Big Machine Records
Ladies and gentlemen, Taylor Swift is really, officially a pop star now. Of course, she’s been on this course for a few years now, but wait until she pulls out Future and Ed Sheeran, so that all three of them can hold a pajama party in End Game, a hardcore (at least by the standards of her fans) track that sees her talking about pulling tracks and being some player’s first string as well as end game. That’s a pattern that holds true for the rest of revelation, by the way: most of the effort is put into making a memorable chorus, while dear Ms Swift speak-sings her way or even raps through the rest of each song. So It Goes is the exception – the verses are far stronger than the chorus.
She’s really badass now, by the way, judging by how she shrieks about it at the top of her voice here. Always a shrewd marketer, she now embraces the perception that she is a diva and a user, hence self-aware “Look at me! Am I not smart in being so self aware? Praise me now!” tracks like Look What You Made Me Do. She’s in charge, and we all know it because she’s now doing that awkward white-person-rapping thing that we can all blame Madonna for.
Given her strings of embarrassing love affairs that didn’t do anywhere, which clashed with her prior public image of being this demure good girl, she now sings about being attracted to bad boys. She even calls herself a “former Poison Ivy” and compares her burning need to be shagged by her baby to a drug in Don’t Blame Me. In …Ready for It?, she even shrieks that the guy she has an interest in has no idea of the naughty things she imagines them doing in her dreams. Yes, people, Taylor Swift is grown-up now – lock away your bad boys, parents, or she’s going to corrupt them even more thoroughly with her glittery, empowered, and sexy hoo-hoo. Mind you, she also wants you all to know that she’s not crass when she’s horny; she’s a funny horny kind of girl, as the playful I-hate-to-admit-that-I-like-it Gorgeous is desperate to demonstrate. There is also vulnerability in her craving for man bits, okay? Getaway Car shows that she’s a funny drunk who likes fast cars and faster boys and… ah, screw it, I like this song too, so hand me the bottle.
Of course, minding that her fans are mostly in the teens, she discreetly avoids mentioning what these dirty things are. At the same time, she also wants people to know that she is human too, and oh, it is so lonely at the top, hence songs like Delicate. Don’t judge me, but I think this is easily the best song in the track, and the music video actually make me choke up a bit.
Mind you, all of Ms Swift’s empowerment, man-hungry liberation, and vulnerability showcases all take place still within a fairy tale context like all her previous efforts. No matter how horny or heartbroken she may be, everything still happens in a world in which she lives in mansions, flies off to all corners of the world in a whim, and drinks champagne on penthouse rooftops every evening.
If reputation is a novel, it’s a young adult novel slowly transitioning into chick-lit as our former country diva ages and shrewdly realizes that she needs to constantly change her musical and public image to ensure that her brand remains relevant – all the while making sure that she remains the princess and fan favorite centerpiece in every one of her song. It’s hard to fault Taylor Swift for this, and given how well-produced and polished everything is here, I have to salute such marketable cynicism…
You know what, screw this. Everyone, I enjoy every second while listening to reputation, and I can’t keep pretending to be skeptical about Taylor Swift anymore. I am a fan of this thing and there, I’ve admitted it. Come at me, bro – I ain’t ashamed, none at all.