We talked to some Ryerson students to see what they think of Taylor Swift’s new album. RUTV News reporter Sarah Chew has the story.
Whether you were “Ready For It” or not, Taylor Swift’s sixth studio album, ‘Reputation,’ dropped on Friday. ‘Reputation’ features the hit single “Look What You Made Me Do” along with 14 other new tracks. The songs build on Swift’s new sound from her last album, ‘1989’ — poppy, electronic tracks that seem to suggest the guitar-strumming, country crooning Swift is long gone.
But if you listen a little closer, you can hear notes of country Swift coming through. The attention to detail in the lyrics is one example in this. In “End Game” Swift sings, “I wanna be your A-team,” — a clever nod to a popular song from Ed Sheeran, who is featured on the song. It’s not subtle, but it’s a classic Easter egg that makes Swift’s songwriting stand out (she’s featured as a writer on every one of the album’s 15 songs).
The overwhelming theme of the album comes across in lyrics about being happy in love and not caring what anyone else has to say about it. “He built a fire just to keep me warm/All the drama queens taking swings/All the jokers dressing up as kings/ They fade to nothing when I look at him,” Swift sings in “Call It What You Want.”
Fans have speculated that the songs go through Swift’s journey of meeting now-boyfriend Joe Alwyn while dating Tom Hiddleston (who may have been a rebound from Calvin Harris. Keeping track of all of this?).
Another theme featured heavily in the album is revenge — not only towards ex-boyfriends, but also towards celebrities. “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” seems to be a thinly veiled jab at Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, with whom Swift fought publicly. After singing about a mind-twisting phone call (recall Kardashian released a recording of Swift on the phone), for a short moment, it seems Swift has decided to forgo her anger in favour of forgiveness. “Here’s to you/‘Cause forgiveness is a nice thing to do,” she sings, drawing out the last syllable before laughing and saying, “I can’t even say it with a straight face.” Forgiveness? Maybe not.
The last song on the album, “New Year’s Day,” concludes the story of Swift’s romance in a melodic and beautiful way. She sings about staying to clean up bottles on New Year’s Day: “Don’t read the last page/But I stay when it’s hard, or it’s wrong/Or we’re making mistakes.”
Compared to the fast, electronic songs that precede it, this track is almost haunting in its vulnerability. Swift is laying herself out on the line with the kind of blinding hope and optimism for love that her older songs are full of. “Please don’t ever become a stranger/Whose laugh I could recognize anywhere,” she sings. The lyric repeats, and soft piano chords fade out into silence.
Although that song would have fit right in during the ‘1989’ era of the “You Are In Love” ballad, it stands out starkly compared to the rest of the album. It is clear from the first 14 tracks that Swift meant it when, in the first single released, she sung, “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Oh why? ‘Cause she’s dead.”
But if the “old Taylor” is dead, then ‘Reputation’ is Swift clawing her way back up to the top by laughing in love and getting the last word.