Kanye West Releases New Song 'Facts' on New Year's Eve

Kanye West
Kanye West accepts the Video Vanguard award at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards. The rapper is expected to release a new album sometime in 2016. Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

New Year's Eve may seem like an inopportune time for an artist to release new music, which is precisely why Kanye West and Taylor Swift—two stars so big they defy the need for traditional promotion—did just that. Mere hours before the calendar turned over to 2016, West released "FACTS" on Soundcloud, a song that could appear on a new album expected to drop sometime this year, while Swift premiered a video for 1989 favorite "Out of the Woods" on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest.

We learned that a new Kanye song was on the way Thursday afternoon, when West's wife Kim Kardashian tweeted the news. Four hours later she tweeted a link to the Soundcloud of "FACTS," which—judging by ultra-topical references to Steve Harvey, Bill Cosby, Odell Beckham Jr. and more—was written recently.

The song, the title of which is very appropriately stylized in all caps, plays like an extended rant. West spends an inordinate amount of time dissing Nike for not giving him the proper amount of creative freedom with his shoe line, as he raps, "Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy, just jumped over Jumpman," in reference to Nike's iconic Jumpman brand. Other lyrics include, "2020, I'mma run the whole election," and, "Couches, couches, couches, couches, which one should I pick?"

It's unclear whether "FACTS" will appear on West's highly anticipated forthcoming album, or if it was simply a New Year's Eve one-off to remind people that he does in fact have a highly anticipated forthcoming album. Either way, execs for Adidas, which apparently does give West a proper amount of creative freedom, are doing backflips.

Taylor Swift didn't release a new song on New Year's Eve, but she did premiere a video for "Out of the Woods" on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest. In it, the pop star wanders through some sort of enchanted forest while singing about one of her relationships. At one point she is chased by a pack of wolves. As of Friday morning, the video already has well over 1.5 million YouTube views.

Those numbers will surely skyrocket once fans wrest themselves from their hangovers and realize Swift debuted a new video while everyone else was busy pouring champagne. For these two artists—and also for Drake, Beyoncé and other global icons who have released music unexpectedly—traditional promotion is obsolete. When you have tens of millions of Twitter and Instagram followers, and the knowledge that the slightest morsel of news you dispense will reach all corner of the Internet in a matter of minutes, there's no need to drum up hype for weeks with blog posts and teaser tracks. Individual artists now have more reach than any publication can promise, and there's no better way for a global icon to flex this new muscle than by releasing content when no one is looking for it and knowing they will find it anyway.