Devote Taylor Swift fans typically know what to expect from their favorite artist. From her two-year album cycle to clues in the lyric book, to the types of songs we will see on the album, we know how she operates. However, her sixth studio album, titled Reputation, seems to be throwing us all for a loop.
To start off, Taylor’s release schedule was far different than anything we’ve seen in the past. She usually comes off of a world tour and hints that new music is in the works. We then wait a few months for a live announcement and the new single. After this announcement, a single from the album is usually dropped every week until the album’s release date, sometime in late October. This is not what happened this year. Taylor ended the 1989 World Tour and released a concert video, something she had done for The Speak Now World Tour, but this time there was no indication that a new album was coming the following fall. In an interview, she actually stated she was looking forward to some time off. This was our first indication that the Reputation era was going be very different from the ones before it.
From the end of the 1989 tour to August of 2017, Taylor Swift had almost completely disappeared till one morning her social media went blank. For three days, an unrecognizable gif was all the fans could talk about. As excitement was building, we got the first singe Look What You Made Me Do without warning, and the music video followed just over a week later. This small change was the first clue that the fans were about to see a very different side of Taylor.
The music seems to be taking another step in the direction 1989 was heading in. There is lots of base, synthesize and cool beats, and a decrease in the piano and guitar we heard in previous albums like Red and Speak Now. We get more of the one-note melodies Swift was hinting at in songs like Blank Space, but this doesn’t take away from the song style older fans are used to seeing from her. The background instrument layering is so intricate that it makes up for the lack of a differing vocal melody.
Furthermore, the lyrics themselves are completely different than anything we’ve seen from Taylor before. The songs on Reputation are way more straightforward than what we’re used to. Typically, Taylor dances around subjects, always hinting at them, but never just coming out and saying it. There is more than one instance on Reputation that this is not the case. She blatantly takes shots at specific comments made about her, her intentions and the people she doesn’t like. Though this never really seems to come off as petty but gives the vibe that she knows what her reputation is and what everyone is saying about her. Furthermore, this is the first album where Taylor curses. Now it’s not an F-bomb or anything drastic, but it’s not what the fans are used to.
Though there are most defiantly changes in the musical structure of the album, we do see some continuity in songs like New Year’s Day. This song ties into almost every Swift album pre-1989 with the easy tune and instrumental notes that vintage Swift was known for. It’s a nice break from the earth-shattering base on the rest of the album. This song brings the whole album together because there are essences of the only Taylor and the New Taylor. Without it, I don’t think the album would be as good as it is.
So, Reputation is different, but I think this difference is good. I like that there’s a variety of topics covered and beats to back them up. I like that we are seeing a side of Taylor that isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. I like that the album is more mature, much like myself and Taylors audience. I think once we get over the shock these differences bring we find that Reputation is just as good as the rest of Taylor’s work, and Frankly, I can’t wait to see how she’s going to present it live!