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1. When Taylor began writing and recording this album, the goal was to “kill” 1989 and create something entirely different.
2. In fact, she says that attempting to replicate any part of 1989 would have been “ineffective” since that album was its own entity.
3. To achieve this goal, she specifically narrowed her pool of producers, from the 12 she worked with on 1989, to just three on Reputation.
4. She chose Max Martin, Shellback and Jack Antonoff – all of whom she’d worked with on 1989 and believed possessed the versatility to create something new.
5. The first time Taylor felt she was really “onto something” with this album was after laying down “I Did Something Bad.” She and Max Martin were both in agreement that it sounded nothing like anything on 1989.
6. Speaking of “I Did Something Bad,” the song was originally written using just a piano, although you’d never guess that based on the final result.
7. And that sound effect after the chorus that goes: “Durrrlatatatata duh duh,” is actually Taylor’s real voice.
8. Taylor says she woke up from a dream with the sound in her head, and decided it was so “hooky and catchy” that it needed to be in a song.
9. She then made the noise to Max Martin and asked what instrument they could use to replicate it. He told her that no such instrument existed, but that they could record her voice and pitch it right down so it became unrecognisable.
10. This instance wasn’t the first time Taylor has woken up from a dream with a sound in her head that made it onto an album. The same thing happened during the1989 era when she woke up hearing the operatic “Stay!” that went on to be used in “All You Had To Do Was Stay.”
11. Believe it or not, “Look What You Made Me Do” was originally an emotional poem that Taylor wrote. In fact, the verses in their entirety exist in the poem, but the chorus came during the recording sessions.
12. She and the producers loved the spoken refrain of “Oooh, look what you made me do” so much that they decided to strip away any other words.
13. There’s a recurring theme of crime and punishment across the album, which actually starts in the opening song, “…Ready For It?” In this track, the theme is explored through the notion of finding a romantic partner so similar to you that they could be referred to as your “partner in crime.”
14. However, the metaphor is used to different effect on other songs. For example, “Getaway Car” uses criminal imagery to depict a relationship destined to fail.
15. Historically, the fifth track on any Taylor Swift album is emotional and vulnerable, and she upheld the tradition on Reputation.
16. In fact, “Delicate,” is the first moment of real vulnerability on the album.
17. The inspiration for the song was born from Taylor realising that her “fake” reputation could have a real impact if it led to someone she wanted in her life deciding against getting to know her.
18. In fact, while the first few tracks on the album have a bombastic and carefree approach to her reputation, “Delicate” is about recognising that perhaps it does carry some weight.
19. This track is also the first instance of the auto-tune style vocal effect that is then repeated throughout the album. The sound was achieved using a vocoder, which splits a singer’s voice into chords that can be rearranged.
20. Taylor says the sound had a “sad and vulnerable” vibe that was perfect for the track.
21. This album is the first to contain a song in which Taylor swears. While she’s used “damn” and “hell” before, she actually drops the “S” bomb on “I Did Something Bad.”
22. It’s also the first time Taylor references alcohol, and repeatedly at that. In fact, there are 13 references to drinking across the 15 tracks.
23. And despite never having used the phrase “my baby” in her discography before, it appears 17 times on Reputation.
24. Taylor wrote the lyrics to “Dress” a full year before recording it, and then “cherry-picked” her favourite lines when it came to recording.
25. She’s particularly proud of the hook in “Dress” – “I only bought this dress so you could take it off” – because while it sounds like a pickup line, it actually masks the “deep and tender feelings” in the song.
27. The baby voice at the start of “Gorgeous” belongs to Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ daughter, James.
29. We do know, however, that she came up with the lyrics over the course of two weeks back in September last year.
30. We also know that Taylor changed several of the lyrics to “Gorgeous” between writing and recording it. One such lyric was: “My reputation precedes both of us,” which went on to be repurposed on “End Game.”
31. Taylor included many of the lyrics from Reputation in graffiti on the walls in the video for “…Ready For It,” which was released before the album came out. Some of these lines, such as “They’re burning all the witches,” and “I loved you in secret,” were noticed by fans.
32. However, there was one piece of graffiti that pretty much everyone missed – a crown with a heart beneath signifying the song “King of My Heart.”
33. Taylor had a specific goal for this song. She wanted to convey the definitive phases of a relationship, and the specific moments a couple realise they’ve transitioned into a new phase. Speaking about the song, Taylor explained: “I’ve always wanted to structure a song where each individual section sounded like a move forward in the relationship while still being listenable. I wanted the verse to seem like its own phase, the pre chorus to have its own phase and chorus to have its own phase. I wanted them to have their own identity but seem like they were getting deeper as the song went on.”
34. You may have noticed the repeated mention of things being “gold” or “golden” across the album. Well, back in 2012, Taylor wrote in the liner notes of Red that she thinks “real love shines golden like starlight,” and that she might “write a whole album” about that kind of love if she “ever found it.”
35. Taylor says the album is “very linear” in its timeline. It starts out with “rebellion and anger and angst” before she falls in love and changes her priorities. She says the final tracks are representative of her current emotional state.
37. She was inspired to write the song after thinking about how New Year’s Eve kisses are romanticised, and yet the notion of a person “dealing” with you on New Year’s Day by “handing you Advil and helping you clear up the house” is arguably a more romantic statement of permanence.
38. There are two lyrics in the song that Taylor says she wrote “a really long time ago.” Those two lines lines are: “Please don’t ever become a stranger whose laugh I could recognise anywhere,” and “Hold onto the memories, they will hold onto you.” She says she was saving the lines for the right song and felt they fit perfectly on the final track.
39. And, finally, Reputation has now become Taylor’s fourth album to sell a million copies in its first week.
Here’s a quick transcription of some of its impassioned lyrics:
I’ll honor the ones who gave it all
So we’re all free to go play ball
If only for their sake
I won’t take a knee
Arm and arm, side by side
America’s heroes fought and died
Is showing some respect too much to ask?
I speak for those whose freedom was not free
And I say
Take a knee
When I was a surly teen with a rat’s nest of purple-striped hair, far too many studded belts, and a lower lip I’d pierced myself (when it was still numb after a trip to the dentist), the alt-rock band Brand New was my religion.
Trapped in the monotony of suburban Connecticut, I felt a kinship with this motley group of hardcore dudes from Long Island, who sang about trashed friendships and soured love. At 13, I held my beat-up CD player on my lap and rode my bike in circles on my long, winding driveway, listening to Your Favorite Weapon and, later, Deja Entendu. By the time I’d graduated from the CD player to an iPod shuffle, my mild sadness had bloomed into clinical depression with a side of anorexia, and Brand New’s music — with The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me and, years later, the less-loved Daisy — had gotten darker and and angrier, too, as if just for me. I wore skinny jeans years before they became universally popular and gigantic band T-shirts meant to hide my steadily withering body. And when I no longer had the energy to ride my bike to town to loiter in front of the CVS, or even just do endless loops around my driveway, I’d lie spread-eagled in my backyard, earbuds in my ears.
Even upon a thousandth listen, I always found the tangled metaphors in Brand New’s lyrics shocking and profound. Many had regular rotations in my moody AIM away messages, and I nearly got a couple of them tattooed on my wrists — an idea that, thank god, I didn’t have the guts to follow through on. I used to fall asleep to “The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot” playing on repeat from my candy-purple stereo, willing myself to cry, the song at once an impetus and a salve for my many teenage heartaches.
At some point, virtually every teenager has a relationship like this with a band: practically druglike, all-consuming. For those of us with a commitment to an alternative aesthetic — goths, punks, emos (groups that looked like the same brand of bad news to our parents, but were Totally different things, Mom, god!) — band worship was all the more intense, all the more sacred. The way we dressed, after all, signified the stuff we listened to: If you were in the know, you could easily tell a Marilyn Manson devotee from a Nausea-loving crust punk from a My Chemical Romance–sort of scene kid. Preps and jocks thought we were all fucking weirdos, but we had our own allegiances. Our own religions.
The world looks different now than it did when we were 13.
And shows, of course, were where we went to church: in shag-carpeted basements, in dive bars, at festivals like Warped Tour, and, later, bafflingly, in stadiums. We slammed our bodies into one another while the music played, turning ourselves inside out. Just as we were on the verge of being smacked in the face by adulthood, here were a bunch of bona fide adults singing to us about how much everything sucks — jobs, relationships, life itself — and swearing that they were never going to grow up. Maybe we didn’t need to, either.
But, of course, we did. And the world looks different now than it did when we were 13. This week it was announced that in 2018, after what will be their 24th year on the road, the Vans Warped Tour, a “punk rock summer camp” and the last major US traveling rock concert, will be ending. Many emo fans past and present have mourned the tour’s disbandment on social media as the end of an era. And in even grimmer news, just a few months after Brand New surprise-dropped their long-awaited, supposedly final album Science Fiction, sexual misconduct allegations against Brand New’s frontman, Jesse Lacey, have surfaced.
The alternative rock, emo, and punk scenes have been just as bad at stamping out rampant strains of misogyny and sexual harassment as the music world at large, but the Lacey allegations feel like a particularly heartbreaking blow. Because Brand New was such a formative force for budding musicians and fans. Because, in hindsight, these allegations were alluded to in lyrics about mistreating women that we romanticized as teenagers. (You can sin or spend the night all alone.) And because, just maybe, even though we certainly know better by now, we’d hoped that men who could make us feel so much — who got us through the darkest times in our lives when nothing else could — might be the good guys. So much for that.
Last Friday, in a since-deleted Facebook post, a woman named Nicole Elizabeth Garey wrote that Lacey had solicited nude photos from her when she was 15 and Lacey was 24, among other accusations. Lacey then released a statement on Brand New’s Facebook page in which he didn’t specifically address Garey’s post, but instead talked more generally about his past behavior. Lacey wrote that he “developed a dependent and addictive relationship with sex” earlier in his life, “and I am sorry for how I have hurt people, mistreated them, lied, and cheated. I am sorry for ignoring the way in which my position, status, and power as a member of a band affected the way people viewed me or their approach to their interactions with me. And I am sorry for how often I have not afforded women the respect, support, or honesty that they deserved, and which is their right.”
Garey has since spoken to Pitchfork about her story. In addition to asking her for nude photos when she was 15, Garey said that Lacey also Skyped her while masturbating when she was 22 or 23. Another woman who spoke to Pitchfork, Emily Driskill, said she, too, was solicited for nude photos by Lacey when she was 17, that he initiated “countless masturbatory video chat sessions,” and “attempted to manipulate [her] into engaging in sexual situations with other people, on camera, for his viewing pleasure.” The band’s representatives didn’t respond to Pitchfork’s requests for comment.
“You’re flattered because [the singer of] one of your favorite bands is interested in you and nobody’s taken interest in you before,” Garey said. “I didn’t really see it for what it was because when you’re a teenager you think, ‘I know everything, I’m an adult.’”
As a 15-year-old, if I had been approached by the lead singer of a band I believed had saved my life, there’s no telling what I would have done for him, had he asked. He and other punk-rock icons stared out at me from my bedroom walls every day, where I’d obscured my pathetically girly cloud-swirled blue wallpaper with posters and photo spreads from the Alternative Press. Lacey was my hero. I have a feeling I would have given him anything he wanted.
Like Garey, like every teenager, I was a know-it-all who thought I was a grown-up, so I wouldn’t have recognized that kind of behavior for what it was. But I also believed, at 15, that emo boys — and men — were different from “regular” guys. Emo guys were, yes, “emotional,” and introspective, and artistic, and they imbued everything with the kind of emotional weight I did as a shitty-poetry-writing teen. They weren’t like all the dumb jocks who went home to play hours of Madden; they were sensitive souls, writing their own shitty poetry.
For the first couple years of high school, I thought these were the only kinds of boys I could connect with: boys with whom I could discuss music and books; boys who weren’t afraid of their feelings. Boys who would understand me. Boys who, I thought, wouldn’t hurt me.
That was a ridiculous thing to assume, of course. But when dating my first couple of boyfriends, overjoyed and overwhelmed to be with guys who listened to the same bands and loved the same things that I did, I excused a lot of bad shit. There was the smart, artsy writer who threatened to stab himself with a pencil if I got off the phone with him before he was ready to hang up, who pressured me to do certain sexual things before I was ready and spread nasty rumors about me around school when I wouldn’t oblige. There was the quiet, melancholy hardcore punk kid who shoved his hand up my shirt when we were supposed to be watching my 10-year-old brother’s soccer game, a few dozen yards away. It turns out that emo boys were not inherently any worse or any better than other dipshit teen guys. But still, I held them to a higher standard; I expected better, wanted better.
It turns out that emo boys were not inherently any worse or any better than other dipshit teen guys.
One of my oldest, dearest friends, a coworker at the snack shack where I worked during every middle and high school summer, took me to my first ever Warped Tour when I was 14. He was a few years older at the time — a proper teenager on the verge of proper manhood — and we’d discovered during my first few weeks at work that we listened to the same music. Packed in a crappy car with a bunch of gangly older boys on the way to Warped, I felt inadequate and shy, but when we cranked down all the windows and cranked up the music, I eased up, screaming along to the lyrics like everybody else. When we got there, I shoved against them all in the Against Me! pit, forgetting to feel like I was being sucked down into a spiral of sadness, becoming just one flailing body among many, a piece of a whole. And I felt grateful, for years afterward, that my friend had taken me along to experience that.
He was a big guy, covered in tattoos, gentle and soft-spoken and kind. Even as I got older and stopped having such an obsessive relationship with Brand New and other bands, I could still get in the car with him after work and drive around with the windows down, screaming the words to the songs I had loved so much. He was like an older brother to me — the last person I would have expected to trap me in the back room of a punk party and drunkenly coerce me to have sex with him after I’d come out as gay. He was supposed to be one of the good ones. Now we no longer speak.
What happened in that room at that party soured the joyous memory of being a 14-year-old taken in by a motley crew of older boys — young men — who shepherded me through the messy world of alt-rock when it seemed like music was all I had. Now that golden-hued trip to Warped Tour seems predatory. Lecherous.
In Science Fiction, Brand New’s latest album, Lacey seems like he’s trying, at last, to grow up. Now in his forties with a wife and family, he reflects on his past wrongs. On “In The Water,” he sings, “‘Hide your daughters,’ the old men say / You were young once before, you know how we get our way.”
Men inside and outside of the mid-2000s alt-rock scene have gotten away with far too much shit for too long. But now, an era is ending. Long before the band started selling in-memoriam merch that reads “Brand New 2000–2018,” Brand New’s impending retirement felt inevitable. Fans were quick to point out that should Brand New really call it quits next year, they’d be fulfilling a promise made in “Soco Amaretto Lime,” a track off their debut album as beloved as it is poked fun at: “I’m gonna stay 18 forever, so we can stay like this forever.”
Science Fiction and the tour that followed it were supposed to be a way for Brand New to grow up and graduate with accolades and grace. After an eight-year hiatus during which the will-they-or-won’t-they speculation about Brand New’s possible breakup started reaching fever pitch, they quietly dropped an album that would become their first to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The good reviews seemed primed to launch them on a triumphant comeback tour. Along with the end of Warped, it felt like the fitting last act of an era: bittersweet, but necessary. Time to grow up.
It felt like the fitting last act of an era: bittersweet, but necessary. Time to grow up.
Instead, Brand New’s openers backed out, as did Kevin Devine, one of Brand New’s touring band members and Lacey’s close friend. They’ve canceled their remaining 2017 tour dates. It’s a shameful way to go, and leaves Brand New fans wondering what the hell we’re supposed to do with their legacy. If Brand New stops producing and touring for good, fans will be spared from having to actively choose not to spend their money supporting an alleged serial sexual exploiter of minors. But what to do with all the music that already exists in the world — music that gave Lacey the kind of power he might have traded on to coerce and manipulate teen girls?
Now that Emo Nights are gathering ex-scene kids by the hundreds across the country, dousing their crowds in nostalgia, it might get harder to figure out how to indulge in that wistfulness when music becomes contaminated the way Brand New’s has. Something similar happened earlier this year when one half of the queer punk duo PWR BTTM, Ben Hopkins, was accused of sexual assault. In the past month in particular, when and whether to separate art from the flawed artists who make it has been exhaustively debated. I don’t believe that’s ever really possible. Our brains are hardwired to ascribe intense meaning to the songs we listen to when we’re young; playing Deja Entendu in full can still make me cry. But now I wonder if, whenever I hear it in the future, I’ll be able to suppress thoughts about Lacey preying on girls who had trusted and adored him.
A few years ago, when I started dating my current partner, we spent one dreary winter night in drinking PBRs and playing nothing but Taking Back Sunday and Brand New. I was no longer the miserable, struggling teen who used these lyrics like a lifeline, but it still felt so good to sing these songs with a person I was starting to love, to pay homage to the sad, closeted queer kids we’d once been.
Even if Brand New eventually starts touring again, I don’t ever intend to support them with my money, to buy another concert ticket or an album. Lacey’s taken away the pleasure of being a devoted fan of Brand New, of giving your heart and soul to this band — but for me and for so many listeners, that kind of obsessive fandom had already worn off. What I’m trying to figure out now is whether we’re supposed to let him take away our memories of what his music meant to us, at a time when we were trying to figure out who we were and who we should be. Because it would have been nice to return to that music now and then, if only to remember what it’s like to blindly love a song with a wild, wholehearted fierceness. The kind you can only really manage when you’re young. ●
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“Yes I had a fab night, yes I had some g&t’s and YES.. I back doored the after party and went to McDonald’s at the end of the evening… THERE’S NO SHAME IN MY GAME… So better luck next timeeeee 😂😂😂😂😂😂 I’m all thick thighs and extra fries my friends… And I am not changing for anyone!”
In a nutshell: Kanye wrote a song with some pretty harsh lyrics about Taylor. Taylor publicly condemned the song. Kim then released video proving that Taylor had actually given permission to be used in the song. Taylor clapped back by pointing out that she never approved of the more misogynistic lyrics. Snake emojis ensued. Yada yada yada.
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which is the best song on the album?
“…Ready For It?”
“I Did Something Bad”
“Don’t Blame Me”
“Look What You Made Me Do”
“So It Goes…”
“King Of My Heart”
“Dancing With Our Hands Tied”
“This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”
“Call It What You Want”
“New Year’s Day”
Create A Taylor Swift Playlist And We’ll Reveal Which Album Describes Your Life
You love too deeply and bruise too easy. You feel first and process later, and as a result your life can be a bit chaotic. However, while you’re known for your romance you’re even more passionate about your work. You really are one of the lucky ones!
You’ve had some difficult years, but that’s just made you stronger. You’ve settled into yourself and are no longer afraid of the critics and skeptics. You’ve balanced work and relaxation and are now having more fun than ever! Honestly, you’re living your life better than your wildest dreams.
You have no fucks left to give and you are going to make sure people know it. People can sometimes be put off by this attitude, but whatever, you’re doing what you want. Are they ready for it? Who cares.
You’re a hopeless romantic, but that doesn’t mean you’re weak! You do things your way, even if that means doing them alone. You’re an idealist and a dreamer, which is why you love fantasies and fairy tales. Real life is often disappointing, but you’re always enchanted by the possibility of what’s next.
You truly are fearless! You have an ambition and talent that cannot be stopped. You know exactly what you want and exactly how to get it! You’ve had some setbacks, but you’re not going to let that stop you! The world is yours – you just have to go out there and take it.
You’re a wide-eyed optimist that follows your dreams. You’ve always done things the right way and can’t stand cheaters. Your feelings dictate how you live your life, and sometimes things get messy, but you wouldn’t have it any other way!
Jemima: When I first heard “RFI” I loved it but wasn’t totally sold. It’s so different from everything we’re used to from Taylor, and my debut album-loving heart just wanted some good ol’ country Swift. But now I’m more accustomed to her new sound I’m so into it, and it’s such a good opener for the album. “Let the games begin” really sets the scene for how much this album is going to fuck everyone up. She knows she’s about to get a lot of criticism no matter what, and she’s ready for it. Meanwhile, I am not.
Kristin: When I first heard the chorus I broke down, it’s classic Taylor (but more I’m-an-adult-having-sex Taylor) and I screamed at my phone in the middle of a restaurant over a bowl of pasta. I was both simultaneously not ready for it and ready for it. “Wonder how many girls he had loved and left haunted” — this lyric is perfect, please tattoo this on my forehead.
Jen: Taylor clearing her throat at the beginning is still my favorite lyric of the song. Taylor raps… I don’t hate it, but honestly still don’t love it. But you know what? It gets me AMPED and ready to take on the world and it was our first hint that the old Taylor was probably not actually dead at all.
Ellie B: The first time I heard this song, I was in an airport about to get on a plane and I listened to it on repeat for the entire flight. It was my favourite single for a good few weeks, mostly because the chorus throws it back to Tay’s classic style, and I was worried we wouldn’t get any of that after “LWYMMD”.
Ellie W: Unlike “Look What You Made Me Do,” I liked this track immediately when it was released. The chorus, which is classic old school Taylor, gave me ~mature~ “Wildest Dreams” vibes, while the verses are her new sound. The combination really shouldn’t work, but totally does. Also, that final chant of “Let the games begin” is so perfect it gives me goosebumps each time.
Ryan: The bridge. The bridge. The bridge. When the bass drops and I heard, “Baby, let the games begin. Let the games begin,” I felt a Rocky-level rush of adrenaline. I love this song and will continue to pray for all the rap careers that were ended thanks to the first two verses.
Jemima: This is… different. I’m still recovering from Kendrick’s verse on “Bad Blood” so it might take me a while to come around on this. I LOVE the lyrics which are always the best drawcard of a Swift song. “Your handprint’s on my soul” is such a beautiful, classic Taylor lyric. It’s weird to hear it in this context but I can’t say I hate it.
Kristin: Ok first things first, before I even hit play: WE GOT A DAMN SWEERAN TRACK. As soon as she said “I wanna be your A-Team” I SCREAMED. Like honestly, my friends were like what is wrong with you (to which I say, Are you even an Ed Sheeran fan????). With all that aside, it’s not my *favorite* track — I was expecting more “Everything Has Changed” vibes that would make me sob, like, we’re both in love with people and love is beautiful and cool and great. But we got a Taylor + Ed + Future collab and I’m not gonna complain. I also appreciate her Tumblr-esque shipping lingo.
Jen: I wanted to love this song, I really did. It’s the “Reputation” track and the Ed Sheeran collab we’ve all been waiting for, but I hate to say that it just didn’t really do it for me. I wanted so much more. *listens to “Everything Has Changed” on repeat for the rest of time*
Ellie B: The first time I listened to that I wasn’t all that into it, but I’m slowly coming around – it’s definitely a new kind of music for Taylor, but some of the lyrics are beautiful. And that bridge!!!! Pls.
Ellie W: Sorry, I’m really not sold on this. It felt too much as though she was cramming each expected theme of the album – Reputation! Enemies! Drama chasing her! – into one song with a catchy sound-bite name. Maybe it’s a grower.
Ryan: I love a good hater song. I feel like this song is “Shake It Off” on crack. Right off the bat, Taylor is owning a few things: she’s got a reputation, she’s got enemies, and she knows people talk about her. And then towards the end, I feel like the whole album is really encapsulated with the lyrics: “I bury hatchets, but I keep maps of where I put ‘em…I swear I don’t love the drama, it loves me.”
Jemima: OH MY GOD she said “shit” and I hate how fucking excited that made me. There’s something about this song that I love, though I can’t put my finger on what exactly. It’s just making me really happy and now I’m crying excited tears. Also guys, not to alarm you, but this is going to be SO GOOD LIVE. Just imagine how she’s going to stage this on the rep tour, I reckon it’ll be “Blank Space” vibes with the smoke machines and the light flashes. Oh lord. LIGHT ME UP literally same.
Kristin: Hoooooly shit. My first question: why the hell wasn’t this a single??? This song is a true damn bop, it’s so good I wanna cancel all my Friday night plans and endlessly dance around my living room to it for seven hours. Also I’d personally like to request a 3-second loop of her saying “If i could” to listen to for the remainder of my life. “They’re burning all the witches even if you aren’t one, so light me up”—IDGAF Taylor is my favorite Taylor.
Jen: This, to me, is the true beginning of Reputation and it’s a fucking bop. There are also so many quotable lyrics here that belong all over Tumblr: “You gotta leave before you get left” and “If he spends my change, then he had it coming.” And the way her voice slides on, “If iiiiiiiiii could.” I die.
Ellie B: I am living for the implied Tayvin/Hiddleswift shade in this song and I cannot wait to walk down the street dramatically miming the chorus as if I just killed a man.
Ellie W: OHHHH SHIIIIIT she really dropped that “S” bomb. I feel like this track sets the tone for the rest of the album. It’s from the perspective of a darker, more mature, zero fucks given Taylor and I am here for it.
Ryan: In this song, we meet “I don’t give a fuck Taylor.” She doesn’t trust narcissists, she doesn’t trust playboys, and she doesn’t really care if you have a problem with her saying the word “shit.” LOVE IT.
Jemima: Oh God I have goosebumps all over from this song. I’m listening to it and I feel like it’s going straight through my ears into my soul if that makes sense. I want to play this at full volume while lying on the floor and crying???? Holy shit I’m obsessed with this. It reminds me a lot of Delta Goodrem’s “The River” which you all need to go listen to right now if you like “Don’t Blame Me”.
Kristin: Okay, damn. This is like if Hozier and Taylor Swift had a baby that moved to a cabin in the woods and exclusively drank whiskey. This song is sexy and brooding and when she goes up on “daisy” I kinda wanna faint??? I fucking love this.
Jen: This is an entirely new Taylor sound, and I’m obsessed. Can’t wait to hear it on every single Shondaland promo for the rest of time, and I mean that in the best way possible.
Ellie B: I am most definitely here for the darker, slow sound of the verses here, and I love the lyrics, but the chorus is…not for me. NEXT!
Ellie W: This was the first song that really made me ~feel~ things. The chorus is amazing and the use of the choir just works so well. Also, I’m sorry but the “I get so high!/Trip of my life!’ refrain that just builds and builds is So. On. Point.
Ryan: USING FOR THE REST OF MY LI— OOhOOhh! cured my anxiety, paid off half of my students of loans, and made me a better person. If you’re one of those assholes who says Taylor can’t sing, listen to this song and the ad-libs. Iconic.
Jemima: Uh, is anyone else hella excited every time they hear her say “reputation”? This song is very Imogen Heap and I’m OBSESSED. Almost like a sexy, darker cousin to “Clean”. Not to sound weird but hearing Taylor sing about sex is my new religion. I love that this song actually sounds ~delicate~. Somehow she’s perfectly nailed the feeling of a new relationship and now I want to weep in the shower.
Kristin: In true Taylor fashion, she flawlessly captures the literal exact words and thoughts running through your mind the first few anxiety-ridden weeks of dating someone new. “Is it cool that I said all that? Is it chill that you’re in my head? Is it too soon to do this yet?” SAME.
Jen: “My reputation’s never been worse, so he must like me for me” is a lyric that so simply and eloquently encapsulates Taylor’s entire career and it’s so sweet and sad at the same time. Joe, DO NOT HURT HER.
Ellie B: This was one of the songs I was most excited to hear based solely on the track list and damn, I was not disappointed. It’s such a gentle bop and I am getting Queen Carly Rae Jepsen vibes. Don’t @ me!!!
Ellie W: When the tracklist was released, I thought this was going to be a whimsical love song, but it’s really not. In fact, it perfectly captures both the flirtation and anxiety of the early stages of a relationship, when you’re unsure how you should be feeling, what you should be saying, or whether it’s going to work out but you’re trying to just go with it anyway. The lyric “Sometimes when I look into your eyes/ I pretend you’re mine” is too real in that context.
Ryan: This song has a lyric that I immediately need framed: “We can’t make any promises now, can we, babe, but you can make me a drink.” Amazing.
Jemima: I’ll never forget the feeling the day that we first heard it, getting new Taylor music for the first time in FOREVER. I sat on my bedroom floor and scream-cried. And don’t even get me started on the video. It’s such a clever, well written and well produced song that every time I listen to it, I love it a little more.
Kristin: I love a good stunt-y single, and this track is exactly that. When the music video dropped, I too dropped to the fucking floor. Like actually I gasped about 73 times. And after listening to this on repeat for the past few weeks, I’m still a fan. (Although, not thrilled about the old Taylor dying because I’m not ready to let go of Red yet.)
Jen: Listen, “LWYMMD” is the exact song Taylor needed to release in that moment as the first single. It’s splashy, it’s campy, the music video was perfect. Is it the best song on Rep? Far from it. But I appreciate it for what it is.
Ellie B: I didn’t looove this song when I first heard it, but it’s a pretty typical lead single, and it was the first new Taylor we’d had in three years, so I listened to it repeatedly anyway. And guess what? It grew on me! Reading the lyrics as Taylor making fun of her past public personas makes it so much more enjoyable.
Ellie W: I was so unsure what to make of “LWYMMD” when I first heard it. In fact, I spent virtually a whole weekend on Tumblr trying to decode it. I also wasn’t sure what to make of it sonically either. There’s a part in the middle-eight where things feel like they’re about to really kick off, but then the chorus hits and it’s so monotone. HOWEVER, the song began to make sense and then grew on me after the video dropped. It’s still not my favourite, but looking back it was definitely the best choice of comeback single.
Ryan: This was necessary. It created buzz. It got people talking. And most importantly, it let people know that she’s not going to be doing the same self-imposed rules anymore. And the video. Just hand her and Joseph Kahn the Grammy now. It’s brilliant — lavish, self-deprecatory, and fuckin’ badass.
Jemima: Uhhhh “I’m not a bad girl but I do bad things with you” has straight-up murdered me bye see ya its been nice please make sure you play reputation at my funeral. OH NO WAIT I KEPT LISTENING AND I HEARD “SCRATCHES DOWN YOUR BACK” NOW I’M REALLY DEAD. Guys I’m literally sitting on my bed cackling to myself I can’t deal.
Kristin: Daaaamn, T. “You know I’m not a bad girl but I do bad things with you.”
Jen: Remember back when we thought, “I’ll do anything you say, if you say it with your hands” was peak scandalous Taylor? Ha ha ha ha ha.
Ellie B: This didn’t stand out to me on my first listen-through, but a few listens later I’m into it! Also, “scratches down your back now”? Damn, Tay.
Ellie W: It pains me to say it, but I’m pretty sure this is destined to be a “skip” track. I like the whispered “One, two, three,” and the outro is pretty good, but the rest of it is just a bit “meh.”
Ryan: “You did a number on me, but honestly baby who’s counting?” Her lyrics are so fkn clever. For anyone else this would be a standout lyric, but for Taylor, it’s just the norm.
Jemima: The first time I heard Gorgeous I was underwhelmed, it sounded to me just like every other song on the radio. But after watching the video of her writing it, I sheepishly had to backtrack when I realized how complex it is and how much thought she actually puts into every song. (I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN.) I seriously LOVE it now but somehow I don’t feel like it fits with everything else on this album?
Kristin: Listen don’t @ me, but these lyrics are not my fave. But after spending the past few weeks listening to it, it’s Good. I like it. The little ding sound makes me smile.
Jen: Gotta say, I’m a “Gorgeous” apologist. It’s been in my head a lot the past few weeks and it just makes me feel good.
Ellie B: The *ding* is everything to me.
Ellie W: I loved “Gorgeous” on first listen. Unlike “LWYMMD” and “RFI,” it felt more recognisably Taylor. I also love, love, love the final 30 seconds where “You make so happy it turns back to sad/ There’s nothing I hate more than what I can’t have” is repeated – it perfectly sums up the emotion of unrequited feelings.
Ryan: It felt very Avril Lavigne-y. Not saying that’s a bad thing, but I was waiting for a climax, or for it to pick-up a little more. Either way, still catchy AF and would’ve been any other singer’s, like, best song.
Jemima: Wow I’m already obsessed with this song. I’m seriously praying this is a single because I NEED a video clip for this masterpiece. The verses sound like they could belong on 1989, while the bridge sounds like a grown-up Speak Now track… I’m loving it. Thank God we have a breakup song on this album because my poor single heart wasn’t ready for non-stop love songs.
Kristin: Do you think Taylor Swift knows how much of a goddamn genius she is? Guys. GUYS. This song, these lyrics, her voice—I am, truly, at a loss for words. Aside from being three minutes and 53 seconds of perfection, it reminds me of a 2017 version of “Out of the Woods” which kinda feels like wrapping yourself in warm, familiar blanket.
Jen: This reminds me of “Out Of The Woods” and I think it’s only going to continue to grow on me as I listen over the next few weeks. It might be one of my favorites on the album, and it’s PEAK Jack Antonoff.
Ellie B: This is definitely one of my top three songs on the album. It’s like “Wonderland” (from the deluxe edition of 1989 – listen to it)’s older, gives-no-fucks sister. It’s about trying to hide your love for its own good, but the secrets end up tearing you apart. The feels! Also, the key change!
Ellie W: I’m struggling to articulate how much I love this. The lyrics, the production and Taylor’s delivery are all completely electrifying and left me covered in goosebumps. Just when I thought I’d heard the best part, a new section kicked in and left me virtually deceased. The 80s feel also reminded me a lot of “Style” from 1989, which was my favorite track from that album and my most played ever on iTunes, but I think “Getaway Car” is about to steal that record. TL;DR I need a whole album of purely Taylor Swift and Jack Antanoff.
Ryan: This song makes me want to go on walk on, like, a bridge in the dark. It’s fun + HAIM + Bleachers and it’s fucking great. I love the way she says, “getaway,” too. “I was just drinking.” I also love how openly Taylor talks about drinking. So important to me.
Jemima: The lyrics of this are so Red I want to die. I’m not a huge fan of the beat and melody of this but oh shit do I love the lyrics. I can feel a lot of Instagram captions coming from this. But yeah, overall to me it’s not 100% memorable. (But probably cut to me in a week jamming out to this non-stop. Who knows.)
Kristin: “And all at once you are the one I have been waiting for.” Guys, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there are a few lil tears in my eyes as I type this. I meaaaaan. Damn. When is the wedding? Follow up question: can I be a bridesmaid?
Jen: A happy Taylor is a happy life. Also: Jag-u-arrrrrrs.
Ellie B: I cannot wait to scream the ever loving shit out of this chorus on tour with tears of happiness streaming down my face. Just listening to it makes my heart feel full.
Ellie W: I’m not a massive fan of the production on this, but I like the sentiment behind the song. Falling in love again after being fucked over is scary but amazing and I think the song captures both. “My broken bones are mending” is a perfect lyric.
Ryan: “King of My Heart” is like the opposite of “Never Grow Up.” It’s like yes, I live alone. I don’t need to be tucked in. I need to be an adult and do whatever the fuck I want.
Jemima: The lyrics of this song are seriously beautiful, I’m shook. Like, I need to sit down with a highlighter and a red pen and give it a high school English analysis. I love this a lot it’s already in my Top 5 I’m ready to listen to it on repeat.
Kristin: Okay we are more than half way through and I’m emotional as hell. Her voice sounds so velvety — this song is gorgeous and makes me want to simultaneously dance and weep.
Jen: This and “King Of My Heart” remind me most of 1989. Like, 1989’s late-20s, been-through-more-shit, is-a-real-grown-up-now sister.
Ellie B: This gives me early noughties vibes. It’s definitely not one of my favourites, but I’m not mad at it! And you can guarantee I’ll be getting my magnifying glass out to analyse all these references to blue and gold.
Ellie W: Like a few other songs on the album, I feel as though the production overtakes everything, including the incredible lyrics. However, I feel like this could be a grower.
Ryan: This song is great. It’s a bop. It’s catchy. BUT, it’s also very visual. There are a lot of winter visuals — ice, snow, frozen — as well as colors — blue, gold. As I’m listening to it, I’m like, “OK, I need to go back and analyze the shit out of this.”
Jemima: I literally had to pause this before it came on so I could get myself ready for the sex song. I love it so much. The beat is so good and I’m also getting real Britney Blackout vibes and I’m obsessed. Also her calling Joe “my one and only” has wrecked me, my heart is so happy.
Kristin: Just in case you haven’t figured it out by now, fyi, this is Taylor’s sex album. “Only bought this dress so you could take it off,” yeeeeesssss girl, yes. I am too damn obsessed with this track. It’s sexy, and emotional, and makes me wanna put on some red lipstick but also cry?
Jen: It’s officially official: Taylor fucks.
Ellie B: FUCK. ME. UP. TAYLOR. I have already listened to this song approximately a million times. The first time I listened to this song I burst into tears. A lot of the buzz around this song is that it’s Taylor’s ~sexiest~ song yet – but the emotional lyrics get to me. “I don’t want you like a best friend.” “My hands are shaking from holding back from you.” “All of this silence and patience, pining and desperately waiting.” Seriously, this song is everything to me. I stan one song only.
Ellie W: I absolutely loooove this. Obviously everyone is losing their shit over ~sexy Taylor~ and I agree – with the orgasmic “ah, ahh, AHHH,” I’m not surprised Andrea left the room when it was played during Secret Sessions. Aside from the sexiness though, it’s actually a low-key love song. The lyrics “Even in my worst times you could see the best in me,” and “My one and only, my life line,” are just beautiful.
Ryan: Ok, this is obviously about sex but my first thought is…IS THIS ABOUT ED SHEERAN??? “I don’t want you like a best friend. There’s an invitation in the SHAPE OF YOU.” WTF???
Jemima: Oh holy shit I AM LIVING THIS SONG HAS SAVED MY LIFE. The shade is amazing and it’s so catchy and THIS IS GOING TO BE MY SONG OF THE SUMMER. “BAD BLOOD” WHO?
Kristin: Listen, when she started cackling after preaching “forgiveness” I screamed so loud that my colleague messaged me from the other room to ask if I was ok. This is the camp-y, IDGAF track of my goddamn DREAMS.
Jen: Ho-ly Shit. HOLY SHIT. I wasn’t ready. I’m still not ready. The shade is so strong and it’s the perfect anthem. I’m glad the whole album wasn’t a shady album, but DAMN I’m glad she went there with this one. Plus, I don’t think I’ve had a stronger reaction to hearing a song for the first time than when I heard her say, “HAHAHA, I CAN’T EVEN SAY IT WITH A STRAIGHT FACE”
Ellie B: This song is fun and funny – like, I laughed out loud the first time I heard it – and I’m into the Lorde-esque “Royals” sound, but it’s not a fave. To be fair, though, no song that came after “Dress” ever had a chance with me.
Ellie W: NGL, I’m conflicted about this one. It clearly references the Kanye furore, but part of me was hoping she’d take a bit of accountability for that whole mess on this album. She’s kinda forgiven though, because melodically and sonically this song is INCREDIBLE and I LOVE it so much it was actually the first one I chose for a second listen after hearing the album all the way through. It’s basically yet more proof that Jack and Taylor are borderline musical geniuses and should work together always.
Ryan: FAVORITE SONG. “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” makes me want to go reignite three feuds I had in college/high school/grammar school, just so I can play this song and think of them. LOVE THIS. Also, the fact that Andrea Swift is in on the drama, amazing.
Jemima: Can I just say RIGHT NOW that I love Joe Alwyn so fucking much because it sounds like he’s made Taylor so happy. I just want to send him a fruit basket or something. I have listened to this song A LOT in the last week and let me tell you I have smiled every single time. Its just so nice and cosy and fills me with joy. I can’t even tell you how much the lyric “Nobody’s heard from me for months / I’m doing better than I ever was” has healed my heart. Hearing it on the album right after “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” is truly perfect and such a journey.
Kristin: So Jack Antonoff suggested we listen to this with headphones at night on a walk and let me tell ya, he was RIGHT. I am so, so in love with this song. It’s the only thing I’ve been listening to for the past week walkin’ down the streets of NYC after dusk and it’s the best decision I’ve made in all of 2017.
Jen: Wow, what a transition from “Nice Things” to this. I’ve loved this song since the minute it came out, and it’s still perfect to me. I truly enjoy Taylor in love, and her happiness radiates off of this song.
Ellie B: Another gentle bop! I can imagine listening to this while driving on an empty road with the windows down. I stan happy, in love Taylor.
Ellie W: This became my favourite single release when it came out last week. It’s genuinely such a beautiful love song. The lyrics about being brought back to life by someone new after heartbreak get me every time – especially the part about being built a fire to keep her warm. I also die each time I hear the way breathing is incorporated into the part where she sings about holding her breath, because that my friends is genius.
Ryan: This is care-free Taylor. You can tell, she’s genuinely happy. Even as she’s reminsicing on her hard times, singing, “My castle crumbled overnight. I brought a knife to a gun fight. They took the crown,” she reassures people “it’s alright.” She’s good. She’s happy. She’s doing better than ever.
Jemima: As soon as she started singing, I started crying. This is the ballad I wanted. I would love a whole album of songs like this but this one is just so good that it makes up for it. I’m not sure how she manages to make a song so heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time but right now I’m weeping.
Kristin: Guys, I wasn’t ready. All I wanted was one beautiful, classic, inspiring-me-to-find-love-and-happiness Taylor track, and we got it. I’m not getting married unless Taylor shows up to perform this on piano at my wedding. My heart is gonna collapse and burst. The perfect ending.
Jen: A perfect, gorgeous, simple ending. Sorry, but the old Taylor clearly isn’t dead.
Ellie B: Listen friends. My greatest dream is for Taylor to release a greatest hits album that’s just piano versions of all her best songs, a la this piano performance of “Out of the Woods”. This song is like “You Are In Love” part two – where that was Taylor finally finding the truest kind of love, this is her deciding she’s ready to settle down. I’m crying. I live for this.
Ellie W: Proof that Taylor is arguably at her best when she goes back to basics. The lyrics, the piano, everything about this screams old school Taylor and it’s proof that she isn’t dead even if I am after hearing this album.
Ryan: It’s classic Taylor. Taylor and an instrument. Raw vocals. Vivid imagery. Story telling. Perfect.
Jemima: I saw a tweet the other day that said “Reputation is not going to be the album I wanted for me but will be the story I needed for Taylor Swift”. This truly has to be the perfect summary of my feelings. I want country-infused pop, and soulful lyric-driven piano ballads. Obviously, I’m not going to get than any time soon but it’s fine because I can listen to Red every day for the rest of my life. Reputation is more than just an album of 15 songs. For me it’s like a phone call from a best friend who’s having a tough time, reassuring me that she’s OK. It’s the redemption story of a girl who has weathered endless storms, emerging on the other side worse for wear but somehow also better than ever. Though she’s giving off a very IDGAF attitude, I still think she cares a lot. She’s just learned which opinions actually matter. I’m so ready for this era.
Kristin: Wheeeeew. I’m gonna need another eight days to truly process the 4736 thoughts and feelings I have after listening to Reputation, but in short: we are so damn lucky. Reputation is a beautiful redemptive, unapologetic, intimate look at her roller coaster ride of the past few years, a story which ends with her coming out on top, in love, better than she ever was. It makes me wanna grab three bottles of wine and laugh, cry, and cheers to our best friend for once again flawlessly creating perfection, even in the midst terrible torrential storms.
Number of times I screamed while listening: 4
Number of tears that welled up in my eyes: 37
Number of times I literally jumped out of my chair in excitement/happiness/pure elated joy: 9
I am so damn happy. Every album is a new beginning, a new Taylor, a new set of tracks to perfectly describe every emotion you’re feeling at that point in your life—and Reputation delivers just that.
Jen: It’s good. It’s DAMN good. Taylor truly saved the best for album release day, and I’m honestly glad she did. Favorites (at the moment, before it changes tomorrow): “I Did Something Bad,” “Getaway Car,” and “Call It What You Want”. Sorry I ever doubted you, Taylor and so happy to have another awesome 15 songs to add to my daily Spotify rotation.
Ellie B: I’m not going to lie – when “LWYMMD” came out, I was worried. When a new album cycle starts, I always think I want more from ~Old Taylor~, but listening to this made me realise that the beauty of Taylor’s music is that she gives us something completely different with every album. I think, personally, Red will always be my favourite (still bitter about that Grammy), but while Red is full of sadness, heartbreak, and autumn vibes, Reputation is going to become my go-to happy, gives-no-fucks music. Also, “Dress” is one of the best songs Taylor has ever written.
Ellie W: Before hearing this album I was hoping for something as lyrically complex as Red with the catchiness and bangers of 1989. And although some of the tracks fall slightly short of those expectations, overall so many meet or exceed them. “Getaway Car,” “Don’t Blame Me,” “Dress” and “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” all did to me what the best Taylor Swift songs do – make you instantly fall in love with them, make you feel things, and give you goosebumps from head to toe. And for that, I am more than satisfied after a three year drought.
Ryan: I love it. I love the different sounds. I love the different approach. I love the IDGAF attitude. I love the cursing. I love the adulthood and maturity behind the lyrics. It’s awesome. Favorite songs: “Delicate”, “Getaway Car”, “King of My Heart”, “Dancing With Our Hands Tied”, “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”, “Call It What You Want”, “New Year’s Day”.
What he’s been up to: The Washington native went on to star in projects like Asunder, Rules of Engagement, Full Frontal, Malibu’s Most Wanted, Something New, Madea’s Family Reunion, The Art of Getting By, I Will Follow, City of Angels, Sex and the City, Fatherhood, Dirty Sexy Money, The Event, and Quantico.
Memorable line: “I am quite content just listening to you, staring into those beautiful pretty brown eyes…are you cross-eyed?”