Taylor Swift's Reputation is Pretty Good
This is coming from someone who is usually very critical of any music, especially pop.
Disclaimer: Not a Taylor Swift fanatic or a music critic. This is just an opinion on the internet. Proceed with caution.
I am not a die hard Taylor Swift fan. I was blissfully ambivalent towards her music until my husband bought her new album, Reputation, as a gag gift for my birthday. He wanted to listen to it also. His biggest secret is sometimes liking and listening to pop music. My reaction to the most random gift I've ever received? I burst into tears. Two reasons for this: First- I was on my period and I've learned over the years at least one good crying session is needed to survive. Second- I thought he knew nothing about me or what I liked. I never even hinted I wanted this. He lives for the surprise gift so it makes sense in hindsight.
After I worked through my mixed emotions I decided to listen to it. What's the worst that could happen? I probably wouldn't like the majority of the songs my brain said justifying the time lost. I've heard plenty of Taylor Swift songs either blaring at the store I used to work at, flipping through radio stations or watching cinematic level music videos. I'm not a natural pop music lover but I occasionally like to listen to upbeat, different or new music. Most pop music I've heard lately seems derivative or trying too hard to seem different.
The first thing that hit me while listening in the car was the bass, so much bass, and the epic sound scapes created with background noises and effects. It was so complex and layered in contrast to the lyrics which switch from being simple to clever every few lines. It felt so strange to be enraptured by something I was so sure I wouldn't enjoy. It almost seemed like my husband knew something about the record I didn't. We like the same types of music and bands, mostly classic rock and metal, but he used to dabble in audio engineering and appreciates all the things working in the background other people might not notice.
I won't dissect all the songs because I'm sure others have already done this. My favorites are the songs with the most and weirdest, in a good way, background noises, synth-y 80's pop vibes and scathing lyrics.
My favorite songs:
1: Ready for it?
Cacophonous to put it lightly with 3 different types of singing: rap/talk, actual singing and chanting.
4: Don't Blame Me
Love those synth-y pop vibes. Husband's favorite.
9: Getaway Car
See above with the synth love. Also who doesn't like a twist on the old Bonnie and Clyde trope?
11: Dancing With Our Hands Tied
Very dancable. Hopefully will be played in clubs.
13: This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things
Probably the best one to scream sing in your car while simultaneously freaking out everyone else on the road because so much BASS and SHADE.
It is a real testament to pop music and the producers when you listen to an album on and off but the songs stay stuck in your head. I think this is the true test of pop greatness whether it is sticky or not. I know a tiny slice of information about audio engineering because of my husband. He thinks most of these songs have at least 500 or so tracks which seems insane but so much is going on in each song it almost makes sense.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the outfit in the pull out poster, pictured above, from the Look What You Made Me Do music video. This has serious Man Repeller vibes. I appreciate when an artist takes fashion risks. This outfit says, “Yeah this is what I want to wear." and "No, I will not change.” A good black bodysuit and giant black platform boots are a powerful outfit combination and not dressing with a dude in mind.
I remember hearing Look What You Made Me Do for the first time while watching the music video and being more impressed with the visuals then the song itself. Out of all the songs on Reputation this is definitely the catchiest. I couldn't get it out of my head even days after hearing it. But it works with the general vibe and effects of the other songs on the album. It sounds more impressive and dimensional when you listen in a car or with better speakers then the default ones on your computer or phone.
In terms of the lyrics most sound like they are chanted, spoken or rapped instead of sung. I'm assuming this is deliberate since nothing seems accidental on this album. As the kids say this album is filled with bangers. Songs you want to play really loud and sing along to at the top of your lungs. Most of them veer towards empowerment which is always good for people to hear especially girls and women. I've already seen some of these very quotable one liners showing up on Pinterest.
“You gotta leave before you get left.”
It's fun to play the, Who is this song written about? game. I haven't been keeping track of her boyfriends and feuds but some seem pretty obvious. Another fun phenomenon with these songs is the bass scaring or intimidating people while driving. It is a normal reaction for people to get out of your way or to find yourself speeding excessively. No worries. It happens to the best of us.
I wouldn't recommend this album to everyone unabashedly. They would either need to be a Taylor Swift fan already or be ready for some crazy songs and effects. You can only listen to this album with an open mind. I think most people could find at least one song they like which is pretty hard to pull off. Reputation is definitely different from anything I've heard lately or from her previous albums. Many of these songs are easy to sing along to. I could see groups of people screaming or singing many of these lyrics until they are hoarse and I might be one of them.