Look What You Made Me Do: A review of Taylor Swift’s Reputation
Taylor Swift is one of the most prominent artists of the past decade, shooting to fame at the age of 16 with her pop-country hits. Her award winning albums and stadium tours have received a large amount of media attention and recently, talk has turned to Swift’s hints at her next era of music. In this highly anticipated lead up to her next single, I take a look back at her most recent album: Reputation.
Reputation was released in November of 2017, selling 1.22 million copies within its first week. Each of Swift’s albums has a distinct musical sound and a clear message, defining the previous few years of her life and this was no different with Reputation.
Swift has an almost compulsive need to continue in her evolution of sound, never creating two albums that are remotely similar. Reputation continues on this path, building on the synth pop that was introduced in 1989. The production of the album is split once again between Max Martin, Shellback and Jack Antonoff.
Reputation provides listeners with the same clever hooks as always, only this time blown out to maximum proportion. Some of the bigger hits including ‘I Did Something Bad’, ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ and ‘Ready For It’ hinge on heavy, computer generated sounds. Songs such as the delirious ‘Don’t Blame Me’ rely more on catchy hooks while the contrast between the church choir and sarcastic lyrics provide us with some classic Swift song writing.
While Swift’s outward projection through Reputation is one of sarcasm and revenge, in many ways it has been her most introspective album yet. Reputation has two distinct sides to it: songs 1 through 7 all have a darker feel to the production than is usual with Swift’s work and lyrically they are dry and sarcastic. Each song is styled as if an alternate version of herself, as the one the media has portrayed, has wrote it.
Tracks 8 through 15 however, are significantly more honest and revealing. ‘Delicate’ provides listeners with the album’s first moment of genuine vulnerability as Swift sings that her ‘reputation’s never been worse so you must like me for me’.
This draws back to the album’s bigger question: Who are you when you stop defining yourself by how strangers perceive you? Swift begins to answer this question throughout the rest of the album, noting that when those strangers step back you find yourself surrounded by those who truly matter and discover yourself in a new light.
The storylines of friendship dramas and self-discovery jump between songs to weave the album together, telling the story of Swift’s reputation dying and her attempt to begin navigating the world again. We see her vulnerability in not knowing whether her career and friendships were salvageable. We then see the beauty in how she handles this fear and sadness while discovering a new life.