Taylor Swift thinks ‘Reputation’ is a bait-and-switch album about undercover love

Biggest Weekend day 2

When Taylor Swift released Reputation last year, the album was not critically beloved. It wasn’t scorned, to be clear, and there were any number of critics who genuinely liked the album, even if they didn’t think it was her best effort. I remember reading one review which basically said (and I’m paraphrasing because I can’t find it) that Reputation would be a solid effort from any other artist, but in Swifty’s canon, it’s probably her most forgettable. My take was always that Taylor tried to do too much – she veered away from her tried-and-true formula of “petty beefs and blind-item breakup songs.” Reputation was laced with faux bravado, a complete abdication of responsibility for her own actions, petty beefs, and the rollout of Joe Alwyn as her most serious and mature lover.

I also think the album was hurt by Swift’s lack of publicity – she’s the kind of artist who likes to explain her songs and give her fans hints about the blind items. She didn’t give any interviews to support Reputation. There’s something… off-putting about that. She’s not even taking softball questions from a friendly outlet – she just wants to dictate the conversation about herself from here on out. She claimed that “There will be no further explanation. There will be just reputation.” But still, she can’t help herself. She HAS to explain it.

While fans may have initially thought Taylor Swift’s latest album was merely about the complicated reputation she’s acquired, love is actually at the center of the release.

“[I] think there was a bit of a bait-and-switch that happened with this album when we put out ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ and we’re like, ‘Guys, this album is gonna be one thing.’ And when the album came out, it’s legitimately an album about finding love throughout all the noise,” Swift told a crowd of fans at an intimate Taylor Swift Now concert in Chicago, seemingly referencing her relationship with boyfriend Joe Alwyn.

Explaining the journey at the center of reputation, the “Delicate” singer, 28, remarked, “It starts with the noise and how that makes all you feel, and how it makes you feel when people are saying things about you that you feel, like, aren’t true and living your life sort of in defiance of that. And then, sort of, in the middle of the album you kind of realize ‘how much do I really value that?’ If you can find something real in spite of a bad reputation, then isn’t that what matters the most to you. And doesn’t it matter the most to you that you know who your real friends are now?”

[From People]

Eh, that’s one of the better explanations I’ve heard for an album having such massive tonal shifts. Music professionals might think “wow, this album does not sound cohesive,” but Taylor is here to tell you that it totally IS cohesive, in that she has to sing and rap about Kanye West AND sing love songs about Joe Alwyn because… reasons. Because how could she sing about Gorgeous Joe without peppering her lyrics with all of those references to Kanye, huh?

Biggest Weekend day 2

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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19 Responses to “Taylor Swift thinks ‘Reputation’ is a bait-and-switch album about undercover love”

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  1. Case says:

    It was a bait-and-switch in a good way — as someone who likes her music, Look What You Made Me Do was…troubling to hear at first. I’m glad her other songs took a different direction (both musically and lyrically).

    You know what blows my mind? After her sexual assault trial, a lot of people were praising her. People were coming back around to liking her after the 2016 drama, and rightfully so — she was a total badass according to reports from the courtroom, and a great role model for young women. It set her up so well for a great album launch. But instead of leaning into woman empowerment, she…decided to sing about her petty feuds and high school love affairs from a few years ago — old news at that point. A frustrating and strange choice.

    • Crumbs says:

      I don’t think it was a strange choice…for her. That is what she built her career on- blind items about her quick celebrity boyfriends and petty feuds. I think she thought that it would still work for her, I mean the interest was there from the public. And it did for her fans, the album sold really well. But I don’t think the public is interested in her songs as they were during 1989. You’re right though, she had a chance to continue with the public’s goodwill and make an album about empowerment, etc. I think she was a bit lazy during this album.

    • Chan says:

      She announced her album shortly after the trial. The album was finished before the trial even started. I don’t think it would have been plausible to have songs on the album about the feelings or events of the trial

    • Hikaru says:

      She would have been accused of taking advantage of the metoo movement to sell her music if she did that.

    • Shannon says:

      Right or wrong, I think she was legitimately upset by the whole Kanye situation and *shrug* I mean, for me when I listen to music it’s not so much about what the writer was referring to but how I use it in my own life and she keeps it general enough to be usable for regular people in their lives. I just put ‘Look what you made me do’ after I stormed out of a sh!t job when the constantly bitchy manager called my best friend a F-word (he is gay and proud, and told me not to do it ‘for him’ but I did it ‘for me’ – I was sick of her sh!t and that was the last straw). Whether you like her personally or not, to me, that’s the genius stroke in songwriting – can everyone find a way to relate to it? I didn’t even know ‘Bad Blood’ was about Katy Perry until a year or two after I’d heard it so – shrug. If it works in my life, I’m here for it.

  2. Babs says:

    Her undercover love for Kanye maybe.
    What’s up with the giant teeth, I’ve never noticed them before?

  3. sommolierlady says:

    Crikey. She talks like a 12 year old.

  4. Marie says:

    Well that makes no sense since there’s multiple songs about the drama and the haters and blah blah blah after songs about Joe. If the song placement is meant to be indicative of how much she cares about all that, she apparently still cares a great deal.

  5. Sarah says:

    She cares so freaking much about everything. It’s tiresome.

    • Maggie says:

      I find her EXHAUSTING. Absolutely everything she does and says is so manufactured and planned I don’t even see her as an actual person. People talk about Kanye’s ego… her ego is so massive she’s dating a guy who looks like her male twin and releasing songs about how all her scandals are everyone else’s fault.

  6. Winnie Cooper's Mom says:

    I think T Swift, who is pushing 30, is going to have a hard time pushing out top-level albums moving forward. She has always relied on the same old formulas that don’t really work as you become a mature woman. She can’t be 32 singing about getting revenge on some high school girl who “stole” her bf. If she doesn’t change things up with her material, she will become stale and fizzle out. She could stand to take some notes from other big female powerhouses who were deeper at her age/stage of life.

    • Jess says:

      To be fair to her, the last song she wrote about someone stealing her boyfriend was around 2009, released in Speak Now (her 2010 album), and he has spoken about how wrong her perspective was back then, how a boyfriend can’t be “stolen”, or something around those lines

  7. Veronica S. says:

    I own the album, and honestly, most of it is about relationships. There’s only three on there I’d call “snake songs.” IMO, the most out of place song on the album is “New Years” because it doesn’t have any of the same musical arrangements or lyrical relevance to the everything else on the albums. This being said, this sounds more like a rewrite of the intent after the album failed to land as well with critics.

    • Millenial says:

      I definitely skip most of the first half of the album, with the exception of Delicate. Which stinks, because I love a good Max Martin and Shellback banger, but lyrically the songs were just cringey and embarrassing.

      Second half of the album was a big improvement. Even though I’m not a Jack Antonoff stan, he did a good job producing that half. Loved New Years Day, though I agree with you that tonally it was out of place.

      I do think smashing two different sounds into one album was a mistake.

    • Case says:

      I consistently listen to Ready For It, I Did Something Bad, and Don’t Blame Me. I like songs like Delicate and Getaway Car too, but other than that? It’s a very meh album for me, and I love the majority of her music. 1989 was just SUCH a strong, listenable album that it is hard not to compare the two and feel like this fell very, very flat. She needs to lean a little more into a rock sound instead of a hip-hop sound, I think.

      • Erin says:

        These are the same songs I enjoyed. With that said, it was a GREAT show live. I think she still knows what she’s doing, and maybe she realized from the go that 1989 wasn’t toppable.

  8. dlc says:

    She thinks she is Beyonce and she doesn’t have to give interviews. She is wrong.

  9. Yes Doubtful says:

    She can try to explain it all she wants, but it sucked. End of Story.