Taylor did something bad 

Kathleen Posted by Kathleen at December 4, 2017 16:26:50 December 4, 2017 16:26:50

Taylor Swift’s reputation is now available on streaming services. Some of you have been listening to reputation for weeks. I refused to pay $13.99 for an album I was convinced was going to be sh-tty because the four singles Taylor released leading up to reputation went from embarrassingly bad (Look What You Made Me Do) to slightly less annoying (Ready For It, Gorgeous) to mediocre at best (Call It What You Want It).

Last time I wrote about reputation, I admitted that I’ll f-ck with a good Taylor Swift track any day. It might be bad for my cool cred to admit but I really enjoyed 1989. It’s a great pop album. After being traumatized by the breakdown in Ready For It and underwhelmed by everything else, listening to reputation was a pleasant surprise. Every single song is better than the sh-t she’s released so far. I Did Something Bad is SO MUCH better; I’m convinced it should have been the lead single. If it had been, I think we would all be having a completely different conversation about this album. 

Lainey predicted that Taylor may have been saving her best songs for the album while teasing weaker tracks to build anticipation. She was right that we had to wait for the good sh-t but I don’t think Taylor did it on purpose. We know that Taylor Swift is petty and conniving. Kanye West’s wife showed us the receipts. In this case, Taylor’s pettiness got in the way of what could have been a brilliant album rollout. After Receipts Week, Lainey repeatedly wrote that Taylor Swift needed to lean in to the shrewd and devious persona that had replaced the saccharine, surprise-face Taylor of albums past. The Old Taylor was dead. Instead of coming back on the defensive like the mess that was Look What You Made Me Do, Taylor could have leaned in. Here’s what Lainey wrote in August:

Will it be more of the old Taylor, positioning herself as the innocent, wrongly maligned party in this “narrative” between her and her opponents? Or, if this is to be a new era of Taylor Swift, the blackout – eclipse! – that precedes a brand new iteration, is she now embracing her Snake-ness, and fully owning the fact that, yes, she’s more sting than she is sweet?

And here’s the chorus of I Did Something Bad

They say I did something bad
Then why's it feel so good?
They say I did something bad
But why's it feel so good?
Most fun I ever had
And I'd do it over and over and over again if I could

She also sings about “play[ing] 'em like a violin” and telling lies. THIS is the New Taylor that she’s been proclaiming during the reputation era but hasn’t delivered. The song was right there! If Taylor really wanted to lean into getting back at KimYe, wouldn’t it have been better to come out strong that she was the one who played them, not the other way around? Wouldn’t it have been better to kill off the Old Taylors while belting out “They got their pitchforks and proof/ Their receipts and reasons/ They're burning all the witches, even if you aren't one/ so go ahead and light me up?” Now may not be the best time to invoke the burned witches analogy but the message is so much stronger. Instead of blaming others for her actions with Look What You Made Me Do, Taylor could have owned the narrative with I Did Something Bad. She’s taking responsibility while refusing to apologize. It’s kinda badass. Plus, the song would have actually lived up to the excessive hype that lead up to reputation. If you’re going to do the traditional album rollout, you can’t bury your best music. You have to come out hard. Aside from a perplexing breakdown that sounds like this hilarious viral video I Did Something Bad is really f-cking strong. I can’t get it out of my head. It even inspired Tony-award winner Cynthia Erivo to cover the song with a haunting, stunning version that really shows off Taylor’s songwriting. Plus, it doesn’t have the “skrrrt, brrrap brraap, skrrrrt” bullsh-t. Cynthia Erivo (and Shoshana Bean) elevated Taylor’s Something Bad into something EXCEPTIONAL.


This cover is already going viral and it’s probably going to inspire a million more covers. Imagine this was the first single? And imagine Taylor Swift had followed up I Did Something Bad with Don’t Blame Me, an ambitious ballad that sounds like Haim meets Hozier? I mean that as a compliment. Then, her third single should have been Dress. God, I f-cking love Dress. I hate myself for how much I love Dress.  I’m also really into Delicate, which sounds the most like a 1989 track and is clearly about her boyfriend Joe. If this had been reputation’s rollout, I don’t think she’d be sitting at #6 on the iTunes charts right now. I don’t think those of us who are not Taylor Swift stans would have written off reputation. In a year dominated by really good albums by Taylor’s peers, she couldn’t afford to botch the rollout. She also couldn’t afford not to publicly denounce the white supremacists who hail her as their “Aryan Goddess” but that’s a whole other rant. 

When Lainey and I were emailing about this, she pointed out that she’s listened to Lorde, Kesha, Demi Lovato and Kelly Clarkson more than Taylor Swift. All of the aforementioned artists put out stronger work than Taylor this year. When we talk about the music 2017, is reputation going to hold up? Are we going to remember that the rest of the album ended up being alright or are we going to remember how weak her first singles were? 

Please email/tweet me your thoughts on reputation. I’m going to go back to watching Cynthia Erivo’s I Did Something Bad cover every 10 minutes.

Photos:
C Flanigan/ FilmMagic

Tags: Taylor Swift
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