Honestly guys, when I originally sat down to write down all my notes with my thoughts on this album, I was really struggling with having anything to say. I had to force myself to find anything interesting to touch on besides some overwhelmingly cringy moments, which should tell you a lot of what you need to know here. Reputation is its own special kind of bad, like where generic and embarrassing meet. But I won’t pretend it’s the worst album I’ve ever heard or anything- just not worth your time.
I went into this project at least slightly interested in it because Taylor’s had her moments in the past; I think Blank Space is legitimately a great song, there were some places in Red that were decent, and I did grow up on this girl; at the very least conceptually she came from a place that was relatable to me. And growing up for a long time it sort of seemed like the media was painting her as this villain she wasn’t, which made me inclined to defend her. (note that one period in time when I couldn’t walk out of my house w/o someone criticizing the fact that “all Taylor Swift writes about is relationships”) But then I found out about the shady shit she’s done, like sue her own fans or her old guitar teacher, and gradually I became more and more disenchanted with this girl and any sentimental feelings or sympathy I once had for her.
Before going into this I’d heard Look What You Made Me Do and Ready for It significantly more times than I’d wanted to already just due to people showing it to me or telling me to listen to them because they were so downright awful. When I first heard Look What You Made Me Do I really didn’t think it was as cancerous as everyone else seemed to; I mean, sure, its melody is so awful it may as well not even be called a melody, but it had a sleek edginess and sense of not giving a fuck that was sort of intriguing at the very least. Ready for It threw me for a loop though, definitely in a bad way. I mean hearing Taylor Swift start a song by trying to spit a rap verse is pretty off-putting and I wasn’t really having it. And honestly when the full tracklist came out we weren’t really given much more solid material to work with here.
After listening to this project, it became clear that the whole sense of not giving a fuck I mentioned earlier was bullshit. Taylor gives a fuck. Hell, Taylor gives so many fucks it’s embarrassing. Sure, maybe a song or two discussing your reputation isn’t a bad idea, but making it the theme of your entire album- especially like this- makes you come across so self absorbed it hurts.
And that’s exactly why songs like I Did Something Bad and This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things are kind of unacceptable. I really don’t understand the logic behind this; Taylor claims she wants to stay out of “all the drama” then willingly throws herself into it full-force. It’s not even like she has anything interesting to say here; lines like “Here’s a toast to my real friends, they don’t care about the he-said-she said / And here’s to my baby, he ain’t reading what they call me lately” or “This is why we can’t have nice things, because you break them, I had to take them away” absolutely sound like they were written by someone at least 10 years younger than Taylor Swift. I dare you to listen to these songs without cringing at least a little. And the lyrics to Don’t Blame Me might have been acceptable if we were all 15 years old, but “don’t blame me, love made me crazy / if it doesn’t you ain’t doin’ it right” isn’t only immature but disturbing and unhealthy when you think about it; a genuinely good relationship should for the most part make you more sane. I don’t wanna hear otherwise. Get this song out of my face. Having never reviewed an album this negatively before, listening to these and Look What You Made Me Do from an analytical standpoint really made good old existential dread settle in as I stared into space wondering what the fuck I was doing with my life. I was in a public cafe too, so I sincerely wonder what I looked like to onlookers.
There are a few ideas here that I guess aren’t too bad though- I actually like the sentiment behind Delicate, it’s a pretty sweet song whose simple, surface-level lyrics work with the concept. I like how it touches on not wanting to rush into a relationship too fast but at the same time being overwhelmed with feelings and not really knowing what else to do. New Years’ Day is fine; I think it’s a perfectly acceptable ballad with a quality of reminiscing on your past that’s actually quite pretty, and the quieter pianos/strings and slower tempo to the song compliments it well.
Getaway Car seems to be the song everyone thinks is decent; sure, it’s acceptable, but on the whole it’s nothing special, and honestly just reminds me of an off-brand version of a single from Melodrama or Emotion. Why listen to this when I could find similar tracks that do the same type of sugary, smooth pop tune thing with much better execution and interesting production gimmicks? As much as I dislike Ready for It on the whole, I have to at least give it credit for being a little more sonically interesting than the rest of the tracks with its blaring synth lead and drum pattern. It works as an album opener, if she would just drop the rap verses. Please. They make no sense in this context. The EDM-inspired chorus on Dancing With Our Hands Tied really needs to go as well. God. When random shit isn’t just being thrown in here and there for the sake of it, every other song pretty much follows vaguely the same formula; a simple synth lead, average drumming, occasionally adding in pianos or subtle guitar passages. Definitely not an album to turn to if you want a consistent pop project that still has new things to discover here and there.
So basically Reputation is either boring or abruptly embarrassing depending on where you are. It’s just a super half-assed album that’s only acceptable because it’s a Taylor Swift release. Aaaahhh. I really wouldn’t try it out unless curiosity gets the better of you. I can’t wait to talk about Brockhampton and N.E.R.D. next week, guys.