It’s no secret that Taylor Swift fandom on the internet can be absolutely terrifying. Rabid Taylor fans, known as Swifties, have been known to send death threats to music critics who dare to deem her albums anything other than perfect, doxx former producers who’ve worked with Swift and who have since fallen out of favor, and use their considerable buying power to shoot their fave to the top of the charts, consistently.
On TikTok, dizzying analysis of Taylor Swift lyrics and her plentifully dropped Easter Eggs evokes something like Astrology TikTok: symbols and signs that may mean one thing to devotees and absolutely zero to casual viewers are endlessly pulled apart, assigned certain meanings and rearranged into kaleidoscopic and vaguely unhinged configurations.
That’s why a recent trend culled from Swift’s latest album, Midnights, is such a refreshingly silly and low-key entry in the Swiftie lexicon: in the chorus of one of Swift’s mostly excellent bonus tracks, “High Infidelity,” she sings, “Do you really wanna know where I was April 29?”
An aside—when I first heard this, I was sent into the stratosphere and moved to tears, because I am an unapologetic Swiftie and April 29 happens to be my birthday. It was the best belated present ever!
Almost instantly after the album’s release two weeks ago, TikTok Taylor Swift obsessives began posting this snippet of the song accompanied by photos documenting what they happened to be doing on April 29.
What Swift herself was doing on April 29 that bore enough significance to be referenced is still in dispute: maybe it was attending Dianna Agron’s circus-themed birthday party in 2019 (Gaylors, Taylor obsessives who believe she’s had intimate relationships with certain female friends in her past, are the drivers of this one)?
Or perhaps the April 29 lyric refers to the 2016 release date of Rihanna’s song “This Is What You Came For,” which was produced by Swift’s ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris and which was later revealed to feature Swift’s co-written vocals? It’s still a mystery.
For the nearly 62,000 Swifties who’ve hopped on the TikTok trend thus far, however, where they were seven months ago is no big mystery, thanks to the magic of smartphones. The results range from the wholesome (“Plant shopping at Lowes” with toddlers), to the mundane (buying a printer) to the horrifying (“Wanted to do this cute trend but realized that my friend committed suicide on April 29 and I was completely unaware until days later”).
Is posting something like this a little insane in practice? Sure, but consider this: rather than attacking Taylor haters on the internet, with this trend, her fans are taking a breather to reflect on their own, genuinely interesting lives instead, and that’s a good thing.
And like human beings, April 29 contains multitudes! One young woman’s grandmother was hit by a car on that date, while another was about to chomp on the back of a kid’s neck at the club, while still another was taking screenshots of Google Images results for Goldendoodles. To reiterate, the most important thing that happened on April 29 this year was my birthday.
There’s a riff on the trend: one TikTok user edited the “High Fidelity” audio so that Taylor sings “Do you really wanna know where I was January 6?” This is a reference to the insurrectionists’ storming of the United States Capitol, a dark day in our nation’s history. The audio edit itself seems to be a reference to the moment in time in which Swift was labeled an “Aryan goddess” by the alt-right, a label she’s resoundingly rejected.
A quality that’s widely considered to be one of Swift’s strongest attributes as a songwriter is the universality of her lyrics. Everyone who’s ever been through a breakup, dreamt about a former lover years after parting ways or sat up late into the night steaming over a long-dead argument can relate to what she sings about, no matter how emotionally charged or overwhelming the subject matter.
What’s so funny about the April 29 trend is that you don’t have to be in love, going through a breakup or plotting revenge to relate to this Taylor Swift lyric. You just have to have been alive and doing something on that date. Now that’s universality.