So back before “Shake it Off” came out I wrote a whole list of predictions I had for the mysterious Album 5, and some (really quite beautiful and well-thought-out) ideas were immediately squashed by the revelation that 1989 was going to be a full pop, eighties-inspired, neon-coloured album, but some of it was pretty spot-on, if I do say so myself. To recap my thus-far successes:

this combination of 

maybe a ukulele song? sea shanty? i am happy doing my own thing? cheery fuck-you to haters?


re: mean, re: the lucky one, a song that addresses fame & its less appealing bits in some way — maybe a slow song about a low day, not up to facing the lights/cameras. maybe ‘i sit with my cats and watch law and order, so very funny but no, tabloids’ (can’t really see her doing that, but maybe using the humour and self-awareness of 22)

— kind of totally points towards Shake it Off, although that last bit in parentheses clearly shows that I have been lacking in faith when it comes to Taylor, and I will never forget how I underestimated her, lord have mercy

(I also wrote that she probably wouldn’t call herself a feminist for maybe a couple years just a few days before the article where she first declared it was published, so there we are)


possibly a retro theme (black and white + bright red lips and basically everything she wears)

— I mean I guess 80s is totally retro now, right? heck, 2001 is retro. 2005 is probably retro (actually yes it definitely is because that’s when the sisterhood of the traveling pants came out, and looking at it feels a tiiiny bit like looking at history. like history that’s very important to me personally and ingrained in my development as a human being)

I’ve decided I can’t not make more predictions now, even as stuff keeps getting released so quickly that I barely have time to write something before the next piece of info comes out. (I mean, I’m not totally complaining, but I like having space to think about things! I will happily deconstruct a tiny clue for several weeks/months! I am descended from a kid who spent hours listening to podcasts prodding at the tiniest of possible clues and fore-shadowings in the HP books!)

Track 1

Okay, now we know officially that the first song is called Welcome to New York because clips of it are being played now and it gets released tonight/tomorrow as part of the iTunes pre-order of the album. (I’ve been avoiding the clips just because I want to savour it officially and all at once). Taylor talks about the song in a video here. I especially like the wide-eyed thing (that hearkens right back to “your sweet disposition, and my wide-eyed gaze,” am I right?) in the context of arriving in the city, and the whole electric city with endless potential.

Here’s what I wrote on a “city song” over the summer:

Beyonce’s line about when the palms of my two hands hold each other + walking solo through the city + independent woman vibes (combined with taylor’s delectable attention to detail, magic of the mundane refrigerator light, wet pavement etc)

In general I’ve been anticipating a big city song, a welcome to the big world, welcome to the grown me, welcome to my life, sparkly iridescent walking-fast-through-traffic-lights updated version of State of Grace where you have all these city sounds (re: Begin Again the film, even though I didn’t really like the film, because I did like it in relation to thinking about Taylor) and com/motion and a pulsing life force and you feel small within it as it swirls around you, but also big and powerful, like you own yourself, like you can harness the lights, like good things are coming on the autumn breeze and you’re gonna take the whole damn world by storm.

Track 2

I was just talking the other day about the possibility of a 1920s/Zelda Sayre-inspired song when Taylor released a lyric excerpt from Track 2 that totally confirmed it for me. See the deco-hotel-wallpaper cardstock, the jewels — 1929, here we come! before the market collapse though. 

Taylor has a documented history with F. Scott (see her reading Tender is the Night, see The Great Catsby shirt, recently reading that Zelda novel in Vogue article) and, I mean, the Fitzgeralds have been around a lot lately in general (which I still attribute fully to baby-fish-mouth, because I am absolutely convinced that my favourite people on the internet are vastly powerful and incredibly influential in every part of the world but anyway)

Zelda goes well with Taylor because she was a great female creator taking NYC by storm and being surrounded by lesser men. I feel like Tay could also be inspired by the wit of Dorothy Parker & that sly, take-no-shit wryness and the idea of a Modern Woman in general (like Thoroughly Modern Millie without the gross racism and ending up with a secretly rich husband. But like the wide-eyed, hope-seeking sister Maria/Julie Andrews swinging her suitcase into the city and finding out what all the commotion is about) and the main character in Libba Bray’s The Diviners (and Maureen Johnson’s Suite Scarlett isn’t set in the 20s, but it has that big city, glimpses of past glamour thing going on, too). There’s such a tradition of women-taking-on-the-city and I’m so excited to see how it surfaces throughout the album.

The 20s are glittery, they’re over-the-top, and they’re a mess (also re: the 20s as a symbol for the 20s period of your life, re: the Rizzle Kicks Roaring 20s album, though I haven’t listened to it yet). They’re roaring. This’ll be 1989’s fan-fiction-y Starlight-type song, only hopefully better, and hopefully not glorifying Zelda and Scott’s relationship but maybe evoking the wide-open-worldness but also precariousness and betrayal and stuff. Also did I mention Big Glittery City? 

My only issues with this idea now are that if this is Track 2, it can’t just be jazzy remix of the lead “Welcome to New York” single. And if it were more of a “The Lucky One” profile song, it would be later on in the album. But looking at the lyrics released, it seems like it could have a kind of Enchanted / Everything Has Changed first meeting, let’s get swept away, magical allure of the city thing going on. I’m also just getting excited about how a relationship with the city endures beyond any one personal relationship, how it connects back through time, to the 80s, the 20s, and beyond (yes, actually I’ll just predict right now that the song is called New Amsterdam. Going all the way back to 1600s, man.). Also I admit I don’t know exactly what 1920s-80s music sounds like, but there was that jazzy Kid Koala remix of Crazy in Love for the Gatsby film, so I believe there can be some kind of synth-y, jazzy fusion?

Track 3

This takes place before Out of the Woods, but the lyric Taylor released sounds kinda WANEEGBT or the end of something, so I’m not sure where exactly in a relationship arc it will fall. I just don’t know, man.

Track 4


Track 5

“you were all I wanted… but not like this”

conspicuously plain lined-paper background. Maybe this is the summer love Harry Styles song? (tbh I don’t want to read the Rolling Stone description of it again because I really just want to hear the song itself as a whole)

Track 6


Track 11

earlier I wrote that there’d better be driving on the new album, because that’s such a key Taylor thing. At the same time, she recently spoke about how she hasn’t been able to drive without a security escort for at least six years (that sucks, Tay, I’m sorry), so I don’t know how much driving still feels like freedom to her. But this could still be an open road song about the feeling of getting away, of road trips when you’re younger and when you’re older & adventure! vibes and her road trip with Karlie Kloss and that young wild and free thing but with her particular stamp and focus that would actually be really cool and a different angle from her (re: Lorde’s 400 Lux, for instance, which is one of my favourite Lorde songs).

Bonus track 1

The verb tenses in the lyric snippet Tay released are messing me up, so I have no idea. I just keep thinking of Ed Sheeran, though.


  • Way back to “Mine,” and also in “Stay Stay Stay” and “Starlight” (even though I know “Starlight” isn’t about her), there’s a clear image of marriage and a definite romantic future, and kids and the whole bit. I am venturing to imagine that with this album, Taylor might leave that out. Not just because of her recent declarations of not-dating, but because I figure that she, like me, as I get older, has also considered different versions of her future—ones in which she might not marry, might lead a different life. I like (okay I LOVE) the idea of a song that’s like “I don’t know if I’ll have someone for always. I don’t know if this is forever. But I’m here for the long haul. FOR MYSELF.” Okay, so maybe that’s just my dream of a “best friend anthem!” or, oh god, “love song to myself!” but I think she could crystallize it into a moment where she sees that there is more than one way to get older, and that’s both a bit intimidating and TOTALLY EXCITING
  • I wrote in my last predictions post that I wanted a song for the ocean, i.e. what’s lost and found in the sea, looking out at the waves and wondering what they will bring. And I STILL WANT AN OCEAN SONG. So bad. And considering her instagramming over the past year, and her recent-ish So Ocean photoshoot with Rolling Stone, I feel like it could still be a possibility. Although most of the album will be NYC, this would be an escape from the city lights, a frolic in the surf (remember when she was hanging out with Lorde on the beach?! me too), maybe a more thoughtful, nighttime walk when you’re starting to see the lights flicker on down the coast or around the bay and you feel this great “big stare of the night” (as I recently read in the poem “Lamentation” by a Welsh poet called Lynette Roberts, and which I like because I think it has the power to be menacing but doesn’t have to be, it can also just be the cosmic sense that there is so much going on, but in a way that is weirdly quietened even as it’s magnified by the night)
  • (Sonically, I don’t know exactly what this song would be and maybe it made more sense when I imagined Album 5 as more folksy/acoustic, but if she could capture the feeling of speeding through the woods, I know she could also do ocean in some kind of pop. Maybe an ethereal, at times mermaid-y collaboration with Imogen Heap.)
  • I also really want a spooky/haunted vibes song mainly just because it’s coming out so close to Halloween and because I keep getting the urge to put Speak Now’s “Haunted” into my fall/spooky playlist even though I don’t like it all that much. So if there’s any kind of reference to a jack-o-lantern or flickering lights or more echoey beauty stuff (like in Out of the Woods), I will be very excited. I mean, any reference to fall, really.
  • Also, okay, according to Rolling Stone and fan stuff, there’s gonna be a why’d you take my dancers, Katy Perry, that was shitty of you song, which… eh? I just want to wait and see, because Taylor’s been so big on supporting ladies recently, that I don’t want the song to mess that up. 
  • And also a Harry Styles / summer love song? All that makes me think of is boardwalks and ice cream and seagulls and sea, and it’s not my ideal ocean song, but if it ends up being like that, I’ll take it. Also! ferris wheels and cotton candy and splinters and carnivals and Coney Island (re: XO and also this fantastic novel The Miseducation of Cameron Post and this other great one of which I forget the title). Okay, yeah, I’m excited about that now. 

General thoughts

I’m a little apprehensive about the Martin & Shellback presence on the album, just because their songs on Red were not my favourites and I worry that they’ll water down the shimmer & magic & precise, delectable details Taylor writes. But I do have faith in Taylor. I’m really excited for whatever else she does with Jack Antonoff, ‘cause Out of the Woods is MY THING and because it manages to have a mythical echoiness and specificity of sparkling detail and vibe while still being very pop and repetitive. Also I’m not sure if an Imogen Heap collab is confirmed or if that’s a way old rumour, but I want it!!!

Also there’s gotta be a reference to 2AM or something, as well as a specific day of the week, because that is seriously a Taylor trademark by now.

Overall, I’m thinking glittery city, arms wide open, rushing sea, starry night, long drives, returning home in the dark, walking through a leaf-strewn central park, flickery jack-o-lanterns and so much sky and brightness and soaring and dancing and busy streets in a big breathing city and quiet days with rain and a curl of steam off tea and loud street sounds and butterflies and the way it feels to be invincible with friends, and powerful by yourself, and bold and bright and bombastic and fantastic and everything!!!!! I am so excited for it and I’m so excited that I actually have no idea what it’ll be like I love this place of not knowing and I love that I will know soon and I just have a lot of feelings all around, okay?

I love this Kara and I am so excited to find out if you were right about things!! I definitely think you got Welcome to new york soooo right though.