Proving that you can't keep a good snake down, Taylor Swift has returned to announce her sixth studio album, Reputation. The divisive star revealed the cover art for long-awaited follow-up to 2014's 1989 and it has fans and casual observers losing their collective shit.
The album itself is due out on November 10 but the first single is set for release tomorrow, which we can only hope is snake-related, given the cryptic teasers she began posting on social media this week.
Swift's return to music is significant not just because of the abnormally long wait since her last, Grammy-winning record, but also because of what's happened since then--and yes, it has to do with snakes. Over the past few years, Swift's fiercely-guarded public image as the feminist leader of her girl-gang of celebrity women took a hit thanks to feuds with fellow female artists and, perhaps most notably, a high-profile update in her Kanye West saga. In West's song "Famous," he included the line "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / I made that b**ch famous."
Soon after it was released, West said that Swift had given him permission to use the line, while Swift allegedly "cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message." That led to West's wife, Kim Kardashian West, snapchatting a recording of the phone call between Swift and West about the lyric, which Swift appears to give the green light to. Soon after, Kardashian West tweeted about National Snake Day, which many took as a reference to Swift's allegedly slithering behavior.
Swift then shot back, saying, "Where is the video of Kanye telling me he was going to call me 'that b**ch' in his song?" Swift wrote. "It doesn't exist because it never happened. You don't get to control someone's emotional response to being called 'that b**ch' in front of the entire world."
It was, undoubtedly, the most insane celebrity feud of last year and fueled pop culture dialogue until Swift seemed to disappear. Suddenly, she barely spoke on social media and made rare public appearances. It was in this silence--and the election of Donald Trump--that the singer whose built a brand on feminism and female empowerment faced a new wave of criticism for not speaking out. It wasn't until her recent court appearance over a sexual assault trial with a DJ that she began to return to the spotlight.
Now, with her social media mysteriously scrubbed clean last Friday and replaced with mysterious teaser videos of a CGI snake, Swift looks ready to reclaim her pop throne. We don't know what to expect from the singer's homecoming, but we can only hope that, months after the election, Swift's new music focuses on more than just her own reputation.