Her ‘Reputation’ Will Be Great
It’s happened again. Taylor Swift not only broke the Internet, but she also broke some new records in true Taylor fashion. After giving the world a break from herself for three years, Taylor Swift is back with new music and as usual, people are losing their minds over it. “Look What You Made Me Do,” the first single off the singer’s upcoming album entitled Reputation, due out November 10th, made its debut late in the evening on Thursday August 24th and immediately caused a feeding frenzy among the media, critics, fans, and of course the haters. As if the song didn’t cause enough of a hype, the video made its debut Sunday night at the MTV Video Music Awards and left everyone in a mixed state of utter shock and complete amazement. While the reviews are teetering on either love it or hate it, the one thing we can be sure of is that the old Taylor is no more, and in her place is a much darker Taylor, one who isn’t showing any mercy. The question to be asked, though, is can anyone really blame her?
It’s no secret by now that Taylor Swift has somehow become someone that people either love or hate. In fact, I think it’s fair to say at this point people just love to hate her. Funny enough, though, even if you hate Taylor Swift, you most likely know more of her songs than you’d care to admit, and have either sang and/or danced along to them on more than one occasion. What’s even more interesting is how much energy so many people put into hating Swift, an individual who has had no impact whatsoever on their life. Personally, I think there are other celebrities who are far more worthy of expressing dislike for and even boycotting. Yet no matter what outrageous or disgusting things those certain individuals say and do, the public still manages to find fault and flaw in Swift.
The 27-year-old singer-songwriter has dealt with more than her share of backlash, criticism, and attacks on both her professional and personal life. Sure, it’s all part of the celebrity life, and it’s no doubt a clear indicator of how successful she’s become over the span of her 11-year career, but at the same time, she’s still a person with feelings. Swift has won countless awards, given to multiple charities repeatedly, and has always gone out of her way to give in any way she can to her fans. Despite all of that, though, people still feel the need to rip the girl apart piece by piece. Everyone from the media to critics to her peers seem to get off on making Swift the butt of jokes and putting her on the receiving end of their ugliness. I’ve heard everything from, “She’s so petty,” to “Taylor needs to grow up,” and “she does it to herself,” “she just needs to get over it,” as well as “she’s such a nerd/geek.”
The ironic part is the majority of these comments come from people who should be focusing on fixing themselves instead of putting someone else’s flaws under a microscope for everyone to judge and laugh at. Yes, Swift has had a lot of unsuccessful relationships and has written a song about every single one of them. Yes, Swift likes to dance while watching other artists perform at award shows. Yes, she uses her songwriting as a weapon when someone wrongs her. That’s what everyone sees when they look at her or listen to her music. However, I see an artist who’s been unlucky in love and has turned those unfortunate experiences into learning lessons for herself as well as her fans. I see someone who, despite being hurt time and time again, still finds the strength and courage to let people in. I see someone who has had to learn the hard way, like many of us, that sometimes people suck and they will turn on you when your guard is down. I see someone who knows how to have fun and isn’t afraid to act her age and wear her heart on her sleeve.
The media find Swift to be an easy target, so they continue to exploit her personal life. Certain artists think Swift is a joke, so they mock her and make not so subtle comments about her on social media and at award shows. Music fans and critics go after her work because of the subject matter she chooses to write about. Apparently, Swift is the only female in music who isn’t allowed to write about love and relationships and the people she’s encountered throughout her life. Yet, every genre is full of songs about people and the different kinds of relationships that effect people. Do you know why that is? It’s because people and experiences inspire people. Shocking, right? Now, imagine being ridiculed relentlessly for expressing those feelings of inspiration through the one format you actually find comfort in. It’s a hard concept to grasp, isn’t it?
The same people who judge and mock Swift are actually the guilty parties themselves. Aside from artists like Kanye West and Katy Perry who have also made money off writing about specific people, I want to point out that the women who are shaming Swift for her supposed “fake feminism” are in fact contradicting everything they claim to stand for. These women who claim to be about empowering other women are trashing Swift because she’s “only about empowering the model-like women in her girl squad.” First of all, empowerment is empowerment. A woman has the right to choose who she does and doesn’t support, so long as she’s not tearing anyone else down in the process. Second of all, Taylor Swift demonstrates and promotes female empowerment every time she’s cheering on one of her girlfriends or fellow artists, and when she’s encouraging young girls everywhere to own who they are and follow their dreams. Just because Swift didn’t join the Women’s March or shove her politics down people’s throats, women think it’s okay to make her out to be this She-Devil with ulterior motives. Not cool ladies, not cool at all.
If you ask me, it’s all of those people I mentioned above who have something to get over. If Swift wasn’t so insanely successful at what she does, none of it would even matter to the world. People wouldn’t be obsessing over who she dates or who her songs are about. The second Taylor saw mainstream success is when the vultures started to circle, and they haven’t stopped since. With this kind of animosity surrounding her for so long, is it any wonder that she finally snapped, musically speaking? Swift has been turning the other cheek, taking the high road, and “shaking it off” for years. She may have used certain incidents as fuel for songs, but that’s not uncommon in music. Everyone has their breaking point, where it’s time to say, “enough is enough, I’m fighting back.”
Anyone who has listened to “Look What You Made Me Do” or watched the video for it knows that this is Swift’s final straw. When you push someone’s buttons for far too long, they’re bound to either explode or punch back. Swift is not backing down this time, and she’s fighting the best way she knows how. This time around people seem to have a problem with her preferred method of rebranding, but rebranding is something every artist goes through at one point or another in their career. If an artist isn’t evolving then they’re not really living up to their full potential as an artist. Sometimes this means taking risks and those risks will either pay off or they’ll totally backfire. Regardless, they’re risks that need to be taken.
Experimenting with a much more industrial pop sound and one-line chorus that repeats itself over a booming bass line, “Look What You Made Me Do” is lyrically as subtle as taking a brick to someone’s face. Considering whose faces they likely represent, I guess I’ll leave it up to matter of opinion as to whether or not the brick to the face is justified. Both the song and music video portray Swift at her darkest as she uses cleverly placed symbolism throughout to reference every accusation thrown at her. Acutely aware of how she’s perceived by many, Swift in turn uses all of the harsh criticism she’s faced to brilliantly mock every version of herself from each era of her career thus far, even using the media and naysayers’ own words verbatim at the end of her music video. The needle in the coffin, though, and what really brings the whole thing full circle, is the telephone effect toward the end where Swift says, “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, because she’s dead!”
Regardless of its confrontational lyrics and subliminal shots fired at those who have crossed her, there’s no denying the fierceness and bold direction of “LWYMMD.” Gone are the 80’s-esque synthesizers and upbeat melodies from Swift’s 1989 album. It’s evident in both the song and video that Swift has given critics and haters what they want by “killing off,” so to speak, the old Taylor. In her place a new and perhaps more jaded Taylor has risen, and she’s taking no prisoners. Despite the mixed reviews of “LWYMMD,” Taylor has broken all new records with both the song, its lyric video, and the official music video. According to Billboard, “LWYMMD” sold more downloads in a single day than any song has sold in a week in the past six months. The lyric video had the more views in 24 hours on YouTube than any other lyric video in the site’s history. The song was the most played song on radio stations the U.S. on Friday, August 25th and has seen eight million streams on Spotify. Finally, “LWYMMD” broke records previously held by Adele’s massive hit, “Hello,” and its video smashed the world record for the highest number of views in 24 hours.
Say what you want about her, but Taylor Swift is obviously doing something right. She has a slew of number one hits behind her, an impressive number of awards on her shelf, and multiple multi-selling platinum albums under her belt. Those kinds of achievements don’t just happen by chance or luck; they’re earned. Swift climbed her way to the top, and whether people like it or not, it doesn’t look like she’s coming down any time soon. If anything, Reputation will only secure her spot there by no doubt breaking more records and winning her more awards. Swift has continuously proven that across the board she is arguably one of the best artists of all time. She excels vocally and musically, has demonstrated her incredible performance skills every time she takes a stage, and is an exceptional songwriter. All of these factors and more are what make Swift “the whole package,” as they say, in the music industry.
More important than anything else, though, Swift does everything she does wholeheartedly. She isn’t afraid to be who she is despite the ridicule that comes with it, and she encourages her fans to be who they are as well. It may seem silly to most people, but personally I think it’s an admirable and important trait in an artist. If they’re not afraid to be themselves and be completely honest, both on and off the stage, then it makes them much more relatable. It makes them more human, no matter the level of success they reach. Swift is also incredibly classy, though, as well. She doesn’t need to flaunt herself or do anything outrageous just for attention, which is where the difference between her and almost every other female pop artist lies.
This is probably the biggest reason Taylor has been so successful in her musical career. She understands that it’s not about the number of fans an artist has, but the quality of fans. Have you ever seen a more diehard and dedicated fan base before? Yes, people love her music and they’re intrigued and fascinated by her, therefore she gains the high number of streams, views, downloads, sales, spins, etc. There’s something else, though, that makes fans go that extra mile for her. I think deep down every Taylor Swift fan sees a little reflection of their self in her. Whether it’s the inner nerd in her that comes out when she thinks no one’s watching or the way she cares about the people closest to her or how passionate she is about what she loves or the way she’s grown into this incredibly confident woman who isn’t scared to stand up for herself and others. This is going to sound incredibly cheesy, but Taylor Swift is an inspiration to many because she’s the version of ourselves we wish we had the courage to be. So for all these reasons and more, people need to just let her be because if you don’t, she’s only going to continue to bounce back stronger than she was before.