Taylor Swift has mastered the trick of getting extra mileage out of her songs by leaving them open to tabloid speculation, and now John Mayer has turned the tables. Though she has never acknowledged whether "Dear John," off of 2010's stirring Speak Now, was the expert savaging of that very same John it appeared to be, her Frank Ocean-backing former love interest did declared himself "humiliated" as a result. Now Mayer's got a plausibly deniable celebrity diss all his own via his first new single since last year's rootsy Born and Raised.
The man releases "Paper Doll" today via a wacky "Prancerise"-themed lyric video (above). Musically, the song offers lightly jazzy folk-pop in keeping with the more low-key approach he intimated in a recent print-only Rolling Stone interview. Lyrically, it's packed with potential Swift barbs. "You're like 22 girls in one," might be a reference to her recent Red single "22." While the next line, "And none of them know what they're running from," might be a rejoinder to her "Dear John" lyric about how she'd look back on a relationship, "and regret how I ignored when they said, 'Run as fast as you can.'"
Dresses figure prominently in both songs, too, as does the highly specific imagery of painting a sky. "Dear John" Swift sings, "You paint me a blue sky and go back and turn it to rain." And "Paper Doll" Mayer says, "Someone's gonna paint you another sky." Newsflash, bucko: that's happened a few times since you put down the brush. A rep for Mayer didn't return MTV's request for comment, and Swift hasn't tweeted anything about the song just yet. Meanwhile, another former Mayer flame, Katy Perry, recently told Vogue she's "still ... madly in love with him." Her take on the man? "Beautiful mind, tortured soul."