By Andrew Barr (@weeandreww)
When Taylor Swift teased her long-awaited return with snake animations on her social media accounts, it was clear she was coming out firing for the many enemies she made in the years after her wildly successful 1989 record was released. The title of her new record, Reputation, and accompanying artwork further confirmed this, with Swift’s face half covered by newspaper columns which simply read “Taylor Swift” repeatedly. The album’s title is written in a font that seems to reference Kanye West’s almost iconic The Life of Pablo font, hinting that Reputation could see Swift firing back at ‘Ye following the very public fallout they had last year.
While Swift personally didn’t make many friends off the back of 1989, few could deny the appeal of its sugary synth-pop tracks like Wildest Dreams or Welcome to New York. However, on lead single Look What You Made Me Do, she has completely abandoned that sound, as her vocals are delivered on top of a hip-hop beat. On the basis of this track only, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say she has adopted this sound solely to continue her beef with West as the sound doesn’t suit her whatsoever and her choice of beat is a poppy, watered-down trap one. Yeah, it’s honestly as bad as I’m making it sound.
If Swift singing over a trap beat doesn’t sound bad enough, there are two points in this track where her delivery could legitimately be called rapping – at the end of the second verse and in the track’s simply awful chorus, which hears the mega-star dully repeating the awfully prosaic track title. Not bad enough? The chorus almost exactly rips-off Right Said Fred’s I’m Too Sexy, so much so that the group are credited as co-writers.
The part of this track that will generate the real headlines are the lyrics, which sees Swift coming out on the offensive; it’s speculated that there are lines on here about long-time enemy Katy Perry as well as Kanye West and his wife Kim Kardashian. It feels like Swift wants the beef with the Chicago rapper to hit the front page, with lyrics such as “I don’t like your little games / I don’t like your tilted stage”. More often than not though, the lyrics just feel incredibly petty with lines such as “The world moves on, another day, another drama, drama / but not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma.” With lines like this, you have to wonder why Swift is even continuing these beefs when both Perry and West have been silent on them for months.
Look What You Made Me Do seems to have been picked as the lead single solely because the unsubtle lyrics will hit headlines, rather than having any real redeeming qualities musically. At possibly the track’s worst point, Swift includes a sample of herself saying “the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now, why? Because she’s dead”, and if this is a sign that she’s abandoning 1989’s sweet pop template to go in this new direction then Reputation could be one of the year’s worst records.