Taylor Swift
Reputation


3.0
good

Review

by localwerewolfbf USER (2 Reviews)
May 13th, 2022 | 5 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "reputation" isn't Taylor Swift's best work, but it's an effective departure from her past discography, and signals her growing maturity in both lyrical content and self-awareness.

(This is my first review of just about anything, so bear with me.)

The first thing I noticed about "reputation" while listening to it again for this review was the prominent influence of hip-hop. And it's not surprising- pop and hip-hop have been crossing over into each other for the last few years. But Swift's music has always been firmly outside that hybrid realm, and here she completely gives it up, and for what? It doesn't do her many favors.

"...Ready For It?" is alright on a first listen, but it gets old incredibly quickly. The beat is mostly the same throughout the whole song and it gets really boring really fast. The only bits I really enjoy and don't zone out while listening to are the pre-choruses. Swift sounds breathy and seductive and real there, and the almost electronic harmonies that only show up on the last pre-chorus are genuinely enjoyable for me. That is mostly because they don't show up anywhere else in the song, which I greatly appreciate.

"End Game" is, if you're not expecting much or looking too hard, fine. I guess. Whoever signed off on Ed Sheeran getting a verse should be fired, though. This is pseudo-rap, for the most part, which has never fit with Sheeran's voice or overall style. And it's not a good look for Swift, either. It's hard to take him seriously here when he's firing off lines like "Both sprung, I got issues and chips on both of my shoulders". Where are they, Ed? Maybe it's just that I personally have never been able to take him seriously. Future's verse is underwhelming, and he keeps popping up with weird backing vocals throughout the rest of the song, which I could do without. This is not a highlight.

"I Did Something Bad" is enjoyable. It's the first song on this album that makes me really believe Swift's change in aesthetics and sound. "I don't regret it one bit, 'cause he had it coming," she sings, and I believe her. The only songwriting issue I truly have with this song is the line "their receipts and reasons". I have never liked references to online culture in songs. Otherwise, the bridge is good, and the chorus that follows it is punchy and explosive. The last fifteen or so seconds are even better, with something almost like improvisation ("So bad, why's it feel so good? Why's it feel, why's it feel so good?"). One of the better songs here.

"Don't Blame Me" is stunning, especially when Swift performs it live. The bridge is fantastic, the harmonies are great, and the high notes do not disappoint. The songwriting doesn't suffer much here, though it is simpler than her other work, as is the case with pretty much all of this album. When Swift says that "For you, I would cross the line, I would waste my time, I would lose my mind", I truly get the feeling that love may have driven her crazy, at least for the time being. The verses are chilling, and the backing vocals pile on (especially during the last chorus) to create a full picture reminiscent of "Out Of The Woods" from 1989. The only issue I have is the humming. There's so much of it. All the time. I'm not sure I enjoy it.

"Delicate" is underwhelming, and if I never have to hear Swift say "where you at" ever again in my life, it'll be too soon. It's repetitive, there really is no underlying message, and its main appeal is the slow, almost hazy, seductive way Swift delivers the lyrics. The harmonies are okay, I guess, but it's nothing special. Somehow the remixes are better than the actual song. I don't have much to say on this one, because there just isn't much here.

"Look What You Made Me Do" is interesting if only because it's a type of brazen Swift never got into before it, and hasn't returned to since. It is only here to make a point, and it accomplishes that and then some. If "I Did Something Bad" made me truly believe in Swift's turnaround, LWYMMD is that follow-up. Its lyrics aren't art ("You said the gun was mine, isn't cool, no, I don't like you", for example), but they don't need to be. The feeling with which Swift delivers the lyrics is more than enough to make us get it. That said, it's repetitive, and at times it feels like Swift's just trying too hard to be a badass.

"...So It Goes" marks a change in the album, from talking about Swift's reputation and how the world perceives her to a deep, secret love that has caught her off-guard and unawares. It's the first song here that makes me see Swift as more of an adult, with its references to "scratches down your back" and "I do bad things with you". She's not the innocent girl whose tears are drying on her guitar anymore, and this album cements it. The drums and whatever's going on in the background of the chorus work well together, and the bridge is alluring. This is one of my favorite songs on this album.

"Gorgeous" has Swift's tongue-in-cheek songwriting that I've been missing this whole time ("You're so cool, it makes me hate you so much"). The backing vocals can feel out of place, but overall, it's catchy, and while it's not a deep song at all, it doesn't need to be. The beat is light and easy, which fits perfectly with the rest of the song. The bridge is probably my favorite, because (especially with the giggle toward the end) it sounds like Swift's actually having fun with this. "You are so gorgeous, it makes me so mad" makes me laugh in a good way, and I think this album needs that.

"Getaway Car" is one of the highlights of this album. The chorus is catchy ("In a getaway car, no, they never get far" is one of my favorite parts), the verses actually form a story in the way Swift is so good at, and I actually feel like I'm watching a dangerous fifties noir movie unfold. Swift sounds like she's left you at the motel bar, put the money in a bag, and stolen your keys. It doesn't overstep, isn't trying to be something it's not, thank god. I think we've had enough of that, thanks.

"King Of My Heart" took me a very long time to even get on board with. Initially, I was only listening for the bridge, where artificial, electronic harmonies took the lead. It was different, reminiscent of "...Ready For It", but in a slightly better way. That said, this is not the hallmark of good songwriting. "Salute to me, I'm your American Queen, and you move to me like I'm a Motown beat" is just obnoxious. The bridge is good, though, and in the post-chorus, "And all at once, I've been waiting, waiting, ooh whoa, ooh whoa" somehow sounds better than the actual chorus. Said chorus is heartfelt in an almost ethereal way, which I've come to appreciate. But it's not a work of art.

"Dancing With Our Hands Tied" is nothing special. It's catchy, sure, and I enjoy the drums (especially in the chorus, which is probably the best part of the entire song), but the lyrics leave a lot to be desired. "So, baby, can we dance, oh, through an avalanche" makes me wince. This song somehow invokes less feelings in me than "Delicate", which is really saying something.

"Dress" has its decent moments. It reminds me of "...So It Goes", which makes me slightly more sympathetic to it. There's this dream-like quality to it, especially in the last lines of the verses leading into the chorus. "I'm spilling wine in the bathtub, you kiss my face and we're both drunk" in the second verse does this very effectively. It's not a stand-out song on its own, but it does help bring out a more intimate mood, which I appreciate.

"This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things" is essentially "Look What You Made Me Do" but less obnoxious. I really enjoy this song, because of the backing vocals and carefree, swinging attitude. If LWYMMD is loud and brash, TIWWCHNT is saccharine when it's patronizing, direct when it's aggressive, and yet airy in its nonchalance. It's what LWYMMD should have been. The bridge is catchy and reminiscent of a speech shouted by someone drunk (but, you know. In a compelling way). "Did you think I wouldn't hear all the things you said about me?" Swift demands, and I almost feel like I've been caught talking trash. This is one of my favorites.

"Call It What You Want" tries and fails to capture the intimate mood set up by "...So It Goes" and "Dress". The lyrics of the chorus gives me second-hand embarrassment ("My baby's fly like a jet stream, high above the whole scene", namely). But the verses are good- "My castle crumbled overnight, I brought a knife to a gunfight, they took the crown, but it's alright" is one of my favorite lines. This song never gets into the explosive feelings of songs like "I Did Something Bad" and "Getaway Car", but it never reaches the quiet, tempting reaches of "...So It Goes" and "Dress". It lacks direction.

"New Year's Day" is the outlier here. With real, identifiable instruments (hello, piano), it's the sort of song Swift has gotten very good at writing and delivering. While it's not my personal favorite, and I think the bridge (?) (it's the part that goes "Hold on to the memories, they will hold on to you") drags, it's not terrible to listen to. It, like "Call It What You Want", is just sort of there. It's a good song to end the album on, though, if only because of its simple finality.

All in all, this album is a lot of things at once, but it's especially a story of someone who's becoming the monster she's been (apparently) made out to be. It fails at this in some regards, but in others works wonderfully well. It's not one for the ages, but it shows her maturity and growth as a pop artist.


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Comments:Add a Comment 
pizzamachine
May 14th 2022


15040 Comments


Holy essay Batman.

parksungjoon
May 14th 2022


42920 Comments


track by track essays

granitenotebook
Staff Reviewer
May 14th 2022


1121 Comments


this is pretty well written, especially for a first review, but just FYI most critics (and most users here) prefer reviews that focus more on the album as a whole and less on individual songs

that being said my real gripe is that you don't like dancing with our hands tied, one of her best songs

HelloJoe
May 15th 2022


566 Comments


I like track-by-track reviews, personally. I don't think the design of this website lends itself to the format. I haven't experimented much with it but maybe try using bold to outline each song?

All the same, can't wait to read more from you. :-)

PanosChris
May 17th 2022


6 Comments


Really nice first review, welcome to the site.
Some have already pointed out that most users here don't go for a track-by-track review, but I personally do not mind them — especially if it's for an album that I enjoy and want to hear thoughts about individual tracks.
Really excited to see you evolve and I would love to see you either expand on this track-by-track style of review or experiment with different writing styles.

I guess my only "critique" is that, at certain points, the writing does become repetitive, which is to be expected, as Reputation is long (like most of Taylor's albums) and as such, a track-by-track review of it will be lengthy and easy to make repetitive statements (for example, the constant use of the phrase "which I appreciate/which I greatly appreciate").
Every paragraph begins with the sentence "[name song] is/has" and some variety in how you introduce your paragraphs would make the review much more enjoyable to go through. Examples:

"I Did Something Bad" is enjoyable. It's the first song on this album that makes me really believe Swift's change in aesthetics and sound. --> The first song on this album that makes me really believe in Swift's change in sound and aesthetics is "I Did Something Bad".

"Gorgeous" has Swift's tongue-in-cheek songwriting that I've been missing this whole time. --> Swift's usual tongue-in-cheek songwriting that I've been missing this whole time makes an appearance on "Gorgeous".

"King Of My Heart" took me a very long time to even get on board with. --> It took me a very long time to even get on board with "King Of My Heart".

Other than that, keep up the nice writing. The more you write, the better you'll become at it.

That being said, how dare you not like 'Delicate', it's my favorite on the album lol



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