Taylor Swift announced her sixth studio album Reputation earlier this week after posting a series of clips on Instagram depicting a slithering snake. Those of us out of the pop culture loop may have been asking ourselves, “Why a snake?” “Why now?” “What does a slithering reptile have to do with anything?” Meanwhile, Swifties and fans of Kimye and/or Calvin Harris have been knowingly cackling behind their keyboards, amused at the pop star’s reclamation of her reptilian reputation.
If you are confused at the fact that Taylor Swift is selling gold and silver snake rings as merch, or why Swifties are slithering into Kim Kardashian’s Twitter mentions with snake emojis ad infinitum, look no further than our brief history of Taylor Swift and snakes below.
Chapter 1: Calvin Harris
Taylor Swift and mega DJ / producer Calvin Harris dated for about 15 months from March 2015 to June 2016. The snake that started it all came about at the tail end of their relationship (pun intended). Two months prior to the breakup, Harris released his Rihanna-featuring monster hit “This Is What You Came For.” When the song was released, Harris was asked in an interview with Ryan Seacrest if he’d ever collaborate with Swift, to which he replied, “You know we haven’t even spoken about it. I can’t see it happening though.” In July, it was revealed by Swift’s team that she actually co-wrote the track under a Swedish pseudonym Nils Sjöberg.
Harris proceeded to go on a Twitter rant, explaining that the pseudonym was used so that the fact that the couple collaborated would not overshadow the song itself. The only Tweet that remains ends things on an optimistic note.
After his rant, the first snake emojis began to appear across Taylor Swift’s social media accounts.
Chapter 2: Kimye
Taylor Swift and Kanye West have had at least a cow’s worth of beef between them in the past decade, but it was with the release of Kanye’s “Famous” from his 2016 album The Life of Pablo that things really started to heat up. The song includes a direct reference to Swift: “For all my Southside n*ggas that know me best/ I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/ Why? I made that bitch famous.”
Swift’s representatives issued the following statement upon the release of “Famous:”
“Kanye did not call for approval, but to ask Taylor to release his single ‘Famous’ on her Twitter account. She declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message. Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric, “I made that bitch famous.’”
Kanye’s wife Kim Kardashian clapped back with a different story on National Snake Day last year.
She took to Snapchat to post a video recording of Kanye and Swift’s “Famous” phone conversation, where Swift verbally agreed to Kanye’s mention of her in the song, saying it was a “compliment” that he raps about wanting to have sex with her. The video does not, however, depict Swift approving the “I made that bitch famous” line. She later defended herself in a Tweet that’s since been deleted, saying the video was “a character assassination.”
Despite the singer’s self-defence attempts at the wrath of Kimye, fans of the dynamic Kardashian-West duo proceeded to flood Swift’s comments section on Instagram with snake emojis. The reptilian deluge was so strong that Instagram CEO created a filter for the platform that would allow celebrities to automatically delete certain words or emojis from their feeds, according to Wired.
The serpents directed at Taylor Swift were the first test case for the new filter, which was officially released in September 2016.
Chapter 3: The Reclamation
Last Friday, August 18, Swift shocked fans when she removed all her profile pictures from her social media accounts and wiped her Instagram account clean, leading many to believe the pop star had a new album on the way.
On Monday, August 21, Swift broke her silence with three, silent 20 second clips of a snake, adding fuel to the new album rumor fire and effectively reclaiming the snake symbol as her own. She announced her sixth studio album Reputation, which will be released November 10.
Thursday August 24, Swift dropped the album’s first single “Look What You Made Me Do,” with lyrics that seem to point at Kanye, notably “I don’t like your tilted stage,” referencing the titled stage the rapper employed on his recent ‘Saint Pablo’ tour.
Taylor Swift also released an interesting batch of Reputation merch, running with the snake motif on rings and hoodies.
Chapter 4: The Return
Shortly after Swift announced Reputation, her fans began filing Kim Kardashian’s Instagram and Twitter feeds with snake emojis. It seems that Kardashian is now using that trusty Instagram filter to remove the snakes from her Instagram comments, while snakes are still slithering their way into her Twitter mentions.
Chapter 5: The Reptilian Rep Remains
Drama has been unleashed yet again with Swift’s latest single “Look What You Made Me Do,” and if it’s any indication of what is to come from her new album, we can expect more slithering spectacles coming from Taylor Swift in the lead up to Reputation.
Up for more music history? Read 20 facts behind Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Wu-Tang Forever’ right here.
- Cover Image: Christopher Polk / Getty