Taylor Swift explained the meaning behind the song "Clara Bow."

Taylor Swift Revealed Who She's Singing About In "Clara Bow"

Swifties have been speculating it's dedicated to another singer...

For the most part, The Tortured Poets Department lives up to its moody name. But in between mournful ballads about exes and vengeful shots at her enemies, there is one uplifting, feel-good song. Or at least, that’s how it sounds on first listen. On “Clara Bow,” Taylor Swift fawns over a “dazzling” new starlet proclaiming her “the real queen.” The song’s final verse caused a lot of chatter online, but now Swift is confirming who the track is really about.

In the first two verses, Swift imagines conversations with people who compare her to 20th century it-girl Clara Bow and ‘70s rocker Stevie Nicks, but in the song’s final lines, she seems to shift the focus to an up-and-coming pop star who’s being compared to her.

You look like Taylor Swift / In this light / We're loving it. / You've got edge she never did / The future's bright / Dazzling.

The verse inspired a lot of discourse among fans, who were divided over who Swift might be addressing. Four popular guesses arose: Olivia Rodrigo, Sabrina Carpenter, Gracie Abrams, or a combination of all three artists. All three of these rising stars have been seen as mentees of Swift’s at one point or another, and can be seen as having an “edge” on Swift in certain ways, with Rodrigo diving into a more pop-punk sound and Carpenter embracing sexual jokes as her calling card.

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Swift broke down what “Clara Bow” is about on Amazon Music.

It’s a commentary on what I’ve seen in the industry that I’ve been in over time,” Swift said. “I used to sit in record labels trying to get a record deal when I was a little kid. And they’d say, ‘you know, you remind us of’ and then they’d name an artist, and then they’d kind of say something disparaging about her, ‘but you’re this, you’re so much better in this way or that way.’”

As Swift explained, much of the song is the singer addressing her younger self from the point of view of record execs. “That’s how we teach women to see themselves, as like you could be the new replacement for this woman who’s done something great before you,” she said. “I picked women who have done great things in the past and have been these archetypes of greatness in the entertainment industry. Clara Bow was the first ‘it-girl.’ Stevie Nicks is an icon and an incredible example for anyone who wants to write songs and make music.”

So, what about that turn at the end? From Swift’s explanation, it sounds like she’s not declaring one specific singer the next Taylor Swift, but rather warning all new women in the industry to beware how executives speak to them. Comparisons may be flattering, but they can also be insidious.