Who Is Taylor Swift's Karma About? The True Meaning And Travis Kelce Reference Explained

26 June 2024, 14:05

Who is Taylor Swift's Karma about? Is it about Travis Kelce? The references explained
Who is Taylor Swift's Karma about? Is it about Travis Kelce? The references explained. Picture: Michael Owens/Getty Images, Kevin Mazur/TAS24/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management
Katie Louise Smith

By Katie Louise Smith

Taylor Swift doesn't mention anyone by name on 'Karma' but fans have theorised it could be about several people. Here's your full breakdown.

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As any Swiftie will tell ya, Karma truly is the 'guy on the Chiefs', but who is Taylor Swift's 'Karma' actually about? Is it about Travis Kelce?

'Karma' is a track from Taylor's 2022 album 'Midnights' and serves as the spectacular finale to her show-stopping Eras Tour concert.

As fans will know, Taylor often changes the lyrics to 'Karma' in honour of boyfriend Travis whenever he's in attendance. Instead of singing 'guy on the screen', she changes it to 'guy on the Chiefs' - a shout out to his NFL team, the Kansas City Chiefs.

A comment that Travis recently made on the Bussin' With The Boys podcast where he cheekily asked if the host's daughter knew who 'Karma' is (referring to the 'guy on the Chiefs' lyric) has now sparked more interest in the meaning behind the song, with non-fans and casual Swifties now wondering who it's actually about.

Here's a full breakdown of the lyrics, who 'Spider Boy' might be, who the original 'guy on the screen' is and, of course, the 'guy on the Chiefs' himself.

Taylor Swift changed the lyrics to 'Karma' on the Eras Tour to include a Travis Kelce reference
Taylor Swift changed the lyrics to 'Karma' on the Eras Tour to include a Travis Kelce reference. Picture: Getty

Who is Taylor Swift's 'Karma' actually about?

'Karma' is a playful song about all the good things that have come to Taylor after she's experienced betrayal, heartbreak, hurtful comments from critics and general negative things hurled her way in the past.

A lot of that has been well documented in the press over the years (Scooter Braun, Scott Borchetta and her masters, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian and the 'Famous' phone call...) but Taylor doesn't name anyone within the actual lyrics of the song.

She does allude to 'Spider Boy, king of thieves' which fans have deduced is likely Scooter Braun. There are theories that it could also be about Big Machine Record's founder Scott Borchetta as they both have SB initials.

The My pennies made your crown lyric could also refer to the money Taylor's music made Scott Borchetta over the years under her Big Machine Records contract, and the price for which Taylor's masters were sold to Scooter in 2019.

Explaining the song to Zane Lowe on Apple Music’s New Music Daily, Taylor said: "'Karma' is written from a perspective of feeling, like, really happy, really proud of the way your life is, feeling like this must be a reward for doing stuff right."

"It’s a song that I really love because I think we all need some of those moments. You know, we can’t just be beating ourselves up all the time," she added. "You have to have these moments where you’re like, 'You know what, karma is my boyfriend and that’s it.'"

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Is Taylor Swift's 'Karma' about Travis Kelce? Who is 'the guy on the screen'?

Well... no, but also yes. It kind of is about Travis now. When it was originally written, 'Karma' was not about Travis. But as we've seen over the past several months, Taylor has now changed the song's lyrics to reflect how happy she in her new relationship with him.

At the time, the 'boyfriend' and 'guy on the screen' in question was actually actor Joe Alwyn. 'Karma' was released in October 2022, months before the former couple went their separate ways after ending their 6-year relationship.

Since going public with Travis, Taylor now changes the 'Karma is the guy on the screen' lyric to 'Karma is the guy on the Chiefs' whenever he's is in attendance at her show. It's become one of the two major references to Travis throughout the concert, alongside 'So High School'.

As with most of Taylor's songs, while she may have written them about something specific at the time, they evolve and change for her as they do for us listening. Now, Travis is 'Karma'.

This whole conversation about 'Karma' was reignited on social media after Travis appeared on the Bussin' With The Boys podcast. As conversation turned to ranking their favourite Taylor Swift songs (Travis' faves are 'Blank Space', 'Cruel Summer' and 'So High School', in case you're wondering), 'Karma' was brought up by host Will Compton as one of his daughter's favourite songs.

Travis then asked, "Does she know who 'Karma' is?" before taking a sip of his drink and smiling. Will then asks if 'Karma' is "Gyllenhaal, right?", to which Travis hilariously replies, "What happened?"

They pull up a Google page showing the new "Karma is the guy on the Chiefs" lyrics before Will questions, "But wasn't it guy on the screen?" Travis replies: "It was."

Travis then playfully clarifies that it's just that one part that's about him. But to the Swifties, 'Guy on the Chiefs' has been forever cemented into 'Karma' lore. Amen!

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