Here’s how this is going to go: I turned on Taylor Swift‘s sixth studio album, reputation, and started with track No. 2 and went down the list and captured the first thoughts that came to my mind. I looked up a few lyrics when necessary, but read no other commentary. For me, this is about listening to the album as a whole and figuring out if this is a masterpiece or a giant brown (UPS truck) turd.
I skipped the pre-released tracks and listened to them after everything else to see where/how they fit into the narrative now.
Track 2 // “End Game” (featuring Ed Sheeran and Future)
Is this the most fun song Taylor has ever recorded? I don’t care about reputations the way Taylor does, but I do care about Future showing up to my house in like, a UPS truck. Which is kind of what this feels like.
Track 3 // “I Did Something Like Bad”
Ahh, the classic– I sin, but I know I shouldn’t, but it just feels good. Or something. Pitchforks, receipts and recorded conversations– Hi, Kanye. Are you listening?
Track 4 // “Don’t Blame Me”
Taylor is still a hopeless romantic, but now she’s an obsessive, Buffalo Bill type lover versus anything we’ve heard before. “Love Story” seems like a million years ago compared to this one– “My name is whatever you decide/ And I’m just gonna call you mine/ I’m insane, but I’m your baby (your baby).” She’s taken her reputation with men (see what I did there) and turned it into an actual thing. Like, a scary thing. But, this song works.
Track 5 // “Delicate”
Classic Taylor– back to the lovey-dovey stuff without sounding like “if I can’t have you, no one else can.” At the same time– a love story should be about two people, right? This is just about Taylor and everything she thinks, feels and wants. And, oh yeah– her reputation.
Track 7 // “So It Goes…”
Taylor really wants the world to know that she’s a grownup now and does grownup things when she’s alone with dudes, but also– she’s still a little crazy. It’s like she wants to reverse her image of never showing her belly button in public to making sure everyone knows she’s a freak in the sheets, even if she’s still a lady in the streets (she mentions that she has left “scratches down your back now” three times). These lyrics are clever though.
Track 9 // “Getaway Car”
Taylor is tired of fans and critics dissecting her lyrics and attributing them to men. Well, how can we not? This song is an entire story about ending a relationship while starting a new one at the same time. The relationship was a crime or a bad idea, so she needs a getaway car. Could be about Tom Hiddleston, could be about Joe Alwyn. I think it’s about meeting Tom while dating Calvin Harris. I don’t know anything though.
It’s a fun song and tells a decent story. Feels like her 1989 stuff– old school poppy. The imagery is bold and your mind immediately takes you to a movie montage of Taylor in like, a Toyota Tercel begging an Uber drive to “go, go, go!” Or is that just me?
Track 10 // “King of My Heart”
Again, how is this not about a certain person? It’s too specific. Joel Alwyn has a queen in England and Taylor wants to be his American queen, but let’s be real here– Taylor’s kingdom isn’t a pretty little constitutional monarchy– it’s a light-hearted dictatorship disguised as a daydream. It’s Taylor’s world, we’re all just living in it, no matter if she calls you the “King of Her Heart” or not.
Track 11 // “Dancing With Our Hands Tied”
If I’m supposed to feel bad that Taylor feels like she can’t be in a public relationship, I don’t? This track could fit into 1989, as a follow-up to “I Know Places,” but the only place she knows is her bedroom in the dark or the back corner of a bar with bad lighting.
Track 12 // “Dress”
Again, this is very specific. This is about a person and events that happened with that person. It feels lighter than the other tunes, like she’s finally comfortable with everything happening around her. And for the first time the lyrics, “Carve your name into my bedpost/’Cause I don’t want you like a best friend” don’t sound like a threat or scary, but an invitation to do something stupid to what is probably a very expensive bed.
The bridge, again, describes very specific events and Taylor mentions that she met this person when her hair was bleached– right after the Vogue cover and right before the Calvin/Tom drama.
Track 13 // “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”
Finally, a song about Taylor’s famous July 4th parties at her mansion in Rhode Island. It’s also about Kanye West. Taylor brilliantly takes a super common phrase and makes it her own. Oh, I like this. Yassssssssss, Taylor.
I can guarantee that people different than me are going to not like this song, but how can you not like a song that says, “And here’s to my momma/ Had to listen to all this drama.” That’s real life. Even if you’re the most famous person in the world you have a mother and she probably worries about you.
Track 15 // “New Year’s Day”
Taylor Swift is at her absolute best when she’s in front of a piano. This isn’t “All Too Well,” but it is finally a real promise to this guy, has to be Joe Alwyn, that she’s in this and she will be by his side throughout the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
Track 6 // “Look What You Made Me Do”
This song makes a little more sense now, but is definitely the most dramatic and ridiculous. It almost doesn’t fit.
Track 1 // “…Ready For It?”
Again, makes more sense now, but at the same time doesn’t fit with the other pictures she’s painting for us, unless this was written right when “Gorgeous” was written and they are meant to go together. I mean– now, it seems like this was written before the relationship started, which makes it less harsh.
Track 8 // “Gorgeous“
You know there are theories out there that this is about a woman, right? It makes sense. Seems a little too co-dependent-ish, not romantic love-ish this time around.
Track 14 // “Call It What You Want“
It makes sense that this was Taylor’s last pre-release– it falls more in line with the rest of the album. We should’ve known Old Taylor wasn’t dead.
Overall, this is a solid piece of work. It’s not 1989 or Red, but it’s not supposed to be. And while there are songs on here about the drama Taylor has found herself drowning in the last few years, she turns the table and analyzes herself more than not. Taylor is clearly more self-aware than anyone is giving her credit for.
This is also the first time Taylor has written about a relationship while still in the relationship– she’s happy, which is what makes this so different than anything else she’s done.
And one final note– Taylor Swift does not care about her reputation. Not at all.
Must-Listen Tracks: “End Game,” “Don’t Blame Me,” “Getaway Car,” “Dress,” “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”