By Samantha N. Olson
The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now… because the new Taylor is breaking records with 700,000 album sales within the first day of reputation’s release. If sales keep going at this blazing rate, Swift might be able to add reputation to her belt of albums that received over 1 million sales in their first week (she already has five, for the record).
Ever since her public Instagram response to the Kim/Kanye drama in July 2016, Swift has removed herself from the “narrative,” going under the radar with limited public appearances and interviews. Or so we think.
In her time away from the limelight, the pop phenomenon was not only dealing with a lawsuit against ex-radio host David Mueller for alleged assault and battery but creating what we know today as her sixth studio album, reputation. Swift took this time to share her version of the narrative by writing an upbeat dance record with renowned producers Max Martin, Shellback, and Bleachers frontman Jack Antonoff.
Reputation in its entirety is not on streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music just yet, so I took it upon myself to purchase a physical copy; Taylor Swift is one of the few artists that I have supported long enough for me to go out and get my hands on a physical CD. Every time a new Taylor record is released, one of my personal favorite things to do is rummage through the shiny pages of the lyric book and decode the singer’s secret codes and song meanings, which are usually depicted with capital letters in each set of lyrics for each song. However, reputation has no secret messages or codes to interpret – which makes it all the more credible and vulnerable. Swift is putting her side of things on display for the world to see, omitting the codes and secrets, which shows that she has nothing to hide this time around.
On another note, let’s dive into the most anticipated album of 2017 for ourselves, shall we?
- …Ready for It?
As the title of this song proposes, it is the perfect track to open the highly-anticipated album. Of course, the world has been waiting at least three years for this record, so we are indeed ready for it! The track was first introduced in September 2017 as it was utilized in a promo for ESPN College Football, and its music video featuring Swift in a raunchy nude-cyborg suit was released on October 26, 2017. Let’s just say with its heavy beats and lyrics like “Baby, let the games begin,” the opening track has officially opened the portal to reputation.
- End Game (feat. Ed Sheeran and Future)
Cue our reaction to the only epic collaboration on reputation:
Alas, we have another Swift x Sheeran collaboration (with another special guest, Future)! End Game is worlds away from Red’s “Everything Has Changed”; Swift’s sultry vocals open the track as she brilliantly personifies sports jargon: “I wanna be your end game / I wanna be your first string / I wanna be your A-Team.” Miss Swift did not come to play around this era, she makes it clear that she wants to be her man’s top priority when it comes to their relationship. After an Apple Music promo featuring Swift working out to Drake and Future’s 2016 hit “Jumpman,” it’s no surprise that the rapper joined forces with T-Swizzle on this hot track which is already taking over top-40 radio. This could also be the track that inspired the title of the record, as the trio booms “Big reputation, big reputation / Ooh, you and me, we got big reputations.”
- I Did Something Bad
“I Did Something Bad” brilliantly acts as the confession Swift would make as a penitent in a confessional booth. This can be interpreted as a jab towards the singer’s clan of K-initialed “enemies” – Kanye West, Kim Kardashian West, and Katy Perry – as she purrs “They’re burning all the witches / Even if you aren’t one / They got their pitchforks and proof / Their receipts and reasons” on the bridge. As we all know, Kardashian infamously exposed Taylor and Kanye’s private phone call on Snapchat for the world to see, which serves as her “receipts”; and Perry blatantly calls out Swift on her single “Swish Swish,” in which the album art is literally a receipt. This track is Swift’s “screw it” moment, she turns the situation around and admits her wrongdoings—gunshots are also incorporated into the instrumental as shots were noticeably fired.
- Don’t Blame Me
Looking for chill electronic vibes on a long drive? “Don’t Blame Me” is just for you. The singer croons “Don’t blame me / Love made me crazy” over an overdose of synths and alludes to her past lovers as “playthings” – another new confession on Swift’s part. She also introduces her current “baby” as a “drug” she’ll use for “the rest of [her] life.” Towards the last chorus, Imogen Heap-esque harmonies are introduced and are guaranteed to send chills down your spine.
The harmonies continue in the opening lines and pre-chorus of track 5, where Swift admits her “reputation’s never been worse.” Over a muted pulse, she raises a purred question for her new person of interest: “Is it cool that I said all that? / Is it chill that you’re in my head? / ‘Cause I know that it’s delicate.” Her diction is indeed “chill” and appears to be nonchalant, as she’s pouring out her true feelings to someone new and doesn’t want to scare them off. “Delicate” is dreamy and romantic, but not in the same way as older hits in Swift’s catalog such as “Our Song” and “Forever and Always.”
- Look What You Made Me Do
Does this iconic lead single even need an introduction? The track, produced by Jack Antonoff with loose inspiration from Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy,” was shown to the world just ten days after Taylor Swift won her lawsuit against a radio host that groped her bare bum during a meet and greet. In the critically acclaimed video, Swift takes down older versions of herself. It was a shocking new sound for the pop star and a certified comeback when she premiered the video during the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards, which were hosted by Katy Perry. Ouch.
- …So It Goes
Although Swift is a grown woman, the public often finds it difficult to imagine her straying away from her clean-cut, “America’s sweetheart” image and veering into the world of sexual lust and desire. Track 7 explores exactly that, as Swift croons “I’m yours to keep / And I’m yours to lose / You know I’m not a bad girl but / I do bad things with you.” She also depicts an erotic image of smearing lipstick on her lover’s face and scratching their back. Is it getting hot in here?
When “Gorgeous” was first dropped as a promotional single for reputation, Swift openly confessed to fans during one of her secret sessions that it’s about her ”angel boyfriend of one year,” actor Joe Alwyn. This is one of the tracks that is slightly reminiscent of Swift’s 2014 release 1989; it contains a captivating hook and the singer’s signature move of poking fun at herself. The chorus is incredibly relatable, as we’ve all felt something similar to this in our lives: “You’re so gorgeous / I can’t say anything to your face / And I’m so furious / At you for making me feel this way.” Basically, the song alludes to a stupid crush you have on someone that makes you feel so intensely that you can’t even talk to them. ME.
- Getaway Car
Cue the next track that would fit perfectly on reputation’s pop predecessor, 1989 – the Jack Antonoff produced “Getaway Car.” I would describe this song as the cooler, emotionally intense little sister of “Out of the Woods” and “I Wish You Would.” Heavily influenced by the synth-pop of the 80s, like much of Antonoff’s music as Bleachers, “Getaway Car” describes Swift’s lost love as the “best of times / the worst of crimes.” If you’ve ever wanted to pretend like you were in a John Hughes film, just play this song and you’ll fit right in.
- King Of My Heart
Think of one of Shakespeare’s odes as an upbeat club track – it would be “King Of My Heart.” Swift, who is once again assisted with Imogean Heap-esque harmonies, declares her love for her new significant other as she addresses him as the “king of [her] heart, body, and soul” and describes his love as luxurious. With British lingo like “Say you fancy me” and lyrics like “Salute to me / I’m your American queen,” this song is probably another ode to the singer’s current man, Joe Alwyn.
- Dancing With Our Hands Tied
Track 11 is extremely reminiscent of early 2000s club tracks that you’d usually expect from artists like t.A.T.u. and Cascada. However, it is a significant part of the “New Taylor” era; fans are speculating Swift’s “dance partner” in the song is representative of ex-flames Tom Hiddleston and Calvin Harris. The fast-paced track can be symbolic of how fast Taylor had fallen for one of her past loves, and she states that “First sight, yeah we love without reason.”
“Dress” is another whimsical romantic track that explores the idea of lust and sexuality. The hook is steamy and intense as Swift seductively croons “Say my name and everything just stops / I don’t want you like a best friend / Only bought this dress / So you could take it off.” During one of the Secret Sessions where fans got an exclusive first listen of reputation, Taylor’s parents allegedly blushed and left the room during track 12. It isn’t explicit enough to feel shameful; however, I don’t blame them for doing so – who would want to hear about their child’s sex life?
- This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Track 13 is also slightly reminiscent of Swift’s 1989 era, and there is no question that this song alludes to the infamous Kim/Kanye drama. On the second verse, Swift sings “It was so nice being friends again…Friends don’t try to trick you / Get you on the phone / And mind-twist you.” During the bridge, she even makes a hypothetical “toast” to her loved ones, where she directly addresses the couple and implies that she’s granting them forgiveness once again – until she laughs “I can’t even say that with a straight face” in an ad-lib. That stung me, and I wasn’t even involved in this mess.
- Call It What You Want
Another song that is lyrically romantic but productively low-key. Its continuous backing vocals by producer, Antonoff, add an ethereal flair to the tender song. Swift sings about her lover, claiming that she does not care about what others outside of their relationship think as she murmurs “Call it what you want to.” In the bridge, she swoons that she “…want[s] to wear his initial / On a chain ’round my neck / Not because he owns me / But ‘cause he really knows me.” She’s fashionable and loyal to her man. I approve.
- New Year’s Day
This piano ballad is the perfect closer to reputation. It slows things down yet ties everything together – receipts, drama, new lovers, synths, heavy club tracks, and all. The vulnerability of “New Year’s Day” marks a clean slate as day 1 of 365; Swift has left her past behind in this ballad and moving on to a new day. She states that she does not want to lose this new person in her life, be it a friend or lover or both, as she murmurs “Please don’t ever become a stranger / whose laugh I could recognize anywhere.”
All in all, reputation was well worth the three-year wait – Miss Swift has redeemed herself reigning queen of the charts and has provided us all with new music to dance and possibly cry along to.