Taylor Swift - Reputation
This album was supposed to be the big clap back, Taylor's tour de force on silencing the haters. Taylor Swift has taken nothing but hits lately in the media failing to meet controversies with anything other then victimhood as she always tries to do. Former BF Calvin Harris' Funk Wav Bounce: Vol 1 felt like a total departure from all things Swift and really so does this album. The only song with features is "End Game" with Ed Sheeran and Future which feels like a matchup made in fucking hell and sounds like it too. The song is the sultry electronic R&B jam but Sheeran sticks out and Future can't find the beat to save his soul. One of the biggest problems with this record is how well made it is in relation to how awful the lyrics are. Taylor is defensive from the jump, though oddly confident as well, trying to normalize her more egregious behaviors. "I Did Something Bad" is essentially a big fuck you to anyone who's ever questioned Taylor's behavior, but it feels completely tone deaf. There is zero self reflection here and more boisterous posturing. If you've ever called Taylor Swift's music vapid before you should eat your words because on this record she reaches new levels of missing the fucking point. The song titles alone should be an indication of the echo chamber Taylor has herself in with: "Don't Blame Me", "This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things", "Look What You Made Me Do" and "Call it What You Want". It's zero about her introspection and 100% about what the world, or a man is doing to her, she's clearly never listened to Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror".
What is clear however is that Taylor Swift knows how to tap into whatever is happening right now. This is pop music at it's most current and it's most catchy, but with Swift there is so much baggage you can't just take the music at face value, which honestly I hate. I wish I could just dive into the songs, see what she is saying and explore the tunes she creates, but by her own design the Circus is a bigger part of her music than the music itself and that's a shame. The choice of singles is also suspect. "Look What You Made Me Do" and "...Ready for It?" are the most aggressive and the most petty songs on the album so why make those your introduction? There are some songs that are quite nice like "Delicate" but Swift wanted to make a statement that she is no longer to be fucked with. With this new found edginess you would think the boy crazy shit would die down a bit, but it just takes a more adult form here. I had a friend queue me into how Swift uses tons of imagery to create a through line and make statements in her music videos, but it's all this high minded shit that only the diehardest of diehards would be into. At 15 tracks and almost an hour it's also way to long for a pop album and totally drags from the middle to the end. You just wish there was some introspection, some self evaluation here because with those pieces in place this really could have been a good album even as Swift shifts to a more electronic sound. However while Taylor Swift can clearly write some great songs reading a room seems to be beyond her ability, especially on Reputation.
5.9 out of 10