Album review: reputation

Reputation introduces the “new” Taylor Swift

Nov. 10 marked the release of Taylor Swift’s sixth studio album titled reputation. After announcing the release date around three months prior, on August 23, fans were sent into a frenzy trying to figure out all the information they could on the new album. From the announcement of reputation’s release, it was made clear that a new version of the beloved pop star would be revealed within the new songs. The release of reputation was highly anticipated, as it followed Swift’s three-year hiatus after the release of her fifth album, 1989.

The release of the first single, “Look What You Made Me Do” gave listeners a sneak peek into a straightforward and no-nonsense version of Swift. In the single it is explicitly stated that the former Taylor Swift is “dead”, but upon listening to the tune it is abundantly clear that the metaphors, symbolism and witty lyrics of the artist are still present. Clearly, Swift’s main intention of the album was not to step away from her musical capabilities but instead to shed her former persona and all the controversy that came along with it. The music video for the first single solidified this idea with a “new” Swift rising above all of her former selves.

Swift’s new attitude can be found embedded throughout the 15 track album alongside the relatable lyrics of love and friendship listeners have grown used to seeing from the artist. The album’s third song, “I Did Something Bad” exemplifies these traits with darker lyrics than most Swift songs typically contain. The track tells a tale of obtaining revenge regardless of the ethical bounds that must be overstepped to achieve it. Since Swift has often been accused of making herself the victim in situations, this song seems to clap back by claiming responsibility for actions that some may consider ethically questionable.

Pullquote Photo

I stay when it’s hard, or it’s wrong or we’re making mistakes; I want your midnights.

— Taylor Swift

One of the most striking elements of the album are the many complex love songs. Swift has released her fair share of love songs in the past but reputation seems to provide a new take on relationships. The song “New Year’s Day” depicts a relationship of fulfillment and optimism and carries a higher level of maturity than what is found in Swift’s previous work. The perspective of a daydreaming teenage girl believing love is free of conflict and sacrifice is replaced by a sense of understanding for the give and take found within a healthy relationship. The mature tone is depicted in the lyric “I stay when it’s hard, or it’s wrong or we’re making mistakes; I want your midnights”, as it seems Swift has finally found a balance between the struggle faced in a relationship and the benefits taken from it. The album greatly contrasts the perspective on love found in Taylor Swift, Swift’s first album, serving as a model for the growth of the singer as a musician and person.

Even in my worst times, you could see the best of me.

— Taylor Swift

Despite the majority of songs containing a somewhat fast-paced backing track, a standout on the album, “Dress”, tells a story of love and longing with a slower pace. A linear tale of love is told with Swift and another individual undergoing a period of, “pining and anticipation,” and later becoming a constant, pleasant presence in each other’s lives. In the line, “even in my worst times, you could see the best of me”, Swift speaks to how she has found love with her significant other, despite the reputation she may hold. The song’s lyrics are the most powerful aspect of the song as they convey the standout themes of love, happiness and reputation present throughout the entire album.

The largest takeaway from reputation is that opinions, positive and negative, will always exist but life continues regardless and their impact is only as large as you make it. After the three year hiatus, Swift came back strong, with an album focused on moving forward. Reputation did not disappoint with its powerful message and songs of reflection on mistakes and memories made throughout life. Similarly to Swift’s past albums, reputation gives perspective into the life of a celebrity without removing key relatable details. Swift has not slowed down on her path of musical success and there is doubt she will anytime soon.