Music Review: “Reputation”

Let it be known that Taylor Swift does nothing by accident. Since the moment she released cryptic snake videos on Instagram on August 21, fans have been analyzing, dissecting and theorizing her motives behind her each and every action. With the release of her sixth album, “Reputation,” on November 10, the wait for answers is finally over.

Amid the drama with Kanye and Kim Kardashian West in the summer of 2016, Swift went into hiding for over a year, and she came back with a vengeance. In its first six minutes, “Reputation” reportedly sold 800,000 copies, causing iTunes to crash. “Reputation” ushers in a new era for Swift’s ever-changing image. The days of princess dresses and cowboy boots have swiftly been replaced with darker, angrier vibes as Swift mocks the reputation the Wests tried to make for her.

The highly anticipated album begins with “…Ready For It,” a hip-hop jam which sharply contrasts any music Swift has produced in the past. Despite the entirely different music style, Swift employs the hallmarks of her classic, novel-like writing approach with lyrics that are deep, metaphorical and symbolic.

Along with the poetic lyrics, Swift channels “the old Taylor” through the main themes of her album. In her third studio album, “Speak Now,” Swift declared in track 10, “Better than Revenge,” that there was nothing she did better than revenge. “Reputation” upholds this sentiment as Swift dismantles the image the media has painted of her and calls out other public figures, including Kanye West, Calvin Harris and Tom Hiddleston, for the ways they wronged her and brought ruin to her reputation.

Yet, amid the angry, tumultuous vibes many of the tracks give off, “Reputation” has a sweeter side to it as well. Swift sings other songs about current boyfriend Joe Alywn, giving the album more emotional balance. In fact, references to Alwyn are made throughout the entire album; even in the angrier tracks, Swift references how much his support and love has meant to her.

The final track, “New Year’s Day,” channels “Red” era vibes and brings emotion similar to Swift’s critically acclaimed masterpiece “All Too Well” to the forefront of the album. The song features no instruments aside from Swift’s piano playing in the background; poetic lyrics coupled with the of the simple piano playing remind fans of a younger version of Swift, one who was untouched by the media’s criticism and cared only about translating the events of her life into music.

Somehow, Taylor Swift managed to outdo herself once again. Ironically, Swift was able to encompass all of her past selves in an album which is nothing like anything she has produced before; traces of each of her previous five albums can be found hidden throughout the intricate lyrics which compose every song of “Reputation.” Before the release of the album, Swift herself said, “there will be no further explanation, there will just be reputation.” “Reputation” needs no further explanation: the album speaks for itself.

Photo via iTunes.

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