Taylor Swift’s ‘reputation’: a track-by-track analysis

Swift’s sixth album is the most honest and hard hitting of her releases

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Is the old Taylor really dead?

Taylor Swift’s highly anticipated sixth album, reputation, hits hard. Below is a breakdown of the sounds and lyrics from each track of reputation, Swift’s new, daring, “I don’t care” attitude in musical form.

  1. “…Ready For It?”

The album’s second single, heavy with synthpop, has Swift talk-singing (not rapping) about boyfriend Joe Alwyn. The second verse gets a little bitter with “And he can be my jailer/Burton to this Taylor/Every love I've known in comparison is a failure/I forget their names now/I'm so very tame now.” Swift does, however, bring a tropical, bright track that is ultimately full of fun.

  1. “End Game” (feat. Ed Sheeran and Future)

Sheeran enhances the verses as a singer/rapper himself. Once again, pop sounds can’t mask strong lyricism: “I got issues and chips on both of my shoulders/Reputation precedes me and rumors are knee-deep/The truth is, it's easier to ignore it, believe me,” Sheeran sings. Future does not add much lyrical or sonic significance, however, and the track would have been better without this feature.

  1. “I Did Something Bad”

Both lyrically and sonically, Swift speaks of flames, whether in the lyrics, as a metaphor for being in love, or through heavy beats and voice manipulations. However, the use of pitch correction in the bridge is not necessary vocally or for effect, and it degrades the overall quality of the track.

  1. “Don’t Blame Me”

A sultry sound carries this track, which drips with lust. Sound and lyrics considered, this song easily could have been placed on the soundtrack of Fifty Shades of Grey.

  1. “Delicate”

Lyrically, this song shines. “Is it cool that I said all that?/Is it chill that you're in my head?/'Cause I know that it's delicate,” Swift sings. But here we go again with the unnecessary pitch correction. Just stay away from it. The melody is also pretty uneventful.

  1. “Look What You Made Me Do”

As explained in a previous single review, the shocking sound should not overshadow the overlying message: Don’t mess with me. As made clear by many other tracks, however, Swift also uses satire to play on the persona of her reputation in public.

  1. “So It Goes ... ”

This is by far one of the weakest tracks. The lyrics don’t match the quality of others on the album, and again, Swift relies on pitch correction. The song has a distorted and almost annoying vibe.

  1. “Gorgeous”

This track was released as a promotional single, and with good reason. Other than “New Year’s Day,” the album’s final track, the “old” Swift is most present in this composition. Swift sings, “You should think about the consequence/Of your magnetic field being a little too strong.” The track steers away from hard-hitting, heavy production, providing a nice breather midway through the album.

  1. “Getaway Car”

A strong contender for best track on reputation, this song depicts an elegant escape story with help from producer and co-writer Jack Antonoff. “You were drivin' the getaway car/We were flyin', but we'd never get far/Don't pretend it's such a mystery/Think about the place where you first met me,” Swift sings. To sonically escalate the lyrical storyline, a brilliant key change rounds out a nostalgic charmer.

  1. “King of My Heart”

Unfortunately, like “So It Goes,” this song falls short through weak lyrics like, “So prove to me I'm your American Queen/And you move to me like I'm a Motown beat.” Really? Skip this track.

  1. “Dancing With Our Hands Tied”

The nostalgic beat and melody are somehow made modern and brought together well on this track, another Antonoff-Swift collaboration. It also sounds drastically different from most other songs on the album, establishing it as a strong track.

  1. “Dress”

This track is the perfect example of the maturity and honesty that shine on reputation. It’s not brilliant in terms of sound, but it perfectly represents how Swift has let down the barriers of her personal life and shed her perfect persona. “Carve your name into my bedpost.” Huh? I have no idea what that means.

  1. “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”

If Taylor had an “F you” anthem on reputation, this would be it. Playful piano bounces compliment Swift’s clear dissing of Kanye West, singing “Friends don't try to trick you/Get you on the phone and mind-twist you,” in reference to West’s “Famous” lyric scandal.

  1. “Call It What You Want”

The final promotional single is Taylor’s best of the four pre-album releases, writing honestly with a low-key pop and hip-hop beat. It is another highlight track to not miss.

  1. “New Year’s Day”

This track premiered on ABC the night before the album’s official release. This is by far the most stripped-back track, with just Taylor and a few instruments. The lyrics are brilliant, and the overall sound is reminiscent of early singer-songwriter Swift. It probably wins for best track on reputation, too.

Edited by Claire Colby | ccolby@themaneater.com

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