Written by Jerelyn Adjei-Frimpong
Taylor Swift has dropped her highly-awaited 6th studio album reputation. To support the release of her record she released 2 promotional tracks Look What You Made Me Do and Ready for It? as singles with music videos accompanying both of them. Together they’ve already accumulated over 600 million YouTube views and 400 million streams on Spotify before the album was even released.
One of the standalone tracks on reputation is a record that I imagine came as a shock to her many fans. END GAME somehow manages to combine the styles of Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Future on one record in a way that makes all three artists shine individually as well as together.
The track, complimented by subtle hip-hop undertones, feels like modern day retelling of Romeo and Juliet. It describes 2 lovers with “big reputations” with “big enemies”, knowing that if they ever got together they would eventually turn into a “big conversation” and ultimately end, as the outside world would be too involved in their relationship. However, despite this knowledge Taylor still desires to be with this person. End Game perfectly demonstrates to her critics just how versatile Swift is as an artist and how she has the ability to make any genre of music work in her favour.
In Delicate and Don’t Blame Me (which is very similar to Hozier’s Take Me to Church might I add), Swift describes her hesitance when it comes to new relationships. In lyrics like “My drug is my baby, I’ll be using for the rest of my life”, Taylor uses irony to show how the media represents her as a ‘possessive’ and ‘crazy’ when in reality she probably isn’t any of those things. However she does display slight immaturity on the patronising “This Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”, where she confronts the infamous Kimye scandal and proceeds to give her side of the story.
Although the topic of her ‘reputation’ is addressed, unsurprisingly, in many of the songs, I Did Something Bad is the one that does it the best. In the track, she almost admits to living up to her ‘reputation’ as a serial heartbreaker, singing “You said I did something bad but then why does it feel so good”. However, in the bridge it becomes she is only confessing because that’s what the media wants even if the claims are false – “They’re burning all the witches even if you aren’t one”. At this point in the record, Taylor is very self-aware of how the media portrays her and almost self-sabotages herself to their demand.
One thing Swift is excellent at when it comes writing her lyrics is when she writes about the kind of love that hits you like a ton of bricks. This is evident in a number of tracks running through the record. Lyrics from Dress such as “I only bought this dress so you could take it off” showcases the innocent sensuality of Treacherous from her previous album RED, whilst showcasing a new sexier side to Swift. Getaway Car is very reminiscent of the climatic Out of the Woods from the 1989 era, demonstrating how all of her best lyrics come in the form of metaphors – “the ties were black, the lies were white” and “we were riding in a getaway car, there were sirens in the beat of your heart”. It’s not a coincidence that these were co-written by Jack Antonoff, another serial collaborator of hers, who also co-wrote Lorde’s Melodrama earlier this year.
Dancing with Our Hands Tied is another song that deserves some sole recognition. Despite the song not containing any ground-shaking vocals, no references to her reputation and doesn’t compare lyrically to her earlier albums, this is one of the best tracks on the entire record. The production, reminiscent of the Chainsmokers, allows her soft voice to shine through whilst setting the foundation for one of Taylor’s most timeless and almost nostalgic songs. It’s simplistic but simplistic is what Taylor does best.
However an album is not complete without its disappointments. King of My Heart and So It Goes… sound very similar and sound like album fillers which isn’t always a bad thing. However, in this case not even the heavily generic and overproduction of the tracks could save them. Furthermore Gorgeous, despite its catchiness, is far too immature lyrically, lacks substance and is probably one of the weakest songs throughout Taylor’s whole discography.
The album ends with sweet subtle love songs Call It What You Want and New Year’s Day which describe how Taylor is finally happy after a long time – “I make the same mistakes every time… at least i did one thing right” – and confident enough to not care about what the media thinks about her or her new love interest Joe Alwyn.
reputation brings together enough of the lyrical capability of RED but the attention-grabbing production of 1989 to create the most commercial, yet cohesive album Taylor Swift has ever released – pop or not. Despite a few disappointments, Taylor Swift manages to make an album that not only is controversial but is sure to be an enormous success selling over 700,000 copies in its first day, looking to compete with Adele and N*sync for highest debut sales. She validates her incredible talent, creativity and musicality with this record, making it an album that was worth the three-year wait.
Unfortunately, reputation is currently not on Spotify nor Apple Music, but you can download it from iTunes.