Unless you’ve been completely disconnected from the Internet for the past week, you know that we are officially in a new era of Taylor Swift. And now, after nearly three years since her last studio album — and after an extended absence from the spotlight — the pop superstar has officially announced her new record on social media. In true Swift fashion, however, the singer has kept a lot of details about her new music under wraps, leaving her dedicated fans to try and piece together clues in order to learn more about her music.
Before the new single officially drops, let’s recap what we actually know for sure about Swift’s new music … and dive into some popular fan theories about what might be coming.
What We Know for Sure
On Wednesday, after days of dropping hints and teasing her fans about what was coming their way, Swift shocked everyone by announcing that her new studio album (out Nov. 10) would be called Reputation and that her first single would drop Thursday night.
Based on the cover art, which features Swift wearing a dark lip and surrounded by newsprint, it seems like the theme of this album is her hitting back at the way the media sees her … and attempting to show the world a newer, edgier Taylor Swift.
Still, after almost three long years of waiting for a new album, there are still plenty of questions that need answering. So, what else is an impatient Swiftie to do, other than to analyze all of the clues she’s given us to see if they can figure out any more details?
Let’s break down some of the most prevalent fan theories circling about the album, to tide us over until tonight.
The Rumor: Her First Single Might Be Called “Timeless”
Never underestimate a Swiftie on a mission: Some dedicated fans noticed that a song titled “Timeless” had been credited to Swift on a music industry publishing website, while the lyrics website Genius also published a page claiming the song was Swift’s new single.
A website with the name “Timeless” was also created over the weekend, although there’s no way to tie that particular site to Swift.
And particularly resourceful fans noticed that the pop star had recently tweeted and captioned Instagram photos with references to time, which they think may have been her way of leaving a clue.
The Rumor: She’s Reclaiming the Snake …
During her headline-making drama last year with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian — after Kardashian claimed that Swift had approved of her name drop in West’s song, “Famous” — many people began spamming Swift’s social media posts with the snake emoji.
When she began teasing this new era with videos of a serpent on social media, many fans thought it was her way to reclaim the narrative, just like she did with “Blank Space.”
The Rumor: … And She’s Planning a Big Surprise
See how the snake is hissing in the third video that Swift posted? Some fans have taken that as confirmation that she’s planning to make some noise at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards. In addition to hosting, Katy Perry is releasing the music video for her single, “Swish Swish,” which many fans consider to be a diss track about Swift. In order to fire back, some people think Swift will drop a new music video or that she’ll give a surprise performance.
Adding fuel to that theory is the fact that some fans noticed in January that despite unfollowing some of the dancers who allegedly left Swift’s tour for Perry’s, she never unfollowed the singer herself, leading some to believe that the feud between them had been faked. If that is the case, then the VMAs would be the perfect place to reveal that they have been best friends all along. Swift also allegedly followed and then unfollowed dancer Clare Turton Derrico on Instagram, who some fans think is the dancer that caused all of the animosity between them in the first place. (As of right now, Swift’s social media accounts no longer follow anyone.)
Sadly, this one has already been debunked by an executive producer for the awards show, who tells PEOPLE that Swift is not appearing on Sunday night. “She has been on the show many times and [has] performed with a new album coming, but not this time,” Jesse Ignjatovic revealed. “I definitely wish she was coming on and performing.”
The Rumor: It’s Another Nod to Her Birth Year
Some fans pointed to the fact that Swift was born in 1989 — which was the Year of the Snake.
This, combined with the fact that snakes periodically shed their skin, has been interpreted to mean that the snake videos are Swift’s way of announcing that she’s entering a new era of her life and of her music.
The Rumor: She’s Already Revealed Some of Her Lyrics
On Aug. 18 at 11 a.m. (the same time of day Swift had been posting her cryptic videos), American Greetings tweeted a design that included the phrase “it feels like we crossed paths at exactly the right time and place.” Swifties quickly put together the fact that the singer has been designing for the card company since 2009 and that the line contained exactly 13 words (her lucky number!) and that it has a reference to time in it — so there must be something there?
Coupled with the fact that Swift, according to fans, refollowed American Greetings after wiping her social accounts (though she has since unfollowed them), this led them to believe that the clues were in front of us all along.
The Rumor: There Are Multiple Music Videos on the Way
Because a truly dedicated fan never leaves any stones unturned, some fans even took a look at Swift’s YouTube account … and noticed something intriguing. See, her Vevo account lists 77 videos, but when you click through, only 74 are publicly available to watch. Are the unlisted videos actually songs from this new era? Only time will tell.
We’ll find out for sure what is really happening with Swift’s new music when she releases her new single at midnight Friday. But if any of these fan theories are correct, we recommend that each and every single one of these Swifties pursues a career as a private investigator, because their detective skills are truly on another level.