Review: Taylor Swift’s “Reputation” isn’t so gorgeous


Courtesy: Taylor Swift Official Facebook Page

Dylan Wright , Arts and Entertainment Editor

Taylor Swift is an artist that has been defined by her relationships, both romantic and otherwise. Her songwriting has always addressed this, from her country roots to her current pop sensibilities.

“Reputation” can be seen as a personification of Taylor Swift. In a letter released alongside this latest album, Swift says that “we think we know someone, but the truth is that we only know the version of them they have chosen to show us.” If this sentiment is true, Swift is showing her audience a person that cannot move past her relationships.

“Reputation” suffered from releasing arguably the worst song on the album first. “Look What You Made Me Do” was panned by critics, and for good reason. The lyrics can’t quite bite the way Swift wants them to. The repetitive and unoriginal chorus buries the somewhat catchy verses, and the subject matter of Swift’s feud with Kayne West and Kim Kardashian left audiences with a “poor little rich girl” idea of Swift.

The rest of the album delves into that persona, a person that has been burned by relationships and now considers herself a master of manipulation. It’s a sad state of mind, and at times instead of feeling empowering the lyrics feel like a cry for help. In “I Did Something Bad,” Swift touts that “they never see it comin’/what I do next/This is how the world works/You gotta leave before you get left.”

Swift is clearly attributing this mindset to outside forces throughout the album, like West and all of her detractors. In the past, she was able to connect to audiences with relatable situations and a down-to-Earth personality.

However, it’s difficult to relate to someone that seems much farther up the ladder of fame than she was when it was only her with an acoustic guitar. “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” brings up “everyone swimming in a champagne sea” and how Swift was “feeling so Gatsby for that whole year.” These aren’t exactly third world issues.

None of the tracks really end up being too memorable, and the album suffers from a bloated runtime. At 15 songs, Swift tries to make up for her three year disappearance from the spotlight, but it ends up dragging the album down.

This is an introspective album to be sure. The album is no “1989,” but it’s not trying to be. While she keeps her main collaborators from that album for “Reputation,” (Jack Antonoff, Max Martin and Shellback) the artist is definitely trying something new. This is reported to be Swift’s dark phase, but the lyrics never quite live up to that idea.

Some of the lyrics come off as grade school level poetry, especially in the track “Gorgeous.” “And I got a boyfriend, he’s older than us/He’s in the club doing I don’t know what/You’re so cool, it makes me hate you so much” doesn’t really come off as nuanced. “You make me so happy/it turns back to sad” especially reads like someone attempting to find the proper words in an argument but ends up saying the first juvenile insult that pops in their head.

The album does have some good gems. The song “Getaway Car” is actually pretty catchy, and “New Years Day” closes the album in a somber and meaningful way. If the album focused less on the “getting even” portion and more on the “this is me”attitude that Swift has always excelled at, “Reputation” could have been fantastic.

“Reputation” wasn’t quite worth the three-year waiting period, but does attempt at some deep, introspective lyrics. Although none of the songs can go as deep as Swift meant them to, the album has already proven it can sell itself well. Even if this album was the worst in the history of pop music, Swift will still be well off.

While this isn’t the best album of her career, Swift managed to put forth a good effort. Not a great effort, but an OK one. While the old Taylor might be dead, her insecurities can still be felt behind some of the heavy pop beats and that can still connect to audiences despite the “better than you” front she attempts to sell in this album.

Contact the writer: [email protected]