Stop the presses — Taylor Swift posted a TikTok. The pop star (and film auteur) teased her upcoming tenth album, Midnights, with a 15-second clip of her working on the record. And it was a tease, showing Swift collaborating with right-hand producer Jack Antonoff, cutting some vocals, and … not much else. The biggest mystery, though, was Swift’s choice of song: “life you lead” by niceboy ed. The track appears to be the first release by the artist and, per the YouTube description, just came out yesterday. Suspicious, right? Well, let’s go a little deeper. After the song was released, a stan Twitter account for Swift’s boyfriend Joe Alwyn, @joealwyndrunk, tweeted the song. “This guy Ed is one of Joe’s close friends and he released his first song,” they wrote, adding in a later tweet that “there’s a lot of evidence of their friendship.” And there is! Alwyn is one of @niceboy_ed’s few followers on Instagram, and much of the praise for the song that niceboy ed reposted to Instagram is from accounts that Alwyn also follows. (Per one of those supportive posts since removed from niceboy ed’s Instagram, ed “rolls up entire pizzas in restaurants and eats them like a burrito.”) @joealwyndrunk later claimed to post a picture of Alwyn and Ed, saying Ed was part of his longtime friend group, the “Frosty Crew,” whom Swift is also allegedly cool with.
At this point, maybe you’re wondering, Couldn’t this just be Joe Alwyn? There’s certainly a chance. Aside from the overlap on Instagram, the song itself does seem to be sung by someone with an English accent. It also uses the U.K. copyright symbol in the YouTube description, implying it was released in the U.K., and a locked Twitter account for @niceboy_ed says it’s based in London. Not to mention that the song itself sounds a lot like Bon Iver, a big influence on Alwyn — who he actually worked with on Swift’s 2020 song “exile.” (And stage names are nothing new to Mr. Swift, f.k.a. William Bowery.) Plus, doesn’t that baby on the cover kind of look like a baby Joe? (If you’re hung up on that photo: If niceboy ed is Alwyn, wouldn’t any photo of Alwyn be a photo of Alwyn with Ed? Think about it.)
This sort of promotion isn’t new for Swift. Remember a few years ago when she promoted a cover of “Look What You Made Me Do” that ended up being by her brother, Austin? This time, it seems equally planned out, judging by the nonchalant smiling emoji that niceboy ed posted to Instagram after Swift used their song.
So sure, maybe she’s just doing a (major, major) solid for one of her boyfriend’s friends. Maybe this is an act of love for her boyfriend. Or maybe the song is actually a clue to Midnights and niceboy ed was a co-writer. Hell, this could even be a song from Midnights rerecorded by another artist and released before Taylor’s version! Every theory is on the table at this point — Swifties, it’s just the life you lead.