Look What You're Making Me Do, Taylor
My blog rose up from the dead for this, Taylor.
If you've been anywhere near a wifi connection or a twenty-something white girl in the last 24 hours, you've probably heard (or at least heard of) Taylor Swift's latest surprise song Look What You Made Me Do. "Surprise" might be a bit of an understatement, particularly if you loved ice-tea-sweet-country-era Tay or even the latest 1989 Power Girlsquad Tay. Look What You Made Me Do is like drinking Sprite when you think it's water: a little bit jarring and totally not at all what you thought it was going to be.
Is this new song good? Subjectively, no (and arguably: objectively, no, as well.) Have I listened to it enough times to make the previous statement seem hypocritical? Well, Of course. I am but a mere mortal. And man... it's catchy.
I am also endlessly fascinated by Taylor Swift in a modern, pop-soap-opera kind of way. For me, the allure of TSwift is in her Shakespearean antics. The romance, the feuds... I really enjoy keeping up with the madness of her vengeance, and her slow progression from young country starlet into her current form of possible-unhinged mega star is some of the best character development I've seen without having to have an HBO subscription. This is Taylor's Breaking Bad moment, and I might be all too excited to see what happens to her Walter White impression.
Like her or not, there's no denying that she's a rather big thread running through the fabric of our current cultural zeitgeist. America doesn't have a royal family to obsess over-- we have our celebrities. Taylor Swift is our illusive, drama-magnet American Princess, and Reputation is our War of the Roses. People who don't like her will be annoyed and argumentative about that claim, but the shear fact that they have an opinion (negative or not) and that they're reading this stupid post sort of proves my point.
Consequentially, I am drawn to making wildly unlikely theories when it comes to things in the pop-culture firmament (Rey IS a Kenobi. You heard it here, folks.) And as someone who has spent way too much time thinking about all of this over the last 24 hours... I have two possible theories about Reputation (these are a sort of coping mechanism due to the fact that we didn't get 1989 Pt. 2 with this new song, which I'm a bit bummed about if I'm being honest.)
Theory 1: The Red Herring
Why I Like This Theory: it means we get to keep the Old Taylor, which is a Taylor I like very much.
How It Works: LWYMMD is so in your face I almost can't take it seriously. Taylor and Kanye West have had a very public feud over the last decade and this song is the latest installment of shade being thrown. Because LWYMMD seems like a farce, I'm hoping that it is (though I'll explain the problems with this below). It's so over the top with her allusions to West-- the tilted stage, the speak-n-spell voice in the background and blatant lyrics nodding to his hit "Stronger"... Even the phrase "look what you made me do" is so whiny and repetitive that it comes off as juvenile. The Red Herring Theory postulates that she's reeling everyone in with this "Bad Girl Taylor Persona" and then she's going to flip the switch on her own narrative. Taylor is anything but stupid, and I have full confidence she knows exactly what she's doing. She will release a song on the November album that apologizes-- an apology that would ring more true after painting herself as a social pariah over the next few months via this first release. Everyone hating on this song is just taking the bait.
Because the album is called Reputation, I think she realizes that a true posture of apology is the only thing that can really restore hers. This kind of bait-and-switch would bring the ultimate relief and satisfaction to both her and all the people who are nervously tweeting right now "what the heck happened to Taylor Swift?!"
Special Notes About This Theory: The apology song will be a country ballad, and it will be awesome.
Problems With This Theory: Just because this song seems too in-your-face-to-be-true, TayTay isn't known for subtlety. Writing a song about that guy Stephen I like? I'll call it Hey Stephen. Song about how Harry Styles broke up with me? Style. The list goes on.
Theory 2: She Snapped
Why I Like This Theory: All good pop stars have their moment of ascension, followed quickly by their moment of turmoil (I'm looking at you, 2007 Britney Spears.) I'm not saying I'll ENJOY the process, but I think what can come out on the other side is worth the crazy.
How It Works: This one is pretty simple. If this album is 12 tracks of destroying the people who wronged her-- literally an album of ruining others' reputations-- she really is obsessed with karma and we're about to hop on the crazy train, big time. So much for shaking it off, TayTay. Swift does petty revenge very well, but I'm not sure I can take a whole album of it. At least with 1989, we had the bold genius of Bad Blood and Blank Space alongside hopeful anthems like Welcome to New York and Shake It Off. Reputation will probably be commercially successful regardless (it's that big cultural thread, pop-culture firmament thing again) but I don't think Vindictive Taylor is as appealing as previous iterations. This will inevitably lead her to take some time off from the spotlight and find herself again via a lot of soul searching, and hopefully a deep understanding of forgiveness and being forgiven.
Special Notes: If this theory is true, while this album will probably not be great... her 7th album is gonna be SO GOOD. I already can't wait.
Problems With This Theory: We'll have to suffer through this terrible album and watch TSwift crumble. No one wants that.