"I don't like your little games / Don't like your tilted stage / The role you made me play / Of the fool, no, I don't like you"
While Swift never mentions the "you" she addresses throughout the song by name, Kanye West did use a tilted stage during his Saint Pablo tour. Listeners might tie this line to Swift's long-running feud with West, which stretches from when the rapper infamously interrupted her MTV Video Music Awards acceptance speech in 2009 to last year's drama-filled argument over the reference to Swift in 'Ye's "Famous."
"I've got a list of names and yours is in red underlined"
The last time Swift made a "list" of names, it was with 1989's "Blank Space," where the singer mused lightheartedly over a string of "ex-lovers." Swift seems to purposely slide in a reference to her earlier work by bringing back the "list" motif, but this time, she's no longer playing nice. In fact, this line -- about marking a name "in red" and "underlined" -- vaguely brings to mind Mean Girls and its iconic Burn Book. We may never be sure whose name Swift is alluding to, but we wouldn't want it to be us.
"I don't like your kingdom keys / They once belonged to me / You ask me for a place to sleep / Locked me out and threw a feast (what?)"
Here, Swift seems to reference someone she once had a friendship with, but feels she has been betrayed by. It's possible the "you" here is Katy Perry, who many assumed was the target of 1989's "Bad Blood." Plus, Perry's Witness single "Bon Appétit" was about a feast -- in the music video, Perry is even served up on a platter.
"The world goes on, another day, another drama, drama / But not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma / And then the world moves on, but one thing's for sure / Maybe I got mine, but you'll all get yours"
Besides the fact that this lyric's "another day, another drama" line borrows from Britney Spears' 2007 "Piece of Me," there's a lot of material to analyze in the second half of verse two. By continually referencing karma, Swift is able to threaten her enemies while still maintaining her own innocence -- after all, the wrongdoers had it coming. Or, as Swift sings here, "you'll all get yours." Interestingly enough, Perry recently sang about karma, too, on "Swish Swish": "Karma's not a liar -- she keeps receipts."
"I don't trust nobody and nobody trusts me / I'll be the actress, starring in your bad dreams"
Dreams are another motif running through much of Swift's catalogue, from the wistful "Wildest Dreams" to the memorable "Blank Space" lyric, "darling, I'm a nightmare dressed like a daydream." Here, Swift again references dreams, this time threatening to bring the track's mysterious "you" the stuff of nightmares.
"I'm sorry, the old Taylor can't come to the phone right now." / "Why?" / "Oh 'cause she's dead!"
Swift crackles in over the phone on this clip from the bridge, possibly alluding to the infamous phone call recording that spread online last year in which Swift appears to talk to West about that "Famous" lyric. And the reference to the "old Taylor" being "dead" falls in line with Swift's strange social media behavior in the week leading up to the single release, where she scrubbed her social media accounts and dropped teasers involving snakes, suggesting the singer is "shedding" her old skin similar to that reptile.
"Look what you made me do"
Throughout the new track, Swift alludes to karma and the idea that those who have wronged her have a storm coming for them. All this vengeful energy comes to a head in the track's chorus, where Swift seems to imply that her enemies "made" her release this song -- in other words, the angry track is simply justice served.