By Clare Driscoll ’19
She’s released six studio albums that have all gone platinum. She’s a 10-time Grammy winner. She’s been featured on the cover of Vogue, InStyle, Time, Rolling Stone and countless other magazines. She’s donated sizable amounts to over 35 different charities. But most importantly, she’s back.
After three years since her last album 1989 and a break from all social media, Taylor Swift is back with her new album reputation.
The entire tone of this era is much more dark and mature than what we’ve seen from Swift in years past. Instead of the heavy press that we normally get from Swift before each album, the only message given to fans was, “There will be no further explanation. There is just reputation”.
From merely the album’s title and that statement, it was easy to pick up what Swift would be putting down with this album.
Through her entire career, Swift has talked about her struggle with identity and the media’s portrayal of her. Especially in songs like “The Lucky One” and “Blank Space” where she ironically plays into what the media thinks of her. With new each era, the public has found new ways to put her down. Girl next door, man-eater, and snake to name a few.
So from the get-go, we knew this album would be less about the general public and more about Swift and her fans.
This was reiterated by the first single from this album “Look What You Made Me Do”. Unlike her other songs that call out the media, this dark song with a dance club vibe laid all of her grievances out on the table.
Paired with the music video, this song is the story of why Swift went on her social media break. It has illusions to her lawsuit, her squad that turned against her, her feuds with Kanye West and Katy Perry.
But “Look What You Made Me Do” isn’t the only song that addresses her relations with the media. In fact, every one of the 15 new songs on this album talks about it in some way.
Overall, this new group of songs has a very different sound than albums past. With this album, Swift fully embraces her switch to pop that she made in 2014. But unlike her breakout pop album 1989, this album is almost all high tempo songs with more electronic beats.
Another new theme that can be found on this album is Swift’s reference to her sex life. While the artist has never avoided writing about her romantic life, because she wanted to portray a certain image of herself to the public, she never ventured into songs about sex. But since reputation is all about showing her authentic self, Swift wrote many songs including “Dress” and “I Did Something Bad” explore that area which she has never really written before.
The only song that sounds like “the old Taylor” is the final track “New Years Day”. With powerful lines like, “Please don’t ever become a stranger whose laugh I could recognize anywhere” and “And the other one is, ‘Hold onto the memories, they will hold on to you” Swift uses this song to contrast the excitement of a kiss on new year’s eve to the person who’s helping you clean after the party’s over.
One thing you notice after listening to reputation many times is that these songs feel a lot more personal. And while they may have similar sounds, you get a new story told out of each song.