I’m not one who follows celebrity drama, although it does occasionally pop-up on my radar. Her recent sexual assault case was an example of her being an outstanding role-model for young women everywhere, but it has a sour note in it because this song reeks of petty revenge and enjoying getting even through underhanded methods.
Taylor Swift is trying too hard to react to her “enemies” instead of focusing on doing what she does best, making good music. She had success with this reactionary style with her album “1989” and that is fine, so long as it is a one time thing, if she turns this into a pattern it will be a death-spiral for her career.
One of the things I liked most about her music is how self-effacing she is. This new track, though, accepts her role as “the bad-guy” and is unapologetic. The creepy feel and the way the chorus is full of short & breathily sung words works for me; I love songs that have an eerie vibe to them, what pulls me out is when she switches from that style to a rip-off of 2002 Gwen Stefani. If I wanted to listen to that, I’d put on “Bananas” or whatever other song she sung during her time as a solo artist that was forgettably 2000’s pop. These brief interludes from the excellent song around it brought the whole song down to that level, which could be a metaphor for the song itself; like Taylor is saying, “Look what you made me do, I made this awful song just for you,” which would actually be a better fit for the song because it could keep that otherworldly feel while poking fun at both herself and her intended target. Instead I’m stuck in this infinite loop of awful, that seems to drag on for eternity while I wait for the good parts of the song to come back and save me from the terror I’ve been afflicted with.
Spencer Kornhaber, of The Atlantic, put it best, “The jarring new single "Look What You Made Me Do” unveils a dark, not-altogether-convincing persona.” Taylor is trying to do too much and it fails, hopefully the rest of “Reputation” doesn’t ruin hers as an excellent pop-icon.
Hat Tip to my friend over at San Diego Magazine, Erica Nichols for sharing the article from The Atlantic.