On Nov. 2, Taylor Swift announced that she'd be dropping new single "Call It What You Want" at midnight. To accompany the announcement, she also tweeted a mysterious set of lyrics. At first glance, Swift's new single "Call It What You Want" could be about almost anything. The lyrics have been stamped onto a card with what appears to be a typewriter and are accompanied by the song's title in a red scrawl. "Holding my breath," the singer wrote, "Slowly I said, 'You don't need to save me... But would you run away with me?'" "Yes." Dreamy. Or is it?
The "Call It What You Want" teaser is reminiscent of 2012 Swift. Remember the Swift that posted watercolors to her Instagram,and took selfies with her cats? The one that rocked high-waisted shorts and a red lip? It seems a lifetime ago that she was allowed to be publicly romantic without everyone having something to say about it. Thus far, and likely as a result, the Reputation rollout has felt a little sanitized. In contrast, the "Call It What You Want" teaser feels a little like Vintage Swift.
And that could be fans' first clue as to what it's about.
So much of Reputation seems like Swift is hitting back at a media landscape that's turned against her. The snake imagery. The line of Swifts in the video for "Look What You Made Me Do". It's all extremely self-aware; Swift seems to be memeing herself before anyone else gets a chance to. And the song title "Call It What You Want" seems to reflect that. She could be addressing the press, who are quick to label her every single move. It reads almost like an indication that Swift no longer cares what the media think; folks can label the relationship she's singing about however they'd like; she's over it.
After all, the verse Swift tweeted points to a budding relationship, even an escape fantasy. It also demonstrates how the singer has grown. Gone is the "Romeo, save me!" singer of yore. Now, she has the lyrical agency. She's the one taking charge of her romantic destiny — and (presumably) offering current beau Joe Alwyn a seat on the way.
The "Call It What You Want" title might not be directed at the press, though. It could be Swift talking to friends, or her new boyfriend, or even herself. Her early songs were often elaborate fantasies, fairy tales replete with heroes and villains and Swift at the center of it all. Now, nearly 28 years old, she's chilling out. It doesn't have to be love and marriage and perfection anymore. It can just be. Call it what you want; she's happy now.
On the whole, Reputation feels like a colder and more distant album than fans have come to expect from Swift. Even as 2014's 1989 marked the singer's departure from the genre she once called home, the album remained an intimate experience. Hard copies of the record came with collectible polaroids, many hand-captioned by the singer, and groups of Swifties were invited to her actual houses for an early listening experience.
In contrast, the buildup to Reputation feels different, though it did still feature early listening parties for fans. By remaining more aloof from the process — and not correcting the record in the media — she's likely protecting herself. Instead of jumping in to answer every possible scandal, and subsequently exacerbating it in the process, this song title paired with these lyrics invites people label her life as they will. Here's a story, she seems to be saying, and, while anyone can guess that it's about her current life with Alwyn, Swift's letting the media call it what they want. Because, perhaps, she knows they will anyway.