Those who know me know that when Taylor Swift released her reputation singles I was on the “WTF Taylor” side of the conversation. Uninspired-bitter-spiteful-electronic white noise, I think is how I described it. I even said this album could kill producer Jack Antonoff’s career (I know, a little dramatic). The album was always slated to do well because, let’s face it, it’s TAYLOR SWIFT. Look What You Made Me Do was so hyped up but ended up being a cringy inauthentic nonchalant “Fuck You” to her Haters (I really hate that word). I can’t remember the last time a song prompted a spit take, but when her “…the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now…” came on I couldn’t contain my laughter mid drink (this happened in public… not cute). The melody is lack lustre and lazy, the lyrics are wordy, just left more to be desired.
… Ready For It? kind of just appeared out of nowhere after a football game. Again meh, better than LWYMMD, but still. Meh. I would categorize it as her version of rapping, more talk singing until the hook(s). Easier to listen to, the ad libs are more interesting and save the song. Then we get Gorgeous (random) followed by Call It What You Want, a little reminiscent of 1989, a little Out of the Woods-y (King of my Heart has a very similar melody to Clean). But still, not a fan. Thus I gave up on the album. I would still stream it once available, but from what I had heard so far I was already over it.
November 10th the album dropped, $1.2m in sales later the reviews were coming in. The best line is from Pitchfork “vacuum-cleaner synths right out of a Flume single”. I’m still not sure if the author liked it or not. On the public side there was some frustration that Swift didn’t release the album for stream until much later. As a stream first, buy maybe consumer I too was a little frustrated, but considering that you need 150 streams to equal 1 unit sold, I understand that she wanted the sales first. Maybe she too thought it was a risky album and wanted those diehard dollars first just in case, I don’t know. Personally I prefer to stream because with the amount of music I consume daily and my modest salary I would have nothing but my CD/audio collection to keep me warm.
Finally Friday she released the album to all platforms! I listened from top to bottom, not skipping a single song. …Ready For It? opens the album (great move), followed by the Ed Sheehan/Future collaboration End Game. Not sure what that was, did not like it, I had high hopes with Sheeran featuring but nope. Swing and a miss. She does get her ‘reputation’s in however. Then looped synth pizza strings start. What is this? Taylor starts and in comes a warm bell like pad hitting the chords.
You’ve got my attention!
Muddled bass. Breathy pre-chorus. Build – DROP!
Okay! I GET IT! I Did Something Bad is Fantastic. Still bitter and spiteful, but the dirty bass makes up for it and empowers you. I feel so badass listening to it. I picture DC’s Suicide Squad, namely Harley Quinn in her tiny costume just wrecking things. The song even gave me an idea for a photo series I’ve been trying to crack. (More to come on that.)
I don’t want to spoil the rest of the album for those who haven’t heard it yet so I’ll say this:
I was wrong! Alone, those singles she released don’t really work, but as an album it makes 100% sense. For me a successful album has 5 good songs. Songs I can replay. I don’t know what inspired her sonically on this album but there’s a great mix of nods to other artist, either intentional or not. A bit of Hozier, a sprinkle of Lorde, some Zedd. It really works together.
Lesson learned: Don’t judge an album by it’s singles.
AT+T did a whole behind the scenes type thing for reputation. It really humanizes Taylor i found. It’s also a cool look into her process. She is definitely more than just a top liner. Slowly my view of her is changing, she is winning me over.