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There’s been a lot already said about the latest Taylor Swift single from critics and fans, and not a lot of it has to do with the actual music.  There’s been drama expounded upon and personality quirks analyzed, but I unfortunately keep as many tabs on celebrity feuds and lifestyle happenings as I do my cat’s bowel movements – and to be honest they mean about the same to me.  Thus, this little blog post has less to do with what fiery quip Katy Perry just came back with and more to do with a flawed, but pretty good, pop single.  I’m sorry to disappoint the frequenters of Consequence of Sound, who are no longer capable of actually writing about music.

(What did Sowing just say about another popular music website ?  Click here to read more!)

Anyway – the music.

So Taylor Swift has sort of run out of places to go already.  She’s played the innocent country girl and the pop star, and unless she soon decides to whip out an electric guitar and start shredding, her scope is sort of self-limiting. She could, of course, revisit the success of 1989 – but that record was so overwhelmingly successful on a commercial level that writing a new piece in the same voice would effectively begin to stale her appeal.  It’s the same reason that Red forced her to start wading into pop waters, because Fearless and Speak Now covered every square inch of country-twang that Ms. Swift had in her.  There’s no guarantee that another self-empowering pop record wouldn’t be a hit, but moving away from that sound now is probably the smartest thing Swift has done.

The question is, can Taylor pull off badass chick?   Although I’m not one to complain if she wants to dress up as a dominatrix and yield a whip (see video), I’m just not sure I’m really buying it.  Either being in the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack really influenced her…umm…tastes, or it’s another manufactured move for a musical star so wildly successful that everything she does from now on, whether we like it or not, is reviewed by a panel of advisers who decide what she should look and sound like.  The connotation there is inherently negative, which it should be, but that doesn’t mean that she’s incapable of producing something extremely fun and enjoyable.  After all, that’s what 1989 was.

“Look What You Made Me Do” is an obvious statement about all the drama and headlines surrounding her recently, but don’t pretend for a second that she hasn’t enjoyed all the attention.  She thrives on it, and always has dating back to her, well – dating – drama.  This single is no different.  Her vocals are as sweet and edgy as ever, especially in the verses – and the hilariously Fergie-esque chorus, while devoid of individuality, is still catchy as all hell.  The stutter-step beat in the background is dripping with authoritative bass, and it vanishes just in time to let those magnificently produced vocals shine through: but I got smarter I got harder in the nick of time.  The whole “Taylor can’t come to the phone” bit is painfully contrived, but it’s no worse than the rap solo in “Shake It Off.”  I guess all her lead singles need an embarrassing bridge.

All in all, this is quite a pleasant surprise.  It’s not one of her best songs, not even by a country mile (ha), but it is a calculated departure from her last album that still retains that mega-accessible pop sound.  It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to discover that half of Reputation‘s lyrics stemmed from manufactured drama, but if it makes for good music then I’m not one to complain.  After all, the music is all we really should care about.

Track Score:   3.5 / 5   (Great)


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2017

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SowingSeason
08.31.17
Track is enjoyable, sue me.

Conmaniac
08.31.17
oh hell ya, love that first paragraph hahaha. really interesting take on celebrity drama, one that I agree with you on

UniqueUniverse
08.31.17
Yeesh, this track is so unbelievably drab. I give no two fucks about any drama, but this song has some of the most horrendous songwriting/production combo in her discography. Ugh...

UniqueUniverse
08.31.17
I don't know who did what to her, but they better make it right, if we want to have an actually listenable Swift music in the future...

SowingSeason
08.31.17
her songwriting/production has always been fine and is here, I think what's turning people off is the anti-climax, which I personally love because it's just so not her.

Bigpapad
08.31.17
Lyrics are atrocious but the song itself is kind of a guilty pleasure. The chorus reminds me of a female "I'm Too Sexy".

UniqueUniverse
08.31.17
Yes that, exactly, thank you. The lack of anything whatsoever is what is so vomit-worthly offputting. There is absolutely nothing of interest, creativity or just plain melody to this track... it is just that, anticlimactic...
Indeed, it is not her and I appreciate that she decided to change up her character, even though her lyrics are pretty much about the exact same thing as always. But she could have chosen a more musically interesting path.

SowingSeason
08.31.17
@bigpapad: I agree with that comparison totally

@universe: I'm not sure there's a lot of places for her to go though, which I touched on in my write-up. This is as departed from 1989 as I'd expect her to get, and yes the lyrics are more BS drama but the fact that she thrives on it for making music is precisely why I don't care...if that's what gets her off so to speak, then it's better than her just creating drab lifeless pop that retreads country-pop for the sake of making money (she's still making money no matter what, but at least she's attempting to shake it up with each new release)

Lucid
08.31.17
Ironically you didn't say very much about the actual music either

SowingSeason
08.31.17
lol lucid thank you

Valkoor952
08.31.17
Song and video are both cringy and terrible.
And I don't mind some of her songs.

macman76
08.31.17
Dumb question here, do you think we'll ever stop having massive pop stars (excluding like a nuclear winter being the cause, of course)? Music taste seems to me to be very stratified.

SowingSeason
08.31.17
no there will always be pop. too much demand for accessible music and if there ever was that void a million bands would vie for it at the same time because $

3waycrash
08.31.17
I'm in the minority too, and actually like the song. It's far from amazing, but it's enjoyable. It's right about where I thought she would be after 1989 and all the drama.
Thinking back to when Shake It Off came out, I really didn't care for that track, but it grew on me. I didn't nearly have the same reaction to when this first came out. I'm also wondering if this like Shake It Off will be the single released that doesn't quite reflect the rest of the album's sound.

butcherboy
09.01.17
"Look What You Made Me Do" - the official motto of The Domestic Abuse League since 1917

Green Baron
09.01.17
no this is a 1.5/5

Arcade
09.01.17
it's such an awkward sounding song and the right said fred interpolation is just... naff.

look, i came around hard to 1989, and still think it's one of the best pop albums of the last five years, and i can appreciate the campy, toni basil thing that "Shake it Off" undeniably was. but holy shit, "Look What You Made Me Do" is like the worst possible distillation of this bizarre, rockist inspired grasp at artistic credibility that's bothered every female pop singer since ever. and y'know, much as i like jack antonoff, the guy's absolutely owning insufferable at the moment. he needs to go away for a while, and come back when he stops being the new mark ronson.

just a bad song.

Rowan5215
09.01.17
refuse to listen to this on the basis of her thinking Kanye's mental health is an invitation for her to take cheap, nasty potshots. also she's always been pretty awful

but nice write-up sowing

Lucid
09.01.17
wut at the last two comments
- how is this song rockist in any sense?
- where did she make cheapshots at kanye's mental health?

Rowan5215
09.01.17
I should have phrased better - using his absence from the limelight and social media this year, due to his mental health, to take cheap shots at him in general. Even if you don't buy into the release date as a shot (being the date Donda died, I find it hard to believe no one in Taylor's whole hit making machine was aware of that), the tilted stage line is a direct reference to the Saint Pablo tour, and the bit where Taylor's in the bathtub with jewels is a riff on Kim getting robbed last year (a really fuckin low blow if I may say so). Taylor's whole thing is making nasty, shitty shots like these and then immediately playing the victim to her legions of adoring fans and this is just more of the same

Lucid
09.01.17
she once described the public's view of her as "crying in her marble bathroom surrounded by pearls," she's playing her Blank Space character in that scene. seems like a reach to say that lyrics about Kanye's stage or the other indirect shade is disrespecting his mental health. could she have been more careful to avoid the bathtub and release date controversies? possibly, but they seem too boundary-crossing to be intentional.

Rowan5215
09.01.17
I see your point, but at the same time I think there's way too much bad blood (lol) between the two of them for the references to be completely random and unintended. Like what else could the tilted stage line possibly be referring to? But neither side of this argument is gonna get anywhere without more substantial evidence I guess

Arcade
09.01.17
the rockist comment comes from the fact this is a boring, pained attempt at seriousness that puts too much attention towards trying to project a greater meaning than it does actually being a decent song to listen to

danielcardoso
09.01.17
Great write-up Sowing :D

SowingSeason
09.01.17
the Row/Arcade exchange is exactly what I know nothing about; all the drama and hidden jabs are lost on me so I'll have to let you guys decide/duke it out

Thanks daniel!

JWT155
09.01.17
This is not a great track......

SowingSeason
09.01.17
that's ok. :-)

i enjoyed quite thoroughly

theacademy
09.01.17
agree with most of this, the track is awful

Rowan5215
09.01.17
sowing don't make me come over and educate you on kanye west lore, by god I'll do it

SowingSeason
09.01.17
musically probably yea

SowingSeason
09.01.17
dammit rowan I can't keep tabs on all these celebs and their bs

Flugmorph
09.01.17
who doesn't love some gud ol' drama

SowingSeason
09.01.17
re: drama

I guess she couldn't just shake it off
rofl

Rowan5215
09.01.17
sigh

NessieKV
09.01.17
I'm sad that this is STILL not the album in which Taylor experiments a little with the song structures. I know she has it in her. Also sad that she stopped using her voice intonation to sound close to the listener as much as she did in the beginning, I miss that. She sounds so defeated in this song, if you listen without watching.

NessieKV
09.01.17
"Thinking back to when Shake It Off came out, I really didn't care for that track, but it grew on me. I didn't nearly have the same reaction to when this first came out. I'm also wondering if this like Shake It Off will be the single released that doesn't quite reflect the rest of the album's sound."

Same.

ONEPUNCHMAN
09.01.17
Not a fan at all, never been a huge fan of Taylor tho so

GreyShadow
09.01.17
idk, i liked my friend's review a lot: "It's definitely not good, but I don't necessarily hate it. Yet, I can confirm that it definitely makes me want to sleep with her even more"

SowingSeason
09.01.17
lol I can confirm that too, but I still think if anyone else released this it'd be getting at least a slightly more positive reception...it's a decent track, but people can't get over the fact that it's taylor and have a predisposition to label anything she does as fake (which it is, but so is 97% of mainstream pop)...And the "jabs" she makes in the song/video and other drama etc. is all meaningless and just a part of the act...it's truly manufactured and purposely expounded upon to make sales

Point is, social/drama/bias aside, the music itself is basic, but catchy and well-produced which is all I'd expect from her anyway

Green Baron
09.01.17
tbf Taylor lead singles have sucked for the last 6 years

SowingSeason
09.01.17
That's very true

NessieKV
09.02.17
I kinda disagree it's all manufactured. The press, the red carpet, this IS her life, it's real for her. Do we expected her to get all fired up about what exactly, the slavery in China?

Also, I believe this could be the era in which she starts losing her identity. I tell ya, just watch her lose herself headline by headline. It's been subtlely happening since Red I feel. It's abnormal to have the entire globe criticyzing you, and criticyzing though a screen, which adds to the abnormality. So yeah I dislike the manufacture argument.

Waior
09.03.17
song is really good

chug73
09.12.17
Liar

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