Last Friday, Taylor Swift released her sixth album, “Reputation” — possibly one of the most anticipated releases of 2017, and certainly one of the most talked about whether you’re a fan of Swift or not.
Three years ago, Swift ditched her country roots and released her debut pop album “1989,” and it seemed she was on top of the world. That is until her feud with on-again-off-again frenemy Kanye West came to a head, and she couldn’t seem to escape the backlash.
What followed after Swift finished her 1989 World Tour in December 2015 was a hiatus ‒ she left the public eye for over a year, returning this past August with the announcement of her sixth album.
Now that album is out worldwide, and it details not only the hit Swift’s reputation took post-1989, but what she was up to during that hiatus. The following is a track-by-track review of “Reputation.”
‘…Ready For It’
Swift opens the album with the current single, which works. The chorus of “…Ready For It” sounds like it was pulled right out of “1989,” while every other part of the song is what you will find sprinkled in throughout “Reputation.”
“…Ready For It” is still one of my least-favorite songs, mostly because the chorus just makes me want to listen to “1989,” but I understand that Swift was trying to ease listeners in, and I can appreciate that.
Track 2 is the only collaboration found on the album and features rapper Future and singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran.
Upon my initial listen, I found this track a bit underwhelming. The only part I thoroughly enjoyed came from Sheeran which, to my surprise, many people disagree with because they found it odd that he raps on the track. Surprise, Sheeran has been rapping for as long as he’s had a career and has songs other than “Thinking Out Loud” and “Perfect.”
‘I Did Something Bad’
Swift comes out guns-blazing on this track ‒ there are faux gunshots backing parts of the chorus.
“I Did Something Bad” features Swift’s first in-song expletive, makes references to her celebrity feuds with West and Kim Kardashian during the “1989” era, and is one of the tracks that best defines the album’s overall sound.
It’s a song that can make those listening feel empowered and ready to face their enemies. Swift sings, “They’re burning all the witches/Even if you aren’t one/So light me up, light me up.”
‘Don’t Blame Me’
Swift slows things down in a gospel-like way in “Don’t Blame Me,” a track where she takes on the media’s obsession with her love life, but here, she’s unapologetic and frankly, badass.
“Don’t blame me/Love made me crazy/If it doesn’t, you ain’t doing it right,” she sings.
Swift majorly wins with this track, not only lyrically, but vocally, and it would be interesting to hear her make more songs that have this gospel-vibe.
Swift tones down the revenge-pop completely and showcases an incredibly vulnerable side, which is highly refreshing and makes for one of the best songs on the album.
“My reputation’s never been worse so/You must like me for me,” she sings, and your heart almost breaks at the vulnerability in Swift’s voice every time she sings this line.
The song details the beginning of a relationship and how fragile it can be if things move too fast: “Is it cool that I said all that? Is it chill that you’re in my head? Cause I know that it’s delicate.”
‘Look What You Made Me Do’
If we are speaking in terms of listening to the album front to back, “Look What You Made Me Do” isn’t a track I want following the perfection of “Delicate.” It should have followed “…Ready For It.”
“Look What You Made Me Do” was the first single from “Reputation,” and it confused a lot of people. Hearing it now with the rest of the album, it makes a lot more sense.
‘So It Goes…’
“So It Goes…” immediately reminded me of “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever,” Swift’s collaboration with former One Direction member Zayn Malik for the “Fifty Shades Darker” movie soundtrack.
I applaud Swift for unapologetically embracing her sexuality with lyrics like, “You know I’m not a bad girl but/I do bad things with you,” and “Scratches down your back now/So it goes…”
“Gorgeous” is the track that you would most likely find on “1989,” which is the reason I preferred it over “Look What You Made Me Do” and “…Ready For It” when it was released as a single.
There isn’t much to say other than it’s amazing and any casual listener of Swift will most likely enjoy it.
If “Gorgeous” was a track you could most likely find on “1989,” then “Getaway Car” was pulled directly from “1989” at the last minute and saved for “Reputation.”
This track has the key ‘80s pop sound and storytelling style found on “1989,” and I wouldn’t be surprised if Swift and her team make this a single.
This particular sound has been very popular lately ‒ it can be found on Aly & AJ’s comeback single “Take Me” and Bad Suns’ latest “This Was A Home Once.”
‘King Of My Heart’
Swift sings about getting over bad relationships and finally being content with being alone, but then out of nowhere, finding the one she has been waiting for.
It’s a sweet song about finding the person you’re meant to be with, that only gets better with every subsequent listen.
‘Dancing With Our Hands Tied’
At best, I would consider “Dancing With Our Hands Tied” a filler track. There is a part of me that thinks this might be chosen as a single because it’s a somewhat catchy pop song, but I hope I’m wrong.
Another track wherein Swift is embracing her sexuality, and is the second song to remind me of her “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” collaboration with Malik, though I easily prefer this track over “So It Goes…”
Swift’s voice is highly reminiscent of the Malik collaboration, and the lyrics are more risqué than anything she has previously done: “Carve your name into my bedpost/‘Cause I don’t want you like a best friend/Only bought this dress/So you could take it off.”
‘This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’
Finally, I can talk about my favorite song.
While “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” is the song that most directly addresses Swift’s longtime feud with West, its overall theme is about a friendship coming to an end because as it turns out, the ex-friend in question has always been shady.
The track is reminiscent of Lorde’s 2013 single “Royals,” and is the most fun song on the album.
Standout lyrics: “But I’m not the only friend you’ve lost lately/If only you weren’t so shady.”
‘Call It What You Want’
This was the fourth and final song released before the album officially came out, and it is easily my favorite of the four.
Swift opens this song by mentioning her damaged reputation, but goes on to say that it’s OK because she has found someone who loves her despite the hit her reputation took. It also gives fans a glimpse into how she was feeling and what she was doing when she took time away from the public eye prior to “Reputation.”
“Call It What You Want” was released more as a promotional-single rather than a regular single, but I think it deserves to be given the full treatment‒music video, radio play, press, etc.
‘New Year’s Day’
“The Old Taylor,” as mentioned in “Look What You Made Me Do,” is not completely dead. I could practically hear the collective sigh of relief from fans as we all listened to “New Year’s Day” for the first time. Finally, a ballad.
Swift sings about cleaning up after a New Year’s party, focusing on the person who is there for you after the party ends. It’s about the endurance of a relationship. It’s about promises of forever. It’s about a fresh start.
Swift uses the metaphor of New Year’s Day to bring “Reputation” to a close. It’s as if she is washing her hands of one of the darkest times in her career, and though she won’t forget what she has gone through, she’s ready to move forward with those who stood by her.