It’s finally here! Taylor Swift’s 6th studio album Reputation is officially out into the universe and it’s the fastest album to go #1 on itunes in just 6 minutes! It sold over 1.2 million copies in its first week of sales! With Swift’s last album 1989, she became the only artist to have three copies sell 1 million the first week. N*Sync, Backstreet Boys and Eminem each have 2 albums to reach this milestone. Now, Swift furthers that gap with 4 albums!
In an age where streaming music seems to be all anyone ever wants to do, Swift continues to prove that given the right music, fans will still go out and purchase albums. For as much of a bad reputation as she gets, it’s pretty remarkable that she’s the only one to continuously put out these kinds of numbers. It proves that controversy doesn’t sell. It might earn you clicks on the web, but it doesn’t build up a loyal fan base that fully supports.
You know how when someone posts something about Taylor Swift and everyone seems to respond with “nobody cares?” but in fact, they do care, because she’s still the best-selling artist of modern time. It’s true that negativity overshadows the positive. That’s why one bad thing can seemingly erase all of the 100 good things. So as much as people want to pretend that nobody else cares about Taylor Swift, the sales suggest otherwise. Haters gonna hate, Swift is gonna sell sell sell sell sell.
In this piece, we won’t get too heavy into analyzing the meaning behind every song, but want to give an over all feeling of the album and thoughts about each track! So let’s start the review of Reputation, an album that truly deserves all the success it is getting. Swift has spent the last couple of years writing and preparing for this album. If she had released an album last year, it wouldn’t have this kind of content. She wasn’t in the happy and content place she is in now. Reputation is Swift’s first great love album, filled with passion, romance and even scandal!
The cover of Reputation is important to note because it showcases the overall theme of the album, that there are two sides to every story. Just as Swift prologues in the album leaflet, which, might I add is the most powerful think piece I have read in years. Swift at her core is a writer, and not just a good one, not a bubble gum pop one, but a literary, Shakespearean and Jane Austen one.
Swift chose not to do press for this album and instead meet as many fans as she possibly could. She chose to give her time to those who support and admire her instead of tear her down with every opportunity they get. People purposely twist things around just to make her look bad, which is baffling because she is the kindest human being. But therein lies the problem, doesn’t it? No one could be that good, or that kind. No one could be that beautiful and successful and build their own empire. The world doesn’t want to see Taylor Swift succeed because they can’t admit that a person like her really does exist.
Her prologue is so powerful and nothing should be left out. In Swift’s words, she tells you:
“We think we know someone, but the truth is that we only know the version of them they have chosen to show us. We know our friend in a certain light , but we don’t know them the way their lover does. Just the way their lover will never know them the same way that you do as their friend. Their mother knows them differently than their roommate, who knows them differently than their colleague. Their secret admirer looks at them and sees and elaborate sense of brilliant color and dimension and spirit and pricelessness. And yet, a stranger will pass that same person and see a faceless member of the crowd, nothing more. We may hear rumors about a person and believe those things to be sure. We may one day meet that person and feel foolish for believing baseless gossip.
This is the first generation that will be able to look back on their entire life story documented in pictures on the internet, and together we will all discover the after-effects of that.
Ultimately, we post photos online to curate what strangers think of us. But then we wake up, look in the mirror at our faces and see the cracks and scars and blemishes, and cringe. We hope someday we’ll meet someone who will see that same morning face and instead see their future, their partner, their forever. Someone who will still choose us even when they see all the sides of the story, all the angles of the kaleidoscope that is you.
The point being, despite our need to simplify and generalize absolutely everyone and everything tin this life, humans are intrinsically impossible to simplify. We are never just good or just bad. We are mosaics of our worse selves and our best selves, our deepest secrets and our favorite stories to tell at a dinner party, existing somewhere between our well-lit profile photo and our drivers license shot. We are all a mixture of selfishness and generosity, loyalty and self-preservation, pragmatism and impulsiveness.
I’ve been in the public eye since I was 15 years old. On the beautiful, lovely side of that, I’ve been so lucky to make music for a living and look out into crowds of loving, vibrant people. On the other side of the coin, my mistake have been sed against me, my heartbreaks have been used as entertainment, and my songwriting has been trivialized as ‘oversharing.’
When this album comes out, gossip blogs will scour the lyrics for the meant they can attribute to each song, as if the inspiration for music is as simple and basic as a paternity test. There will be slideshows of photos backing up each incorrect theory, because it’s 2017 and if you didn’t see a picture of it, it couldn’t have happened right?
Let me say it again, louder for those in the back…
We think we know someone, but the truth is that we only know the version of them they have chosen to show us.
There will be no further explanation
There will just be reputation.”
WOW. Talk about powerful and honestly eye-opening. I hope every media outlet reads those words and feels remorse for their part in bringing her down. For taking her poetic and artistic lyrics and turning them into a headline about an incorrect theory they’ve chosen to believe about someone they haven’t even bothered to get to know.
Reputation is more than just an album, it’s advice, it’s hope, it’s courage to stick up for yourself and bravery to do what you feel in your heart is right. So listen to each song as it should be listened to, for its content and meaning, rather than the latest gossip.
Track 1: …Ready For It
“Baby let the games begin” Swift sings on the opening track. She has a great balance of satire and hopes and dreams in the lead off song that gives us a taste of what the album will be about. She clears her throat and begins her story, setting the record straight and escaping life in the public eye so that she can be truly happy.
This is made apparent when she sings the lines: Me, I was a robber first time that he saw me / Stealing hearts and running off and never saying sorry / But if I’m a thief, then he can join the heist / And we’ll move to an island-and / And he can be my jailer, Burton to this Taylor / Every lover known in comparison is a failure / I forget their names now, I’m so very tame now / Never be the same now, now
Here she mixes her pubic persona into her desire of escaping that and being left alone to be happy and free. Swift told fans about the opening song:
“With this album the first song is a song called Ready For It – that’s already out. Ready For It kind of introduces a metaphor that you may hear more of throughout the rest of the album. It’s like this crime and punishment metaphor where it talks about robbers and thieves and heists and all that. I found that to be a really interesting metaphor but twisted in different ways throughout the album. The way it’s represented in Ready For It is finding your partner in crime and it’s like, “Oh my God! We’re the same! We’re the same! This is great!“ You will hear that kind of theme carried out throughout the rest of the record but not exactly the same.”
See the article below for the full analysis of the song!
Track 2: End Game ft Ed Sheehan and Future
Big reputation / Ooh you and me we got / big reputations / and you heard about me / Ooh I got some big enemies.
Although Swift didn’t need a collaboration on the album, it is fun to get a little taste of something different and which might help reach other listeners who might not have given the album a chance.
Again Swift writes about what others may have heard about her and how that has effected her personal life and relationships with others. This is a fun song to sing, especially with the different artists that appear on it, but it’s also Swift covering up pain in a flashy way. She sings: Reputation proceeds me / They told you I’m crazy / I swear I don’t love the drama / It loves me. Later she sings I wanna be your end game / I wanna be your first string / I wanna be your A team (which happens to also be a single by Ed Sheeran!)
So despite all this drama and negative press in her life, she just wants love to work out. Don’t we all?
Also you won’t ever be able to listen to “End Game” the same after watching this hilarious video from Ingrid Michaelson
— Ingrid Michaelson (@ingridmusic) November 10, 2017
Track 3: I Did Something Bad
If you haven’t heard Taylor’s story about how she had a dream about this particular sound in the song, you have to listen to it. She asked her producers of the song, which instrument made that sound. They told her, no such instrument exists but they could record her making it and then pitch it to sound like one! It’s basically the best thing ever and makes the song even more enjoyable.
TURN ON THE SOUND pic.twitter.com/X5fvjaAgpq
— Captain Taylor (@katexswift) November 13, 2017
Pay attention to the words in this song: If a man talks shit / Then I owe him nothing / I don’t regret it one bit / ‘Cause he had it coming
They’re burning all the witches / Even if you aren’t one / The got their pitchforks and proof / Their receipts and reasons … So light me up
Hello, please carve “If a man talks shit, then I owe him nothing / I don’t regret it one bit, ’cause he had it coming” into my tombstone. #reputation
— Elana Brooke Fishman (@elanafishman) November 10, 2017
Taylor Swift is taking back her name. She’s taking ownership for the songs she’s written and there’s no reason for her to feel bad about that, especially when someone is going to dismiss you so easily and take credit for something you’ve worked on. She’s also empowering others to not stand for being treated that way. Don’t take shit from no one, light it up!
Track 4: Don’t Blame Me
Here Swift starts to take a mix of her reputation and her true love story and is able to mix a slower song into the fit and feel of the entire album with its unique production. It is totally a song that gives you a ‘holier than thou’ experience!
Don’t blame me / Love made me crazy / If it doesn’t, you ain’t doing it right / Lord save me, my drug is my baby / I’ll be using for the rest of my life
Only attending churches where Taylor Swift is singing ‘Don’t Blame Me’. #reputation
— Alex Goldschmidt (@alexandergold) November 10, 2017
Swift still continues her theme of mixing her reputation with truths as she sings ‘I been breaking hearts a long time / And toying with them older guys / Just playthings for me to use / Something happened for the first time / In the darkest little paradise / Shaking, pacing I just need you… They say ‘she’s gone too far this … time’
Track 5: Delicate
Track 5 has always been sort of legendary amongst Swift fans for being the most heart-wrenching/emotional song on the album. Swift herself described this track before playing it for fans:
“This is a song called Delicate… This is a song where the idea of reputation is definitely something that I play on for the entire album but when the album started off it’s much more bombastic. “I don’t care what you say about me! I don’t care say about my reputation. Blah.” But, like, then it hits this point on track 5 where it’s like what happens when you meet someone who you really want in your life and then you start worrying about what they’ve heard before they met you? You start to wonder like, “Could something fake, like your reputation, effect something real like someone getting to know you?” You start to wonder how it all matters. This is the first point of vulnerability in the record where you’re like, “Oh, maybe this does actually matter a little bit” and questioning the reality and the perception of a reputation and how much weight it actually has. So this is called Delicate.”
In “Delicate” Swift sings of a new love and how in the beginning stages it’s fragile (delicate) and she wonders if the things she says and does is moving too fast for a new relationship. She sings Is it cool that I said all that? / Is it chill that you’re in my hear? / ‘Cause I know that it’s delicate / Is it cool that I said all that? Is it too soon to do this yet? … My reputation’s never been worse so / You must like me for me
Swift still manages to write about extremely personal experiences but remains relatable to so many who have those same feelings when beginning a new relationship.
Track 6: Look What You Made Me Do
The lead of single of Reputation, LWYMMD certainly created the buzz it was meant to. Although initially received with mixed reactions, it grows on you with each listen until you cannot get the words out of your head and find yourself singing it all day long. The song actually started out as a poem, as Swift told fans:
“It actually started with a poem that I wrote about my feelings. It’s basically about realizing that you couldn’t trust certain people but realizing you appreciate the people you can trust. Realizing that you just can’t let everyone in but the ones you can let in you need to cherish.”
This song is again about specific situations, but it gives listeners that courage they need to not settle for the horrible things people put you through. It gives you encouragement that even though it doesn’t seem like justice is being served right now, it will eventually catch up to them.
Key lines: Another day another drama, drama / but not for me / Not for me / All I think about is karma
Read below for a full analysis of the song!
Track 7: So It Goes…
Swift’s first sultry romance song on the album. She hints at new romance previously, but here she is, scratching his back and everything. This song is a little tricky because of the use of the line “You did a number on me / I did a number on you.” Normally that is seen in a negative light, to do a number on someone, but could it here be used as something positive? That the other person just had such a significant impact on them? That is Shifty Swifty, always leaving you guessing, being able to take her lyrics and apply them to different scenarios. A mastermind, an illusionist.
Getting caught up in a moment / Lipstick on your face / So it goes… / I’m yours to keep / And I’m yours to lose / You know I’m not a bad girl but / I do bad things with you
According to a secret sessioner, this is Mama Swift’s favorite song.
Track 8: Gorgeous
Fun fact, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds daughter, opens the track by saying “Gorgeous.” Definitely a top favorite on the album. It’s just so fun to sing, ask my almost three-year old – it’s her favorite!
Another song about the wonderful love Swift has in her life! It’s a fun song about wanting someone who isn’t yours yet and being so infuriated about how good-looking they are that it drives you crazy!
It also continues to show us that side of Swift of breaking boundaries and not caring about talking about more controversial things. She’s already talked about sex, and drinking, now being drunk and wanting someone else while still having a boyfriend! These are all things people go through and she breaks her “Good girl image” and shows us she’s just a normal person who goes through all these emotions that everyone else goes through.
Read below for the full write-up on the song!
Track 9: Getaway Car
Now the games are beginning! This is a song! It’s her way of talking about her previous relationships and their demise all in the same song. She uses the metaphor of a getaway car to describe how she needed an excuse to get out of her bad relationship, but how the next one was ultimately doomed because nothing good starts out that way. It’s so informative but so cleverly disguised. Her lyrical ability is really quite extraordinary.
I wanted to leave him / I needed a reason / X marks the spot / Where we fell apart / He poisoned the well / I was lying to myself / Knew it from the first old fashioned we were cursed / We never had a shotgun shot in the dark / You were driving the getaway car / We were flying / But we’d never get far / Don’t pretend it’s such a mystery / Think about the place where you first met me / Riding in a getaway car
Track 10: King Of My Heart
This is a very special song, as Swift herself describes it as each verse being a different phase of a relationship. It starts off in single hood, living life on your own, then suddenly someone is trying to call you ‘baby.’ Then there’s this exciting part of the relationship then suddenly in the chorus, they’re the one you’ve been waiting for, dreaming of….
Swift described the process of the song:
“I think it’s very interesting when people talk about their love stories. Like when you guys blog about, “me and my husband, me and my boyfriend” or just anyone talking about how they fell in love. There seem to be these very definitive phases. It doesn’t matter how long that phase lasts. There seems to be a moment where you know it transitioned to the next phase. People will be like, “Oh my God, we were friends for six years and there was this moment and we knew and then it changed. Then there was a moment and it got even deeper. Then there was a moment and we knew” or like “I saw this person and there was this moment and we knew.” Everyone has a different story with how they connect with someone else and what I find interesting is the moment where it switches. You always hope that switch is going to move forward and not backwards because it can happen either way. I always wanted to structure a song where each individual section of the song sounded like a move forward in the relationship but still being listenable. So I wanted the verse to seem like it’s own phase of a relationship, the pre-chorus to sound like it’s own phase of a relationship, and the chorus to sound like it’s own phase of a relationship. I wanted them to all have their own identity but seem like they were getting deeper and more fast paced as the song went on. So finally I was able to achieve that in a song.”
And all at once / You are the one I have been waiting for / King of my heart, body and soul / And all at once you’re all I want / I’ll never let you go / King of my heart, body and soul
Say you fancy me not fancy stuff / Baby all at once this is enough.
Definitely a favorite on the album!
Track 11: Dancing With Our Hands Tied
Swift is not holding back on this album, her bed has been turned into a secret oasis and she isn’t afraid to let everyone know! Swift again is able to incorporate different layers of her voice and beats to create a mix that perfectly allows a meaningful song to still melodically fit on an upbeat Pop album infused with R&B.
The thing about writing an album is, and Swift even says this about the final song, is that she gets ideas for songs, and lines that just stick out to her. Sometimes she goes through and picks out different lines from her notes. So while she could be writing with someone in mind, it doesn’t mean that everything applies. For instance, when we get to the final song, “New Year’s Day” Swift tells us that she has written the line about “Please don’t ever become a stranger whose laugh I could recognize anywhere” at least a year before. So while her beau might have inspired the rest of the lyrics, and just thinking about a future, it doesn’t mean that every line was originally inspired by them.
That being said, at the end of the day, Swift is a songwriter and she wanted to tell a story and sometimes (okay, most of the time) those stories have autobiographical content in them, but occasionally they take on a different shape, and that could be what’s happening here. Perhaps it was written about a past love, as it gives a sort of feel that maybe it’s no longer ongoing as “I had a bad feeling” is a line repeated throughout the song. She also says “I could’ve spent forever with my hands in your pocket…” alluding to the past. However, Swift could also be thinking of what it would be like to no longer be in the amazing relationship she is in now. Because that is human nature. You think the absolute worse, that this is too good to be true, something might mess it up. So is it a break up song, with a heart still wanting back what was lost? Or is it a song about a current relationship and the thought of everything going wrong in the end? We’ll never know, and that’s okay, because at the end of it all, it’s an amazing song and it doesn’t matter who was the inspiration for it, what matters is that others can find their own correlation. To find that love that lit you on fire after you had given up, that’s a love worth waiting for.
According to some secret sessioners, this is Papa Swift’s favorite song. Let’s not let him in on what kind of dancing is going on here. 😉
Track 12: Dress
oooh the song that supposedly makes Swift’s whole family leave the room when it plays! Could it be because of her “sex like pants?” Definitely a bit more bold and adventurous for Swift, but honestly you can’t help but love listening to this song. The way the sound goes silent when she sings “Say my name and everything just stops” to the seductive lines like “Only bought this dress so you could take it off.” Of course we then have the lines that say “All of this silence and patience / Pining and desperately waiting / My hand are shaking / From all this ah, ah, ah…ahh…”
Pretty tempted to make an instagram caption that says “Only bought this dress so you could take it off” but am I bold enough to post that on Facebook? haha
Swift spoke about this song saying:
“This is a song called dress where some lines I came up with a year before and then when I was writing the song I cherry picked and was like, “like that, like that, like that!” and I was really proud of the hook of this because it sounds like a pick up line. Yet it’s a love song about deep and tender feelings.”
Track 13: This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Is every track gonna be the new favorite? This is definitely one that requires the volume to be even louder and one I sing to my toddler as she destroys yet another toy. Swift sings “This is why we can’t have nice things / Because you break them / I had to take them away”
This is one of those songs that Swift probably had quite a few people in mind when writing, people who have tried to expose her and take advantage of her. She lost friendships but she still has her real friends, her love and her family. She sings on the chorus: Here’s a toast to my real friends / They don’t care about the / He said she said / And here’s to my baby / He ain’t reading what they call me lately / And here’s to my mama / Had to listen to all this drama
It really is a jam! Swift explained a bit of the song saying:
“It’s about when people take nice things for granted. Like friendship or like trusting people or being open or whatever. Letting people in on your life, trusting people, respect, those are all really nice things and so this is a song called this is why we can’t have nice things.”
The last two songs are more of how Swift describes she feels now. She told those in attendance at her secret session which was made available on iheartradio:
“The way I feel the album is as far as the storyline, it starts with getting out any kind of rebellion, anger, angst or whatever and then falling in love and realizing that you kind of settle into what your priorities are, your life changes but you welcome it because it’s something that matters to you. And this last part of the album feels like settling into where I am now. So it kinda started with where I was when I started making the album and ends with my emotional state now.”
Track 14: Call It What You Want
This is a pivotal song in the album because it’s basically Swift’s way of us letting us know everything that has happened over the last few years and where she is at now. With 1989 she was receiving praise and likable again, then one day it switched and hating her was cool again. She addresses that in the opening lines “My castle crumbled over night / I brought a knife to a gun fight / The took the crown but it’s alright / All the liars are calling me one / Nobody’s heard from me for months / I’m doing better than I ever was”
That of course all sounds sad, but the song turns happy as she is totally immune to all the negativity because of the positive people and special someone she is choosing to spend her time with. She’s happy and her happiness is all we really want, so this song also makes us happy! Check out the full analysis below:
Track 15: New Year’s Day
We’ve reached our final song in the album and sadly there is no glitter on our floor. The takeaway from this song is in an idea Swift thought of while contemplating this idea of how excited everyone get’s about kissing someone on New Year’s Eve. She explains:
“I was thinking about the concept of New Year’s Eve and I was thinking about how we all really romanticized who you kiss at midnight. That is a romantic concept but I was thinking that an even more romantic concept in like a forever kind of way is who’s willing to deal with you on New Year’s Day and give you Advil and clean up the house. I think that states more of a permanence. So that was the basic inspiration behind the song. It includes two lines that I’d been saving up in my notes for a while that I’d always wanted to figure out the right place for. Those lines are, “Hold on to the memories, they will hold on to you” and “Please don’t ever become a stranger whose laugh I could recognize anywhere.”
It’s really a romantic song with lines like: I want your midnights / But I’ll be cleaning up bottles with you on New Year’s Day … I’ll be there if you’re the toast of the town, babe … Or if you strike out / And you’re crawling home
And that’s where Swift is at now. She’s as happy as ever. Dreaming about the future as she continues to stay out of the limelight and spend time with her friends, family and boyfriend, whom she’s been dating for over a year. All that time, and not a single picture of them has surfaced (unless you count ones where they are hiding behind umbrellas and you can’t see their faces).
This album gives so much to one person. It’s not just an album you listen to when you’re feeling one emotion. You can listen to it when you’re going through heartache, or when you’re really pissed off at someone or you’re falling in love. You can even enjoy it if you’re going through none of those things but just really enjoy genuine art! Swift took three years to deliver and deliver she did. It’s no wonder she’s one of the best-selling artists of today and the only artist to consistently put out #1 albums that move over a million units in one week.
Grab a copy for a friend, they’ll thank you later.
P.S. Don’t read the last page.