Tomorrow I will be in the same building as Taylor Swift.
Back in December I bought tickets to the Reputation Stadium Tour (it almost pains me to write that without capital letters) and shortly thereafter, I posted Part I of my review. If you haven’t read it yet I encourage you to do so, or at least the first bit which explains why there is a need for this second instalment. And since I’ve now had several months to stew on the album, memorize the songs in preparation for belting them from the top of my lungs…. I think I’ve had enough time to coherently discuss my thoughts on the album.
While the first post dealt more with my feelings considering Taylor Swift, the fandom, and the Reputation Era in general… this one is more music related. That said, they are connected and again… if you wish to read that post, you can do so HERE.
As a whole, “reputation” is a good album. I like it. Do I love it? I… don’t know. I have a lot of thoughts (hence the two part review) but instead of a giant essay, I’m going to share the Good, Bad, and Ugly. After that, I will discuss the songs on the album individually and my thoughts on those too. Please keep in mind that these are all my personal opinions and you may feel completely different about certain aspects of the album. That’s cool. I’d love to hear what you think and how your thoughts differ from mine but unnecessary hate is… well, unnecessary.
You know how in School of Rock (AKA one of my favourite movies ever and if you haven’t seen it please stop everything to go do so) where they have the whole “Step Off” song? I feel like that’s what “reputation” is to Taylor Swift. It’s her way of telling the world to just, step off, while giving them the metaphorical finger and shouting “I can do what I want!”. And she can do whatever she wants as an artist and I completely believe that she has earned the right after how the media and much of the world treats her where no matter what she does, it’s wrong. I totally see the need for her to come out with an album that doesn’t follow any rules, either set by her own release history or musical standards in general.
The album is a fun album. Every song (maybe with the exception of “New Years Day”) can be qualified as a bop/ jam/ whatever monosyllabic word I can use semi-ironically to denote a fun, Top-40-esque radio friendly song. It’s what you want in a pop album, something that can be played at social gatherings or on road trips. Even the serious topics or lines are delivered with an upbeat flippant tone that makes it the perfect mix of dramatic and casual.
One thing Taylor is known for is the album “Eras”. Moreso than any other artist (in my opinion) each album cycle is defined by a vibe. Whether it be curly vs straight hair, oxfords vs cowboy boots, sundresses vs crop tops, girl next door vs squad leader… every album brings a style evolution and reputation did not disappoint. The era began with snake images being posted across her social media accounts that had been recently wiped clean, and the metaphor that is carried through even with the album title, the reputation vibe is empowering. By taking what other people throw at you and instead owning them, the aforementioned “step off” attitude is an unexpected but welcome one for fans of Taylor Swift. Also the whole dark lipstick and over-the-knee boots is a choice I am 100% behind.
Despite the cutthroat snake persona that was used in much of the early campaigning for the album, and the “Old Taylor is Dead” bombshell that dropped in LWYMMD, reputation is her most “lovey” album to date. Despite not being in a place where that is relatable to me personally, it does make me hopeful that perhaps one day I will have that real life “Love Story” – which is what much of the album is, a real life and adult take on relationships.
(or rather… the sad)
The saddest thing about reputation is that there is no sad thing. Track 5 on all of Taylor’s albums has been a game changing beautiful, typically sad song about heartbreak. From “Cold As You” on her debut album “White Horse” on Fearless, “Dear John” on Speak Now, the show-stopping “All Too Well” on Red… even the pop-heavy 1989 featured “All You Had To Do Was Stay”, was an upbeat sounding breakup song. On reputation, however, track five is “Delicate”, which is instead a song about starting a relationship. Just like how the other albums had a secret message in the album booklet or always had a song containing a 2am reference… reputation explicitly steps away from what is expected, all things that made a Taylor Swift album, well… a Taylor Swift album.
Don’t get me wrong, each song has some good or even great lines where I can go, ah yes that’s so Taylor Swift… but nothing quite sends me into a corner à la Baby TSwift in the White Horse music video clutching my chest and sobbing with FEELS.
One of the things that made me a fan of Taylor and her music was how relatable it all was. Every song felt like it was written for me, about my life and situations, and it made me feel a little less alone in this big world and the slightly smaller world that is high school. Taylor has officially moved on from broken down Chevy trucks and into Range Rovers and Jaguars.
I get it, the old Taylor is dead. But I’m sad about it.
The majority of the ugliness associated with this album is the Taylor Swift fandom and the marketing behind her brand. I went into this in detail on the other post so if you’re interested in that, it’s available HERE.
The other MAJOR ugly thing I need to mention is the typography.
I have always considered myself a font nerd, having well over 1000 typefaces on my desktop computer. With that said, graphic design was one of my absolute least favourite classes I took (see: endured) in my post-secondary career and I am definitely no expert in font/ typeface/ logo selection that goes into these kind of things.
But me and my C-plus-in-Introduction-to-Graphic-Design-getting-butt could have done better than the mess that is plastered on everything associated with reputation.
I noticed it when I was trying to find the font used (because you bet I still have Satisfaction and Sudestada on my computer) for the logo in order to replicate it for my Tumblr banner.
The font used is “Engravers’ Old English”, but it was just slightly altered so the serifs (the little flourishes at the top and base of the letters) only go one direction. But they were extremely poorly altered. Instead of erasing the entire thing, remnants of the removed limb are clearly visible, especially on the “r” and “o”.
Yeah, you’re never going to be able to unsee it either.
“…Ready for It?”
- The Good: Of the songs that were released before the album dropped, this was my favourite. It’s fun to sing and will (likely) be a great opening song for the concert. The softer more melodious bridges are very Wildest Dreams-esque and the “Burton to this Taylor” allusion is all kinds of amazing.
- The Bad: The rapping…. I’m still not huge on it. The music video itself was really cool… but bizarre.
- Favourite Line: “Me, I was a robber first time that he saw me: stealing hearts and running off and never saying sorry.”
“End Game” (featuring Ed Sheeran and Future)
- The Good: “ft. Ed Sheeran”
- The Bad: I’m not a fan of rap in general, but “End Game” is not my least favourite song on the album. Also, not “bad” per se but the music video was totally a 2018 reiteration of Hilary Duff’s “Wake Up” video. Fight me.
- Favourite Line: “I bury hatchets but I keep maps to where I put them.” (Probably my favourite line on the entire album!)
“I Did Something Bad”
- The Good: This song brings out the HBIC BAMF in you (are those still acceptable acronyms to use or should they be left in 2013?) and is the song-form embodiment of wearing thigh high boots and dark lipstick.
- The Bad: The chorus is my official anthem for whenever I buy something I shouldn’t, especially when it was unjustifiably expensive (see: Kate Spade smartwatch). Totally not a bad thing for the song, just for my bank account and my eardrums for when I’m blasting the song so loud I can’t hear my conscience scolding me.
- Favourite Line: “They’re burning all the witches, even if you aren’t one.”
“Don’t Blame Me”
- The Good: THE BASS DROPS AND THAT CHOIR, MAN!!! The song has such an absolute epic feel to it and has crept its way up to being my favourite track on the entire album.
- The Bad: The lyrics are pretty surface level and it was hard to really pick anything that stood out. As someone who considers herself a big fan of Taylor Swift because of her songwriting skills, for me to pick a favourite song based on the amazing musicality and despite the lyrics says a lot about the album as a whole. The line I picked is great in terms of imagery, but the metaphors themselves are pretty basic.
- Favourite Line: “I once was poison ivy, but now I’m your daisy.”
- The Good: With two music videos and a newly released acoustic version, it’s clear this is one of Taylor’s favourite songs on the album and it’s definitely one of the most unique in her discography. Plus it is very fun to sing along to.
- The Bad: I really dislike all the millennial slang. We get it, Tay, you’re hip.
- Favourite Line: “We can’t make any promises now, can we, babe? But you can make me a drink.”
“Look What You Made Me Do”
- The Good: THAT MUSIC VIDEO! Bless my English Major heart! The sheer number of literary devices at use makes me want to bust out my MLA style guide and get to work.
- The Bad: The song itself is… unusual. It was the much awaited drop of water in the great new-Taylor-Swift-music drought and according to Spotify was my most played song of 2017. At this point I don’t really have an opinion on it either way, but I do skip it almost every time I listen to the album. However, you can bet that I’m going to be screaming it at the concert.
- Favourite Line: “Honey, I rose up from the dead – I do it all the time.”
“So It Goes…”
- The Good: Mirroring the ellipsis from “…Ready For It?” is a cool way to separate the earlier tracks (Taylor’s “reputation”) thematically from the ones afterwards (the “real” Taylor). It’s not heavy-handed but still obvious enough that something is there.
- The Bad: This was initially my least favourite song on the album. Now? I… don’t know. I like the higher tempo bridge/ chorus parts but overall? Still probably my least favourite. Sorry.
- Favourite Line: “You did a number on me but, honestly, baby, who’s counting? Who’s counting? (1, 2, 3).”
- The Good: It’s a very cute song.
- The Bad: I feel like the lyrics are very simplistic. It’s cute but… dassit.
- Favourite Line: “There’s nothing I hate more than what I can’t have.”
- The Good: “Getaway Car” was my favourite on the album as soon as I listened to it and is definitely still in the top two. A getaway car is just such a quintessentially Taylor metaphor for rebound and I’m obsessed.
- The Bad: The last verse (lying/ crying/ dying/ said goodbye in a getaway car) just made me scream up to the heavens WHY TAYLOR. It was such a lyrically clever song and that, I felt, was just… meh.
- Favourite Line: “We were jet-set, Bonnie and Clyde until I switched to the other side… It’s no surprise I turned you in, ’cause us traitors never win.” (Runner up: “I knew it from the first Old Fashioned we were cursed.”)
“King of My Heart”
- The Good: Is it redundant for me to keep listing my favourites in order after the top two? This one is probably the third on the list. Why? It’s fun but doesn’t sacrifice clever lyrics. It’s like a toned down version of “…Ready For It?” and I picture it being a walk-down-the-aisle song for a really cool bride. Is that weird? Probably.
- The Bad: No one has ever told me they fancy me and I feel like I’m seriously missing out. I do realize that Taylor Swift has no control over this, but shh.
- Favourite Line: “Salute to me, I’m your American Queen and you move to me like I’m a Motown beat.”
“Dancing with Our Hands Tied”
- The Good: Again, an awesome metaphor. I live for awesome metaphors (as if you haven’t noticed that yet).
- The Bad: I don’t have anything explicitly negative to say about the song, the only thing I could think to say is that when put up against several of the other songs on the album, it’s kind of forgettable.
- Favourite Line: “I’m a mess but I’m the mess that you wanted.”
- The Good: If you listen really closely you can hear The Ashleys from Recess squealing SCANDALOUS!! Just kidding. It’s definitely the most risqué song Taylor has ever done and I dig it. Fourth favourite. Maybe fifth. At this point I don’t think it really matters haha.
- The Bad: Totally setting a bad example. Girls, don’t buy dresses just for boys (or whomever) to take off. They’re expensive. Buy them for you because you feel bomb in them. Also don’t be like me and own over sixty dresses. That’s dumb and expensive also. (**here’s the disclaimer that tells you I am not being serious in case my sarcasm didn’t come through. Own dresses for whatever purpose you want. As long as you are making wise financial decisions. Don’t like… buy a hundred dollar dress if you like… can’t pay your rent or whatever. Okay, I’ll stop now.)
- Favourite Line: “I woke up just in time, now I wake up by your side.”
“This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”
- The Good: You know it’s a weird album when a song about Kanye West/ Kim Kardashian/ Katy Perry is the most relatable on the track list. I mean, we’re talking relatable when compared to high school drama so not that relevant anymore. But there you have it.
- The Bad: The whole petty drama thing is kind of old. It’s a fun song and an understandable addition to the tracklist considering the events of the last couple years, but I don’t think it’s a crucial part of the album.
- Favourite Line: “-And here’s to my momma, had to listen to all this drama”
“Call It What You Want”
- The Good: This was another song that was released before the album launched, and it was very refreshing after LWYMMD and RFI. It’s a nice song and pretty cute.
- The Bad: As soon as I heard “trust him like a brother” I hung up. Icky.
- Favourite Line: “You don’t need to save me, but would you run away with me?”
“New Year’s Day”
- The Good: Like a revamped version of “Enchanted” with a dash of “Ours”, it’s definitely a stand-out song on the album. I like it, it’s pretty, and definitely inspires that “one day I’ll find it” feeling towards love that earlier TSwift albums did.
- The Bad: The people who went to secret sessions hyped the song up too much to the point where it couldn’t not be disappointing. I was expecting to want to simultaneously ugly-sob in a corner of my bedroom but also envision the first dance at my future wedding. It’s a very bittersweet, hopeful song and reminiscent of the old Taylor (RIP) but not as game-changing as everyone made it out to be.
- Favourite Line: “Don’t read the last page, but I stay.”
I think one of the biggest problems in relationships, whether they be friendships, romantic partnerships or any other kind is that when one party changes, it can be hard on the other. Taylor Swift has changed so many times that, I admit, it has been hard to keep with. However, despite the fact that the Old Taylor is dead, you can still find flickers of her ghost throughout the album, especially on “New Years Day”. The most Taylor thing about it is that clearly a lot of thought went into aspects of this album; considering the amount of literary devices woven throughout, particularly the repeating themes and imagery such as gold, red lips, and of course: the idea of reputation.
The album is clearly influenced by EDM and rap, two genres of music I’m not huge on. The EDM influence is obviously a nod to, or inspired by her long term relationship with Calvin Harris. I feel like with her shift from country to pop a lot of people jokingly said her next album was going to be rap and in a true to Taylor tongue in cheek way, she said WATCH ME. Just please don’t let TS7 be screamo.
The reason I became a fan and stayed a fan for so long is because I love Taylor’s songwriting abilities. This album, while there are some amazing lines here in there, just doesn’t express the same qualities as many songs off her former albums. Her ability to write is still alive and well, which is beautifully demonstrated in “Better Man”, the CMA-winning and Grammy-nominated song she gave to Little Big Town. That is 100% quality TSwift writing right there. In my opinion, Lorde’s Melodrama is the album Taylor Swift should have written. There are still those fun “boppy” songs and it is 100% a pop album but it has so much more emotional impact. I believe the things that Lorde is feeling and singing about and I feel them too whereas many of the lines Taylor sings in reputation are… just nice.
All in all, reputation is a fun album. It’s perfect for singing along to and to blast during bedroom dance seshs and I can’t wait to go to the concert and see it performed live with one of my very best friends. I am so happy that a person I respect and admire has found such incredible happiness with someone, and I will continue to listen to these tracks and support Taylor in her career going forward.
What are your thoughts on the songs and reputation album overall? I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks so much for reading this post and I hope you have an awesome day!