Taylor Swift has not had the best press in the past year. The lead single off her new album didn’t help. It was mocked on social media and many questioned her decision to maintain her innocence. But while others criticized, I considered what Swift’s ultimate goal was. While “Look What You Made Me Do” certainly doesn’t represent the album as a whole, it did set the tone for reputation: Taylor Swift will behave the way she wants. If you don’t like it, she doesn’t care. When everyone counts her out, she never doubts her abilities.
“Ready for It”
The second preview of the album after listening to reputation in its entirety now seems more like a warning. The rapping, talking in the verses was a sign of the more in-your-face tone she is going for.
The structure of this song is strange which mirrors your thought process while listening to it. Future leads the song and it mainly seems like Swift is only singing the chorus. Then Ed Sheeran comes in and by the end of the song you are still dissecting the multiple references. There are calls to Sheeran’s “The A Team” and more rapping from Swift.
“I Did Something Bad”
Ooh explicit Taylor! Okay, she says one swear word, but still. She admits, “I’d do it over and over again if I could.” The lyrics are harder and edgier than anything she has ever written before. Her response to people burning witches: “Light Me Up.”
“Don’t Blame Me”
Four songs in, and it is clear that this album is not going to have a lovey, upbeat song. But while starry-eyed Swift may be long gone, a self-reflective adult has emerged. She admits she plays with men and has been breaking hearts. This might be vocally the best song she has ever recorded.
This song is filled with things constantly mentioned on this album: her reputation, drinking and bedroom shenanigans. Sexier lyrics and a lyrically sharp bridge will make you want to put this on repeat.
“Look What You Made Me Do”
This one has been talked about enough. It now seems like a trick to make people think Swift had lost her edge when she definitely hasn’t.
“So It Goes”
There are lines about lipstick in this song but that is the only sign that points to “classic” Swift. This song is extremely sexy. It is filled with lines like “Not a bad girl but I do bad things with you” and mentions of scratches down her lovers back. About halfway through, this LP is by far her most cohesive sonically and thematically.
This was an interesting choice as a teaser before the album. It was lyrically not the most advanced song but very fun. Who hasn’t seen an unbelievably beautiful person from across the room and thought, “I might sink and drown and diiieeee?”
Despite songs like “Back to December,” one of Swift’s constant criticism is that she continuously presents herself as being blameless when her relationships end. Well, she is taking responsibility in this song with lines about finding a reason to leave someone. This is the most honest song on the album. She admits to lying, some more drinking and a “shot gun to the heart.”
“King Of My Heart”
This track is not extremely memorable upon first listen, but it does seamlessly blend with the rest of the album. There is more talking/singing, but this time it sounds more like a schoolgirl crush. Swift comes across as completely and unapologetically in love.
“Dancing With Our Hands Tied”
Petition now for most of Swift’s merch for an inevitable, upcoming tour to have lyrics from this song. “Can we dance through an avalanche?” she sings. In another line she acknowledges, “I’m a mess but I’m the mess that you wanted.” It is more upbeat, but it still has the dark undertones that defines this new era.
Swift has shown a new talent of blending classy and sexy lyrics that are somewhat explicit but don’t push it over the edge. She sings, “Only bought this dress so you could take it off.” This is a more mature love Swift is experiencing.
“This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”
This could be considered “Bad Blood” 2.0 but it is on an entirely different level than that song. With references to Gatsby and campaign pools, Swift then somehow manages to have a chorus with a line overused on social media. And it works. The genius part comes in the middle when she talks about forgiving someone and then a burst of laughter follows. Only Swift could get away with this.
“Call It What You Want”
Another teaser that Swift was going to equally talk about her reputation and love in this album in a way to show sides of the old and new Taylor. But, she doesn’t care what you think anymore. “I’m doing better than I ever was.” Some may say that, but Swift means it. She has a love who really knows her. What more could anyone want?
“New Year’s Day”
A simple, beautiful end that perfectly completes the album. It is the one sweet love song that stands. The writing style recalls similar melodies from “Enchanted.” (one of my favorite Swift songs) “Please don’t ever become a stranger whose laugh I could recognize anywhere,” she pleads. She wants him to hold onto the memories. I just want to hold onto this album and dissect it, over and over again.