First things first: I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan. Ever since I heard her song Teardrops on my Guitar somewhere on Myspace in 2006, I was sold. Her dreamy and personal lyrics about heartbreak and young love were relatable for me at that time. But as Taylor grew up, so did I. Her debut album Taylor Swift (2006) and Fearless (2008) will always have a special place in my heart, but I don’t relate to the lyrics in the same was as I did back then.
If you listen to Speak now (2010) and Red (2012) you can hear Taylor Swift grow up through her music. 1989 (2014) – her first official pop album – felt like the conclusion of that. In a way, I grew up with Taylor Swift. As I matured, so did she. Of course, her well-curated public image refrained her from singing about certain subjects explicitly, and I think with reputation (2017) she’s finally letting that go. It’s like that with this album she’s saying ‘‘well, everyone already knows what kind of a sneaky snake I can be, better embrace it.”
So without further ado, here is my track my track review (and favorite lyrics of each song!) of reputation.
…Ready for it?
This song actually came out a few weeks before the album as one of the promo tracks. It was one that I immediately liked. I think the heavy bass that the song starts out with are a really good introduction of what the album is going to be like. It also introduces a metaphor you will hear throughout the rest of the album. It’s very Crime & Punishment. Favorite lyrics: he can be my jailor / burton to this Taylor.
End Game (ft. Ed Sheeran & Future)
When I saw this was on the track list before the album came out I got excited and scared at the same time. This track was either gonna be good or an absolute mess. It ended up being pretty damn good. I could do without Future’s part, mostly because I feel he’s super toned down in this song, but I really enjoy Taylor and Ed’s parts. When (and if) this is released as a single, I think it’ll be really successful just through momentum alone. Favourite lyrics: I hit you like bang / we tried to forget it / but we just couldn’t / And I bury hatchets / but I keep maps of where I put ’em / reputation precedes me / they told you I’m crazy / I swear I don’t love the drama / it loves me.
I Did Something Bad
The third track on this album is very bombastic – an absolute banger. I’m almost sad that this wasn’t the lead single for this album, because I think lyrically it’s a lot better than Look What You Made Me Do (but more on that later). I Did Something Bad is an angry, yet self-aware song and it’s one that I will play on repeat a lot. Favourite lyrics: They’re burning all the witches / even if you aren’t one / They got their pitchforks and proof / their receipts and reasons.
Don’t Blame Me
Track 4 is – just like track 3 – bombastic sonically, but it’s a lot more vulnerable lyrically. That’s what I love about Taylor Swift – she’s never scared to show her own vulnerability. I liked this the first time I listened to it, but I needed a few repeats for it to really stick. That’s why this song would definitely be considered a ‘grower’ for me. Don’t Blame Me has clear Lorde and Halsey influences to me. I love the chorus in this one, it reminds me of a church choir. Favourite lyrics: I once was poison Ivy / but now I’m your daisy.
The first couple of songs on this album are very big, and when Delicate comes on it makes you pay attention, because sonically it’s very different – much more ‘careful’ for a lack of a better word. Lyrically, I consider this one of the best songs on the album. On this album, you can clearly hear the use of a vocodor in lots of different songs, including this one (especially in the intro). Taylor herself has explained that she chose to do this because it sounds very vulnerable, and it fits with the song. Favorite lyrics: This ain’t for the best / My reputation’s never been worse, so / You must like me for me.
Look What You Made Me Do
Ah, the lead single of this album. I remember how harsh critics were when this was first released in August. And I get it – lyrically, it’s not the most complex, but I appreciate it for it’s simplicity. However, I like this song much more in the context of the album. I think it fits really well. The main purpose of this song was to get people talking, and to get people hyped for the album, and it worked like a charm. Also, if you haven’t already seen the video clip for this track, you’re missing out. Favorite lyrics: I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me / I’ll be the actress starring in your bad dreams.
So It Goes..
This is probably in the bottom three as far as this album go. I don’t hate it, and if it comes on I won’t skip it, but I don’t think this song really comes across the way it was supposed to. It’s a bit forgettable, I would say. When listening to an album, there are always a few songs that I skip. But what’s funny is that when I’m burnt out on the rest of the songs, I will probably come back to this and grow to love it. Favourite lyrics: You make everyone disappear, and / cut me into pieces / gold cage, hostage to my feelings.
Ah, I’m so torn on this song. I might just be burnt out on it now, because I played this to death when it came out as a promo single, but I’m not the biggest fan of this now. As I suspected, this song is what How You Get The Girl is on 1989, a cute, fun song to switch things up. I do love the production of this song and I like that she gave a shoutout to her cats. Favorite lyrics: Ocean blue eyes looking in mine / I feel like I might sink and drown and die.
The ninth track on the album. Lyrically this is one of the most interesting ones so far, and sonically it’s the most reminiscent of 1989. Honestly I think this is one of the most interesting tracks on the album, because every time you listen to it you hear something new. Just like I Did Something Bad, I think this deserves to be a single. The last minute of this song is my absolute favorite, because I love the vocal effects used here. Favourite lyrics: The ties were black, the lies were white / The shades of grey in candlelight / I wanted to leave him / I needed a reason.
King of my Heart
Eh, no. I don’t know what it is about this song, but it’s my least favorite track of the album. The change from the verse to the (pre)chorus just doesn’t really work for me, it kinda throws me off every time I listen to it. Pair that with the overdone vocal effects I’m not a fan of, and you have a song that I will skip almost every time it comes on. I do love the bridge in this one, mainly because of the lyrics: Is this the end of all the endings? / My broken bones are mending / With all these nights we’re spending / Up on the roof with a school girl crush / Drinking beer out of plastic cups.
Dancing With Our Hands Tied
It’s funny how a song that I don’t really like is followed by a song that is probably in my top 3 of this album. The production on this song is so good. I love the sense of dread she builds through the melody repeating up a scale but never resolving – clever little music trick she did there. This is one I will have on repeat for a long time, even though the chorus might be the least original of all the choruses. Favourite lyrics: Oh I’m a mess, but I’m the mess that you wanted.
Taylor Swift releasing a song about straight up sex. I’m so happy she’s decided to ditch her good girl image and finally embrace her sexuality publicly. There are references to sex and alcohol all throughout the album, but this song actually references it in the hook of the song – ”I only bought this dress so you could take it off.” I must say that the first few times I listened to this I wasn’t a big fan of the falsetto used in the chorus, but I’ve quickly grown to like it. Favourite lyrics: Even in my worst times / you could see the best of me / Flash back to my mistakes / My rebounds, my earthquakes / Even in my worst lies, you saw the truth in me.
This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for long songtrack names. And oh my, this did not disappoint. This track is like Bad blood‘s sassier cousin. For a so-called diss track, it has a lot of substance. The tone is very patronizing and petty. This is Taylor saying: yes, I have an immature side, yes, I can be petty, I’m not a perfect person and I embrace it. This song is a really fun way to do that. Also, the Gatsby reference might be my favorite moment on the entire album: And there are no rules when you show up here / Bass beat rattling the chandelier / Feeling so Gatsby for that whole year.
Call It What You Want
the second-to-last track of this album was released a week before the album. And it might be one of my all-time favorite Taylor Swift tracks. I love this, lyrically it’s very much Taylor Swift. Personal, vulnerable, but sonically it fits really well with the rest of the album. It’s at an interesting place in the album – almost at the end – like Taylor is coming to terms with the fact that there are much more important things in life that worrying about your reputation, and that the people who really care about you won’t care about what other people say about you. I love all of the lyrics so it’s hard to pick a faves, but this part really stands out to me: all my flowers grew back as thorns / windows boarded up after the storm / he built a fire just to keep me warm.
New Year’s Day
A cute piano/guitar track to close the album with. Personally, I love this, because it’s very reminiscent of older Taylor Swift tracks, like the ones on the RED album for example, but it feels a little out of place on this album. I almost wish she would’ve ended the album with Call It What You Want and release this as a stand-alone track around Christmas, but then of course it wouldn’t ride the wave of the album. But I do think it’s a cute song that I will come back to often when I’m in the right mood for it. Favorite lyrics: Please don’t ever become a stranger whose laugh I could recognize anywhere.
So.. Does it live up to the hype?
Yes, yes it does. Reputation is more than just a solid pop album – it’s unapologetic, weaponized and shows how to take ownership of your mistakes in the most graceful way possible. At the same time, Taylor Swift is shaking the good-girl image and finally showing us an even more personal side of her – the one that spills wine while being drunk in a bathtub and went through messy breakups because of her own choices, and no one elses. The one that fucked up, told lies and didn’t treat people the way they deserved to be treated.
To me, this album says: I’m happy. I’m in control. And I don’t give a fuck what that means to you.