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Taylor Swift’s New Album Allows Her to Take Back the Narrative

by Ashley Terry

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On November 10th, the highly anticipated album, reputation has been released to the public. Although the tracklist was leaked early, many fans are excited to hear the ‘new’ Taylor Swift.

Swift first teased the album back in August by deleting everything from her social media accounts and posting cryptic videos of a snake. After that, Swift released “Look What You Made Me Do” to tell listeners that the ‘old Taylor’ is dead. Fans could not contain their excitement as Swift had stayed out of the spotlight for almost two years, with her boyfriend, Joe Alwyn.

“Look What You Made Me Do” is not a typical Swift song. Many speculated if the song had anything to do with the drama she was involved in a few months prior before she released the song. Although Swift had stated that she wanted to be ‘excluded from the narrative.’

Back in 2016, Kanye West released the song “Famous” on his new album, The Life of Pablo.

Fans of Swift immediately came after West as one of the lyrics said, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/ Why?/ I made that b**** famous.” (Referencing to the VMA’s in 2009 where West interrupted Swift while she was accepting her award for Video of the Year.)

At the 2016 Grammy awards, Swift addressed the lyrics during her acceptance speech for Album of the Year.

As the first woman to win Album of the Year at the Grammys twice, I want to say to all the young women out there, there will be people along the way who will try to undercut your success, or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame.” [1]

It was later revealed in a video of a phone call between Swift and West (posted by the rapper’s wife, Kim Kardashian, via Snapchat), that Swift knew about the lyrics in the song but said that she didn’t.

Kardashian posted the video on International Snake Day which created the narrative that Swift is a ‘snake’/liar.

She was also trending on Twitter with the hashtag, #TaylorSwiftisOverParty and #KimExposedTaylor. Many tweets included, “In Loving Memory of Taylor Swift. She isn’t dead, but was exposed as a snake today,” and “RIP Taylor Swift; 1989-2016.”

Swift infamously commented via Instagram/Twitter that she had given West permission for the lyrics but not permission for him to call her ‘that b****’ and that she wanted to be excluded from the narrative.

In the “Look What You Made Me Do” music video, Swift is shown as a Queen of Snakes, taking a jab at those who called her a snake. When Swift sings “I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me,” past versions of herself are fighting each other as the new ‘rep’ Taylor remains on top, superior to all versions of herself. She then ‘kills’ them off during the infamous lyric, “I’m sorry the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now/ Why?/ Oh, ‘cause she’s dead.”

One of the lyrics states, “I don’t like your little games/ Don’t like your tilted stage/ The role you made me play of the fool/ No I don’t like you.” (tilted stage references to West’s Life of Pablo Tour where he used a stage that hung from the ceiling).

In the end of the video, Swift makes fun of her previous era’s and mentions the lyric West referenced her in. A grungy Swift asks another version of herself, “What’s with that b****?”

Fans lost their minds as the music video throws a lot of shade at everything media outlets have said about her.

A week after the video was released, Swift teased another song titled “Ready for It?” during the Florida vs Alabama college football game and released it the next morning, September 3rd.

Many fans loved the song as Swift begins to experiment with rapping herself. If one thing was certain, Swift was taking the narrative back.

The music video for “Ready For It” caused uproar as well. Swift wore a nude bodysuit to look futuristic. Some fans criticized her because some of her fans are very young.

A few weeks went by before Swift released another song, many expected the same narrative to be portrayed in the other two songs. Fans were surprised when “Gorgeous” was about her boyfriend, Joe Alwyn.

Two weeks after the release of “Gorgeous”, Swift released the final song before today’s album release; “Call It What You Want”. Swift describes her life while she was on her break with Alwyn, “My castle crumbled overnight/ I brought a knife to a gunfight/ They took the crown but it’s alright/ All the liars are calling me one/ Nobody’s heard from me for months/ I’m doing better than I ever was.”

She talks about how although she was involved in a lot of drama, her boyfriend loves her anyways, “All the drama queens taking swings/ All the jokers dressing up as kings/ They fade to nothing when I look at him/ And I know I make the same mistakes every time/ Bridges burn, I never learn, at least I did one thing right.”

Many are excited for this album because it’s Swift’s second official pop album since 1989 (2014). 1989 won the Grammy for Album of the Year back in 2016, adding to the nine other Grammy’s that Swift has for previous albums.

Swift, who is known for her country music debut at sixteen, has always been America’s Sweetheart. A lot of factors contributed with her hiatus and creation of reputation.

Swift has said herself that she is a ‘national lightning rod for slut shaming’ because she has dated and written songs about a variety of men.

She first started to strike back at the media with the release of her 2014 album, 1989. One of the biggest songs on the album was “Blank Space.” The song describes the persona Swift is described as by the media when it comes to her relationships.

She teases the idea that she picks up men left and right then later goes completely psycho on them.

“So it’s going to be forever/ Or it’s going to go down in flames/ You can tell me when it’s over/ If the high was worth the pain/ Got a long list of ex-lovers/ They’ll tell you I’m insane/‘Cause you know I love the players/ And you love the game/ ‘Cause we’re young and we’re reckless/ We’ll take this way too far/ It’ll leave you breathless/ Or with a nasty scar/ Got a long list of ex-lovers/ They’ll tell you I’m insane/ But I’ve got a blank space baby/ And I’ll write your name.”

Many forget that Swift has been in the spotlight since she was sixteen years old. She’s had to deal with false stories and rumors for eleven years.

It’s interesting that after five albums, she’s finally taking the narrative back by creating an entire album based off of how people view her.

Another interesting thing is that Swift has done zero promos or performances prior to the album’s release, and has only held secret sessions with her fans.

Swift invited five hundred hand-picked fans into her Los Angeles, Nashville, Rhode Island, and London homes to play the album for them before its been released, hence ‘secret session.’It’s a great way to get the fans excited for the album and to let listeners know what to expect on release day.

Secret sessioners were the first to jump to Swift’s defense when the tracklist was leaked a few days before release day. They also were the ones to go to see if the supposed tracklist was legit or faked.

Although Swift posted the tracklist online a few days later, a leak is to be expected a few days before release day. Stores are beginning to set up the displays to hold the album and shipments of the CD’s are coming in. It’s very common for an album to be leaked before its first official release.

It actually happened to Swift with her last album, 1989. The album was leaked two days before its scheduled release in October of 2014.

She also had issues with iTunes not posting the correct song. When she released the song “Style”, iTunes posted six seconds of static instead of the actual song.

Last night Swift performed “New Year’s Day” during a commercial break of the hit T.V show Scandal during “TGIT” (Thank God It’s Thursday).

Swift also performed two songs, “Ready for It” and “Call It What You Want” off of the new album this past Saturday night on Saturday Night Live.

On Friday the 10th at 12 am, Swift finally released the album after having fans wait for almost two years for its release. Fans that attended the singer’s secret sessions have said that the sound is different, but so her.

This is also the first time fans have heard Swift use swear words in her songs. If you’re not into that then I would suggest skipping “I Did Something Bad” (although it’s a bop).

reputation is unlike any album Swift has done. The album features the first album exclusive collab since her album Red (2012) with Ed Sheeran and Future. A few of the songs are titled “I Did Something Bad,” “Don’t Blame Me,” “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,”and “Getaway Car.”

She is so unapologetic in this album. I personally loved it because her vocals have greatly improved since her last album. Her vocals are amazing in “I Did Something Badand “Don’t Blame Me.” Sonically, this is her best album. 1989 is more of a daytime album and reputation is a nighttime/club album.

In ”End Game,” she says “I don’t love the drama/ It loves me,” describing how the media has portrayed her as attention seeking and a liar.

If you thought “Look What You Made Me Dowas shady, “I Did Something Bad” and “Don’t Blame Me” will blow you away.

“Getaway Car” describes how Taylor desperately wanted to ‘escape’ her relationships with Calvin Harris and Tom Hiddleston. Inevitably leading her to meeting Joe Alwyn at the Met Gala.

She was aware that she was going to hurt them and make herself look bad if it meant that she could get out of the relationship.

She wanted fans to know her mindset as she began to create the album. Towards the end of the tracklist, “Call It What You Want” is how she is currently mentally and physically.

In previous albums, Swift has fantasized about her happy ever after. In “New Year’s Day,” she expresses how she has finally gotten that with Alwyn.

     “It’s very different from all of her other work and it’s interesting how she’s changing it up and trying new things. Some of the songs I’m really liking while others seem too out there for me to enjoy,” said WHS Alumni Maria Rubio.

If one thing is for sure, the new Taylor is not playing around and wants everyone to know that.

Reputation will be available for streaming this coming week and can be purchased at Walmart, Target, and iTunes.

 

Sources:

[1] https://www.vox.com/2016/2/16/11012432/grammys-2016-taylor-swift-kanye-speech