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Taylor Swift is a mastermind at leaving hints, clues, and mysteries in her oeuvre. From the beginning, fans have been treated to Easter eggs and surprises on album liner notes, in addition to her lyrics and, later, during her worldwide Eras Tour. “I wanted to do something that incentivized fans to read the lyrics because my lyrics are what I’m most proud of,” she explained of her earliest Easter eggs on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”in 2021.
According to Swift, she would obsess over the small print in album notes for CDs, so she thought this would be the perfect spot to place her Easter eggs. This started when she was just a teenager, with her revealing secret codes that “would either tell them a story about the album or a hint about what the song was about.” Her decision to use hidden messages jumped to an even higher level after fans loved them so much. “I should never have learned that because then I couldn’t stop,” she joked to Fallon.
This has continued throughout her career, like when Swift explained in a later appearance on Fallon’s late-night show that she had a dedicated file just for the Easter eggs in the music video for her song “Bejeweled.” Then, when it came time to embark on her worldwide Eras Tour, Swift naturally stuffed the epic live show full of Easter eggs, some of which you may have missed.
There are surprises even before the show starts
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Fans of Taylor Swift are dedicated like few others, like when her supporters in Argentina began camping outside the stadium months before their Eras Tour shows. Generally, anyone inside the stadium before the show begins is treated to a carefully curated playlist. Listen closely, and many of the songs are clearly intentionally chosen. For example, some songs reference opening acts who joined Swift in various cities. The playlist includes the song “My Song 5” by Haim, who opened for Swift on her Los Angeles dates. “True Blue” by Boygenius — which includes Phoebe Bridgers, who opened for Swift in Nashville and several other East Coast cities— is also on the pre-show playlist. “Number One Fan” by MUNA, who joined Swift in six cities, plays over the speakers, too.
One particularly interesting song on the playlist is “In Ha Mood” by Ice Spice. This turned out to be an Easter egg, after all, as Swift later released a remix of the “Midnights” track”Karma” featuring the rapper, who joined Swift to perform the song in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The playlist concludes with the classic golden oldie song “You Don’t Own Me” as covered by Dusty Springfield. The song’s title and lyrics could reference her beef with her old record label and Scooter Braun,though we may never know for sure.
The countdown to Taylor Swift is on
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Right before Taylor Swift takes the stage, Dusty Springfield singing “You Don’t Own Me” plays over the speakers. At the same time, an analog clock appears onstage, with numbers counting downfrom 2 minutes and 23 seconds before every show. While this time’s meaning isn’t confirmed, Swift fans think it’s a reference to a big announcement coming on February 23, 2024.
In line with this theory is an Easter egg in the music video for “Karma.” At one moment, two hands hold a plate with a coffee cup on top that shows an analog clock in its latte foam art. The left hand has a light blue painted fingernail perfectly aligned with the “VIII” on the clock. The right hand with a black fingernail aligns with the “II” on the clock. Swift announced her release of “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” in August 2023, the eighth month of the year, matching the first Roman numeral, and the color palette of that album is also light blue.
Meanwhile, theblack fingernail could represent “Reputation.” At the time of the tour, Swift had two re-recordings left to release: her eponymous debut from 2006 and 2017’s “Reputation.” The black nail aligning with the “II,” along with her pre-show countdown clock starting at 2:23 and “Reputation’s” cover being black and white, could point to “Reputation (Taylor’s Version)”news arriving in February 2024.
Her guitars have extra special meanings
The earliest image of Taylor Swift’s career was a young teen singing heartfelt lyrics while strumming her guitar. As she grew in popularity, this connection to the instrument that made her famous only grew. During the Eras Tour, Swift plays multiple guitars adorned with different colors and decorations. One of her most extravagant ones is a bedazzled — or, better yet, bejeweled — guitar. On her Instagram story, Swift showed a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of this guitar and asked fans if it was made by a professional or “my parents with super glue and a free afternoon.” Of course, it was her parents who supplied this DIY touch for the tour. One of the most notable features is Swift’s special number — 13 — written with sparkles on the guitar.
After the singer released “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” in July 2023, she started using a new guitar on tour, which turned out to be an old guitar. The instrument has a distinctive koi fish design on its face, and it’s the same guitar she used when she originally toured the albumin 2011. This also ties into an Easter egg at the end of her “Lavender Haze” music video when she’s surrounded by swimming koi fish. In addition to using this specialguitar while playing “Long Live”during the Eras Tour, she also brings her original band members onstage.
The many versions of Taylor Swift
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One of the first big instances of Taylor Swift referencing her previous work through Easter eggs came during her “Reputation” era. “The first time that we did a crazy video like that was a video called ‘Look What You Made Me Do,'” Swiftexplained on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”She said of making the visuals for the music video, “I started playing with doing nods to former musical eras I’ve been in in my career and all kinds of weird stuff for them to just go through the video and be like ‘That over there, what’s that? Does this connect to that?'”
Later, when performing the song on the Eras Tour, Swift again played with the idea of referencing her past work, except, by this time, she’d released more albums than when she originally released the “Look What You Made Me Do”video.
Onstage during the tour, several dancers are, at one point, in glass boxes wearing various outfits that all tie into her albums.One is dressed in purple to represent “Speak Now,” and when Swift approaches the box, she unsuccessfully lets the dancer out. Naturally, fans immediately thought this represented her “Speak Now” re-recording would come soon. (Spoiler alert: They were right.) Another dancer is wearing a cheerleader outfit like those in the “Shake It Off” music videofrom”1989,” and a few other dancers were also dressed to represent “1989,” which was ultimately released in October 2023.
With Taylor Swift, there’s always more than meets the eye
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On Taylor Swift’s early albums, the singer used lowercase letters on her liner notes with the occasionalrandom uppercase letter. These turned out to be Easter eggs — and not random at all. Combined, these capitalized letters spelled out hints to provide more details about the songs. Years later, Swift once again used carefully highlighted letters to provide clues to fans. During the “Red” segment of the concert, Swift wears a white T-shirt with DIY lettering on the front, with the words varying at different tour stops. For example, one shirt read, “A LOT GOING ON AT THE MOMENT,” referencing a 2020Instagram post during the COVID-19 that was captioned,”Not a lot going on at the moment.”
During another performance, Swift’s white T-shirt read, “WHO’S TAYLOR SWIFT ANYWAY? EW.”— one of the voiceover lyrics on her song “22.” While singing this song during her tourstop in Atlanta, Georgia, Swift’s T-shirt said, “WE ARE NEVER GETTING BACK TOGETHER. LIKE EVER,” with the first sentence referencing her song of the same name. Sticking with the album theme, Swift literally used red font for certain letters on her T-shirt phrases. In the examples, “A LOT,” “EW,” “NEVER,” and “EVER” were all completely red, though fans are still speculating about this potential Easter egg’s meaning.
Her Easter eggs never go out of style
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One great part of the Eras Tour experience is witnessing all of Taylor Swift’s wardrobe choices throughout the show, with many appearing to have a deeper meaning because she often provides clues in her outfits. After all,Swift toldEntertainment Weekly in 2019 that, in her experience,”Easter eggs can be left on clothing or jewelry.” During the “Fearless” portion of the setlist on the Eras Tour, Swift’s glittery gold dress looks to be a throwback reference to the similar-looking dress she wore when originally touring the album. Also, on Swift’s earlier tours, one of her signature moves was making the shape of a heart with both of her hands. The singer brought this back during the Eras Tour, showing love to her fans with heart-hands.
To the premiere of the taped version of the concert, “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour,” Swift wore agorgeous, light blue gown from designer Oscar de la Renta. Naturally, the gown’s color palette resembled her album “1989,” and the timing here aligned with the release of “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” which came out soon after the movie’s premiere. Previously, she’d also hinted at the album’s release when she wore several completely new blue outfits during her Eras Tour performance in Los Angeles, California, on August 9, 2023. The following day, Swift announced in an Instagram post that “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” would be her next re-release.
Order is everything for Taylor Swift
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In “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour,” the pre-show countdown from the live performanceswas shortened — likely to reduce the overall runtime. In the film, the countdown is just 13 seconds, a special number throughout her career and potentially another Easter egg. Additionally, seven cuts from her live Eras Tour setlist are excluded in the film. The first divergence from the live show is the 13th song in the setlist, which was”Champagne Problems” from her album “Evermore” in theconcerts but “…Ready For It?” from “Reputation” in the film. Knowing that very few things are coincidences with Taylor Swift, fans speculate that the 13th song in the movie coming from “Reputation” is a hint that it’ll be the singer’s next re-release.
While it’s well known that Swift always performs two special songs toward the end of the concert that change from night to night, once during the tour, Swift actually altered the normal setlist. When starting the “Folklore” segment of the show, Swift usually played the song “Invisible String,” whichuses beautiful, colorful imagery to describe how past relationships helped lead her to then-boyfriend Joe Alwyn. However, she ultimately swapped the song for”The 1″ — a song about lost love. With art imitating life, news of Swift and Alwyn’s separation surfaced soon after the switch.
She made up for lost time
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“Reputation” was the last album that Taylor Swift toured before theCOVID-19 pandemic. Following that epic stadium tour in 2018, Swift released her next studio album, “Lover,” in 2019 and had planned several “Lover Fest” live shows to play the album. Unfortunately, Swift had to cancel the shows due to the pandemic. “I miss you terribly and can’t wait til we can all safely be at shows together again,” Swift posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
When it came time for the Eras Tour, no one knew if Swift would perform songs in chronological order of her album releases or not. As fans quickly found out, Swift started each show with songs from her “Lover” era. Here, Swift started right where she left off, playing the album in stadiums for the first time. Additionally, it may be a show of power against her old label, Big Machine Records, because “Lover” was her first album with Republic Records — and the first where she owned her masters outright.
When opening the Eras Tour, dancers walk out holding massive fans that appear to be in the shape of scallop shells. Several are then placed over the stage and open up to reveal Swift rising up from underneath the stage. This could be a reference to the famous Renaissance painting “The Birth of Venus.” Of course, Venus is the goddess of love, so everything comes full circle here.
There’s no place like home for Taylor Swift
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When performing songs from her album “Folklore” during the Eras Tour, Taylor Swift appears with a lifelike cabin in the woods. More than just creating a vibe as cozy as a cardigan, the house is also just like the one she used during her performance at the 2021 Grammy Awards. Then, while performing the song “Lover,” Swift is in front of a house that resembles the fictional home in the song’s music video. She concludes the “Lover” portion of the show with “The Archer,” and the screen shows the house catching on fire.
Later, when she performs “Bad Blood,” the house from “Lover” appears again — this time intact, but not for long. The video screen shows Swift wearing a black outfit and walking through the house. She then proceeds to throw a lit match onto the ground, and the place goes up in blue flames. This could be to match the blue theme of “1989,” which includes “Bad Blood.”
Of course, there are other speculations about the meaning behind the burning house. For example, it could reference the10-minute version of “All Too Well” when she sings,”And did the twin flame bruise paint you blue?” Or it could reference the song”Ivy,” in which shesings, “He’s gonna burn this house to the ground.” Some even wonder if all the re-recorded albums are complete, with her metaphorically burning down this chapter of her life or, hey, her old record label. We’re all here for any shady side of her that Swiftwants to show us.
Taylor Swift’s magical lights
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Every attendee of the Eras Tour receives a light-up wristband upon entering their venue. One notable exception was fans who saw Taylor Swift in Los Angeles. Instead, attendees found their wristbands waiting for them at their seats. Here, the wristbands were shaped slightly differently than in previous tour stops, and the lights glowed brighter. People began to speculate that this was for film crews to capture the concert for a movie.Indeed, “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” took footage from her performances in Los Angeles. Throughout her setlist, the wristbands automatically changed to sync up with the vibe of the song — and often to coordinate with the set design. For example, the wristbands created the appearance of a rainbow while Swift performed “You Need to Calm Down.” This matches the song’s lyrics, which support the LGBTQ+ community, and the vibrant colors of the music video, at the end of which she urged fans to sign a petition to support the Equality Act.
While performing “Look What You Made Me Do” on tour, the wristbands were perfectly synced to give the appearance of a snake slitheringacross the stadiums. In another fun instance, fans who saw Swift perform in Atlanta were treated to a surprise when everyone’s wristbands turned purple at the end of the show, hinting at her official announcement of “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)’s” release date the following week.
All of her albums in one spot
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Prior to the Eras Tour’s debut, Taylor Swift posted on Instagram behind-the-scenes photos of her rehearsing with the caption “In my Eras era.” In the final photo of the series, Swift showed off colorfully painted nails. Fans were quick to notice that each finger thematically represented a different studio album — all in order of release. Going from right to left in the photo is green for her eponymous debut album, gold for “Fearless,” purple for “Speak Now,” red for “Red,” light blue for “1989,” black for “Reputation,” pink for “Lover,” gray for “Folklore,” tan/beige for “Evermore,” and sparkly blue for “Midnights.”
Swift kept her nails like this for the first 10 shows, but on the 11th, eagle-eyed fans spotted that instead of the pink nail for “Lover,” her nail was painted orange, which she kept for the remainder of the tour. Knowing Swift’s love for mysteries and clues, fans began theorizing if the color orange would be the palette or inspiration for her next album. The next album will be her 11th, so it only makes sense.
In another mashup of albums, the house behind her during the”Lover” section of the concert includes nine distinct rooms and areas, all with color schemes that represent her albums. Of course, Swift has 10 albums, but she didn’t actually miss one. Instead,Swift liked a TikTok video that theorized that the starry night sky outside of the house represented “Midnights.” Clever as ever!
Dance along with Taylor Swift
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Many songs in Taylor Swift’s discography practically beg fans to get up and dance. A social sharing platform like TikTok then naturally became a place for people to show off their moves to Swift’s songs. Even better, the singer caught wind of some of these dances and incorporated them into the Eras Tour. TikTok creator Mikael Arellano posted a video of original choreography to Swift’s song “Bejeweled” in which they fabulously twirled around and made a twinkle motion with their hands.
Then, Arellano posted a reaction video on TikTok when they saw Swift perform their move onstage. Swift even went one step further and put Arellano front and center during her tour stop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While performing the song “22,” Swift walked over to Arellano and gifted them the black hat she was wearing. Arellano posted a video of the moment, with the singer adorably holding their hand for a few moments during the performance.
Beyond imitating dance trends, Swift also established her own moves. While singing “Karma,” Swift performed a piece of choreography with a few side steps and spins. Fans immediately began copying or remixing the “Karma” danceon TikTok. People were also quick to recreate Swiftrunning across the stage during the song “August.” Actors Penn Badgley and Kevin Bacon even got in on the action and posted running videos soundtracked with “August.”
Taylor Swift references her music videos
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Dedicated Taylor Swift fans who have watched all of her music videos are treated to several Easter eggs during the Eras Tour, which references previous visuals the singer used. For example, the music video for 2014’s “Blank Space” sees Swift wrecking a car with a golf club. “The song is essentially about a girl who comes off incredibly charming and is very seductive and pulls people into her world, then proceeds to go absolutely psycho,” Swift said of the video in the documentary “Taylor Swift: The 1989 World Tour Live.”
During her “1989” tour, the singerwielded a golf club onstage and even used it as a sound loop. Years later, while performing the song during the Eras Tour, Swift stands on top of a box with screens that project thecar from the music video. Here, her dancers hold bright, neon golf clubs, with Swift also having a glowing golf club in her left hand.
She references her music video clothing and aesthetics, too. During the “Midnights” portion of the show, Swift sings the song “Lavender Haze” in an extravagant,fuzzy purple jacket. The color goes beyond referencing the song’s title; it appears to be the exact same jacket she wore inthe track’s music video. Then,while performing “Willow,” Swift recreates the imagery of magic, glowing spheres, sorcery, and capes from the song’s video.
There are many set surprises
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When looking down at the Eras Tour stage, which is covered in changing digital screens, there are plenty of Easter eggs that correspond to the song Taylor Swift is playing. For example, the stage resembles a guitar during the song “Fearless.” When Swift sings “Mastermind,” the stage turns to black and white squares to resemble a chess board, a nod to the song’s title. In another moment, thefloor appears to crack under Swift while she sings the song “Delicate.” With certain dance steps, the cracks begin to grow. Then, in one final jump with both feet landing on the stage at the end of the song’s bridge, the entire stage turns into cracks. Later, while singing “Look What You Made Me Do,” fans can see a shadow extending under Swift in the form of serpents, the unofficial mascot of “Reputation.”
Swift starts the Eras Tour with songs from her “Lover” album and concludes with 2022’s “Midnights.” Astute fans will notice a similar set design for both of these segments, including distinctive arches. This could be areference to the theorized connection between the two albums. In fact, the original working title for “Lover” was “Daylight,” which would make it the opposite of “Midnights.”While singing “Lover” songs, the arches are soft pink like a sunrise; then, during the “Midnights” segment, the arches turn deep blue like the night sky.
She keeps all her fans guessing
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The beauty of live shows is that anything can happen, yet many fans went to the Eras Tour thinking they knew what to expect thanks to the tour’s vastly spread setlist. However, Taylor Swift likes to keep audiences on their toes. “Let it be said about the Eras Tour, we’re tricksy. That’s what we are. We enjoy a good, healthy setlist hijinks,” she reportedly said at a Texas concert (via The Tampa Bay Times). Swift added that she recognized that people could search for the exact setlist online and could “come prepared with your little flashcards in your pockets,” noting people saying things like “Iknow what comes next,””I know what she wears next,” and “I know what she sings next.” But is it really ever that easy with the “Anti-Hero” singer?
After completing her first set of dates in the United States, Taylor Swift moved to performances in South America — but her setlist remained the same. Not everything stayed the same, though, like when she adorably remixed her own lyrics. While performing the closing song “Karma” in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Swift replaced “Karma is the guy on the screen / Coming straight home to me” with”Karma is the guy on the Chiefs / Coming straight home to me.”This clearly referenced her relationship with NFL player Travis Kelce, who was in attendance at the show. A video captured by a fan showed Kelce immediately reacting to the surprise lyric change with a huge smile and his hands covering his face.