Taylor Swift's "Call It What You Want" References So Many Of Her Other Songs It's Hard To Keep Straight
Hopefully, you got all your work out of the way and are ready to sit at your desk and analyze some lyrics. Because all the references in Taylor Swift's "Call It What You Want" require your immediate attention. The artist has been dropping singles every Friday leading up to her full album release on Nov. 10, and her Nov. 3 offering already has fans talking.
In her previous songs, we've dug up references to the Kimye feud or to the singer's loving relationship with her boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. But in the case of "Call It What You Want," many of the hidden references are from the 27-year-old's own discography. The song itself seems to be about Alwyn — with some veiled barbs at the Kardashian-Wests thrown in for good measure, of course. But from the very first line, Swift sneaks in a lyric that's oddly familiar to longtime fans of hers, and it put us all on alert for other links to her previous work throughout the song.
Whether it's a line that harkens back to a line from a previous song, or some imagery that seems like an answer to a verse she dropped before, there's a lot to unpack in "Call It What You Want." And since the title of the song basically invites us to come up with whatever theories we can, let's get started.
1. "New Romantics"
🎶 | New Romantics: I could build a castle, out of all the bricks they threw at me.— Taylor Swift News (@TSwiftNZ) November 3, 2017
🎶 | Call It What You Want: My castle crumbled overnight.
That first line is, "My castle crumbled overnight," and it bears a striking similarity to a line from "New Romantics": "cause baby I could build a castle / out of all the bricks they threw at me." If the connection is there, it really changes the meaning of the song. The image of the castle crumbling goes from one of destruction to one of self-acceptance. A castle crumbling is a bad thing, but if it's a castle made of all the bad things anyone has ever said about you? That's much more positive. It suggests that Swift finally realized she didn't need to hold onto everything negative that was coming at her from the world.
Whether that newfound knowledge comes from the Reputation singer's involvement with Alwyn or from inside herself, it seems like a great thing.
2. "Love Story"
Swift has come of age in the spotlight, and has had a complicated journey with feminism. But she departs from the phrasing of earlier songs when she wanted to be saved with the decisive lyric:
And speaking of wearing things around your neck, the last time we heard about a distinctive piece of jewelry was in "Style." In that song and video, Swift wore a paper plane necklace that was rumored to be a symbol of her relationship with a different British boyfriend — Harry Styles. And this set of lyrics proves that she's moved on from him in more ways than one.
Clean: "When the flowers that we'd grown together died of thirst"— Reputation (@taylorswift_ro) November 3, 2017
Call It What You Want: "All my flowers grow back as thorns"
This feels like yet another image of Swift coming back stronger and smarter. She no longer leaves herself open and vulnerable, like a flower, but protects herself, like a thorn. (And it sounds like she's able to keep that softness in her personal life, so it's the best of both worlds.)
5. "Bad Blood"
Swift has never shied away from a feud, during her time on the A-List. And it's resulted in quite a few bridges burned, which she notes in the lyrics:
As she says herself, her mistakes are similar each time, so this line could really be about anyone. But the reference to "burning" brings to mind the "Bad Blood" video, with Swift and her squad strutting out of a fiery inferno.
6. "All Too Well"
All too well: "I might be okay but I'm not fine at all"— Natt (@tayftswift) November 3, 2017
Call it what you want: "I'm doing better than I ever was"
I'm not ok 😢
But don't for a second think that all these references to the past mean that Swift isn't doing well. She's made reference to her struggles in albums past, and on songs like "All Too Well." But the similar phrasing in "Call It What You Want" shows she's in a good place and finally leaving the past in the past.
7. "Blank Space"
In keeping with the rest of the song, Swift seems like she's starting to question the labels she's so willingly adopted from her critics. In 2014, with "Blank Space," she was embracing the idea that she didn't have to be the good girl all the time, bragging of being a nightmare dressed like a daydream. And now, in 2017, she's realizing that she doesn't have to be anything at all to us all the time — just herself. She can let the nightmare part go and just focus on this daydream she's living.
Innocent vs Call It What You Want pic.twitter.com/Q1LFSnkCgK— REP // Ankita 🐍 (@ruthless_game17) November 3, 2017
On "Innocent," one of her least-known tracks off of Speak Now, Swift sings that it's never too late to be brand new. And now, seven years later, our girl has finally made her way there.
10. "Look What You Made Me Do"
Who says you can't make references to other songs on the same album? It still shows progress. In "Look What You Made Me Do," Swift laments, "I don't like your kingdom keys, they once belonged to me," a line that many speculate is directed at Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. But by the time we get to "Call It What You Want," the young singer has a much better attitude about it, saying, "They took my crown, but it's all right."
More than any song we've gotten from Taylor Swift yet, "Call It What You Want" shows how the singer has grown and changed over her career. It signals a new direction for the performer and paints a picture of a young woman in one of the happiest and most self-aware periods of her life to date.