Credit: REX

We decode the secret symbols and subtle shade in Taylor Swift’s ‘…Ready For It’

Swifties weren’t ready for it, but the newly released music video could be confirming some popular fan theories

From the editors of PEOPLE

By Karen Mizoguchi

In this anime-inspired visual, Taylor Swift plays with themes seen in sci-fi films such as Tron and Blade Runner as well as Ghost in the Shell, specifically Major Motoko’s cyborg shell. A little inspired by the video game franchise, Final Fantasy, perhaps?

The latest Joseph Kahn-directed footage from her new album Reputation also contains follow-up references to her Look What You Made Me Do video as well as her past music videos. (Proof that the old Taylor Swift is alive and well). Here’s what to expect:

1. Shout-outs to boyfriend Joe Alwyn

Look closely in the opening scenes and you’ll find the number 89 – a nod to her birth year and album title, 1989. And what’s that 91 in yellow? It could be a reference to boyfriend Alwyn’s birth year: 1991.

After all, she does sing: ‘Knew he was a killer/ First time that I saw him.’ Alwyn’s first-ever movie was last year’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, in which he starred as a U.S. soldier stricken with PTSD after a deadly firefight during the Iraq war. And in another shout-out to Alwyn, the name ‘Joseph’ is shown in Chinese calligraphy at 0:28. (Or could it be for director Joseph Kahn?)

2. The snake is back

Don’t think the snake references are gone. Swift slyly included ‘Year of the Snake’ (蛇年) in Chinese calligraphy, seen in one of the alleyways (at 0:22).

Swift has been embracing the snake image and using it to promote her new music, most prominently in Look What You Made Me Do, which featured a CGI snake. She is also selling serpentine merchandise in support of her upcoming Reputation album.

3. Secret messages hiding on the walls

Is the star sending messages to her fans with these affirmations on the wall? There’s even a reference in there to the latest single from Reputation, Gorgeous.

4. Breaking free from the media

Some fans have suggested that the glass box that cyborg Taylor is trapped in, could be representative of how Swift sees her relationship with the media.

5. Calvin Harris

All those luminescent lightning bolts could be to refresh everyone’s memory about her songwriting collaboration with ex-boyfriend Harris for the 2016 single with Rihanna This Is What You Came For. The lightning bolts recall the single’s cover art and the line, ‘lighting strikes every time you move’, and we’ve definitely seen that color scheme before.

6. Is the old Taylor really dead?

In …Ready for It? it’s clear that Swift is battling herself, yet there are subtle references to her old music videos. Swift has collaborated with Kahn on at least three records previously. Fans noticed similarities in some of the poses from …Ready for It in two of Swift’s previous collaborations with Kahn: Out of the Woods and Bad Blood.

In addition, Bad Blood and …Ready for It? both featured futuristic themes throughout the videos, with similar choreography.

In keeping with the theory that Swift has revisited many of her past music videos, the Grammy winner’s latest video also features a white horse, a possible throwback to her 2008 track White Horse from the Fearless album. Swift also rode a white stallion in her Blank Space video.

7. The look

Swift’s makeup, specifically the winged eyeliner is very similar to that of her Blank Space character. And the red lipstick is back too. We can’t wait to see what the rest of the album brings.

Reading now

Popular entertainment stories