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Taylor Swift’s guessing games about her music started off as savvy. Now they’re essential.

Taylor Swift arrives on the 2019 iHeartRadio Tune Awards on the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

April 17 at 10:39 AM

Taylor Swift is plotting something again.

This is not a surprise; the pop megastar is always plotting something. At least, that’s what it seems like since she has spent her entire career as a puzzle master. It started when she was a young country singer, filling her album liner notes with coded messages in the lyrics, and has continued until today, as she’s . . . well, doing whatever she’s about to do.

During the weekend, Swift posted a countdown clock on Instagram, where she has 115 million followers — the countdown ends Friday, April 26. The Internet erupted in guessing games about what it all means (a new single? a new album??), egged on by the singer, who has started posting one mysterious photo every day with the caption “4.26.”

Swift, as you might know, has been using not-so-veiled messages for years. (Remember the snakes leading up to the “Reputation” release, alluding to her feud with Kim Kardashian West? Or that Grammy photo next to the “Bad Blood” lyrics, a song rumored to be about Katy Perry, who has never won a Grammy? Or the coy references in her “Look What You Made Me Do” music video, including a dig at her ex, Calvin Harris?) But at this point, Swift is famous enough that she can sell 1.2 million copies of “Reputation” in a week without doing a single promotional interview, so you would think she might stop with the guessing games.

Instead, it’s the opposite, as she seems intent on ratcheting up suspense about her coming project with a mind-blowing level of detail. It makes sense: While her hidden messages may have originally been a savvy ploy to gin up interest around her music, it has now become essential to her brand. When you infuse your work with enough clues that people treat it like “The Da Vinci Code,” as Vice put it, you had better keep raising the stakes every time — because otherwise, what separates you from every other artist who creates hype with cryptic hints?

Swift appears determined to up the intrigue this time; her latest puzzle apparently started a very long time ago. Fans noticed that on Swift’s official 2019 calendar, there was a mysterious butterfly stamp on the date April 13. So they were bracing themselves for something to happen on that day; 13 is widely known as her lucky number, which she used to paint on her hand before every concert. Sure enough, on April 13, the countdown debuted on Instagram and her website. Naturally, it’s leading up to April 26, which is (all together now!) 13 days later.

Billboards have additionally been sprouting up the world over with the countdown, pointing other folks to, which redirects to Swift’s reputable website online. The T and S are each capitalized, as it wouldn’t be Taylor Swift in the event that they weren’t.

Don’t fear, there’s extra. Closing fall, Swift posted an Instagram photograph of herself taking part in Scrabble along with her mom and wrote the caption, “Let the video games BEGIN.” Bet what day is Nationwide Scrabble Day? As BuzzFeed identified, April 13! Then, hypothesis round Swift’s subsequent album (her 7th) began in earnest in overdue February, when she posted a apparently random photograph of 7 palm bushes. Neatly, not anything is unintentional in Swift international. There also are 61 stars within the photograph, and wager what’s 61 days after February 24, the day the photograph was once posted? April 26!

We’ll forestall there, however simply know there are lots of, many “clues” that enthusiasts have noticed. Are all of them correct? Do they imply anything else? Who is aware of! Swift will undoubtedly by no means inform, however being an Extraordinarily On-line particular person, she’s let it’s recognized that she’s following together with the push of guessing. “She simply learn all of the theories,” Swift posted in February along an image of her cat, who seemed stunned.

In different phrases, Swift is aware of precisely what she’s doing, and he or she’s educated her enthusiasts to be specifically eagle-eyed. On the iHeartRadio Awards ultimate month, when she accredited the trophy for excursion of the 12 months, she signed off with a pointed speech to her supporters.

“I really like your hobby. I really like your consideration to element. I really like how a lot you care. I really like seeing all of the stuff you’re posting on-line,” Swift mentioned. “And I simply sought after to help you know when there’s new tune, you are going to be the primary to understand.”

Learn extra:

As Taylor Swift’s ‘Popularity’ generation winds down, what’s she truly looking to say?

Taylor Swift have shyed away from (and mocked) the media with ‘Popularity.’ And it labored.

What led Taylor Swift to submit her political Instagram message?

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