This might seem like an odd thing to write a blog post about and, well, I guess it kind of is. However, if you read my post about my experience at Taylor Swift’s 1989 concert or have paid any attention to the fact that new Taylor Swift songs always sneak their way into the top of my monthly playlists, you already know about my obsession with Taylor Swift. I’ve been listening to her for ten years now and I’ve seen her in concert three times. That being said, I was absolutely ecstatic when Taylor announced the new album, reputation, and preordered it seconds after it became available, before I had even listened to “Look What You Made Me Do.” Today I’m sharing my thoughts on the new album as a whole and “the new Taylor,” as well as giving my opinions on each track (I’ve already listened to each one a handful of times). Again, I know this type of post seems strange, but I’ve wanted to write a post on the album since she announced it, so here it is! Enjoy!
Thoughts on reputation
Something I’ve always loved about Taylor is that her music seems to grow with her fans. If she was still releasing country tunes like “Our Song” that I was listening to at age six I probably wouldn’t still listen to her half as much as I do. This album is the exact sound I needed to hear from her to stay hooked: generally poppy with hints of alternative sound and electronic beats. The lyrics are fitting for my current stage of life as well: she’s still writing about the vulnerability, doubts, and bliss of that come with love, but she’s also singing about independence and resilience.
“The New Taylor”
The line “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now / Why? / Oh, ’cause she’s dead” line has dropped jaws since the night “Look What You Made Me Do” was released as a teaser for the album back in August. How do I interpret this line? I think Taylor’s shedding her skin and truly being one hundred percent herself, not who anyone expects her to be or puts her out to be. I think she’s thrown what the media and her celebrity enemies have said about her right back in their faces in the most genius, classy-yet-savage way possible. I have no doubt that she will continue to be “the old Taylor” in that she is a positive role model for young women and plays her older hits at concerts. If you ask me, people overreacted to that line. Setting aside the fact that the spoken phone call bit is classic Taylor Swift (listen to “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” again if you don’t know what I’m referring to), Taylor did not literally kill her old self (as if that was physically possible), she’s just moving on from it. I’m not the same person I was when 1989 came out back in 2014 (and I’m sure you can say the same for yourself), so why should we expect her to be? As with each new Taylor Swift album, people hoped reputation would include more “You Belong With Me”-esque tunes, but they seemed to have forgotten that Taylor released the hit when she was eighteen and she is now twenty-seven. She ages too. That’s a nine year time gap, and no one is completely the same for that long. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think her personality itself has changed. Judging by the album’s lyrics and her Instagram stories, she’s still the same kindhearted, cat obsessed, hopeless romantic we all fell in love with in 2006, just in a different style. Her country music career (aside from penning for other country artists) seems to be over, but Taylor’s heartfelt, relatable tracks aren’t going anywhere.
1. …Ready For It?: The second of Taylor’s singles preceding the album, “…Ready For It” explored Taylor’s ability to sing quick, witty lyrics (or rap? Call it what you want…no pun intended) and reassured us that the album wouldn’t be completely “dark” like the impression that “Look What You Made Me Do” gave us with a gentle, pretty chorus. I immediately loved the lyrics “Some, some boys are tryin’ too hard / He don’t try at all, though” and “Every lover known in comparison is a failure / I forget their names now, I’m so very tame now,” which make nameless jabs at her exes (I don’t even need to know who she’s referring to, these lines are brilliant). Not to mention, she dropped this track without warning at a football game, building hype for the album among anyone who somehow still hadn’t heard “Look What You Made Me Do”… genius.
2. End Game (feat. Ed Sheeran & Future): I was thrilled when Taylor revealed that the album would include a collaboration featuring Ed Sheeran and Future. I love both of these artists (I’ve also heard them both live), so I was really hoping their parts wouldn’t be too watered down for the purpose of fitting Taylor’s audience. The song so surpassed my expectations and seems to serve as the album’s theme song with the word “reputation” frequenting the lyrics. The chorus includes the lines “Big reputation, big reputation / Oooh, you and me we got / Big reputations, ah / And you heard about me, oooh / I got some big enemies,” obviously pointing to the numerous celebrity feuds she’s been involved in. I also love the lines “Reputation precedes me / They told you I’m crazy / I swear I don’t love the drama, it loves me” from Taylor’s verse, which points to the media’s portrayal of her since her rise to fame.
3. I Did Something Bad: Much like in 1989‘s “Blank Space,” Taylor grabs the snake that the media made her out to be by the neck and wrote a song from its perspective. Over the years, she’s been portrayed as a liar who dates boys for fun simply to get a song out of it. She plays the part in the chorus with lines “They say I did something bad / But why’s it feel so good? / Most fun I’ve ever had / And I could do it over and over and over again if I could.” Then, in the final pre-chorus, she points right to the media again as well as Kim Kardashian’s “witch hunt” over her permission to be mentioned in a controversial lyric in Kanye West’s song “Famous” (remember #TaylorSwiftisOverParty and the snake emojis? Yeah, that); “They’re burning all the witches, even if you aren’t one / They got their pitchforks and proof, their receipts and reasons / They’re burning all the witches, even if you aren’t one / So light me up…” This song definitely wins most savage if you ask me.
4. Don’t Blame Me: Debatably the catchiest song on the album, “Don’t Blame Me” includes hints of electronic beat drops (that I think almost sound like something by Flume) and beautiful lyrics. I seriously love the lines “And baby, for you, I would fall from grace / Just to touch your face” and “I once was poison ivy, but now I’m your daisy” as well as so many others. Among these gorgeous lines towards a lover, she also sings “They say, ‘She’s gone too far this time,'” which makes it hard for me to decipher exactly who this song is about (Calvin Harris? Current boyfriend Joe Alwyn? I don’t know) and proves that Taylor Swift is capable of fitting a lash at the media’s invasion of her privacy in any and every song. The chorus is all kinds of catchy and I can guarantee that this one will be playing in my car a lot.
5. Delicate: This song is one of the few on the album that I see as pretty clearly portraying Taylor’s romance with her current boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. The line “My reputation’s never been worse, so / You must like me for me” in the first pre-chorus brings up the album title again but also tells that she’s found someone who she knows loves her for more than her fame, for the first time claiming that her bad reputation has had a positive effect. My favorite Taylor Swift songs are always the ones with super detailed lyrics, and I love this track for lines like “Echoes of your footsteps on the stairs,” “Third floor on the West Side, me and you.”
6. Look What You Made Me Do: I could spend hours babbling on about the lyrical genius of this song and the mastermind behind its music video, but I don’t want this post to be too long. Yes, “Look What You Made Me Do” is really repetitive, but if you think about it, Taylor always releases the catchiest song first (“Shake It Off” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” were each the first releases from 1989 and Red respectively), so we can listen and get excited then have a whole album to listen to when it starts to approach getting annoying. This track was the perfect weapon to break Taylor’s old reputation for a new album to take the limelight. Claiming the old Taylor as dead proclaimed her emergence as a new woman and this album as something completely different and incomparable to anything else she’s ever released. The song is packed to the brim with jabs at celebrities she’s feuded with (I’m sure you’ve read a handful of theories already), but the line “But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time” has to be my absolute favorite line from the track (and my favorite comeback phrase ever since its release).
7. So It Goes…: If I had to call one song from the album Taylor’s “coming of age” track, I’d say it’s this one. She found a way to ease in innuendos in an innocent and beautiful way that isn’t enough to keep any of her younger audience away, yet appeases her older audience (because like I said earlier, we’re all growing up!). I love the lines “You know I’m not a bad girl, but I / Do bad things with you” and “Get caught up in a moment / Lipstick on your face,” both of which reference parts of her former “America’s sweetheart” persona who sang songs she wrote about high school crushes and wore red lipstick 24/7. The song is beautiful yet catchy and it’s without a doubt one of my favorites.
8. Gorgeous: As the third single, “Gorgeous” showed us a more happily upbeat side of the album to come. I have to admit, the child voice and odd beat in the beginning of the song weren’t my favorite at first, but the song has grown on me. The lyrics are humorous and witty, with lines like “There’s nothing I hate more than what I can’t have / Guess I’ll just stumble on home to my cats” and “And I got a boyfriend, he’s older than us / He’s in the club doing, I don’t know what.” Slightly more serious lines including “Ocean blue eyes looking in mine / I feel like I might sink and drown and die” mimic the feelings of innocent crushes from afar, making this song so relatable and fun.
9. Getaway Car: This one easily claims a spot in my top three upon first listen thanks to the line “X marks the spot where we fell apart” in the first pre-chorus and the emotion in Taylor’s voice as she belts “Thing about the place where you first met me” in the final chorus. The contrast between light, sweet verses and the loud and emotional chorus as she sings about leaving a love behind have me playing this one on repeat.
10. King of My Heart: I didn’t realize just how much I loved this song the first time I played the album, but after playing it a second time I don’t know how I didn’t deem in noteworthy. The beat is so good and this is another one of the few I think are about Joe Alwyn. Taylor talks about going from settling on a life alone to falling in love in the catchiest way. Sweet lyrics including “Now you try on callin’ me Baby, like tryin’ on clothes” and “Your love is a secret I’m hoping, dreaming, dying to keep” are instant mood-improvers.
11. Dancing With Our Hands Tied: More electronic beats serve as a background for lyrics about the media breaking a couple up. Maybe this one is about Calvin Harris? I’m not sure. Even with the sad meaning, the song is such a jam with a repetitive chorus using “dancing with our hands tied” as an allegory for happily dating as the media pulls them apart until there’s nothing left. Lyrics from the second verse “So, baby, can we dance / Oh through an avalanche? / And say, say that we got it / I’m a mess, but I’m the mess that you wanted” remind anyone who’s ever been a Taylor Swift fan of everything the media has put her and her romances through, and I couldn’t imagine prettier lines to describe it.
12. Dress: A breathy and beautiful track, “Dress” carries innuendos similar to those in “So It Goes…” with the chorus repeating “Only bought this dress so you could take it off.” However, the track is deeper than that. Gorgeous lyrics such as “Say my name and everything just stops / I don’t want you like a best friend” grace the light electronic beats in a way that makes you want to start the song over before it ends each time. An ever so detailed line in the final bridge hints that the song is about Taylor’s current boyfriend, Joe Alwyn: “Flashback when you met me / Your buzzcut and my hair bleached / Even in my worst times, you could see the best of me,” because she met him at the Met Gala in 2016 when she had bleached hair and he had a buzzcut.
13. This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: I’m willing to bet this one is about that feud with Kanye West (based on the line “Friends don’t try to trick you / Get you on the phone and mind-twist you”), but I think it’s also easily applicable to fake friends in general. It’s filled with clever lyrical bits like “Stabbing my back while you’re shaking my hand” and a laughing comment “‘And here’s to you, ’cause forgiveness is a nice thing to do / I can’t even say it with a straight face,” before the last chorus (reminiscent of other spoken lines from the Red album such as “We are never getting back together…like ever” in “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and giggles before saying “It’s so fun” at the end of less popular “Stay Stay Stay”).
14. Call It What You Want: By far my favorite of the singles released before the album, “Call It What You Want” shows how happy Taylor is right now. The song tells that Taylor would be okay without a man in her life right now, and she knows that, but that he makes her happy. The last bridge makes this especially clear with the lines “You don’t need to save me / But would you run away with me?” This song is a sweet, catchy proclamation of her independence that simultaneously declares the joy Joe Alwyn (presumably) brings into her life. I think this song describes the way every girl should feel about her love life, definitely give it a listen!
15. New Year’s Day: Performed on ABC a couple hours before the album’s release, “New Year’s Day” is a gentle, quiet song packed with vivid images of the aftermath of a New Year’s Eve party such as in the opening verse “There’s glitter on the floor after the party / Girls carrying their shoes down in the lobby / Candle wax and Polaroids on the hardwood floor / You and me from the night before.” In this track, Taylor uses the high and crashing of the New Year’s holiday as a metaphor for the loyalty and support she wants to provide, no matter the circumstances. Chorus lines “I want your midnights / But I’ll be cleaning up bottles with you on New Year’s Day” refer to wanting the happy, sweet moments like a New Year’s kiss at midnight but also wanting to be there for the hard times like cleaning up bottles after a big party.
I know I gushed about every single song, so it’s probably not completely clear that my favorites right now are “Getaway Car,” “King of My Heart,” and “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” but that will most likely continue to change as I listen to the album more and more. Thanks for reading!