After uploading a series of cryptic snake videos this week, on Wednesday morning Taylor Swift announced on Instagram the title (Reputation), cover art (Swift, her face half-obscured by print headlines of her name), and release date (November 10) of her sixth studio album. According to one of the three photos posted Wednesday, Swift’s as-yet unrevealed lead single will be released on Thursday.
This announcement comes, of course, after an especially odd year on the internet for the 27-year-old singer. In July of last year, Swift caught blowback after it was revealed that she had seemingly lied about not giving Kanye West the go-ahead for his less-than-savory lyric about her on his song “Famous.” The revelation—broadcast to the world on an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians—felt like the culmination of what had been a seven-year saga, in which Swift had positioned herself as the Marty to Kanye’s Biff.
During her leave of absence, Swift wasn’t far from the news: she got together with Tom Hiddleston, then broke up with Tom Hiddleston; congratulated Russell Westbrook on his NBA MVP Award; finally released her catalog to streaming services; and, of course, endured an unsavory groping trial that she won earlier this month.
With Reputation, Swift appears ready to resume her role as media victim. The newsprint image is probably not a subtle tribute to Prince, but likely a reference to the way “Taylor Swift” has been dragged through the press. Swift knows as well as anyone how delicate a process managing public perception can be. She has gone on record to explain where she thinks many celebrities make a misstep, telling GQ in 2015, “a lack of self-awareness was always the downfall. … That seems to be the first thing to go out the door when people find success.” You’re not wrong, Taylor.