But addressing her tabloid drama head-on in her new songs certainly hasn’t hurt. News outlets are poring over her “Reputation” lyrics as avidly as diehard Swifties to see where she’s referencing Kimye, Perry, her exes or slams against herself.
And lines like, “It was so nice being friends again / There I was giving you a second chance / But you stabbed me in the back while shaking my hand / And therein lies the issue / Friends don’t try to trick you / Get you on the phone and mind-twist you / And so I took an axe to a mended fence,” leave little to the imagination.
“The people that are winning in music are the ones that are becoming human, whether in the way that they interact with and communicate with their fan base, or in saying there’s nothing sacred anymore,” branding expert Mark Zablow, CEO of Cogent Entertainment Marketing, told Moneyish.
He noted that Beyonce and Jay-Z – who’ve grown estranged from West even as Swift has spent more time with them – hooked listeners by appearing to bare their marital drama in last year’s “Lemonade” and this year’s “4:44,” respectively. Audiences can’t resist listening in on the real strife that’s merely hinted at in headlines. “Taylor addressed anything dramatic head-on. There’s nothing hidden,” Zablow said.
Swift knows how to keep her fervent fan base engaged and on her side. Zablow noted she smartly invited some of her superfans (who had thousands of social media followers of their own) to her home in 2014 for a secret “1989” party before that hit record came out. She even baked them cookies.
“She and her team saw that these are the top people really spending all of their time talking about her, who have an engaged audience, who will spend the time fanning out over what every lyric means, and create a news cycle around that,” Zablow said. “This amazing event got those fans to be super loyal to her and to feel super close to her.” And it gave Swifties another reason to wanna be part of her squad – and buy her records to feel like they are.
So her social media disappearance over the summer was a stroke of genius. She wiped her accounts clean before posting cryptic pix and videos of a snake in a not-so-subtle nod to Kardashian fans blowing up her social media feed with snake emoji in response to the reality star leaking parts of a recorded phone call where Swift appeared to give West permission to run with “Famous,” where we raps about making “that b—- famous.” Swift responded that she wanted to be excluded from the narrative — but now she’s putting herself back in, on her own terms.