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State of the Arts

Taylor Swift is a serious artist so it’s time to give up on the cutesy gimmicks

Over the years, the pop star has become synonymous with cryptic clues and sartorial suggestions. As her fans pick apart the latest breadcrumb in the trail – a new beau wearing a ‘1989’ jacket – Laura Barton asks whether Swift has outgrown these childish games

Saturday 30 September 2023 06:30 BST
Hint, hint: it may be time for Taylor Swift to drop the knowing games she’s been playing since age 14
Hint, hint: it may be time for Taylor Swift to drop the knowing games she’s been playing since age 14 (Getty/iStock)

Over on TikTok this week, a new trend has emerged: women informing their sports-mad partners, fathers, and brothers, that dating Taylor Swift has “really put Travis Kelce on the map” before going on to record their inevitably indignant reactions. For American sports fans, the incredulity is warranted: 33-year-old Kelce is the stuff of NFL legend, one of the best players in the game’s history, a star to rival Swift herself.

For those not immersed in US sporting culture, though, the map reads a little differently. In recent days, Swifties have learnt that Kelce plays for Kansas City Chiefs, his name rhymes with Chelsea, and some of us now have a vague understanding of what a “tight end” is in the context of American football. We have also been set a new conundrum: what does it mean when Taylor Swift dates a sports star?

Unravelling Taylor Swift is something of a full-time occupation for many of her fans. Each lyric, semi-colon, outfit choice and social media post is analysed into submission; every haircut a possible clue to her state of mind and creative direction. Over the near 20 years of her career, Swift herself has conducted much of this frenzy – in the early days, she planted hidden clues in liner notes and music videos. It’s a game that continues to this day. In the lead up to the October release of 1989 (Taylor’s Version), she set her devotees the mission of solving 33 million Google puzzles. And promptly broke Google.

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