Taylor Swift’s Latest Chess Move: A Gracie Abrams Collab

Gotham/GC Images/Getty
Gotham/GC Images/Getty

In case you haven’t heard, it’s something of a brat summer: pop star Charli XCX is presently dominating the airwaves with her latest hyper-pop album, even enlisting the reclusive Lorde for a new remix.

But the ever-dominant Taylor Swift will always have an answer to challengers in her key arenas. And this week, Gracie Abrams—one of Swift’s plucky Eras Tour openers—released a new song, “Us,” that she co-wrote with Swift, and that even comes with a ready-made viral moment.

According to Abrams (who is the daughter of filmmaker J. J. Abrams), she and Swift had dinner and drinks together last fall and then retreated to Swift’s home to work on music when disaster struck: a fallen candle became a semi-threatening fire on the kitchen island.

“She was such a legend—I don’t know how at this hour or in our state she knew what to do,” Abrams, 24, recalled in a new interview with Billboard. “We both had an insane cough from the fire extinguisher fumes for weeks.”

And what do you know! There’s video footage of the incident, which was posted by Abrams on Friday and then endlessly disseminated by fan accounts.

In the clip, a growing fire does indeed flicker on Swift’s counter. Clad in a white dress, Swift rushes to snap up a fire extinguisher and mutters “bitch” as she struggles to put out the blaze (who among us can’t relate?). When she finally does, the two women collapse into giggles.

Swift could use a fresh viral moment. As she continues to travel the globe with her juggernaut Eras Tour—re-purposing her countless hits and debuting performances from her latest, divisive album, The Tortured Poets Department—pop culture isn’t bending around her with quite the same white-hot heat that it did in 2023, unquestionably the most successful year of her career thus far.

Lately, all people can talk about is Charli XCX and her earned, widespread influence on pop music: Katy Perry and Camila Cabello are among her most recent imitators. And last week, none other than Swift’s ex-boyfriend Matty Healy was in attendance at the Brooklyn stop of Charli’s BRAT tour, right after he proposed marriage to his stunning model girlfriend, Gabbriette Bechtel.

I don’t care how successful, brilliant, beautiful, and/or popular you are: When an ex-boyfriend, especially a recent ex-boyfriend, gets engaged to someone else, it would be impossible to feel nothing. And if Swift remains the person she’s been throughout her entire, extraordinary career, I’d guess what she felt most acutely was competitive—not for Healy’s affections, necessarily, but for pop culture’s main character crown. She wants it back.

So it’s only appropriate that now she (and Abrams, I guess) are asking the world: “Do you miss us?”

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