If you’ve tuned into Kiss 108, Magic 106.7, 104.1, or any of the other Top 40 radio stations in the area lately, you’ve no doubt heard Taylor Swift’s new song, the bland and repetitive “Look What You Made Me Do.”
The sixth track on Swift’s new album, “reputation,” “Look What You Made Me Do” has a quick beat and focuses on the theme of revenge.
I often switch stations when I hear the song because its whiny lyrics like “I don’t like…how you laugh when you lie” and redundant chorus—which just repeats the title over and over again—tend to get on my nerves.
The music video is even worse as it begins with Swift dressed as a zombie climbing out of a grave beside a headstone that reads “Here Lies Taylor Swift’s Reputation.” The video, which has garnered nearly 500 million hits on YouTube, continues to show Swift in assorted extraneous places like in a bathtub full of jewels, on a throne surrounded by snakes, and driving in a gold Maserati.
But my real problem with the song is the message Swift tries to convey. As evidenced by this song and others on the unsubtly named album, Swift is trying to create a new reputation for herself. And she’s going to extreme measures to do so.
Beyond deleting all content from her still active website and Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr pages, Swift uses lyrics in the song to support that idea, too, like “the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now…cause she’s dead” or “I got smarter; I got harder in the nick of time.” The end of the video also features multiple Swifts dressed as characters from her other music videos from over the years like “Shake it Off” or “You Belong With Me.”
By showing her past selves reprimanding each other for acting fake and feeling victimized, Swift reflects on her previous actions and shows that she plans to leave behind her nice, country-girl reputation full of stigmas and build a new one for herself.
While Swift did scold herself at the end of the video for feeling victimized too much, I can’t help but feel that this song is actually another example of her playing the victim.
The title of the song suggests that she feels someone else caused her to exclude herself from various narratives, which in itself is another method of portraying others as the villains and the ones responsible for her own actions.
To prove that she is ready to form a new, open, and honest reputation for herself, she should title a new song “Look What I Just Did on My Own Accord” and show she isn’t vengeful. Maybe then she won’t include lyrics like “I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me.”
Although her music definitely sounds different from before—less guitar strumming and more electronic noises—I don’t think that this is the start of a new Taylor Swift. She has made it apparent that she wants to break free from this reputation she has formed for herself, yet she continues to blame others for her problems.
My advice to Swift: please return to country music. I think many of us can agree that the years of “Love Story” and “Fifteen” were far better. Her music was not only more pleasing to the ear, but it was also more relatable—think about the high school girl in pajamas dancing around her room!
This new Swift feels more like an international popstar, and I find it more difficult to connect with her music.
“Look What You Made Me Do” might have a catchy tune for some people, but I feel that its message makes it one of her worst songs.
—Charlotte Shapiro ’20