After three years since her album 1989 came out, Taylor Swift has finally released one of the most anticipated albums of the year, Reputation.
Since her last album, Swift has made numerous headlines over situations ranging from a messy breakup with Calvin Harris to a reignited feud with Kanye West. The latter nearly imploded Swift’s reputation.
Notorious for her narrative songwriting style, Swift sounds determined to reclaim her reputation back through her music. The fifteen songs on her album address the themes of vengeance, fame, lust, and love—all of which played a role in shaping the current state of her reputation.
Under the theme of vengeance, her lead single, “Look What You Made Me Do” immediately fires at her enemies, specifically West, as she sings about not liking his “tilted stage.” She goes more in depth about him later in “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.” Although both of these songs sound drastically different, the main purpose of both is clear: to rant.
Swift seems to have written a sequel to one of her previous songs, “Blank Space,” from her last album 1989 with “…Ready For It?” She raps about how she is still perceived as the “serial dater girl” with the lyric “stealing hearts and running off and never saying sorry.” This is also addressed in another song on the album, “Don’t Blame Me.”
“Getaway Car” also addresses how fame ruined Swift’s love life, which she depicts as a “circus.”
In “I Did Something Bad,” Swift again sings about the consequences of being famous; she feels that she is being unfairly judged but accepts her fate in the lyric “they’re burning the witches even if you aren’t one so light me up.”
The only collaboration on the album is “End Game,” which features Ed Sheeran and Future. This song perhaps gives the most accurate summary of how fame shaped her reputation. Swift raps, “I swear I don’t love the drama, it loves me.”
On the album, Swift experiments with more provocative lyrics when she explores lust. Her song, “So It Goes….” is perhaps the best example. She sings that “You know I’m not a bad girl but I do bad things with you.” This song leads into the next one, “Gorgeous.” This song also focuses on lusting for someone. The most suggestive song on the album is “Dress,” in which Swift seductively sings about how she “only bought this dress so you can take it off.”
Of course, there is the theme of love. Swift sings about how she found someone that loved her despite her reputation being in ruins. In “Delicate,” she sings, “my reputation’s never been worse so you must like me for me.”
In “Dancing With Our Hands Tied,” this theme is even clearer when Swift asks, “so baby can we dance, oh through an avalanche?” The same theme comes up again in “King of My Heart” and her latest single from the album, “Call It What You Want.”
She concludes her album with a hopeful message—very much a Swift tradition. Just as the title, “New Year’s Day,” suggests, the project is about starting anew while holding onto past memories.
Swift’s sixth album experiments with a different, “edgier” sound than her previous works. Her lyrics are a bit more mature as well, a combination which goes to show that she is maturing as an artist and is willing to venture out of her comfort zone.
However, she does not venture too far off as to being unrecognizable and still retains some of the elements her fans loved her for in the first place. Ultimately, Swift succeeds in composing a coherent album by addressing the different aspects of her reputation. Are you ready for it?