Artist: Taylor Swift
Release date: November 2017
Favorite track: “I Did Something Bad”
The first few singles on “Reputation” did little for me — if anything at all.
When Taylor Swift released “Look What You Made Me Do,” — the first single — it was a shocking departure from the sweet, vintage T-Swift from “1989” and “Red,” and an even further cry from the country, curly-haired T-Swift from “Fearless” and “Speak Now.” The world had a minor panic attack.
Taylor channeling her inner Britney Spears on her sixth album made total sense from a publicity standpoint. To remain an icon, she has to constantly reinvent herself with each album and continue to surprise fans who have already latched themselves to other up-and-coming musicians while waiting for her next record.
Toward the end of the song, Swift says, “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ‘cause she’s dead!”
This statement seems ironic because, after listening to the full record, the old Taylor Swift isn’t dead. She’s alive, and she’s older and more mature.
After “Look What You Made Me Do,” Swift released “... Ready For It?”; “Gorgeous”; and “Call It What You Want.” All of these were catchy — don’t get me wrong. But, I still felt a “meh” kind of sensation toward them and lukewarm about whether I was committed to listening to her full album.
At its core, the poetic lyrics still sounded like Swift. In my opinion, she released the bad songs first — to get ‘em out of the way for the good ones.
I’m glad I took the time to consume the record, because it’s my favorite of hers to-date. It’s musically and lyrically more developed than Swift’s five before it. And it’s detailed and heart-warming in that inexplicably T-Swift kind of way.
“Look What You Made Me Do” is stereotypical early 2000s pop with an edge. It’s a little Britney Spears, Fergie and Gwen Stefani.
It’s fun to see Swift revel in this new style, but I’m glad it didn’t overtake the album. The lyrics are conventionally good.
But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time
Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time
I’ve got a list of names and yours is in red, underlined
— “Look What You Made Me Do”
“… Ready For It?” follows suit, with an edgier sound paired with basic, but interesting lyrics. Swift’s vocals don’t make much of an impact in either. I liked this song the more times I listened, particularly the lyrics.
Knew he was a killer first time that I saw him
Wonder how many girls he had loved and left haunted
But if he’s a ghost, then I can be a phantom
Holdin’ him for ransom
— “… Ready For It?”
With each single released, Swift reveals more of her “old self.” “… Ready For It?” gave a glimpse, and “Gorgeous” gave the entire view. “Call It What You Want” is the single with the best look at the “new” Swift. It features the punchy vocals, pared down beats and warmth of the remainder of “Reputation.”
“End Game” is the only song on the record that features the word “reputation.” The relaxed, modern pop song also features Ed Sheeran and Future — who adds a nice layer of rap and R&B. Sheeran’s soft vocals fit nicely next to Swift’s.
“I Did Something Bad” is the type of catchy song I yearn for. Any pop song that touts being a little bad is extremely gratifying, because it has a touch of darkness.
They say I did something bad.
Then why’s it feel so good?
It’s the anthem for those who loved Demi Lovato’s “Sorry Not Sorry.”
“I Did Something Bad,” “Don’t Blame Me” and “Delicate” are a masterful balance of modern, sultry and soulful. If I had chosen the first three singles, these are the ones.
I won’t go into too much more detail, but “So It Goes …”; “Getaway Car”; “King of My Heart;” “Dancing With Our Hands Tied”; and “Dress” are all strong tracks that sound futuristic and smooth. They suit Swift’s gentle vocals, and give a new perspective to her brilliantly simple lyrical style.
“New Year’s Day” is the sweetest song. In the lyrics, Swift uses concrete details to point out abstract notions. She paints a lovely picture.
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
— “New Year’s Day”
The album art matches the themes on the album, what I call “R & R,” royalty and reputation. The picture discs feature chic photography of Swift.