“There will be no explanation, there will be just reputation.”
~ Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift’s reputation had never been worse than it was during 2016-2017. It had been so painfully excruciating for her that she had to disappear from public view for a year. Everybody wondered ‘why she disappeared?’. Taylor Swift, paparazzi’s favorite celebrity to click, was suddenly nowhere to be seen. The magazines that wouldn’t stop writing about her now surprisingly had a blank space under her name. It was highly unusual for a celeb like her to go completely off the radar.
And then in late 2017, she hits us like BANG with a brand-new album called REPUTATION. Just like that it was hit with tons of criticism. People were quick to judge it without even giving the much-awaited album a chance. Because of the controversy surrounding the artist, everyone considered the album to be vengeful and targeted towards a certain rapper. People believed that Taylor was playing the victim card, being fake and felt like she needed to get over her hunger for revenge ; but she was just trying to take back the control of the narrative of her own life. Netizens didn’t really approve of this new Taylor, who had now added a wholly new sound to her discography.
This misunderstood gem of an album is actually about finding love in the dark. It’s precisely a documentation of a person falling in love and the insecurities that come along with it. This can be seen in a few of her songs like Delicate, New Year’s Day and Dancing with Our Hands Tied.
The whole track list is so diverse and here’s why:
So…are you ready for it?
Track 2- End Game
‘Big reputation, big reputation
Oh, you and me we got big reputation
Ah, and you heard about me
Ooh, I got some big enemies’
End game is an interesting song wherein the writer both plays into the facade created by media and makes confessions about her true intentions. The song is about liking someone for who they are and wanting to be with them forever till the end. The writer also assures her love interest that she doesn’t want to hurt him or play with his feelings, in contrast to the rumors and her big reputation.
‘I know what they all say, but I don’t wanna play’
Track 3- I Did Something Bad
Imagine, you have been wronged. Now there are two ways you react to it. Either you accept it and let it go or you feel dejected and angry. But you choose the hidden third option, revenge. You play by the rules set by that person. The best part? You feel good about it and don’t regret your decision. In fact, you would like to do it again. That’s what this song is about.
The writer takes up a ‘devil may care’ persona and seems to be stronger, harder and tougher than ever, taking control of her own life back from the media.
She is ready for anything the world throws at her.
Track 4- Don’t Blame Me
There are three things in this world a human would go to any treacherous extent for : love, religion and drugs. Taylor uses this concept by including all the three things together in this song.
“Don’t blame me, love made me crazy
If it doesn’t, you ain’t doin’ it right”
She also plays into the narrative of a ‘crazy, playgirl and obsessed woman’ persona the media had set for her.
This song is about being so in love with someone that you are obsessed with them in such a way that you would ‘cross the line’ and ‘lose my(your) mind’ for them. The person loses control of themself.
Track 5- Delicate
Delicate is one of the most delicate songs on reputation lyrically (A track 5, obviously). It’s about being insecure about a relationship you really cherish, since it’s just the beginning of it. It’s delicate. You don’t want to scare away your muse by overdoing things.
It's also about finding a person who likes you for you, at your worst. You meet them in secret places. You also wonder if that person feels the same way about you and thinks about you the way you do.
“Sometimes I wonder when you sleep
Are you ever dreaming of me?”
Track 7- So It Goes…
This song is one of the rarest songs where both the woman and the man put in equal efforts like dressing up for the other person.
“And all our pieces fall
Right into place”
The song is about how you and your significant other are different and don’t have a lot in common but at the same time compliment each other.
“I’m yours to keep
And I’m yours to lose”
This talks about laying out options for your partner. They have been given the choice to keep you or let go off you. It subtly shows that you are unsure if they are serious about you or not.
And so the story goes…
Track 11- Dancing With Our Hands Tied
When you’ve been in the spotlight for what felt like forever, the concept of privacy in a relationship already becomes a hoax. The outside forces started to consume the ruins of the relationship you had. You really wanted it to work and last forever but who were you kidding! You didn’t want the never-ending negativity directed towards you to affect your lover in any way.
Even though the relationship was doomed from the beginning, the allure of true love was too strong and you couldn’t help but explore it.
Track 15- New Year’s Day
This is perhaps the most unique song in the album that it made people wonder about the thought process that led to this song being put on the album.
New Year’s Day acts like an epilogue for reputation. All throughout the album, there was a reoccurring theme of a happily ever after but this song actually explores the concept of forever.
“But I'll be cleaning up bottles with you on New Year's Day”
“You squeeze my hand three times in the back of the taxi”
This song also talks about being scared of losing the one that you love and having to put a period on a relationship you never in your wildest dreams thought you’d have to.
These are a few songs from the album that we felt like needed to be explored. Throughout the album, we see how Taylor is guided out of the darkness by a helping hand in the form of parents, close friends and partner. We also witness her gradually getting more comfortable in her own skin and being her true self.
All in all, reputation is a love story in the shadow of her broken reputation.
It is now that people have finally started to appreciate the beauty of this album. It’s five years too late, but better late than never!
“And in the death of her reputation,
she felt truly alive.”
~ Taylor Swift