Unless you're living in a cave without WiFi, you know that Taylor Swift recently dropped her new single "Look What You Made Me Do". This English major took the music video and her song lyrics making an literary analysis of sorts of this new single.
1. The Red and Black color scheme is giving me Scarlet Letter vibes. Is this a song about sin?
2. Assonance in the first line- "I don’t like your little games."
3. The speaker uses “I” first person narrative
4. The motif of acting and roleplaying is strong. The imagery of a stage, a typed script, “the role you made me play” make this set-up succinct.
5. We have an eyeball motif as well. Maybe it’s more Great Gatsby than Hester Prynne?
6. Now we’re invoking gender roles. A woman claiming a gun was hers but a gun in phallic imagery. I’m getting Hedda Gabler vibes here.
7. Legs with heels. So here we have sexual objectification of an unknown woman, phallic imagery and possibly a continuation of the acting motif. That’s a lot for three seconds.
8. Time. It can’t be post-modernist because we’re not playing with chronology perhaps it’s Romantic-the self-made (wo)man.
9. Rising from the death and a raven. Did we switch to Edgar Allen Poe in the past five seconds?
10. “I check it twice” Is this an allusion to the popular Santa Claus who checks his list twice as he passes moral judgment on children every Christmas?
11. The Ouroboros snakes came out. We have infinity snakes stretching on for infinity visually. Is the moral judgment going to last forever? Maybe we’re are still doing the Hester Prynne routine here.
12. Except “Look what you made me do” doesn’t sound like Hester, it sounds more like the guilty Rev. Dimmesdale. Hester was too proud to be a victim.
13. Now the snakes slither. Are we playing with time and space here, since the infinity snakes have been set in motion?
14. “I don’t like your kingdom keys”. Well first of all kingdom isn’t an adjective so boo for grammatical errors.
15. What is the key unlocking? Someone’s heart, virginity or soul?
16. Or is it a Biblical allusion to Jesus’ giving Peter the keys to the kingdom.
17. Where did Jesus come from? I thought mixing up Rev. Dimmesdale with Santa Claus was enough strange religious references for one pop song.
18. The castle imagery harkens back to the chess imagery in the first line.
19. “Threw a feast” combined with the keys being thrown out. Throwing can be a hospitable act or violence.
20. Are we back to the Biblical feast? Like Psalm 23 except there’s not a fluffy lamb in sight.
21. Again we have time stopping for the narrator. “The world goes on, another day, another drama, drama …But not for me, not for me,”. So now are we on to the book of Revelations and the end of time? Or maybe just a dash of post-modernism?
22. The red-black color scheme is only broken by the yellow of the desk lamp. Is this a sight that light equals goodness and redemption.
23. But looking at a hit list under lamplight isn’t exactly goodness.
24. Is our narrator god or devil?
25. “I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me”. Grammar again! It’s supposed to be anybody the first time!
26 The dollar bill imagery is intriguing. They didn’t break the color scheme to make it green. And why is it only a $1 bill. Surely life and morality are worth more than that.
27. A Faust reference to selling your soul?
28. We have money, a tangible government reference juxtaposed with the lawlessness of a back alley. Our narrator is outside the bounds of human authority, how about the divine?
29. “Starring in your bad dreams”. The theater motif returns. Is the back alley the back door of a theater where illusions are broken?
30. Eyeballs in the trees!
31. Am I done with this list yet?
32. It’s a finger gun not a real gun? What’s the illusion and what’s reality?
33. In theater, once a gun shows up, it’s supposed to go off. This is reminding me of Hedda Gabler again?
34. The money is colored red this time, instead of black. An allusion to the phrase “blood money”
35. The yellow lamplight has returned along with an allusion to the “old Taylor”. Now I’m getting “Yellow Wallpaper” vibes.
36. We have dialogue here to move the “plot” of the song forward.
37. Snakes swirling around a vanishing point suggest the lack of time and chronology. However, the lyrics “look what you made me do” otherwise. There is a cause and effect.
38. Is there a motif of hypocrisy here? Because that would link back to religion, Rev. Dimmesdale and St. Peter with his keys to the kingdom.
39. Maybe I have a thesis statement?
40. But there are 20 more seconds to the song….
41. The shards of glass “fragmentation” along with the snakes do suggest timelessness.
42. Is sin timeless?
43. The final flash of eyeglass framed glasses made me think of Gatsby again and his eyes of God being a billboard.
44. Is the final second supposed to be death of the narrator?
45. Is redemption achieved?
46. We may have an ambiguous ending here.
47. This is why English majors should avoid pop music analysis.