Over the last few albums and years we have experienced Taylor Swift’s evolution in music and public life. With the album Red it was as if she was being formed in the womb of pop music.1989 was her full-on birth into it. Reputation is not even her as an infant, or teenager but a full grown woman wanting to be the princess of the pop. If not…queen?
The most notable thing about Reputation as a whole is the strive forward not just of pop or dance, but full EDM and even a few touches of drum and bass. Her singing throughout the songs is wildly infected with a variety of electronic sound effects.This album should have been justly called, Reinvention since that is what it is. However this reinvention succeeds by exploring futuristic sounds never before heard on her previous efforts or even by other contemporary pop divas (look out Gaga). There are always little musical or vocal surprises that make you feel as if you didn’t hear it on the first listen. This is not a happy go lucky pop record as it is deeply personal, dark and at times even vicious with a maturity surrounding the music and lyrics.
The subject matter of her lyrics about ex’s is prevalent as always, but there’s blatant references to being in love, and as most Taylor theorists will tell you it’s about her current boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. Swift’s words are now taking us into her being a woman who is fully into the openness of her sensuality and passion.There are revengeful if not vengeful themes as she even lays down a couple of swear words. She even points out struggling to be private in a world so public. She is also drinking, out of 15 songs there are references to drinking 15 times.
…Ready For it? is the perfect opening title track since she’s literally asking fans if they are ready for the new Taylor Swift. She pseudo-raps “He can be my jailer / Burton to this Taylor / Every love I’ve known in comparison is a failure” along with EDM beats into a dreamy sounding chorus of “In the middle of the night in my dreams / you should see the things we do” Let the games begin, indeed.
End Game shows Taylor is now exploring Hip Hop with RnB. I wasn’t sure how this was going to work, but it does and very well. She pushes the envelope further with not just a duet, but by performing it as a triplet with Ed Sheeran and The Future. All three sing or rap about having a “Big reputation / you and me would be a big conversation.”and one of the album’s most poignant lyrics “I swear I don’t love the drama / It loves me”
I Did Something Bad is ironic since it’s so good. The music and lyrics are at their darkest “burning all the witches / even if you aren’t one.” or “They say I did something bad / then why’s it feel so good?” Forget EDM you’re attacked in the face with a chorus of drum and bass beats. At the end you wish she would do it over and over and over again, since it does feel so good.
Don’t Blame Me is another R&B vibe in a darkened big chorus of “Don’t blame me / Your love made me crazy / If it don’t / you ain’t doin’ it right” At one point there’s even a gospel choir vocal break. One line describes not just the song but the album on a whole with “They say she’s gone too far.”
Delicate is one of the lighter pop songs that as it’s title suggests is… Delicate. She sings in echo vocal effects. Even as delicate as it is there is the open minded “Do the girls back home touch you like I do / Long night with your hands up in my hair / echoes of your footsteps on the stairs / stay here honey I don’t want to share” Don’t think it’s about a tryst, as she feels this might be the one “My reputations never been worse / so you must like me for me”
Look What You Made Me Do has the sampling of Right Said Fred’s I’m Too Sexy for the first single.The new style of Taylor is summed up perfectly as she says “The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now / Why? Oh cause she’s dead”
So It Goes exposes yet another new side of Swiftness “I’m yours to keep / And I’m your’s to lose / You know I’m not a bad girl / but I do bad things with you” and then says “Come here dressed in black now / So so so it goes / scratches down your back now”
Getaway Car is a big sounding song with catchy chorus and bridges. It is obviously a direct reference to ex Tom Hiddleston and their struggle to be a couple in the maze of chasing paparazzi “Well, he was runnin’ after us, I was screamin’, “go, go, go!”/ But with three of us, honey, it’s a sideshow / And a circus ain’t a love story / And now we’re both sorry”
Gorgeous is an excellent straight upbeat pop song with stop and go beats. Here she is intimidated by someone so gorgeous “you should think about the consequence / of you touching my hand in the darkened room / if you’ve got a girlfriend I’m jealous of her / But if you’re single it’s honestly worse / Cause you’re so gorgeous it hurts” In the end she will be stumbling home to her cats alone… unless he wants to come along.
King of My Heart is a strong beat love song that gives Taylor hope that she finally has a true love with her current beau, Joe Alwyn. Hiddleston is indirectly mentioned again along side another ex Calvin Harris with “Cause all the boys and their expensive cars / With their Range Rovers and their Jaguars / Never took me quite where you do” Mr. Alwyn must be feeling good right about now.
Dancing With Our Hands Tied opens with piano keys and a pop verse then as the bridge ends the EDM is a full force chorus. More words about a romance in public, Hiddleston? Harris? or…even Joe? “And Darling you had turned my bed into a sacred oasis / People started talking / putting us through our paces / I knew there was no one in the world who could take it / I had a bad feeling / But we were dancing with our hands tied”
Dress is an open invitation of… well…“Carve your name into my bedpost / ‘Cause I don’t want you like a best friend / Only bought this dress so you could take it off / Take it off /Take it o-o-off” You can literally hear Taylor in bed beside you.
This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things starts off throwing nice big parties swimming in a sea of champagne and feeling so Gatsby for that whole year, but then it all goes wrong as she directs it all to Kanye and Kim K “Friends don’t try to trick you / Get you on the phone and mind-twist you” She even breaks out into laughter about forgiveness being a nice thing. Interestingly this is the 13th track on the album, Taylor’s lucky number.
Call It What You Want To is almost a reference to her past song Love Story with “Holdin’ my breathe, slowly I said / You don’t need to save me / But would you runaway with me”…”Call it what you want to / my baby’s fly like a jet stream / High above the whole scene / Loves me like I’m brand new” Even on a love song this is a brand new Swift.
New Year’s Day is a piano laden ballad that ends the EDM exploration party we’ve been having with the opening lyrics of “There’s glitter on the floor after the party” I’m sure on her upcoming tour this will be a great crowd sing-along with the chorus of “Hold onto the memories / because they will hold onto you / And I will hold onto you” With no effects, crazy beats or explorations this is Taylor doing what she does best being herself.
I do appreciate this album more than I thought I would. I have to say amongst all the new fresh sounds and exploration, there’s still a part of this journalist that looks forward to the day she heads back down the country roads to take her home.