Does Taylor Swift's Newest "Midnights" Track Confirm the "Karma" Album Theory?

As a Swiftie, it's easy to find a too-good-to-be-true Taylor Swift fan theory nearly every day. Because Swift is such a lover (get it?) of dropping Easter eggs, fans have always had a lot of questions for the singer. What do her emoji mean? Did she stage a public interaction to hint at a song release? Does Swift have an entire unreleased album that she scrapped after her Kanye West feud in 2016 called "Karma" that we'll get to hear soon?

While I try not to invest too much into the theories so I don't get crushed by disappointment when they're wrong, there's no way around it: the "Karma" fan theory has to be true, and Swift's announcement of the newest "Midnights" track feels like total proof.

In short, fans have a theory that Swift was planning to release an album in 2016 called "Karma," but for reasons we'll break down ahead, she did not. She's dropped lots of clues about this album's existence, though. And on Oct. 6, she announced the new "Midnights" song, which happens to be titled — you guessed it — "Karma." In the TikTok where she announces the song, she laughs after saying the name, which has to be at least a sign that she knows about the fan theories.

Ahead, we'll break down one of the more elaborate theories in the Swiftie universe: the "Karma" album.

Some Background: Why Swifties Were Expecting a New Album in 2016
Getty | Taylor Hill

Some Background: Why Swifties Were Expecting a New Album in 2016

Before I get granular with the details of this theory, there are some important things to know about Swift in general. From 2006 to 2014, she released an album every two years. Swift is a known planner, and her consistency meant that by 2016, two years after the release of "1989," fans were expecting the announcement of a sixth album.

Swift is also a master of reinvention, making clear aesthetic and stylistic changes for each new era. In May 2016, Swift made a notable change to her appearance, and fans grew even more excited, believing a new album would come in no time. Swift debuted her platinum-dyed bob on the cover of "Vogue" and edgier clothing and makeup choices on the red carpet at the Met Gala. Though we never got an album to go along with the wardrobe changes, fans gave this era a name: "Bleachella."

All signs were pointing to a new album — perhaps a rock-inspired one, due to Swift's grungy fashion choices and angstier take on "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" that resurfaced on TikTok — but a whole year passed before Swift dropped "Reputation." The album was clearly inspired by Swift's year away from the limelight after her high-profile feud with West. While "Reputation" is the album that Swift needed to release in 2017 after her disappearance from the public eye (and simultaneously falling in love with her current boyfriend, Joe Alwyn), fans couldn't help but wonder what she was working on from 2014 to 2016. I mean, she's always up to something. And how do we factor in her drastic style change at the end of her "1989" era?

Our best explanation is that Swift had been working on an album but scrapped it after all the West drama. Here's why fans think there's a chance this is the case.

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Swift Literally Says "Karma Is Real" in an Interview

In April 2016, just two months after West released "Famous" (the song on which he calls Swift the b-word and says he made her famous), Swift did a "Vogue" 73 Questions interview. In it, Swift was asked, "What do you think is the most important life lesson for someone to learn?" Without missing a beat, she responded, "That karma is real," looking directly into the camera and smiling. Of course, fans believe she was speaking to West, but it also seemed to confirm that Swift's theorized sixth album, known to fans as "Karma," was real.

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Swift Sings About Karma on Her First Single Off "Reputation"

Swifties didn't have to wait long for the singer to add fuel to this fan-theory fire. In her "Look What You Made Me Do" music video, Swift makes many references that have been used to support the "Karma" album theory. According to one TikToker, @thethriftyswiftie, Swift confessed that she used countless Easter eggs throughout the "Reputation" era as her way of communicating with fans when she wasn't doing press, so it's even more important to go through this time period with a fine-tooth comb.

In this video, we see Swift spray-painting "reputation" over a grounded airplane that has "TS6" written on the side, which fans have come to interpret as representing her supposed sixth album, "Karma," being halted and replaced with "Reputation" instead.

"LWYMMD," the first song Swift released after her year in hiding, includes the lines "The world moves on, another day another drama, drama / But not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma." Me too, Taylor. Me too.

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In the "Lover" Era, Swift Still Keeps Bringing Up Karma

By the release of her seventh album, "Lover," in 2019, Swift was still dropping Easter eggs for "Karma" enthusiasts. In her self-directed music video for "The Man," which was released in 2020, Swift staged a scene that lives in every Swiftie's head rent free. This infamous scene features a subway station wall covered in graffiti of all her album titles. Fans frequently reference this moment in the video, especially since they believe it tells us the order that we'll get her rerecordings. But right there in the middle of the screen (and all of her album titles) is the word "karma" written in all caps. By including this word among all her other albums, fans only became more convinced that "Karma" was real. Why else would it be there?

In addition to this, "Karma" is written on the wall twice, along with "1989." For this reason, fans think that "1989" and "Karma" could be a double-album release. "Karma" is also written in orange in its second iteration, which fans traced back to a scene in "LWYMMD" when Swift is dressed in orange and trapped in a birdcage, suggesting that there was something trapped.

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There Are Even Karma Connections on "Evermore"

Finally, there's another reference to "Karma" on Swift's 2020 album "evermore." In "Willow," the first single from the album, Swift sings, "I come back stronger than a '90s trend." This line, a bit gimmicky, has always stood out to me compared to the rest of the more poetic lyrics in the song. Now fans are connecting it to "Karma," which is theorized to be a '90s rock-inspired album. In the "Willow" music video, Swift looks knowingly at the camera while she sings this line, opening up a trap door.

By the time Swift released "Evermore," she had gotten involved in another feud with Scooter Braun over the ownership of her masters, which resulted in her plan to rerecord her earlier albums, so that she could own her music once and for all. At this point, Swift knew she would be going back through her discography and releasing never-before-heard songs. If this line actually does reference "Karma," she's telling us that it's coming back stronger than ever.

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If It Exists, When Will Swift Release Her Unreleased "Karma" Album?

Shortly after Swift's feud with Braun went public in 2019, she performed at the American Music Awards wearing a white shirt that had her album titles written on it. At that point, Swift had seven albums, but her performance included eight dancers, which could signify the eighth lost album. In a performance of her song "The Man" that was all about responding to her ownership battle with Braun, the reference to a mysterious eighth album could mean that Swift had been thinking about "Karma" when she started her rerecordings.

With two rerecordings already released, we know that not only do we get Taylor's Versions of each song, but we also get From the Vault tracks, which are songs that didn't make the original albums. Swift, being ever so careful and precise with her language, could be leaving us a major hint about "Karma." Once again going back to Swift's "LWYMMD" video, fans pointed out there's a scene where Swift is inside a vault. In a video that already references "Karma," the vault connection gives me hope that she'll be releasing her secret album buried the deepest inside it.

While we don't know the exact order or timeline of Swift's rerecordings, fans have another theory about when we can expect each one. Referencing the graffiti scene in "The Man" music video, fans believe we'll get to hear the albums in the order that they're written on the wall. So far, Swift has moved clockwise, releasing "Fearless (Taylor's Version)" and "Red (Taylor's Version)." According to fans, Swift has been dropping Easter eggs suggesting that "Speak Now" is next, following the order. If fans are right, after "Speak Now," we should get "Reputation" and then "1989" and "Karma" as a double release.

One thing's for sure: I'm very convinced that this theory is right.