She's known for hiding references to her personal life in her work, but in the case of her latest song, there are more questions than answers. The biggest being: Who is Taylor Swift's new song "Babe" about? On Friday, the artist released the new track with Sugarland, which heavily hints at cheating. Although "new" isn't exactly the right word for it. Because of when it was written, the potential culprits for the song's subject include Jake Gyllenhaal and Conor Kennedy and beyond, according to fans' speculation on Twitter.
And since Swift hasn't gone on the record about her inspiration, it's up to listeners to decide for themselves who she's talking about with lyrics like, "Since you admitted it, I keep picturing her lips on your neck, I can’t unsee it / I hate that because of you, I can’t love you babe." So get out your big magnifying glass like the pop-culture detective that you are, and crack this case.
"Babe" was written by Swift and Patrick Monahan of Train, and the Reputation singer is featured in the chorus, but the country duo wasn't the track's first stop. ET Canada reported that Swift and Monahan initially created the collaboration for the singer's fourth album, Red, but that it didn't end up making the cut. And since Red came out in October 2012, that helps place "Babe" in time. The singer had released Speak Now two years prior, so that gives a small window between the end of 2010 and probably mid-2012 in which she was likely writing songs for the next album.
During that time, Swift had two public relationships: with Gyllenhaal, whom Billboard claims she dated from October 2011 to January 2012, and with Conor Kennedy, whom she was linked to from July to October of 2012. It's worth pointing out that with lines like — "You really blew this babe / We ain’t getting through this one, babe / This is the last time I’ll ever call you, babe" — the lyrics are vague enough that the song could easily be about a more universal experience and not Swift's own life.
However, an interview that Monahan gave to ABC News Radio back in 2013 seems to suggest that his young collaborator was drawing on something more personal for "Babe." As the Train singer told the interviewer:
"It’s her song; I was just lucky enough to be a part of it with her... I’m not going through different relationships and breakups and all the stuff that young people do, so her perspective is very fresh."
So it does seem like the subject is someone from Swift's history, an assumption supported by the fact that Gyllenhaal and Kennedy are both believed to be referred to in other songs on "Red." Vulture speculated in 2012 that a whopping three songs from Red could be about Kennedy, and "Begin Again" was rumored by CBS News to be about the Hyannis Port native as well. In it, she compares her current, good boyfriend to her last, less impressive one, and many interpreted the men as Kennedy and Gyllenhaal, respectively.
Plus, in an interview for Good Morning America promoting "Begin Again", Swift explained the song's meaning back in 2012:
"It's about when you've gotten through a really bad relationship and you finally dust yourself off and go on that first date after a horrible breakup, and the vulnerability that goes along with all that."
With that statement, which suggests Swift's relationship with Gyllenhaal was not necessarily her best, all signs seem to point his way. And indeed, fans have speculated that "Babe" is about the Oscar-nominated actor as well. When one fan asked her followers who they thought the song was about, they were quick to throw out Gyllenhaal's name, indicating what they claimed were connections between this new song and others previously linked to the 37-year-old.
Even though it's been six years, her devoted fans still have her back, unleashing fiery tirades against the Donnie Darko star online.
They're convinced they know what happened, and they're not letting the actor off the hook.
Obviously there's no confirmation yet, but as you can see, fans are pretty confident they've cracked Swift's code on this latest song. They fully believe that "Babe" is about Gyllenhaal cheating, and as far as they're concerned, the Nightcrawler star may have some 'splainin' to do.