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Ever the riddler, she challenged her fans to an internet scavenger hunt of sorts in the lead-up to its release — and the mission was accomplished.
After tasking her army of Swifties with a race to unscramble dozens and dozens of word clues on Google (more on that below), and in return promising to reveal the vault tracks on her “1989” rerecord, the pop star delivered.
On Sept. 20, Swift dropped back cover art to “1989 (Taylor's Version)” and the titles to her five vault tracks:
“Is It Over Now?”
“Now That We Don't Talk”
“Say Don't Go”
Just a few hours before, Swift’s official Taylor Nation accounts revealed titles to just four of the five promised vault tracks, omitting “Slut!” That track was left as a mystery for fans to decode.
— Taylor Nation (@taylornation13) September 20, 2023
Also on Sept. 20, Taylor Nation shared a clip teasing a track that it had teased the day before in a similar video. It shows a graphic of a vault with the letters “T-S-!-U-L” emerging from it.
“But what about the 5th #1989TaylorsVersionVault track?” Taylor Nation captioned the post.
— Taylor Nation (@taylornation13) September 20, 2023
Fans on social media debated what the word spells, with many thinking “Slut!” or “Lust!”
“I’m so sure it’s “SLUT!” It makes so much more sense with the apostrophes and the exclamation, also the narrative that ppl made up of her at the time,” one commenter on Reddit wrote.
Vault tracks — aka songs left on the cutting room floor when an album was originally released — have appeared on every rerecord that Swift has dropped so far.
And while anticipating the vault track titles is exciting, what Swifties were really looking out for were Swift’s collaborators on those vault tracks.
“1989 (Taylor's Version)” is Swift's fourth rerecorded album — so far, “Fearless,” “Speak Now” and “Red” have also been rereleased — and each of them included vault tracks with featured artists like Fall Out Boy, Ed Sheeran and Keith Urban. While Harry Styles, Nicki Minaj and Selena Gomez were among fans' predictions for “1989 (Taylor's Version),” Swift’s big shocker was not featuring any collaborators at all.
Need some catching up on this whole “1989” vault track business? Read all about it below.
How Google factors into all *this*
Google launched a campaign with Swift on Sept. 19 for fans anxious to see what that “T-S-!-U-L” unscramble meant.
Google explained the game in a blog post: If a user searches “Taylor Swift” in the Google search bar, the search engine says a blue vault will appear. Fans can click on it to solve one of the word puzzles. There are 89 puzzles to solve in total. If fans can solve a collective total of 33 million puzzles (Swift is 33), she will reveal the upcoming track titles.
“Dying to see how this one ends? We promise that the wait isn’t gonna be forever, but the prize will definitely be worth the pain,” a Google release read. “Cause darling, we’re a Swiftie dressed like a search engine.”
However, two TODAY.com editors attempted to do this but were not presented with a blue vault. Social media users began complaining on platforms as well about not being able to see the vault, while #WheresTheVault began trending on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, by the afternoon of Sept. 19.
swifties typing taylor swift into google every 30 seconds trying to get the 1989 tv vault puzzles to work pic.twitter.com/g26sxz7LZT
— cali is on her own, kid 💫 (@longstorycali) September 19, 2023
TODAY.com reached out to Google to find out why the vault did not appear for some but did not hear back immediately. However, the search engine tweeted late Sept. 19 that the "vault is jammed."
Swifties, the vault is jammed! But don't worry, there are no blank spaces inside. We're in our fix-it era and will be out of the woods soon https://t.co/2Ija1pbnnf
— Google (@Google) September 19, 2023
"Swifties, the vault is jammed!" read the tweet. "But don’t worry, there are no blank spaces inside. We’re in our fix-it era and will be out of the woods soon."
The last time Taylor Swift teased new tracks this way
It's not the first time Swift has teased her followers with a puzzle before revealing tracks "from the vault." On Aug. 5, 2021, she shared a similar video with another puzzle for her "Red (Taylor's Version)" album.
While performing at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, Swift announced on Aug. 9 that her next rerecorded album would be "1989," which she originally released in October 2014.
At the time, she also shared to social media that this was her "FAVORITE" rerecord and that there'd be five songs from the vault.
“The 1989 album changed my life in countless ways, and it fills me with such excitement to announce that my version of it will be out October 27,” she posted. “To be perfectly honest, this is my most FAVORITE re-record I’ve ever done because the 5 From The Vault tracks are so insane. I can’t believe they were ever left behind. But not for long!”
Swift has been rerecording and releasing her first six albums after Big Machine Records sold the masters in 2019 to Scooter Braun, who later sold them to a private equity firm. Swift was vocal about her disapproval of the sale, and announced that she would rerecord all those albums she initially made with Big Machine.
This article was originally published on TODAY.com