Taylor Swift isn't shy about dropping names in her lyrics. From her exes and her besties to her celebrity idols, the singer has referenced so many people in her life through her music. When Swift revealed her Folklore track list on July 23, fans wondered who Taylor Swift's "Betty" is about. They had a few guesses, but after listening to the song and reading its lyrics, their theories have only skyrocketed.
Fans were really excited to dive into Folklore because, for the first time ever, they didn't know what to expect from one of Swift's albums. Usually, the singer releases a single and music video ahead dropping a new album, giving fans a taste of its sound and overall theme. Along the way, she would also give fans a few hints about some of her lyrics. Since this album came together while Swift was in quarantine, it wasn't expected, leaving fans with little to no information about Folklore. All they knew is it had 16 songs, including one called "Betty."
As soon as fans saw the name, they put their detective skills to work to find out who could be at the center of this song. They knew it had to be someone important, especially because one of Folklore's deluxe editions is named Betty's Garden.
One of the most popular theories was Swift drew inspiration from her boyfriend Joe Alwyn's mother, Elizabeth.
But now that fans have heard the song, and the rest of the album, they've realized that while Betty's name may have been inspired by Alwyn's mom, Betty may actually be a character Swift came up with to tell a story about a love triangle! The key to figuring out the story behind "Betty" is actually hidden in two other tracks on Folklore: "Cardigan" and "August."
OK, bear with me: According to eagle-eyed fans' analysis, "Cardigan," "August," and "Betty" tell a story about a love triangle from the different perspectives of the three people involved.
In "Cardigan," a girl falls in love with a boy, getting drunk under streetlights and kissing at downtown bars. But at some point in the song, they break up because he cheats on her. "A friend to all is a friend to none / Chase two girls, lose the one," Swift sings. In the end, the girl knows he'll come back to her. "I knew you'd miss me once the thrill expired / And you'd be standin' in my front porch light / And I knew you'd come back to me / You'd come back to me," Swift sings.
Then, in "August," a girl has a summer affair with a boy. "Remember when I pulled up and said 'Get in the car' / And then canceled my plans just in case you'd call? / Back when I was livin' for the hope of it all, for the hope of it all," Swift sings on the track. She recounts being twisted in bedsheets and time slipping by quickly because she was in summer love. But the girl knew the boy was never hers all along.
The song that ties the other two stories together in a love triangle is "Betty." According to the fan theory, the third song is told from the boy's perspective. In it, he reveals the greatest mistake he ever made was cheating on his only love, Betty, one summer when he was 17. The lyrics recount how Betty danced with another boy at a dance and when he left the dance in jealousy, another girl drove by and said, "James, get in, let's drive." He ended up having a summer affair with that girl, but dreamed of Betty the entire time. And at the end of the song, James tries to win Betty back. "The only thing I wanna do / Is make it up to you / So I showed up at your party / Yeah, I showed up at your party," Swift sings.
So, basically, Betty was the girl Swift was singing about in "Cardigan." And the boy the mystery woman in "August" fell in one-sided love with was James. And in "Betty," James recounts his summer affair and how he only ever truly loved Betty.
You can see the entire theory laid out in full by Swifty @anyaslippedaway below.
If these fan theories are right, Swift really weaved these three songs together seamlessly. People don't call Swift a lyrical genius for nothing.