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Conflicted about Taylor Swift’s new ‘Reputation’

“Reputation” was released Nov. 10.

“I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ’cause she’s dead.” But can she please come back?

The old Taylor Swift had upbeat music, and even if it was trashing an ex, it still kept a very cheerful tone, like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “I Knew You Were Trouble.” Swift’s style in her new album “Reputation,” which was released Nov. 10, completely changes to EDM-like pop. But, the new music style is extremely catchy, so we will definitely be hearing it on the radio for the next few months.

Within 24 hours, “Reputation” sold 700,000 copies in the U.S. As of this week, Ed Sheeran’s “÷” was the most sold album of 2017, with 909,000 copies sold. But “Reputation” is expected to sell even more. “Reputation” is not available on streaming websites, like Spotify and Apple Music, and some of the songs can’t be bought as singles, so listening to it is a $13.99 investment on iTunes.

“I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ’cause she’s dead.” But can she please come back?

Part of the album’s success can be attributed to Taylor Swift’s genius marketing strategies. For more than a year, there have been speculations about when the album would be released. Swift is constantly in the media for her numerous relationships and ongoing beefs with other artists, like Kanye West and Katy Perry. Her social media made small hints about the album that many tried to decode. She was so secretive about her album that people got excited about the tiniest bits of information.

Her entire life seems to be a marketing scheme, between her “squad” of models, singers and other celebrities and a trail of famous exes. She makes her relationships visible so that, when her albums come out, people do a little sleuthing and know exactly who each song is about.

Even the repetition of the word “reputation” throughout the album shows her focus. While no song is titled “reputation,” it comes up in multiple songs, including “End Game” and “Delicate.” “Reputation” seems almost forced with lyrics about romantic interest’s and Swift’s “big reputations,” as if that is important in their relationship. And maybe it’s true, because it’s what helps keep her in the public eye. It’s clear that Swift really wants to rub in that she is changing her reputation from the red-lipped, wide-eyed innocent person she used to be, into a darker version of herself.

The beats in Swift’s new album may be different from her past songs, but they will be stuck in my head all week. Honestly, I won’t mind, however, the lyrics are another story. A lot of music nowadays has terrible lyrics, which is why we often avoid listening carefully enough, but this is not what is typically expected of Swift. Lyrics like “You’re so gorgeous, I can’t say anything to your face ’cause look at your face” and “Cause I don’t want you like a best friend. Only bought this dress so you could take it off,” are a letdown compared to the depth and storytelling in Swift’s old music.

Worse than the shallow lyrics are the catty lyrics. Yes, Swift has always liked to write about the bad things that her exes have done, and that’s fine, but in “Reputation,” she really let the claws out. I have often enjoyed and even related to her old songs, but “Reputation” gets too petty. In “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” which is thought to be about Kanye West, Swift says, “‘Cause forgiveness is a nice thing to do,” then laughs and adds “I can’t even say it with a straight face.” I’m sorry, but are we back in middle school here?

Then there’s the hypocrisy in “Look What You Made Me Do,” which talks about how the media and haters have impacted her. What happened to shaking it off? Swift turns herself into a victim and tries to benefit from media coverage by creating more drama. It’s time to move on. Instead of fixating on the bad things that people have done to her, she should focus on her accomplishments, with this album expected to be the most-sold album in 2017.

The lyrics may be shallow at times, but the album isn’t entirely bad. The music has started to grow on me, and will probably become a part of my workout playlist. Also, buried among the EDM pop music are signs of the old Swift, like the song “New Year’s Day” and “Call it What You Want,” with signs of more country-pop in them. The album has a lot of variety from country-pop to EDM pop, which allows for a wider audience. Whether it is because the album is good or because people are just obsessed with Swift, this album is here to stay, so all we can do is embrace it.

2 Comments

  • After reading such a thorough review, I’m not sure that I can buy Taylor Swift’s new album, I rather shake it off!

  • great review Jackie. I agree the songs that are blowing up lack the lyrical talent I do believe she has. I like call it what you want though. I think there is an arc from track 1 to the end but I was struck by how childish LWYMMD was and it being so far removed from the actual incident. seems like a diss track you release two months after the kanye blowout. In the literal years it took for her to develop this album I would have expected her to move on. but drama sells. LWYMMD was slightly redeemed by the outward sarcasm of the music video. I think this new era is all about mocking how the media portrays her but at the same time trying to keep her fan base. its odd

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