The moment the teaser for Taylor Swift’s new music video for “...Ready for It?” dropped earlier this week, fans began dissecting the merely 15-second clip and spinning elaborate theories. Her nude bodysuit could be a response to Kanye West’s “Famous” video! The copious lightning featured in the video must be a reference to the artwork for ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris’s single “This Is What You Came For,” which Swift co-wrote under the pseudonym Nils Sjoberg (who, along with the Old Taylor, is now dead)!
Taylor Swift (#1–10 of 24)
The latest piece in the surprisingly swift rollout of Taylor Swift’s Reputation is the album’s opening track, “...Ready for It?” The release comes just one week after the music video for lead single “Look What You Made Me Do,” which dropped just days after the song’s premiere and broke Adele’s record the most views on YouTube in 24 hours.
“Um, I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative?” says one Taylor Swift to a dozen-plus others at the end of her decadent new music video for “Look What You Made Me Do.” The video is an expression of melodramatic outrage tinged with the macabre that offers a better indication that Swift is in on the joke than the song itself does.
Last week, Taylor Swift sent shockwaves through the Twitterverse when she scrubbed her social media accounts, prompting fans to speculate that the country singer turned pop star was preparing to make headlines for something other than the liberal use of the word “ass” in a courtroom. Then, on Wednesday, Swift posted a series of short, cryptic videos of a snake on her Instagram account, followed by the announcement of Reputation, the long-awaited follow-up to 2014’s blockbuster 1989.
The last time Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar faced off in this category, a reluctance to award an artist twice in four years (Swift’s Fearless won back in 2010), as well as the Academy’s reticence toward hip-hop in the general field, resulted in Daft Punk’s star-studded commercial juggernaut Random Access Memories taking home the top prize—an outcome, it should be noted, we predicted. It’s tempting to make a case that voters, with #OscarSoWhite on their brains, will want to distinguish themselves from their myopic cinematic counterparts by rewarding a socially conscious album by a black man. But it’s unlikely they’ll feel obligated to make that course correction here, especially for a relatively new rapper whose album title contains the word “pimp.”
We’ve compared the correlation between Record of the Year and Song of the Year against Oscar’s tether between Best Picture and Best Director before. And every time we think we’re finally settling into a pattern, Grammy reverses course. The year after Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” staged a minor upset in this category without a Song of the Year nomination to its credit, the two categories almost completely aligned, resulting in identical winners (Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me,” which in retrospect couldn’t have been more perfectly engineered to conquer the top categories). So, naturally, this year finds only two songs competing on both sides of the producer/songwriter divide: Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” and Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space,” the latter of which we give the clear edge in Song of the Year.
When deliberating over how we expected the general field to go down this year, the question was never trying to figure out why Taylor Swift would win. Rather, it was: How could she not win? It may seem like eons ago in this current era of welcoming Adele to our collective heaving bosom to the tune of eight million albums, but for a brief while her publicists were doing a pretty bang-up job of selling the entire industry on Swift as their cute, crossover savior. The sentiment of “How many Grammys can we give you?” hangs thick in the air despite her nomination haul of seven seeming rather paltry against Kendrick Lamar’s 11.
Beginning tomorrow, we’re predicting the winners in the so-called Big Four categories at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards, airing Monday, September 15th on CBS. Kendrick Lamar is nominated for a whopping 11 awards, besting Eminem for the rapper with the single most nods in one night, and second only to Michael Jackson, who was nominated for 12 awards back in 1984. Of course, Lamar will have to compete with Taylor Swift, Alabama Shakes (pictured above), Kanye West, and more. We’re kicking things off with our picks in some of the smaller genre categories, including the usual suspects—dance, rock, R&B, and rap—as well as musical theater (the opening number from hip-hop-infused frontrunner Hamilton will be broadcast live from Broadway during the show). Keep an eye on our predictions all this week to see how we think things will shake out!
Just as the correlation between Record of the Year and Song of the Year—the distinction between which we’re relatively sure even some Grammy voters aren’t entirely clear on—seems to be truly drifting apart, along comes a nearly five-for-five slate. That’s not bad news for orphan Record of the Year nominee Iggy Azalea; last year, Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” managed a win in that category without even having been nominated for songwriting. However, it’s not good news for Hozier, whose gutsy-whiny “Take Me to Church” missed out on a bid in the glitzier main drag. You have to go back nearly a decade to find the last time a Song of the Year winner wasn’t also at least nominated in Record of the Year, and even in that case the streak is broken by U2, who were then at the apex of receiving general-field Grammys seemingly out of reflex. And it’s not like Hozier’s going to get a leg up from the voters who are biased toward performers who write their own material. Each of the five nominees this year is performing works that they had some hand in writing.
The closer this category flirts with mainstream appeal, the closer we are to wholly justifiable nominations for, say, “Turn Down for What.” But as Lil Jon’s DJ Snake and Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” are both resolutely not nominated, it’s safe to say the room’s still a little too tightly pursed to see this trophy blowing I-G-G-Y’s way. (Nope, you can’t taste this gold yet.) But for the second year running, there isn’t even a Black Keys-style minor hit or a Bon Iver-style niche cult hit or a Frank Ocean-style critics-only hit in these ranks. Each song cracked the top 25 of Billboard’s year-end singles list (though Sia just by a thread from her thrift-store wig), which makes it a little more difficult than usual to dismiss any candidate for being “too pop,” even though, in Azalea’s case, we still will.