Is the old Taylor truly dead? We take a deep breath and sink into Taylor Swift’s 6th and possibly most controversial album yet to find out. Are you ‘…Ready For It?’
Heads up – if you’re looking for a Taylor Swift album to cry to and get over your ex with, this isn’t it. Go listen to ‘White Horse’ or “All Too Well’ for that because you won’t find that within Taylor’s defiant new album. That’s right, for quite possibly the first album in her musical career, she’s no longer singing heartbreak anthems about being jilted by a former lover. Instead, she’s either throwing her affection at new squeeze Joe Alwyn, or knives at critics’ and frenemies’ attempts of trying to tear her down. We take a listen to the 15 gripping cuts to see exactly what self-professed “New Taylor” has up her sleeves this time around.
…Ready For It?
Taylor kicks off her brand new image with a bold profession of love for her new man, spilling tea within the first 30 seconds of the song. “Younger than my exes but he acts like such a man”, she proudly sings before cooing her delight at her newfound romance over a heavy industrial-electro beat. Coming off as the distant cousin of the similarly-futuristic ‘Bad Blood’ clip, the Tron-inspired music video might not quite fit the song’s flirty theme. But the single sure is an explosive way to open the album. “Let the games begin” indeed.
Who it might be about: Other than an one-liner allude to ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris, the track is just the first of many love letters to come about Joe Alwyn.
End Game (Feat. Ed Sheeran and Future)
“I swear I don’t love the drama, it loves me!”, Taylor declares on the first song on the collection that tackles the album’s title and theme. But make no mistake – even when she’s singing about her “big reputation that precedes her”, she still ties it back to being hopeful that her famous fling won’t be judging her based off what he’s heard about her. He shouldn’t though – especially when Taylor’s enlisted killer testimonial verses from rapper Future and Ed Sheeran for this brazen R&B track. Can you imagine this trio killin’ it in a potential music video?
Who it might be about: “It’s like your eyes are liquor / it’s like your body is gold”. Yup, Taylor’s likely still swooning over Joe Alwyn.
I Did Something Bad
Remember when Taylor said “Old Taylor is dead”? The first sign of her R.I.P. status comes apparent on this dark jam. She cheekily questions her haters’ views of her past mistakes by unapologetically asking “why’s it feel so good?” before a scattering trap drop. Oh, and the line “They’re burning all the witches, so light me up” is so ridiculously clever, expect it to be the next overused Instagram caption following ‘Blank Space’s “But darling I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream” by millennial Swifties.
Who it might be about: With her love-hate relationship with the media, we can’t think of anyone in particular she’s aiming the song at other than her harshest critics.
Don’t Blame Me
A simmering synth lures us into Taylor’s lair of temptation with lyrics like “For you, I would cross the line / I would waste my time”. Echoes of a coy Taylor is cranked up to overdrive and moving effect, calling to mind the likes of Imagine Dragons or AWOLNATION’s alt-pop sensibilities. In fact, the seductive track wouldn’t be out of place as a sequel to her equally racy track ‘I Don’t Wanna Live Forever’ with ZAYN from the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack either.
Who it might be about: There’s only one person Taylor would consider her baby these days so…
Venturing into further unfamiliar musical territory is ‘Delicate’, a trop-pop ditty that lightens the mood from the previous tracks and jolts you into an undeniable head-bop. Taylor captures the uncertainty of a budding romance with intense accuracy by second-guessing innocent actions and dreaming up fairy tale scenarios over bubbly, laid-back synths. And by the time the repetitions of “isn’t it?”s draw the feel-good track to a close, don’t be surprised if you catch yourself in a smile. Awww, Taylor!
Who it might be about: Joe Jonas. Just kidding, it’s definitely about Joe Alwyn, again.
Look What You Made Me Do
Guns! Games! Crimes! The first single from Reputation is still Taylor at her utmost savage. The haunting track still sounds as fresh as it did when it was first released back in August, and perhaps summarises her present-day narrative most perfectly. We’d be sleeping with one eye open if we were any of Taylor’s adversaries – just sayin’.
Who it might be about: Everyone who’s crossed her previously, from Kim Kardashian to Katy Perry, Kanye West to squad-haters. We even wrote back in August all the ways she called them out in the music video,
So It Goes…
Taylor sings about falling in love on this dreamy number. While it doesn’t stand out upon first listen quite like the prior tracks, there are still golden glimpses of her usual ingenuity like “You did a number on me / but honestly baby who’s counting?” and her restrained approach of her vocals.
Who it might be about: Considering it’s about a new romance, we’re guessing… Joe Alwyn?
We all got an early listen to this unabashed declaration of a crush – complete with the butterflies, jealousy and shameless compliments that come along with having one. “You’re so gorgeous!”, Taylor gasps wide-eyed in infatuation, channelling all our inner thoughts upon seeing that eye-candy walk past. It’s a cheeky, yet honest take on a feeling everyone can relate to, and when it features her cats and a triangle’s “ding”, how could anyone dislike this track?
Who it might be about: Joe Alwyn. But we’re so glad she delivered an anthem for us to apply it for anyone we might be crushing on too.
Producer Jack Antonoff’s influence is front and centre on this love story gone wrong. But comparisons to Bleachers’ track ‘I Wanna Get Better’ aside, the song differs in its narrative about a doomed romance. “I wanted to leave him / I needed a reason”, she laments, before hopping into the title’s getaway car and pursuing a new relationship before fully leaving a previous one. Call it unethical, but we’re all for this dramatic heist that plays in a similar vein to one of her best songs to date, 1989‘s ‘Style’.
Who it might be about: Overlapping romances could only mean one thing: Taylor was infamously noted for jumping from Calvin Harris into the arms of Tom Hiddleston, making Tom the man behind the wheel.
King Of My Heart
The stirring drums from ‘Out Of The Woods’ make a welcome comeback on ‘King Of My Heart’, backed to Taylor proclaiming her devotion to her love. By now, it’s apparent that she’s head over heels in admiration for her man, as she ditches the high life for her idea of luxury: his lips.
Who it might be about: Taylor is undoubtedly the current Queen of Pop, and Joe Alwyn’s the king of her heart.
Dancing With Our Hands Tied
The only other love song on Reputation that doesn’t touches on Joe Alwyn is seemingly here, with references to dancing through avalanches, invisible lockets and inklings of a bad ending over a electo-pop instrumental.
Who it might be about: A love gone to waste, we say this is about her whirlwind summer 2016 romance with Tom Hiddleston.
‘Dress’ is a slow burner with lyrics so sensual, it apparently made Taylor’s mom Andrea leave the room during one of Reputation‘s Secret Sessions to avoid feeling embarrassed. The lines in topic are likely the chorus of “Only bought this dress so you could take it off”, which verges on NC16 terrain and serves as yet another reminder that Taylor is all grown up.
Who it might be about: It’s not exactly about Joe, but rather, her passion for him – which reveals enough while still leaving us dying to know more.
This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Not since Red‘s ’22’ have we heard Taylor so relentlessly in-your-face poppy until now. Taylor’s squad-parties of the past play setting to this playful track upon its first verse, before taking a sharp turn by the second one to aim shots at nemesis Kanye West. Alluding to her caught-on-camera phone call conversation with the rapper, she snarls “Friends don’t try to trick you/Get you on the phone and mind-twist you” and cuts off what remaining fake friendships she’s had.
Who it might be about: Her overplayed beef with Kanye West and how Kimye backstabbed her. We’re guessing a second reconciliation is out of the question?
Call It What You Want
“They took the crown but it’s alright”, Taylor shrugs in ‘Call It What You Want’. It seems the turbulent year she had amidst media-created scandals that’s documented in earlier songs of the album is finally done affecting her. People might call her a liar and take swings at her character, and she’ll simply retreat into her safe haven of Joe Alwyn- shaped familiarity.
Who it might be about: The world’s obsessive opinions on her love life. But Taylor doesn’t care, she wants us to know she’s living her best life.
New Year’s Day
To end off an album chock full of hard-hitting numbers and up-tempo hits can be tricky, but the stark contrast of this piano-driven ballad works. ‘New Year’s Day’ takes an intensely intimate look at Taylor’s life that people don’t see – the aftermath of a grand party or the comfortable silence at the back of a cab. The unassuming track tugs at heartstrings when you least expect it, with Taylor flipping the focus back at her fans whose own reputations and self-esteem might get hurt by the harsh realities of growing up.
Who it might be about: “But I stay when it’s hard or it’s wrong or we’re making mistakes”, she shares, offering another life lesson realised when you step back and listen to the big picture. She isn’t just singing about her own reputation this whole time; she’s singing about how we view the world and how the world sees us back. And that even in the worst of times, it’s important to be true to oneself.
VERDICT: From the lack of media interviews to her resistance against being seen in public, Taylor Swift’s take on this album speaks louder than words and loudest in its most consistent body of work yet. Once dreaming of fairy tale dreams, this is Taylor embracing the dark side of adulthood with sharp observations, impeccably honest songwriting and an evolution in sound. And with a predicted first week sales of 2 million copies in the US alone – the most in history – Reputation is proof that while Taylor can be invincible, she’s also after all, only human.
Get Taylor Swift’s Reputation on iTunes now. What is your favourite track? Tell us in the comments below!