The beat is brooding, but the lyric is cheerful in "...Ready For It?," as Taylor Swift sings about the man who has her heart:
In the middle of the night in my dreams I know I'm gonna be with you
The man of these dreams is Joe Alwyn, a British actor Swift began dating late in 2016.
This was the second single Swift dropped from her Reputation album, following the scathing "Look What You Made Me Do." Lyrically, it's a return to a topic often found in her songs: boyfriends.
The song made its debut in a one-minute promo leading up to the Alabama vs. Florida State college football game that ran on ESPN and was posted to the network's Twitter feed, with the handy hashtag #readyforit. The song has nothing to do with football, but the theme of anticipation made it suitable for promo, and the tie-in reached many listeners who might not otherwise hear the song, as college football fans aren't Swift's core audience. The promo ran on Saturday night, September 2, leading into Labor Day weekend. The song was released on iTunes and Spotify the next morning.
The line, "Younger than my exes but he act like such a man," refers to Swift's dating history, which is filled with guys significantly older than her. Joe Alwyn is younger than Swift: he was 26 and she was 27 when the song was released.
The actress Elizabeth Taylor was a star on the magnitude of Swift two generations earlier. Unlike swift, she had a penchant for marriage, claiming seven different men as husbands. Her most famous relationship was with the actor Richard Burton; the pair were consistently in the gossip columns throughout their marriage in the 1960s and '70s. The line in this song, "He can be my jailer, Burton to this Taylor" is a reference to this relationship, which hints at intense passion with a great deal of dysfunction.
The epic, futuristic video was directed by frequent Swift collaborator Joseph Kahn and filmed at the Hawthorne Plaza Shopping Center in Hawthorne, California. It sees the songstress appear as two versions of herself. Donned in a black hooded cloak, she battles against an identical cyborg, who shoots lightning from her fingertips. The clip features homage references to various sci-fi films, particularly Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell and is full of metaphoric imagery about Swift challenging her own identity.
Taylor Swift co-wrote the song with Max Martin along with the Swedish producer's right-hand men Shellback and Ali Payami. The latter was also one of Katy Perry's Witness collaborators, but he didn't work on the Swift diss track "Swish Swish."
"The way that's presented in '...Ready For It' is basically, finding your partner in crime, and it's like 'Oh my god we're the same, we're the same, oh my god! Let's rob banks together, this is great!' And we'll hear that theme carried on throughout the rest of the record, but not exactly in the same way as you heard it in '...Ready For It.'"