Mystery solved! On Thursday (Aug. 6), Taylor Swift spilled the tea on country radio about where she came up with the names for the three characters at the center of Folklore highlight “Betty.”
“[James] has lost the love of his life basically and doesn’t understand how to get it back. I think we all have these situations in our lives where we learn to really, really give a heartfelt apology for the first time. Everybody makes mistakes, everybody really messes up sometimes and this is a song that I wrote from the perspective of a 17-year-old boy. I’ve always loved that in music you can kinda slip into different identities and you can sing from other people’s perspectives. So that’s what I did on this one,” the superstar explained of the song’s premise, before revealing, “I named all the characters in this story after my friends’ kids… and I hope you like it!”
Upon the surprise album’s release two weeks ago, speculation ran rampant on social media that the titular character at the heart of the harmonica-laden track was named after Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ youngest daughter, particularly after Swifties noted that the famous couple’s two older daughters — James and Inez — are also name-dropped in the ode to teenage love and heartbreak.
Of course, Swift’s friendship with Lively and Reynolds has been well-documented for years. The pals have made regular appearances on each other’s social media feeds dating back to 2015. Their eldest daughter James adorably opened the superstar’s Reputation-era single “Gorgeous” back in 2017 and two years later, Reynolds even made a cameo in the music video for “You Need to Calm Down” off Swift’s 2019 LP Lover.
“Betty,” meanwhile, debuted at No. 6 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart this week (dated Aug. 8, 2020), as well bowing on the County Streaming Songs, Country Digital Song Sales and Country Airplay charts at Nos. 1, 16 and 60, respectively. The song marks Swift’s first hit on the country charts since 2019’s The Chicks-assisted Lover cut “Soon You’ll Get Better.”
Hear the clip of Swift introducing “Betty” on country radio below.