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Analyzing Every Song on Taylor Swift's Reputation

From TIME - November 10, 2017

Taylor Swifts sixth studio album Reputation finally dropped, after months of hype. With 15 tracks, produced with pop hitmakers Max Martin, Shellback and Jack Antonoff, Swifts latest addition to her catalogue appears to mine her past and her present for material, switching moods between unapologetic love letter and defiant clapback. Its all sung over a series of synth-heavy beats, and sprinkled with tinges of 80s pop, catchy dubstep drops and dance-ready hooks. Read on for our analysis of each song of the new Reputation era.

1. Ready For It?: Starting things off with a thumping bass line and rallying cry, Ready For It? also offers one of Swifts prettiest melodies. In the middle of the night, in my dreams, you should see the things we do, she sings sweetly before switching into her new-era rap-singing. He can be my jailer, Burton to this Taylor, she insists, name-checking a famousand drama-filledpairing, and setting the scene for the rest of the albums investigation of the perils of stardom.

2. End Game (featuring Ed Sheeran and Future): Swift tapped her good friend Sheeran for this slow-jam-style track, a self-reflectiveand self-awareplea to both the listener and a lover. I wanna be your end game, Swift sings off the top, allowing in a little vulnerabilitybefore jumping into a rap-sung chorus. Big reputation, you and me we got big reputations, she chants, recognizing the baggage that her stardom brings (and name-checking the albums title, of course). Of-the-moment rapper Future of Mask Off success adds in a slick verse, sticking to the love-against-the-odds theme. Swift goes on to sing she doesnt want to be an ex-love and that she isnt into the drama; its just her burden to bear.

This is peak Swift: emotionally open, but ready and willing to have some fun with the hype around her own persona. Sheerans contribution comes in the form of another rap-sung verse in the same vein, seeming to reference his own relationship and the pitfalls that fame has placed in his path to love. His advice? Ignore the rumors.

3. I Did Something Bad: Swift knows that her critics have strong opinions about her; after all, the album is called Reputation. And in the bombastic I Did Something Bad, she appears to address some of the narratives that have surrounded her. I never trust a narcissist, but they love me / So I play them like a violin, and I make it look oh so easy, she opens this one over a sharp string pluck. If a man talks st then I owe him nothing. Here is new-era Swift: holding her head high, unapologetic and fiercely protective of her own success.

Then, a funky dubstep drop brings shades of her mega-hit We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together into the mix. Heavily electronically manipulated, and punctuated with a strong beat, its a banger of a trackand her defiant response to her detractors. I never trust a playboy, but they love me, she insists, stating matter of-factly that its best to leave before you get left, and hinting that maybe her splashy former relationships werent all they might have seemed. And then theres the kicker: Theyre burning all the witches, even if you arent one, she croons on an auto-tuned bridge. Go ahead and light me up. Of all the quotable lines in Swifts oeuvre, this one is right up there at the top for its blazing imagery.

4. Dont Blame Me: If youre a fan of Avicii or Kygos brand of un-rushed atmospheric electro-pop, you might like the rich, vibey notes Swift brings together in Dont Blame Me, a moody, dark song that starts out swinging and pretty, and builds into a gospel-backed EDM anthem. Dont blame me, love made me crazy / if it doesnt you aint doin it right, she sings emphatically. Lord save me, my drug is my baby, I be using for the rest of my life. Swift has endured criticism for her relationships: the fact that shes in them, the fact that she sings about them. Dont Blame Me could be a clapback to that criticism, reminding listeners that the heart simply wants what it wants, as her friend Selena Gomez once said.

5. Delicate: Swift is, appropriately enough, at her most fragile on Delicate. Refreshingly honest, its a melodic electro-ballad with a resonant refrain. My reputations never been worse so, you must like me for me, she muses, her voice a light wisp, in a wry nod to her year in the spotlight before breaking down her insecurities: Is it cool that I said all that? Is it too soon to do this yet? Like pretty much anyone dealing with a new crush, Swift sings of moments of doubt. Perhaps even superstars have their sore spots. She couches this sweetly uncertain song in snippets of datesat a dive bar, in her apartmentbut keeps it about her circular internal monologue, always questioning just how much her feelings are being reciprocated.

6. Look What You Made Me Do: Swifts lead singleand immediate chart-topper following its releaseLWYMMD was a shocking reintroduction to the Swift of Reputation: hard, unapologetic, focused on retribution. Step aside, Bad Blood, this song is much more cutting. Ive got a list of names, and yours is in red, underlined, she reminded her haters over a Right Said Fred sample. The propulsive beat and insistence that the old Taylor was dead only sharpened her point.

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