Taylor Swift has gone from the personal pride of her seven-week-old single, “Me!,” and moved on to Pride with a capital P in its just-released followup, “You Need to Calm Down” (exclamation point only implied this time). It’s in a long line of anti-haters singles from Swift, but this time she’s returning fire not just at her own detractors but dedicating a significant portion of the song to taking on homophobes… very cheerfully, in keeping with all other recent Swift mood signifiers.
The first verse has Swift checking out her own social media mentions: “You are somebody that I don’t know / But you’re takin’ shots at me like it’s Patron / And I’m must like, damn, it’s 7 a.m. / Say it in the street, that’s a knockout / But you say it in a tweet, that’s a cop-out.”
Come verse 2, she’s getting socially conscious in a way that will surprise only anyone who slept through the celebrity news cycle in the first two days of Pride Month, “Why are you mad when you could be GLAAD?” she asks, echoing the last phrase for good measure. “Sunshine on the street at the parade / But you would rather be in the dark ages / Makin’ that sign must’ve taken all night.”
For anyone who wasn’t clear on her intentions from the mere acronyms of the previous verse, she gets more explicit with the “shade never made anybody less gay” line in the pre-chorus. A possible (probable?) Billy Porter mention comes up in a different iteration of the refrain: “Can you just not step on his gown?”
A fully produced video for the song is due June 17,. “I wanted you to hear the song first, then see the video,” wrote the singer. “Because the video is very worth the wait. There’s a lot going on in the video so I wanted that to be a separate discovery.”
Hours before the midnight release of the track, Swift unloaded a battery of coming-attractions news on social media, revealing the title and release date for her forthcoming album. The 18-track “Lover” (which turned out to be an incredibly easy guess after all, after it literally appeared in bright lights in her “Me!” video) will come out August 23.
On June 1, Swift urged her fans to contact senators in her home state of Tennessee and elsewhere to demand passage of the Equality Act. Later that night, she made much the same appeal at an iHeart Wango Tango concert in Los Angeles, appearing in full rainbow garb, leaving fans to wonder whether the fringe of many colors might make its way into the next video.