Small details we noticed in You Need to Calm Down

Taylor Swift's music video for the sparkling, sunny LGBTQ+ anthem "You Need to Calm Down" was a long time coming. In fact, the singer and her star-studded music video cast have been dropping Easter eggs since early May 2019, and we were none-the-wiser. Leave it to Swift and her celeb pals (and even her celeb enemies) to be in on the joke.

Swift has a knack for dropping a bunch of hints in her music videos. Her previous single "ME!" served as scavenger hunt for her then-unannounced album Lover. "You Need to Calm Down" has much the same vibe but features an all-star cast of LGBTQ+ icons, including Ellen DeGeneres, Laverne Cox, Jonathan Van Ness, RuPaul, Billy Porter, Hayley Kiyoko, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Adam Lambert and more. Needless to say, there's a whole lot going on in the actual video, from Swift's Elle Woods-esque poolside outfit to the realization that Katy Perry has been teasing the single since the Met Gala. Yes, the pair are now in the Lover phase of their relationship rather than the fighter phase — backup dancers and John Mayer be darned.

Here are the small details we noticed in the music video for Swift's second Lover single, "You Need to Calm Down." And no, we are not calm.

Is Taylor Swift hinting at some more song titles?

Taylor Swift is the absolute queen of dropping hints. Her music videos are like a web of clues about songs we haven't heard yet, and Swifties love to try to figure out just how deep the rabbit hole goes. In the "Me!" video, we got the first glimpse of one of the song titles from the album when Brendan Urie rolled his eyes and said, "You need to calm down" in French. In fact, we got the album title without even knowing it on a neon sign behind the unicorn building ledge where Swift sat in a pink dress that was literally a waterfall of ruffles.

In the music video for "You Need to Calm Down," it's likely that Swift has dropped more clues about Lover tracks, mainly a possible song called "Love Letters Only" and another possible tune called "Cruel Summer." We see the words "Love Letters Only" inscribed on the mailbox around the 1:10-minute mark, and we see "Cruel Summer" getting tattooed on Ellen DeGeneres' arm around the two-minute mark.

Ellen DeGeneres was her own Easter Egg

Shortly after the release of "ME!," Taylor Swift visited The Ellen DeGeneres Show. This pair has a long history of pranking each other, but they totally turned their trickery toward us during their "Burning Questions" segment of the talk show. In the clip, DeGeneres asks Swift if she left an Easter Egg in their interview, and Swift resoundingly says "Yes!" DeGeneres seems kind of shocked, but it turns out she knew all along. The talk show host was her own cryptic Easter Egg, and here's how:

During the pair's interview in May 2019, Swift talks about how she planted Easter eggs on the denim jacket she wore in that month's Entertainment Weekly cover. DeGeneres tells her she was missing one thing and then gifts Swift a lapel pin that depicts the talk show host dressed as a cat. At the time, it seemed like a joke, and we couldn't have predicted that DeGeneres was actually planting an additional hint about "You Need to Calm Down" on Swift's jacket.

Later, the talk show host asks Swift about her next music video. DeGeneres says, "I think you said you wanted me in it," and Swift jokes that it "would be a dream" — except it wasn't a joke. They pair knew all along. Swift and DeGeneres: 1. Us: 0. 

Taylor puts the Kim K drama behind her

The image of a snake bursting into fluttering butterflies first made its appearance in the beginning of the "ME!" music video. The star resurfaced the image in "You Need to Calm Down" with a back tattoo — perhaps symbolizing that the drama it represents is literally behind her.

Swift adopted the image of snake during her Reputation era. It all started when she claimed she was upset about Kanye West's "Famous" lyric: "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / I made that b***h famous." Swift claimed she didn't approve the lyric, but West claimed she gave him her blessing during a phone conversation about the track. West's wife, Kim Kardashian, claimed Swift was lying and released footage of the pop star excitedly talking about the song with her husband. After that, Kardashian posted the now-infamous tweet that said: "Wait it's National Snake Day?!?!? They have holidays for everybody, I mean everything these days." Kimye fans began flooding Swift's social media with snake emojis. 

But in this Lover era, it appears all the snakes have been left behind.

Is Hayley Kioyoko singing on track five?

Taylor Swift and Hayley Kiyoko have some history. In 2018, the "ME!" singer stood up for Kiyoko on Tumblr after the star was criticized for allegedly shading Swift in a Refinery29 interview. Kiyoko claimed music industry executives complained about her having music videos about girls when "Taylor Swift sings about men in every single song and video, and no one complains that she's unoriginal." Some Swifties were annoyed, but Tay set the record straight and wrote in a Tumblr entry that "we should applaud artists who are brave enough to tell their honest romantic narrative through their art." The pair also performed Swift's single, "Delicate," at an Ally Coalition show in New York.

Kiyoko is one of the many celebs that appear in the music video for "You Need to Calm Down." She shoots an arrow at a target with the number "5" on the bullseye. Perhaps Kiyoko will be featured on Lover's fifth track? Swift also teased "Track 5" in her aforementioned Entertainment Weekly cover story, so we'll just have to wait and see.

The number 13 strikes again

Die-hard Swifties know that 13 is Swift's favorite number and an Easter egg she often repeats from music video to music video and album to album. The mythology with this one goes a whole lot deeper than the fact that the singer used to write the number on her hand during live performances. For example, "The Lucky One" is the 13th track on Red, and she sings the word "lucky" a total of 13 times in the song. The number even shows up in her life in ways she absolutely can't control. She was born on Dec. 13, 1989 and her songs "Teardrops on My Guitar," "White Horse," "Ours," "Gorgeous," and "State of Grace" all peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Weird, right?

In the music video for "You Need to Calm Down," the number 13 strikes again. The star is seen wearing a necklace with the lucky number. She also opened up in a live stream about how the number ties into Lover's Aug. 23, 2019 release date. "An easy way to remember that date is that August is the eighth month of the year," she said (via Entertainment Tonight). "[8] and then 2+3… [adds up to 13]."

The beef is over

Most of us are pretty bored with Katy Perry and Taylor Swift's long-standing feud, which at one point apparently had something to do with backup dancers and then spun into a hot mess of high school drama. Didn't they both date John Mayer? How the heck does he get in the middle of things? Anyway, the feud is finally over, which was conveniently announced prior to the release of "You Need to Calm Down." Why not spin a very real 5-year beef into a marketing tool for a brand new single?

It's kind of hard to imagine how a strategically-placed plate of forgiveness cookies and Perry's hamburger Met Gala costume would foreshadow Perry's appearance in Swift's music video. Was this pair really holding out to strategically reveal that they're finally friends again? Why does it feel kind of slimy to capitalize on tabloid drama and hurt feelings?

In mid-June 2019, Perry finally announced their mended friendship on Instagram with a picture of a plate of cookies. The words, "peace at last" were scrawled on the plate, and the photo was captioned: "Feels good @taylorswift." Perry then appeared in "You Need to Calm Down" in her Met Gala hamburger outfit alongside Tay, who is dressed as a carton of French fries. The stars hug it out, while we collectively gag over how long this whole thing played out. Strangely enough, the burger and fries concept leaked ahead of the video.

Did Swift just reference her 2015 feud with Nicki Minaj?

We're not sure just how many feuds Swift aimed to end in her "You Need to Calm Down" music video, but her 2015 fight with Nicki Minaj might be one of them. In the video, Swift references a number of major pop stars — including Ariana Grande, Cardi B, Lady Gaga, Adele, Katy Perry, Beyonce and Minaj —  in a drag competition. This seems an obvious reference to the way women are pitted against one another in the media, but it also serves as a small nod to the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards fiasco.

According to Billboard, who outlined the Swift-Minaj feud, the whole thing started when the rapper complained that "Anaconda" didn't get a video of the year nomination. She tweeted that "if your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year." This didn't sit well with Swift, whose video for "Bad Blood" was among the nominations in that category — and starred a whole bunch of models. "I've done nothing but love & support you," Swift tweeted. "It's unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot."

Minaj said she wasn't talking about Swift, specifically, but commenting on nominations, in general. Nonetheless, the "You Need to Calm Down" video definitely shows us that none of pop's leading ladies need to duke it out for a VMA when they've all got crowns.

'Mom, I am a rich man'

You might be wondering what the heck is with the "Mom, I am a rich man" painting in the beginning of "You Need to Calm Down." This is actually a powerful quote from Cher (and maybe a song title from Lover, but we can't be sure). The quote stems from a 1996 interview with Jane Pauley, but it went viral 20 years after the fact in 2016. That was the year Swift broke up with DJ Calvin Harris and embarked on a very bizarre, sort of embarrassing, very public fling with actor Tom Hiddleston.

"I think men are the coolest, but you don't really need them to live," Cher said in the original interview (via BuzzFeed). "My mom said to me, 'You know, sweetheart, one day you should settle down and marry a rich man. I said, 'Mom, I am a rich man.'" The message: Cher doesn't need a man and neither does Swift, even if actor Joe Alwyn seems like a pretty good one.

Her watch is an ode to Benjamin Button

Taylor Swift added a new member to her family while filming the music video for "ME!" Little Benjamin Button joined the cat-obsessed singer's pride alongside fellow felines Olivia Benson and Meredith Grey — though he apparently doesn't really get along with his older sisters. For Swift, though, it was basically love at first purr, which she described to Ellen DeGeneres in an interview

"I've never really experienced a cat that the second I held this little kitten, he started purring like a motor," she said on DeGeneres' show. "I was like, 'Okay, whose cat is this? You're really lucky whoever owns this cat,' and then the girl was like 'Actually, he doesn't have a home' … I just immediately was like I can't think about anything else." Swift gave a nod to her new kitten in "You Need to Calm Down" with a custom Benjamin Button watch that she wears in the opening scenes.

Ryan Reynolds' Stonewall Inn painting

Taylor Swift didn't just bring aboard her famous pals for the "You Need to Calm Down" music video. She brought in her bestie's husband, too. Ryan Reynolds (aka Mr. Blake Lively) briefly took a pause from his role as Detective Pikachu to perhaps channel his previous role as Deadpool channeling the iconic artist Bob Ross, or maybe Reynolds was going for more a Norman Rockwell vibe. Whatever the case may be, the actor is painting a picture of the Stonewall Inn in Tay's video.

The Stonewall Inn is particularly poignant nod in a video dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ culture. In 1969, the Greenwich Village landmark served as the location of the Stonewall riots, which helped spark a larger gay rights movement in the United States and across the globe. The weekend before Swift dropped her music video, she made an appearance at the Stonewall Inn and sang "Shake It Off" with actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson. This was in celebration of Pride Month, but it also appeared to be yet another Easter egg for "You Need to Calm Down," because Ferguson appeared in the music video alongside the rest of Swift's star-studded cast.