The moment Taylor Swift’s latest album 1989 hit stores and iTunes accounts everywhere, fans began speculating about each song’s inspiration. A feud between Swift and Katy Perry purportedly sparked “Bad Blood” and of course Harry Styles speculations run rampant through online fan forums. But what if these songs aren’t about celebrity controversy and gossip at all? What if she’s grappling with something a little closer to home–the panic and angst of college students? Could it be–that tracks from 1989 are actually inspired by the student experience at Johns Hopkins University? Hey, a girl can dream. Here’s a rundown of songs from T-Swift’s latest album, with a distinctly Homewood twist. Happy listening!
Out of the Woods: 1989 reviewers have praised Swift’s powerful, frantic energy in this stadium hit, rumored to be detailing a failed relationship with Harry Styles. But forget Styles. Clearly Taylor has visited B-Level during finals period because the MSE Library, a veritable incubator of desperation and hysteria, most certainly influenced this single. But like Swift, we’ll eventually be out of the figurative woods of finals–so take heart.
I Know Places: Speaking of the library, “I Know Places,” suggests Swift indeed knows places, namely D-Level. That’s right: good-girl-gone-bad T-Swift has completed the D-Level Challenge. After all, the lines “Good to see that we’re out here in plain sight / I can hear them whisper as we pass by / It’s a bad sign, bad sign” will resonate with anyone who’s spent an illicit night getting freaky in between the stacks of D-Level. Scared of getting caught? Just remember “They are the hunters and we are the foxes,” except they’re actually just Hopkins Security and everyone knows we can easily outrun them.
Blank Space: Date party is three days away and like always, you’ve put off finding a date until the last minute. But don’t worry, Tay’s been there too, as she explains so catchily in “Blank Space.” What else could the blank space Swift sings about be if not your sorority’s date spreadsheet? So next time you’re stressing about whether you should ask someone from your “long list of ex-lovers” to date party, listen to this song for inspiration. Will it be forever or will it go up in flames? Well, that’s a chance you’ll have to take as your filling out your own blank space.
Clean: There’s a very specific kind of gross you feel after frat hopping for the first time at Hopkins during O-Week, in all its late-August humidity. But never fear, Taylor feels your pain, which she explains in the last track of 1989, “Clean. ” She evidently wrote the lines “Rain came pouring down when I was drowning / That’s when I could finally breathe / And that morning, gone was any trace of you, I think I am finally clean” after stumbling back to the AMRs at 2AM and stepping into a refreshingly cold shower. And as Swift explains, “10 months older I won’t give in / Now that I’m clean I’m never gonna risk it again,” you won’t be (happily) entering fraternity basements by the end of freshman year either.
Bad Blood: This socially conscious track details the strained-at-best relationship between JHU and Baltimore City (though admittedly, there was never any “mad love” between the two). In fact, Baltimore City is on record for saying “Did you think we’d be fine? / Still got scars on my back from your knife / So don’t think it’s in the past / These kind of wounds they last and they last” regarding Hopkins’s ever-growing expansion into the city. And as surely as “bandaids don’t fix bullet holes,” Taylor doesn’t seem to think there’s any hope of reconciliation in the near future for the bad blood between these two.
All You Had To Do Was Stay: Obviously Swift has been locked out of her dorm room once or twice, because this heartfelt anthem to her roommate stings with betrayal and rejection. She laments, “Man, why’d you have to go and lock me out when I let you in” when her roommate just couldn’t wait to let her in after her walk of shame back to Wolman. All she had to do was stay but now poor Taylor’s stuck “picking up the pieces of the mess [she] made” and most likely searching for the nearest on-duty RA to let her back in.
Shake It Off: You made it! You turned in your essays, handed in your exams, completed your course evaluations. Now, fight the temptation to stress about grades and follow Taylor’s advice for Hopkins students. She knows that while the haters (and the professors) might hate and say you “got nothing in [your] brain,” it will all be alright as long as you can get down to a sick beat. So grab some friends, blast 1989, and shake it off.