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Friday the 13th was bad for Taylor Swift theorists
“We have been played,” one fan wrote.
Never forget my first-hand experience caught up in a Taylor Swift conspiracy. —Kate
There’s nothing you can say about the self-described Taylor Swift “theorists” that they haven’t already said about themselves: They know they’re “clowns” for so frequently predicting album and music video drops that never materialize. In fact, good humor about their obsession is essential to being part of the community. But something about May 13th was different.
Swift, partway through re-recording her early albums after her masters were sold to Scooter Braun, has been quiet since dropping Red (Taylor’s Version) in November. 1989 (Taylor’s Version) is believed to be next (new recordings of “This Love” and “Wildest Dreams” have already been released as singles). Because Swift loves the number thirteen, and online theorists put together a series of tiny, debatable clues, some fans were all but certain they’d be getting, if not an album, at least a music video, last Friday. Instead, they got (yet another) merch drop.
Sprinkling Easter eggs across interviews and music videos has been a big part of Swift’s career since the beginning, and social media has only made things more intense—she posted, for example, a photo of seven palm trees when she finished recording Lover, her seventh album. The problem is, there are now so many Swift motifs and in-jokes that you can make a case for almost anything, anywhere as a potential Swift hint.
As the theories ramped up ahead of May 13, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon did a segment spoofing Swift fans and the obscure “clues” they dig up—which those fans interpreted as its own trove of Easter eggs, as if Fallon was secretly teasing Swift’s plans.
So when Taylor Nation, the most official source for Swift news besides the songwriter herself, posted a countdown on its Instagram Story on Friday, the theorists thought they had been vindicated. And while they’re no stranger to disappointment, the intensity of the ensuing crash was apparently the breaking point for some fans.
“I really was frustrated and felt very used for money when the countdown ended,” one fan commented on a video about how May 13 played out.
The comments on Taylor Nation’s TikTok announcing the merch drop were similarly despondent. “We have been played,” one fan wrote.
They were angry not just because they got merch instead of music. Some fans blamed prominent Swift theorists for getting them so invested in the possibility of new music in the first place. Some theorists, like @swifttokdetective, are stepping back and rethinking how they’ll be posting going forward.
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“There was a heck of a lot of negativity yesterday,” Hannah, the creator behind @swifttokdetective, says in a recent video about the reactions. “The comments that I’ve seen towards myself and my friends who are other theorists, some of them were taken a bit too far.”
Still, Hannah says she’ll no longer be theorizing about specific dates.
That doesn’t mean the theorists, as a whole, are slowing down. For some, this disappointment is—you guessed it—just another part of the story.
Social media loves sleuthing too much for Taylor Swift theorists to ever give up. While they often do backbends to make their predictions and fail more than they succeed, making wild guesses about 1989 (Taylor’s Version) sure beats the alternative.