The old Taylor is dead, and the new one is reborn as the same old Swift, but without her musical soul. Her new album, released Nov. 10, “Reputation,” attempts to reinvent Swift through a blurry melange of trap beats, electronically distorted lyrics and synthetic melodies. Although she tries to shed her “bad reputation” and country-phenomenon-turned-pop-darling past she fails to “Shake It Off.”
A Swift Debut
The eerie feel of “Look What You Made Me Do” is a fitting kickoff to the album. The first single was met by the eager anticipation of Swift’s return, and quickly ascended the charts. While the song has a mildly interesting melody, there is a lack of singing — Swift’s usual voice is hidden behind aggressive recitations. In addition, the line about the old Taylor being “dead” is melodramatic.
“…Ready For It?” begins with a strong, distorted bass, an unlikely candidate for Swift’s more smooth, melodic voice. A brief respite to the harsh base is filled with the extremely catchy pre-chorus, which could easily provide the main melody to the song. The song would benefit from the addition of an artist more suited to stronger beats — perhaps Future, who appears on “End Game.”
“Gorgeous” is a fun pop song with a catchy message, whose lyrics reflect the predictable Taylor Swift drama. The beats, reminiscent of Lil Yachty in their trap style and endearing lyrics deviate from her previous darker releases.
“Call it What You Want” is an authentic song, displaying Swift’s signature style. Light hums in the background make the song relaxing to listen to. The message, finding peace with loved ones amidst a storm of hate, makes the song inspirational. The mixture of the carefree nature of the song and crisp beats simultaneously evoke the urge to dance and cry.
Taylored to the Drama
Most of the album revolves around a transitionary period into a tumultuous yet pleasing new relationship. The album begins by describing an electrifying figure who is ‘younger than her exes,’ leaving Swift infatuated. However, beginning with the song “Delicate,” the relationship experiences some complications. Swift sings about her anxiety surrounding losing this person as a result of the relationship progressing too rapidly. Through the progression of the three songs, “So it Goes,” “Gorgeous” and “Getaway Car,” Swift describes the momentous but shaky nature of their time together.
Swift plays with some unxpectedly mature themes in songs like “Dress,” and even drops her first expletive. By the end of the album, Swift successfully defines her romantic interest as a person who will be with her forever. She shakes off public opinion about relationship, saying he “changes my [Swift’s] priorities” and that she is able to “trust him like a brother.” The story of the relationship presented in the album has a good time scheme and a pleasant resolution. However, unlike her previous albums, “Reputation” lacks the vivid, alluring lyrics that made listeners fall in love with Swift’s previous boyfriends.
Unlike her previous albums, “Reputation” lacks the vivid, alluring lyrics that made listeners fall in love with Swift’s previous boyfriends.
The second theme presented in the album is betrayal and embarrassment. After the infamous West-Swift incident, Swift attempts to ditch her new reputation as a two-timer. In songs such as “I Did Something Bad,” “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” and “Look What You Made Me Do,” Swift tells of a “mind-twisting,” “shady” friendship which is mended but “axed” when she feels tricked. Furthermore, she sings about people coming at her relationship with their “pitchforks and proof, their receipts and reasons.” While this theme is present in almost every song, her overall message about the incident is unclear and not well-thought-out, leaving the reader questioning who is at fault.
Hip Pop Influences
Swift balances quick-paced Imagine Dragon-esque songs, such as “I Did Something Bad” and “Don’t Blame Me,” with a few slower-paced jams, such as “Delicate” and “New Year’s Day.”
The album lacks Swift’s staple guitar melodies, relying on heavy synthetic melodies and beats, foreshadowed by “Look What You Made Me Do.”
In her only collaboration, Swift is joined by Ed Sheeran and Future on “End Game,” featuring a verse from each, glued together by Swift’s chorus. While the song allows Sheeran to show his talents, Future’s contribution falls flat. The song is more suited to an artist with smoother flow, like Big Sean or Quavo.
Some memorable songs which are worth listening to are “Don’t Blame Me,” “Call It What You Want,” “I Did Something Bad” and “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.” They all tell witty stories, and are accompanied by appropriate melodies, which further their cause.
The most disappointing part of the album is a soulless hole which was once filled by Swift’s worldly, spiritual ballads.
The most disappointing part of the album is a soulless hole which was once filled by Swift’s worldly, spiritual ballads. While the album slightly diverges from Swift’s traditional themes and melodies, the final product is not revolutionary and is quickly put into the pile of other generic pop music.
Despite containing a few high caliber songs, the album appears to lack any chart toppers that will stand the test of time. The album contains no “Shake it off,” “Bad Blood” or “Style,” a song that would be an instant hit. As of now, “Reputation’s” reputation hinges on perspective. v