling me that if you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world.”
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In isolation my imagination has run wild and this album is the result, a collection of songs and stories that flowed like a stream of consciousness. Picking up a pen was my way of escaping into fantasy, history, and memory. 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. folklore is out now. 📷: Beth Garrabrant