The Gatepost Arts and Features Staff
By Bailey Morrison
& Jillian Poland
On Aug. 21, Taylor Swift posted a cryptic video on Instagram that gave fans the first glimpse of her new album – a snake’s tail writhing against a black background. It was a playful clapback at Kanye and Kim West referring to her as a “snake.” That imagery was repurposed by Swift throughout the album, becoming a new staple in her wardrobe and stage performances.
Three months later, Swift dropped an album that has sold a million copies in under a week.
We are both die-hard Swift fans who can sing along to every single song without missing a lyric. When we first got a sample of the album with the two singles “... Ready For It?” and “Look What You Made Me Do,” we were both hesitant.
The two singles seemed to completely diverge from her classic sound. We agreed both were
overproduced and didn’t seem to have the same passion we’d come to expect from Swift.
The lyrics of “Look What You Made Me Do” felt superficial, appearing to set the album up as a whine-fest about how misunderstood and mistreated Swift is. When the album came out, we were happy to see that we were wrong.
Sure, it has its moments of pure pettiness and disillusion, but at its heart, “reputation” is a linear timeline of Swift coming to terms with her image amidst the passions of new love.
After a long discussion where we ranked the songs individually, we decided the three best songs on the album are “New Year’s Day,” “Delicate” and “Don’t Blame Me.”
“New Year’s Day” is a nostalgic ballad that builds throughout and truly showcases Swift’s vocal abilities. Compared to the rest of the album, it’s a fairly bare-bones track, but it holds enough emotion and skillful storytelling that you wonder if Swift ever needed all that production in the first place. While it would be at home on the soundtrack of an Oscar-winning drama, we imagine this song will be featured in every melancholy romantic comedy until 2020. Her talent shines in the songs where she allows vocals to take precedence over the production of the music.
“Delicate” is an upbeat track that stands out on the album because of its unique sound. While the song isn’t lyrical in a classic way, it shines because of the use of a vocoder effect, which splits the vocals so that her voice echoes throughout the song to a haunting effect.
“Don’t Blame Me” is a sweeping track that hearkens back to the deep emotion of Taylor Swift’s “Haunted” days – sans teenage melodrama. The song’s methodical, dirge-like verses [ow right into a soaring chorus that feels like a dance-hall version of Hozier’s “Take Me to Church.”
While we loved this album, we felt it lacked lyrical diversity. The 15 songs seem focused on only two topics – the media’s unfair portrayal of her and her love for her new boyfriend.
Swift has been known to use her songs to share intimate details of her life, singing about a variety of topics, from her family to growing up to heartbreak and love. We wanted to hear more about her life in the three years since “1989.”