It’s Super Bowl week aka Swift Bowl week, which means that for the players involved, part of their work this week was off the field, for media day. I’m starting here with Travis Kelce for a couple of reasons. First, he is such a natural with the media which is probably why he’s a natural celebrity. Like no doubt he’s had training but everyone in this position has access to training, it’s about how they apply that training without compromising personality – and from what I’ve seen Travis is a model example. None of his answers, especially the ones about Taylor Swift, seem forced. He gives away just enough so that reporters have something quotable to take away but not so much that what he says becomes a bigger story. It’s safe, without being boring. Safe but still entertaining, which is such a tricky balance that even professional entertainers have a hard time achieving.
As mentioned, though, many of the questions that Travis fielded were about Taylor, and this is my second point: Travis is at his job, and his job is to play in the biggest American football game of the year… and he’s taking questions about his girlfriend. I appreciate that they weren’t all “no personal questions” about it but also, and you might have a different opinion, I LOVE that those questions were asked. I love that they were asked of a man. I love that they were asked of a man as he prepares to participate in an event that’s considered the Man Event of the Year. That so many of the reporters there, who ordinarily would be all up in the manly man football questions were more preoccupied with romance and dating.
Because women deal with this all the time. Here’s an example of Zendaya dealing with it in Mexico City the other day on the Dune: Part 2 press tour:
Zendaya looks so confused lmaoooâ€¦ pic.twitter.com/uMWDUTBL5B— â˜†La ðŸ¤ (@Ayah2156) February 8, 2024
Here’s another shot of a reporter or a fan giving her a picture of Tom Holland which she holds up good-naturedly:
Zendaya at â€˜DUNE: PART TWOâ€™ Mexico premiere. pic.twitter.com/pfIW7oZG5o— Film Updates (@FilmUpdates) February 7, 2024
Now apply that energy to a Super Bowl player press conference – this is what it was like for Travis who was there as one of the best tight ends in the history of the NFL, vying for his second Super Bowl ring, but instead playing the role of Taylor Swift’s Boyfriend (at least half the time) during the media day. I’m not mad at it, sorry not sorry.
One question Travis did not provide a definitive answer to is whether or not Taylor would be at the Swift Bowl. Most people are assuming that she’ll show up, especially since everyone is now an expert in Japan-Vegas flight times, but Taylor’s priority right now is her own job. She’s now played two shows in Tokyo and has two more to go and I told you the other day in my post about her at the Grammys and the Celine Dion controversy that “this is Taylor Swift, by the end of the day, there will be another distraction”. And she provided one almost immediately after the Grammys – the tracklist for her upcoming new album, The Tortured Poets Department:
And also the announcement that The Eras tour movie will be coming to Disney Plus:
We can’t know for sure, obviously, that she was always planning to release the Tortured Poets tracklist when she did, but it really was a convenient pivot out of the fumble at the Grammys to refocus attention on the story she intended to dominate the show with: her album. In this case, the tracklist is getting people to talk about the gossip she’s serving up herself. I mean, these song titles…
I don’t care for the title of the album, it’s corny AF. But I’m definitely here for the song titles and the features. Taylor with Post Malone? Taylor with Florence + The Machine? Can’t wait. But also…
“So Long, London” is the first song of Side B on the new album, which makes it the FIFTH song on the album overall. And you know the significance of track 5 when it comes to Taylor Swift, right? She said it herself when Lover came out:
“I didn’t realize I was doing this, but as I was making albums, I guess I was just kind of putting a very vulnerable, personal, honest, emotional song as track five. So because you noticed this, I kind of started to put the songs that were really honest, emotional, vulnerable, and personal as track five.”
“All Too Well” was a track 5. “Dear John” was a track 5, as was “my tears ricochet”, all known to be among the most profoundly personal songs Taylor has ever written. But specifically with respect to this new one…
“Delicate” was the track 5 off reputation. And, well, we all know that that song was about Joe Alwyn, who is British. And now, “So Long, London”, will be Taylor’s freshest track 5. It’s not a stretch to assume that “So Long, London” will be about Joe. She lived there when they were together, for years. That’s why her return to New York City last year was such a story – because it had been a LONG time since we’d seen her squadding in Tribeca.
We already knew that their breakup would be told with her next work, but the fact that she’s grounding the breakup song in what she has said to be the most important position on the album? It only adds to the anticipation. This was for the fans and for the gossips.
But… we’re not done yet.
Because after “So Long, London”, the other track that popped for me when I first scanned the tracklist was track 8, “Florida!!! (feat Florence + The Machine). My mind went straight to politics. Last week in my post about TNT: The Big Scary Rom-Com I wrote about how MAGA supporters were losing their sh-t over Taylor’s potential political influence, wondering whether or not she might pick up from where she started in 2018 and continued in her documentary, Miss Americana.
Could “Florida!!!” with its three exclamation points be… political? Florida was a critical state in that f-cker’s win in 2016. Florida has become, per Vox, “the center of the Republican universe”. And to borrow from Swifties and their obsession with Taylor numerology, he was elected on November 8, in other words 11-8. Tortured Poets is Taylor’s 11th album and “Florida!!!” is the 8th track…
Coincidence or conspiracy?
Who else could be “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived”, which is another new song on the album? Taylor is hyperbolic, no doubt, but could any of her boyfriends or her enemies really be the “smallest man who ever lived”? I know she hates Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta but, like, would she actually say that the two men who wronged her, specifically, would be the smallest men who EVER lived, like ever ever? Ever ever?
Maybe I’m a clown. But just the possibility of her leaning into her platform, in this election year, is …well… it’s huge. It’s why MAGA is so anxious about her, can’t stop fretting about her. Is she really giving them something to fret about? Or, again, am I a clown? Tell me over at The Squawk. (app link here)