Taylor Swift’s New Single Takes Aim at Bigotry Across The Board

Homophobes 'just need to take several seats'.

Taylor Swift

by Emily Watkins |
Updated on

Just in time for Donald Trump’s birthday, TS released the second single from her upcoming album (Lover, coming August 23rd). Coincidence or not, it’s a satisfying confluence under a presidency which is only descending further into fear and prejudice while working as hard as it can to restrict women’s rights and support for LGBTQ citizens. Taking a phrase so often used to discredit supposedly emotional female voices, ‘You Need To Calm Down’ addresses bigots everywhere – homophobes, and misogynists, in particular. A polite directive ‘you just need to take several seats’ is only one blazing line from a track which covers allusions to the Westboro Baptist Church (‘makin’ that sign must’ve taken all night’), Gay Pride (‘Sunshine on the street at the parade/but you would rather be in the dark ages’) and cowardly twitter rants: naming no names, ‘Say it in the street, that's a knock-out/ But you say it in a tweet, that's a cop-out/ And I'm just like, "Hey/ Are you okay?’. Ahem.

Donald Trump

Fans have gone deep (as Taylor’s in particular are wont to do), positing interpretations line-by-line to infer references to the singer’s recently-ended feud with Katy Perry – the song’s pre-chorus proclaims ‘I’ve learned a lesson that stressin’ and obsessin’ ’bout somebody else is no fun’. Then, there’s the switcheroo in the idiom ‘sticks and stones’ to ‘snakes and stones never broke my bones’, which has been interpreted as an allusion to Tay’s friction with Kim K after the reality star called her, well, a snake. Most interestingly, and maybe least directly addressed in the song’s cryptic lyrics, is the theory that Taylor will be using her album release to announce her own lesbianism or bisexuality – while the tune sounds more like a declaration of allyship rather than an explicit coming-out, we’ll have to wait until August to see whether that particular theory holds water.

Taylor Swift Releases New Single, 'You Need To Calm Down'.
©Instagram / @taylorswift

Turning to the horse’s mouth, Taylor explained her inspiration for the new track to Apple Music: ‘It’s about how I’ve observed a lot of different people in our society who just put so much energy and effort into negativity, and it just made me feel like, “You need to just calm down, like you’re stressing yourself out.”’ Yes. Isn’t it true that nastiness is so often a reflection of inner conflict, rather than straight forward hatred? As they say, hurt people hurt people. 'This seems like it’s more about you than what you’re going off about. Like, just calm down.' Or, as per our new empowerment anthem: ‘Like, can you just not step on our gowns’? Like, precisely. Peace.

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