On November 10th, pop artist Taylor Swift released her sixth studio album “Reputation” through Big Machine Records. Swift enlisted the biggest names in pop music to produce to new LP, including Max Martin, Jack Antonoff and Shellback who produce almost the entire album. “Reputation” also includes a few features from artists such as rapper Future and singer Ed Sheeran who both appear on the song “End Game”. There was a lot of hype for this project as Taylor Swift did leave a lot of clues on her Instagram before the album title was announced on August 23rd. “Look What You Made Me Do” was the lead single and received mixed reviews from critics, but the track’s video still managed to become the most watched video in a 24 hour period. “Look What You Made Me Do” has topped the charts in Australia, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Israel, Lebanon, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Slovakia, Spain, and the United Kingdom. It has received a Double Platinum certification in Canada and Platinum certifications in the United States and Australia.
Swift and her producers Shellback, Max Martin and Jack Antonoff have created an album like masterchefs, blending the most popular sounds and genre’s together, serving up a most perfectly formed LP full of contemporary pop songs. “Reputation” is full of every thing a number 1 album requires, catchy hooks, sing a long choruses and electro-synth driven instrumentals. I’m definitely not one to ever say this about a Taylor Swift album, but all songs are good if not great, and show the singer songwriter as a more mature, wiser artist that’s certainly grown up. Like her previous works this album is no different as it explores her past relationships with boys, but it’s the productions that I think will help catapult “Reputation” to number 1.
Obviously the most significant thing on “Reputation” is the musical shift, from her previous album “1989” which was a more candy coated pop, to “Reputation” which is driven by busier, trendier electro pop songs, and even contains a hint of hip hop elements in the songs. The opening four songs is where this new style is most evident, as an onslaught of musical aggression begins with no resemblance to Swifts past hits. “…Ready for It?” and “End Game,” the latter of which is addictive and catchy and features Future, Ed Sheeran, and Swift rapping over a hook that sounds similar to Rihanna’s hit “Umbrella”. “I Did Something Bad” could be a Skrillex collaboration, and the electro-blues song “Don’t Blame Me” deserves a writing credit from a rock band like Imagine Dragons. Swift worked with Max Martin’s smash-hit Swedish squad as well as anthem expert Jack Antonoff, and in the absence of singer-songwriter simplicity there is a lot of gloriously artificial pop trickery.
“Delicate” is covered in a tropical house beat, and Swift maintains her identity singing about a new found infatuation, someone who is not obsessed with her image as much as the outside world is. The world was expecting “Reputation” to be a celebrity self pit party after she dropped her single “Look What You Made Me Do”, in which she aired her grievances about being mistreated by other famous people. If did cause a lot of worry for Swift fans who thought there wouldn’t be any creativity on the whole album, but luckily it’s a stand alone song and there’s nothing else like it on “Reputation”. When Swift spoke about the album she simply explained “The songs…explore a timely question: What happens to your identity when you step back and stop defining yourself by how strangers see you?”
There’s surprisingly a lot of sex described lyrically as well as Swifts first use of profanity, which she used on the song “I Did Something Bad” in which she sneers at her exes. My favorite song on the album would have to be “End Game”. It’s got a great tune, although it’s weirdly presented with a threesome no one saw coming of Swift, Ed Sheeran and rapper Future. Don’t expect any sitting in a corner playing her acoustic guitar type ballads on “Reputation” because you won’t get any of that, but you will get a piano driven type ballad at the end of the album called “New Years Day”. It continues her ever going streak of finishing her albums with a tear jerker, and it would be probably the quietest moment on “Reputation”. It describes the moment she wakes up after a New Years party, and reflects on what she has been left, a not so glam partner to spend her day with.
Before even turning this LP on, so many people are going to be critical of it, and completely write it off just because it’s Taylor Swift. But if you go into it with an open mind you’ll be pleasantly surprised. “Reputation” is a highly commercialized, well delivered piece of pop art, and although Swift might be sweating her new reputation, she’s still fulfilling the No.1 expectation placed on her….to deliver a Grammy worthy album.