Unless you live under a rock, I am sure you have all heard that Taylor Swift’s sixth studio album Reputation was released last Friday. It’s been highly publicized after her three year hiatus – including a year long disappearing act from the public eye – her new relationship with Joe Alwyn, and all the drama with the Kanye/Katy/Kim/Calvin.
Whoa just noticed the alliteration there. Interesting.
Anyway, I am a huge fan of Taylor Swift for three reasons:
- Her albums have always come out a time when I’ve needed them most.
- Her songwriting skills are not only extremely skilled but personal, as if she ripped a page out of her diary.
- I’ve grown up with her, and the stages of our lives line up pretty perfectly.
- Despite criticism from the media and other celebrities, she’s still unapologetically herself.
Oops. That’s four.
Now I am not going to review the musical elements or even muse about who each song is about. Because I am not an expert, and frankly, I don’t care. But if you are interested, check out these articles:
Taylor Swift Is a 2017 Pop Machine on ‘Reputation,’ but at What Cost?
Here’s Everyone Taylor Swift Is Singing About on Her Reputation Album
Instead, I am going to focus on the lyrics. As a writer, it’s what I am particularly tuned into when it comes to music, especially Ms. Swift’s.
The first half of the album is all angst, revenge and confrontation, and while I love that she’s fighting back against her haters, I started to grow tired of the aggressive lyrics and beat by the sixth seventh song. But then BAM – it turns out the old Taylor isn’t dead after all. The second half is full of that cozy and romantic glitter that made her so popular to begin with.
It’s also Taylor’s first album with overtly mature song material – alcohol, sex, and even a curse word appear. But it doesn’t bother me – or any of other fans, seemingly – we’re here for it. She’s growing up alongside her fans.
Reputation is not my favorite Swift album. It doesn’t even rank in the top three. But there are some songs that – in my opinion – are clearly better than others. So let’s break them down with a ranking from best to worst, my thoughts and favorite lyrics from each.
We can’t make
Any promises now, can we, babe?
But you can make me a drink
Is it cool that I said all that?
Is it chill that you’re in my head?
‘Cause I know that it’s delicate
The biggest return to the old Taylor with a sweet and catchy song about the doubt/hope you feel in a new relationship.
The ties were black, the lies were white
The shades of grey in candlelight
I wanted to leave him
I needed a reason
To me, this song sounds much more like 1989 than Reputation. Maybe that’s why I like it so much.
Call It What You Want
I recall late November, holding my breath
Slowly I said, “You don’t need to save me
But would you run away with me?”
Here Swift owns up to her own shortcomings in past relationships, but it’s still the sweetest song on the album. And the only that really shows how little all the drama impacted her.
I’m not even going to try
And if I get burned, at least we were electrified
I’m spilling wine in the bathtub
You kiss my face and we’re both drunk
This is one of the sexiest songs I’ve heard in a while, and I can’t believe it’s coming from Taylor Swift!
New Year’s Day
I’ll be there if you’re the toast of the town, babe
Or if you strike out and you’re crawling home
Most songs focus on the big dramatic moments of relationships. But Swift’s sole acoustic song on the album instead reinforces the idea that she’ll still be there for the normal and mundane – like cleaning up bottles after a New Year’s party.
Dancing With Our Hands Tied
I’d kiss you as the lights went out
Swaying as the room burned down
I’d hold you as the water rushes in
If I could dance with you again
I am just waiting for the electro-remix to drop and become the most popular club song of the year.
…Ready For It?
Me, I was a robber
First time that he saw me
Stealing hearts and running off and never saying sorry
But if I’m a thief then
He can join the heist and
We’ll move to an island
In addition to the word play, the beat drop right before the third chorus of this song is totally epic.
Don’t Blame Me
My name is whatever you decide
And I’m just gonna call you mine
Swift’s first bluesy-pop song makes me think of Imagine Dragons. It’s also where we hear the most of her vocal chops.
Don’t blame me, your love made me crazy
If it doesn’t, you ain’t doing it right
King of My Heart
Up on the roof with a school girl crush
Drinking beer out of plastic cups
Say you fancy me, not fancy stuff
Baby, all at once, this is enough
I LOVE the chorus of this song – it’s so happy. But the verses and refrain… Meh.
I Did Something Bad
I can feel the flames on my skin
Crimson red paint on my lips
If a man talks shit, then I owe him nothing
I don’t regret it one bit, ’cause he had it coming
Not only Swift’s first real cuss word but a great line on playing tit for tat.
They’re burning all the witches, even if you aren’t one
They got their pitchforks and proof, their receipts and reasons
So light me up, go ahead and light me up
I got issues and chips on both of my shoulders
Reputation precedes me and rumors are knee-deep
The truth is, it’s easier to ignore it, believe me
Even when we’d argue, we’d not do it for long
And you understand the good and bad end up in a song
Technically that’s Ed Sheeran’s verse but a fabulous reference to Taylor’s habit of putting her relationships into songs.
Whisky on ice, Sunset and Vine
You’ve ruined my life, by not being mine
Everyone has had a crush while you’re already in a relationship, so I’d that makes this the most relatable song on the album. But the falsetto and the baby voice are weird for me. If you haven’t seen the “Making Of” video for this song, it does make me like it much better.
Look What You Made Me Do
The world moves on, another day, another drama, drama
But not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma
And then the world moves on, but one thing’s for sure
Maybe I got mine, but you’ll all get yours
Swift’s first single off Reputation was absolutely the right choice, but honestly, I am already sick of it. The music video is where this song’s true genius lies.
So It Goes…
Come here, dressed in black now
So, so, so it goes
Scratches down your back now
So, so, so it goes
This one is exactly bad, it’s just forgettable for me. It sounds too much like the others and like she’s trying a little too hard to be a bad girl.
This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
And therein lies the issue
Friends don’t try to trick you
Get you on the phone and mind-twist you
And so I took an axe to a mended fence
Just when I thought we were over the drama, we’re back with an obvious tribute to Kanye. Insert eye roll.
How do my fellow Swifties feel about this album? Share your thoughts in the comments below!