“Good Evening, and welcome to another episode of Midnights Mayhem With Me,” said Taylor Swift in the eighth episode of the TikTok series, where she rolled out the titles to her upcoming album, Midnights. Taylor, 32, continued to live out her late-60’s/early 70’s Laurel Canyon fantasy, wearing embroidered high-waisted jeans and a cute top while sitting on a plush brown sofa. As in the other installments, Taylor spun her Bingo cage and pulled out a ball, revealing that Track 11 on the album was called “Karma.” As she announced this, she couldn’t hold back her glee and broke out in a snicker as the video ended.
“WE KNEW,” wrote one fan in the comment section. “OH MY GOD,” added another. “NOT THE LAUGH. “That laugh… we’re absolutely terrified,” said the verified Taylor Nation TikTok account. “SHE KNOWS THAT WE KNOW SHE KNOWS,” said the verified Empire State Building account. “I GASPED,” commented Variety’s official account, while another fan added, “That laugh at the end is the laugh of someone who fully understands what she just did to all the Karma truthers.”
For those unaware, the title “Karma” holds a place in Swiftian lore. Karma was supposed to be the name of Taylor’s sixth album, which was expected in 2016 (h/t Buzzfeed.) From 2006 to 2014, Taylor released an album every two years – the self-titled in 2006, Fearless in 2008, Speak Now in 2010, Red in 2012, and 1989 in 2016. However, the only major Taylor release that arrived in 2016 was the phone call that Kim Kardashian recorded between Taylor and Kim’s then-husband, Kanye “Ye” West. The feud stemmed over Ye’s use of Taylor’s name in his song “Famous (“I feel me and Taylor might have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous.”) Taylor claimed that Ye didn’t share the lyrics ahead of time; Kim leaked a phone call that seemed to dispute Taylor’s claims, resulting in many labeling Swift a “snake”; and Taylor stayed out of the public eye until 2017’s Reputation.
In 2020, audio of what appears to be the full conversation seemingly validated Taylor’s initial claims, that Ye didn’t specify that he was going to refer to Taylor as a “bitch,” and that he was going to say, “Taylor Swift might owe me sex.”
Reputation seemingly scuttled the Karma album that fans anticipated. These Swifties also believed it would have a pop-rock sound that would match the aesthetic she was flirting with as she wrapped up her 1989 era. Taylor began performing a rock version of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” during The 1989 World Tour. When the tour began to wind down in 2015, she began to bring out more rock legends as her special guests – including Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Avril Lavigne, Alanis Morrissette, and Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones.
The fan theory also points out that Taylor began to shift her appearance in 2016, adopting edgier elements like a fierce bleached-blonde bob, leather jackets, and Doc Marten boots. She sported vivid prints and chokers on red carpets, walking in the footsteps of Courtney Love, Tina Bell, Kim Gordon, and other Grunge-era icons.
The Karma fan theory also points out that the word is spraypainted on the wall in Taylor’s music video for “The Man,” along with the names of all her other albums. In the “Look What You Made Me Do” video, an orange-clad Taylor swings inside a cage, and fans have noted that orange is not a motif Taylor used in her previous iterations. “All I think about is karma,” she sings in the song, and some have theorized that Karma was supposed to have an orange theme to it (kind of how Lover was all pastels and Midnights is going for this earth-tone thing.)
There is speculation that Karma will be released as part of the ongoing “Taylor’s Version” series, where Swift re-records her old albums. Fans think that since “Karma” is spraypainted twice on the wall in “The Man” and it’s closer to “1989” than anything, this might mean that 1989 (Taylor’s Version)/Karma might be released as a double album. Karma could also accompany the “Taylor’s Version” of Reputation, giving fans an idea of what could have been.