When country superstar Taylor Swift announced her fifth studio album 1989 in August 2014, she was very, very clear: She was leaving country music.

"This is my very first documented, official pop album," she declared at the time, in case anyone was unsure about her choice of genre. Although her country songs frequently leaned toward a pop sound, she clarified that 1989 was the "most sonically cohesive album" of her career.

Taylor Swift performs at the CMA Music Festival on Sunday, June 10, 2007 in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo / Getty
Taylor Swift performs at the CMA Music Festival on Sunday, June 10, 2007 in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo / Getty

In a Rolling Stone profile, she talked about how her record label president asked her to include three country songs on the record. Her answer was a resounding "No way," and she stayed away from the country radio and award show circuit.

Now suddenly, she's back on both. A day after country quartet Little Big Town revealed that Swift was the mysterious songwriter behind their new single, Better Man, Swift appeared in the final moments of the Country Music Association Awards on Wednesday.

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She presented the most coveted prize of the night, entertainer of the year, which was awarded to Garth Brooks.

Singer Taylor Swift speaks onstage at the 50th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 2, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo / Getty
Singer Taylor Swift speaks onstage at the 50th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 2, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo / Getty

"Hi, Nashville," she said cheerfully from the stage to the screaming CMAs audience. "It's been almost 13 years since I came to Nashville with a dream of being a songwriter and a recording artist. And I learned so much about what it means to be an entertainer from the remarkable artists in this arena tonight."

Taylor Swift at the 50th Annual CMA Awards in Nashville, Wednesday, November 2 2016. Photo / Getty
Taylor Swift at the 50th Annual CMA Awards in Nashville, Wednesday, November 2 2016. Photo / Getty

It's a similar narrative that Little Big Town vocalist Karen Fairchild put forth in a press conference on Tuesday when the group confirmed the Swift news, saying Swift reached out to them to record the track because she's a fan of their harmonies. "At her heart, she is the biggest pop star in the world, but she's a songwriter from Nashville, Tennessee," Fairchild said.

So ... what exactly is going on here? Swift is meticulously strategic about every career choice she's made in the last decade - she always thinks 10 steps ahead. Why is she hinting at a return to country music when she was so direct about leaving it?

Recording artist Taylor Swift performs during the Brooks & Dunn - The Last Rodeo show Photo / Getty
Recording artist Taylor Swift performs during the Brooks & Dunn - The Last Rodeo show Photo / Getty

The obvious guess is that Swift is looking for familiar territory after she took a rare hit to her reputation this summer.

First, she was the subject of mockery thanks to her relationship with actor Tom Hiddleston, whom she was photographed kissing in June, a couple weeks after breaking up with DJ Calvin Harris.

Recording artists Calvin Harris (L) and Taylor Swift attend the 2015 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 17, 2015 Photo / Getty
Recording artists Calvin Harris (L) and Taylor Swift attend the 2015 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 17, 2015 Photo / Getty

"Hiddleswift" embarked on a worldwide tour of PDA, and was so thoroughly documented by the paparazzi that some people assumed their relationship was fake, or even performance art.

Then, in the wake of their split, Harris exposed some of her PR tactics. It culminated in his Twitter rant when Swift's camp confirmed that she was actually the songwriter of his summer hit, This is What You Came For; he took this as Swift trying to make him look bad and he accused her of trying to "bury" him like her frenemy Katy Perry.

Singer Taylor Swift performs onstage during The 1989 World Tour live in Nashville at Bridgestone Arena on September 25, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo / Getty
Singer Taylor Swift performs onstage during The 1989 World Tour live in Nashville at Bridgestone Arena on September 25, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo / Getty

But that was nothing compared to the infamous phone call between her and Kanye West that Kim Kardashian posted on Snapchat in July, which seemed to prove Swift wasn't being entirely truthful about her role in the controversy over West's song Famous, which name-checked her in the lyrics. (Long story.)

Taylor Swift is seen in Tribeca on September 16, 2016 in New York City.Photo / Getty
Taylor Swift is seen in Tribeca on September 16, 2016 in New York City.Photo / Getty

The scandal rocked the internet, and many decided Swift was a "snake."

Aside from an Instagram post defending herself, Swift was mostly silent in the aftermath. Since she and Hiddleston broke up in early September, she's stayed under the radar, and performed her first and only concert of the year last month to celebrate 10 years since her debut album, released in October 2006.

Since crossing over to pop, Swift has dominated the charts and concert ticket sales. But if she wants to hit the reset button and restore her image a bit, it is a smart move to go to a genre that never really got over her departure.

Taylor Swift and Lorde seen on October 12, 2016 in New York City. Photo / Getty
Taylor Swift and Lorde seen on October 12, 2016 in New York City. Photo / Getty

Country music would be more than happy to welcome her back, particularly award shows, where she always helps with ratings.

As Swift excitedly posted on Wednesday night, Little Big Town's Better Man is the No. 1 song in all genres on iTunes, so it seems country radio has also warmed to her music again.

Singer/songwiter Taylor Swift perfoms onstage during the Formula 1 USGP on October 22, 2016 in Austin Photo / Getty
Singer/songwiter Taylor Swift perfoms onstage during the Formula 1 USGP on October 22, 2016 in Austin Photo / Getty

What remains a mystery for now is why she made her exit from country music seem so official. At the Academy of Country Music Awards (different from the CMAs) in April 2015, Swift showed up to accept a Milestone Award. On stage, she delivered what sounded suspiciously like a break-up speech.

Karlie Kloss and Taylor Swift attend the 2014 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 23, 2014. Photo / Getty
Karlie Kloss and Taylor Swift attend the 2014 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 23, 2014. Photo / Getty

"Somebody once told me that you truly see who a person is when you tell them something they don't want to hear ... And so to the country music community, when I told you that I had made a pop album and that I wanted to go explore other genres, you showed me who you are with the grace you accepted that with," Swift said. "I will never forget it."