Taylor Swift, pop music puppeteer, already secretly wrote “This Is What You Came For” for her ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris this year. Yesterday, country quartet Little Big Town announced she wrote a song for them, too: The recently released “Better Man,” a sorrowful ballad about a guy who just never measured up to the singer’s expectations.
Little Big Town kept the information private at first, but at a press conference announcing an upcoming Ryman Auditorium residency, they shared the story of how Swift pitched the song to them. “Some have been asking, and we’ve told you there’s a young girl in Nashville who wrote it by herself, and it’s Taylor Swift,” Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild said. “She sent us this song, and it was one that was really special to her. She thought of us because of the harmonies. She’s never pitched a song to anyone before, and the moment that we heard it, we were like, ‘Man, that is a song that we’re going to cut.'”
“We knew we would tell eventually, and it was a hard question to dodge for a while,” Fairchild said later. “The only reason we didn’t say is we wanted you to hear the song for what it’s worth, and it’s a beautiful song.” Swift later confirmed the news in an Instagram post:
The “Better Man” news is a lot less sensational than the “This Is What You Came For” bombshell—Little Big Town are friendly with Swift and were surprise guests on last year’s 1989 World Tour. That hasn’t stopped anyone from attempting to decipher which man Swift wishes were worth her time. Could it be Harris? What about her rebound, Tom Hiddleston? The lyrics are too vague to venture a plausible guess (“I know I’m probably better off on my own / Than lovin’ a man who didn’t know / What he had when he had it”), although Elle certainly tried. Other rumors suggest “Better Man” wasn’t inspired by either of Swift’s recent exes, and that she may have had the song in the bank for a while.
Whomever it’s about, “Better Man” does have the distinction of being the first Swift-penned country song to be released since Swift began moving away from her Nashville roots on 2012’s Red. Simultaneously throwing a bone to her country fanbase and firing up the pop music gossip machine, all without leaving the house—that’s the savvy Swift we once knew. Watch the new video for Little Big Town’s “Better Man” below.