A Complete Review Of Taylor Swift's "Reputation"

A Complete Review Of Taylor Swift's "Reputation"

There will be no further explanation. There will just be reputation.
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One of the most highly anticipated albums of the year just dropped and we seriously cannot find our chill.

Reputation, already topping chart after chart, captures the immense story telling Swift has divulged into throughout the course of her career. Her second full pop album creates a fetching image of what it's like to fall in love and be in love, especially when it's with the right person. But the record is also so much more than that. With funky production and heavy basses, Swift unleashes her story and the battles she's fought over the last few years. Each song one from their own but so sonically united, this record crests any other that the pop star has has released, proving that as music continues to evolves, she's right there following its lead.

This darker, more complex album celebrates what pop has become, and relishes how Swift has led up to this defining moment in her career. As a whole, this record defines the meaning of putting your heart and soul into the creativity of sound and making it into something alluring and captivating. Each song on their own, though? They infect you, they ignite you and they all have a different story that ripples into one ever-lasting narrative. So sit down, grab a glass of wine and let the games begin.

1. "...Ready For It"

This opening track sure does make us ready for what's to follow. In a Swift first, the singer takes on rapping during the two verses of the three minutes and twenty-eight second tune. Although the Old Taylor is "dead", she doesn't seem to be too far away in this dramatic melody. The bass that makes you feel as though your speakers might burst dies down a bit during the pre-chorus and chorus, and we finally get a little taste of that Old Taylor, or in the new sense, the real Taylor. And the most eye-catching line? "He can be my jailer, Burton to this Taylor, every love I've known in comparison is a failure", referring to the legendary love of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. This song not only has a mind of its own, but gets you hyped for the 14 stories that follow.

2 . "End Game" feat. Ed Sheeran & Future

Who would've seen this trio coming? Taylor opens the track, but unlike a normal feature, her actual verse is the last to come. Future cuts in first with the line "I got a reputation, girl, that don't precede me" whereas both Swift and Sweeran offer the alternative lyrics of "reputation precedes me." Even though there's no song titled "Reputation", this song gives you the watering glimpse of what it would've been like. "End Game" is different and unique, but it's one of a kind that gives you major R&B vibes and the truth from Swift's red lips.

3. "I Did Something Bad"

The title itself just makes you wonder, what did you do, Taylor? The opening beat sounds like a broken record on repeat, because what she did felt so good and she'd do it over and over and over again. Then the beat builds right before the bass drops in the chorus and the rest of the melody suits such mystery and the lyrics fit right in ("If a man talks shit then I owe him nothing. I don't regret it one bit 'cause he had it coming"). The bridge cuts in with "They're burning all the witches even if you aren't one / So light me up" and this third track off the record is so dark and eerie that it leaves us wanting more.

4. "Don't Blame Me"

One of the most different tracks Taylor has ever recorded, she digs into the concept of drugs, but not in the way most do. The lines "Lord save me, my drug is my baby, I'll be using for the rest of my life" and "I get so high every time you're touching me / Trip of my life, every time you're touching me" show that Swift is high off her love and nothing but. The background vocals top any other on the record and at any point during the three minute and fifty-seven second anthem, you'll be able to hear Swift's soft "hmm" that tap into the intimacy and explosiveness that tie together her diligence on this track.

5. "Delicate"

A serene fix between two tracks that muster up an edgy storm, this song is delicate just like its title. The song shows her hesitant side when approaching a new relationship. She comes into it with chilling vocals that fit to the beat and reflects on the last year she's encountered that's been a roller coaster of a ride with "my reputations never been worse, so you must like me for me."

6. "Look What You Made Me Do"

Most people put this song in relation to her Kanye feud, when really, it's so much more than that. This song paints a story about all of the people who ever did her wrong, all of the people that accepted her into the pop culture just to turn on her a few years later, and all of the people that chimed in on the "#TaylorSwiftIsOverParty". She's angry, and she's letting us know. She "killed off" the "Old Taylor" with the line "I'm sorry, the Old Taylor can't come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, cause she's dead!" And there's clearly no more holding back. Her reputation was denounced, and she's here to reclaim it.

7. "So It Goes..."

One of the sexiest tracks on the record, Swift isn't about the white horses and happily ever afters anymore, oh no. In fact, she's stepped it up a notch or two...or one hundred. The days of fairy tale love wishing are over and the new Taylor has finally taken the step to sing about more than just falling in love and being in love with the lines "You know I'm not a bad girl but I do bad things with you" and "Come here, dressed in black now / Scratches down your back now." And if you thought this would be the only dirty, sexy sound of the album, you better take a seat.

8. "Gorgeous"

"Gorgeous" gives us a small three minute and thirty second recess between the songs that preceded and the ones that are to follow. This playful, fruity and so damn catchy tune will make you realize that Taylor is just like any of us, getting those angry drunk butterflies when you meet someone you so desperately want but can't have. It's a whiskey drinking, drunk (literally, not even figuratively) in love at first sight melody accompanied by light and smooth but funky production. It rings in at the middle track of the record and almost sort of creates a divide. What comes before is dark, edgy and sexy, but what comes after is perky, lovely and sexy. She's defined a mix that pulls it in all together.

9. "Getaway Car"

A chronicle of love and heartbreak, "Getaway Car" opens with a robotic tone saying "No, nothing good starts in a getaway car", and it follows the log of a relationship that was doomed from the start because Swift was still in the midst of finding herself and her place ("Should've known I'd be the first to leave, think about the place where you first met me / In a getaway car, no they never get far"). The funky tune ends with the repeated lyrics "I was riding in a getaway car, I was crying in a getaway car, I was dying in a getaway car, said goodbye in a getaway car", because so much happened from beginning to end that even though she was finally free, she was really anything but.

10. "King of My Heart"

This track is a pop song at its finest and could rank in on the list at one of Swift's best produced pop songs of all time. The verses follows the different stages of love, each accompanied by a calming voice that grows stronger and stronger right before the pre-chorus hits, then it's all wrapped together with the chorus "And all at once, you are the one that I've been waiting for, king of my heart, body and soul. And all at once, you're all I want, I'll never let you go, king of my heart, body and soul." It's these types of tracks where Swift stays true to her genius lyrical mind but tests out the waters of new sounds and rides the waves until a masterpiece is created that are defining moments in the pop music culture.

11. "Dancing With Our Hands Tied"

One of the most upbeat songs on the record, the pressure of this song is evident with its fast pace chorus and on the down low verses. The beat is relentless, but in a good way, and Swift's layered vocals over the tragically beautiful lyrics make it all the more better.

12. "Dress"

A heavy song made light and sexy, this is a defiant song of synth-pop. The production here gives off Melodrama vibes and although it's structurally different both sound wise and lyrically compared to what Taylor's ever done before, it's still so Taylor Swift. "I only bought this dress for you to take it off" chimes in as the hook, and if that doesn't explain the energy of this lyrical tote, then I don't know what will. It's a definite mood for sure, and it plays into her "So It Goes..." attitude that elucidates her transition from adolescent fairy tale love stories to sultry adulthood anthems.

13. "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things"

So playful, so anthem chanting, such a Taylor classic. It's so rich in sound, just like the concept of the lyrics, and it comes in as one of the most playful on the album. The sarcastic tone throughout the song makes it almost funny, which is the point. It's a goodbye to the feud that's been sought out for too long, and her laugh at the two minute thirty-three second mark after stating "forgiveness is a nice thing to do" will make you fall in love with the cat-loving, tea spilling pop star even more.

14. "Call It What You Want"

With such unique and different beat accompanied by such emotionally complex lyrics that pull at the core strings of your heart, we are facing a true Taylor Swift song at it's finest. The mid-tempo tune is such a story teller but at the same time is so calming that we just want more of it. It paints a picture of how Taylor has fallen in love over the last year, and found her one real love; one that built a fire just to keep her warm after the fall of everything around here, one that she is laughing with and making forts under covers with, all while trusting him like a brother. It goes, "And I know I make the same mistakes every time, bridges burn, I never learn, at least I did one thing right". And that she did, and we are so here to finally see her so in love and happy.

15. "New Year's Day"

Saving the most sincere and effortless track for last, Swift dives into the love she's been drunk on for the last year. This piano and single guitar stringed track closes out the album in the calmest and best way possible. It's simple yet so complex. Swift's vocals glimmer as she sings about the romance of not quite that midnight New Year's kiss, but what follows after -- when everyone's heading home on New Year's Day, but you've found that one person who will stick around to clean up the bottles and the glitter and the mess with you. Because even though you've enjoyed the fun parts, they'll still be there when things are hard or messy. Swift is happy, which is all we've ever wanted, and we can finally take a breather knowing that this past year wasn't full of annexing herself from the world writing self-pity tunes, but was full of the best moments of her life, proving that there's so much more to experience than the snotty remarks and false facades people give you. Though this is the least produced song out of the 15 melodies, it fits in so well with the diverse atmosphere of this album. Swift knew that this was the perfect way to end her story and I couldn't agree more.

Cover Image Credit: Amanda Dobbins

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Dear Shondaland, You Made A Mistake Because April Kepner Deserves Better

"April Kepner... you're not average"
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I'll admit from the first time we were introduced to April in Season 6, I didn't like her so much. I mean we hated the "Mercy Westers" in the first place, so how could we see the potential in the annoying, know-it-all resident that was trying to compete with our beloved Lexie Grey.

But then, we saw her come face-to-face with a killer and thought maybe she had potential.


We then saw her surprise everyone when she proved to be the next trauma surgeon in the making and we were intrigued.

Notice how none of these stories had anything to do with Jackson Avery. Not that we didn't love her with Jackson, but for whatever reason you've chosen to end their very popular relationship. Suddenly, you think that April is not worth further exploration but you've forgotten one simple thing. We fell in love with her before "Japril" was ever in the picture.

We love her because her story was unlike the others and she had one of the best character developments on the show. She wasn't damaged like Meredith Grey or Alex Karev who have been on their journey to become all whole and healed, but she still had to fight hard to be taken seriously. Her story has so much potential for future development, but you've decided to throw it all away for "creative reasons."

I'm sorry, but there's nothing creative about doing the exact same thing you've done to all the other characters who have left the show. We've endured the loss of many beloved characters when you chose to write off George, Henry, Mark, and Lexie. We even took it when you did the unthinkable and wrote McDreamy out of the show - killing off one half of the leading couple. (WHO DOES THAT???)

But April Kepner? Are you kidding me?

She may no longer be with Jackson, but she was so much more than half of Japril. While most of us hate that Jackson and April are over, we probably could have dealt with it if April was still on the show. Now they're done and you think there aren't any more stories to tell about her character. Why? Because she'll just get in the way of Jackson and Maggie?

How could you not see that she was way more than Jackson's love interest?

She's so much more than you imagined her to be. April is the headstrong, talented trauma surgeon no one saw coming. The farmer's daughter started off an ugly duckling who became a soldier because she needed to be one and turned into one big beautiful swan who constantly has to fight for her coworkers and family to see her as such.

She's proven to be a soldier and swan on many occasions. Just take giving birth to her daughter in a storm on a kitchen table during an emergency c-section without any numbing or pain medication as an example. If she wasn't a soldier or a swan before, how could she not be after that?

Yet, you - the ones who created her - still see her as the ugly duckling of a character because she always had to take the backseat to everyone else's story and was never allowed to really be seen.

But we see her.

She's the youngest of her sisters who still think of her as the embarrassing little Ducky no matter how much she's grown.

This swan of a resident got fired for one mistake but came back fighting to prove she belongs. Not only did April Kepner belong there, but it was her talent, her kindness, her strength that made her Chief Resident. This simply wasn't enough for Dr. Bailey or her other residents so she fought harder.

She endured the pressure but always ended up being a joke to the others. When she was fired yet again, your girl came back a little shaken. She doubted herself, but how could she not when everyone was against her.

Despite everyone telling her she couldn't, she did rise and no one saw her coming because she remained in the background. She went off to Jordan broken and came back a pretty risky trauma surgeon.

We've watched for years as she was handed promising stories that we never got to see fully develop because she was in the background. We never got to see her rise. We get the beginning and the end, but hardly ever the middle.

I thought we were finally going to have an amazing story arc in season 11 when she loses Samuel, but what did we really get? Two or three episodes of her coming to terms with the loss of her baby and then April's disappearance from the show while she's grieving off screen so that Dr. Amelia Shepherd can shine her first season on the show. Where is April's life-changing surgeries? What does April get? She's background music.

Now what?

It's season 14 and we finally get the story we've been waiting 9 years for! We get Dark April and her crisis of faith. A story arc all Christians can appreciate. Here's the chance for real character development in the foreground, but wait...

Before her story is even wrapped up, you announce that this season will be her last. So we're forced to realize that the only reason we're getting this story now is that you're writing her off.

No matter how you end it, it's not going to do her story justice. If you kill her off to end her crisis of faith story, you're not reaching the many Christians who watch the show. If you have her leaving Seattle and taking Harriet with her, you didn't know April. If you have her leaving Seattle and abandoning Harriet, you really didn't know April. So anyway you choose to end her story, you lost out on one great character.

You messed up.

Both April Kepner and Sarah Drew deserved better.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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'Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild' Reminds Me Why I Play Video Games

The newest title in the "Legend of Zelda" franchise is worthy of all the praise.
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Video games are a kind of art, whether you agree or not. They have visuals, music, a story (most of the time), and have countless hours of hard work put into them by their creators, testers, critics, lovers, and haters alike. There are bad games, and there are good games. That line is blurred more often than you think, and there are very, very few games in the world (in my opinion) that are objectively bad or good. What does this have to do with anything, though, right? Why am I saying these things?

"Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" is a game that came out last year for the brand-new Nintendo Switch as a launch title, and it had been hyped for quite a while by fans and gamers alike. Personally, there were two things wrong with my view on the game itself. One, I was never a big fan of the LOZ series and formula, and two, I dislike hype. I've been disappointed by and had friends be disappointed by things that had false hype to be good but then ended up either being mediocre or just completely flopping altogether. So, the real question is: "Does BOTW live up to its hype?"

"Legend of Zelda" is one of the most beloved franchises in video game history, and first started back in 1986 on the NES and was created by video game superstar and Nintendo elite Shigeru Miyamoto, and has since evolved into a franchise spanning almost double-digit consoles and around 25 official games. The games are all different in some way but follow the same basic plotline: You play as Link, a green-clad young man who seeks to save the country of Hyrule from Ganon, an evil being created by malice and hatred incarnating in the shape of a man. You are helped by the equally-famous Princess Zelda, the daughter of the king of Hyrule, who uses her mastery of magic to assist Link in his quests. She occasionally needs saving, but sometimes she's kicking butt by his side. This formula is decades-old but is still loved and cherished today.

BOTW follows this formula almost to a T, actually. You wake up as a young man in some kind of chamber, where you find out that you are Link, the royal knight, and protector of Princess Zelda. You find out as well that you have been asleep for the past 100 years, and that you only just awoke from the injuries that you suffered. Next, you are tasked with finding and reclaiming the four Divine Beasts, great mechanical animals that were controlled by four of Princess Zelda's champions, and then to defeat Calamity Ganon in Hyrule Castle. The only problem with that? You are missing your amazing weapon of old: the Master Sword, a straight sword that uses the power of light to banish evil. You are also being dropped into a world full of perils that you have to overcome and learn from in order to succeed. You must find your sword, free the beasts, and defeat Ganon to save Hyrule and the Princess.

BOTW is an open-world game with so much to do that I could probably write a novel about it. Besides the main quests, there are countless extra things to do and people to meet and help that I can't even begin to go into detail. You'd need a guide to make sure you had seen everything. The world is beautiful and intricate, like a huge watercolor painting, almost. While BOTW doesn't have as good of "graphics" as other open-world favorites like "Skyrim" and "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt", the game is stylized and perfect in its own way and doesn't need to necessarily look realistic to be considered excellent.

The characters are the most realistic part of the game, with many races and people besides the Hylian human-like people. There are the Zora, people who are essentially anthropomorphic sharks and squids, the Rito, who are feathered bird-people, the Urbosa, a tribe of desert-dwelling women who live in a sheltered society that drives away all men, and the Gorons, large, roundish creatures that are very durable, and who roll to move. Each of these tribe has their own culture and customs, and while the Gorons are very hospitable to you, you may find yourself at the spearpoint of an Urbosa guard if you make a mistake. Each of the champions, those who controlled the four beasts, are one from each of the tribes.

The music is stellar, and I often find myself wanting to boot up the game again just to hear it. The soundtrack is very piano-heavy, but it makes excellent use of this versatile instrument to denote peace, stillness, and tranquility, as well as danger, peril, and excitement. One of my favorite experiences playing the game was walking in the field minding my own business and hearing the beautiful, light piano flit by, when all of a sudden my ears are assaulted by high-pitched, fluctuating notes, indicating the presence of a Guardian, a gigantic, robot-like enemy that presented a real danger, as it can easily kill you early-game. The emotions that I felt from just the music alone were incredible, and that is just one example.

The story is come-and-go like I said before, but it's still amazing. One task you are given is to find all of the locations of the pictures on your Sheikah Slate, a piece of technology that is not unlike the Nintendo Switch gamepad, that takes pictures and scans enemies for you, along with many other things. When you find these places and remember these scenes, you are given fully-voiced scenes that bring clarity to the whole situation you're in, and you get to witness why the Princess did what she did for you, and it heightens your sense of urgency to defeat Ganon. I'm choosing not to talk about a lot for the sake of spoilers, but rest assured that the developers took extra time and care to craft such a unique and moving tale.

The gameplay is where I'm most concerned, and where I have some complaints. The game flows well and is beautiful, and most of the gameplay involves you solving puzzles and defeating enemies by using weapons or your bow. But unlike other Zelda games, you can't keep a weapon very long because they break. Before I played the game, I was disgusted by something like that, as I figured that a weapon I liked so much had no right to break, but it's not too bad, actually. Sure, it gets annoying having to switch weapons constantly because that spear you were using broke, but there are weapons literally everywhere.

The second issue I have is that the first few hours of the game can be brutal, particularly if you wander somewhere you technically aren't "supposed" to be in. There's really not a lot of balancing in this game, which is something that most open-world games have to account for. If you're low-level, only low-level enemies appear until you get to a certain point, but in this game, if you go somewhere that is technically "late-game", you may find yourself struggling. My final issue with the game is the stamina bar, which is consumed when you run, attack, and climb. I hate this feature in all games, but in this one, it's particularly obnoxious. You are expected to traverse and make your way through the area, and climb towers to unlock parts of the map for that area, but how can you do that when the stamina bar is so terrible? It runs out way too quick, in my opinion. You can make it bigger, but you have to choose between increasing stamina or health in this game when you have the item to do so, and it's almost always better to pick health. Climbing is also obnoxious, as the game punishes you for trying to get to the top faster by jumping. You also can't climb very well when it's raining, which is more often than you think.

Next, there are various shrines that you have to complete puzzles and challenges to get spirit orbs, which you can trade four of for another heart of health, or a quarter of a stamina wheel. These shrine challenges range from fun and interesting to just plain frustrating, especially the ones where you have to pick up the Switch or Wii U gamepad to move a ball through a maze. I was playing on a Switch Pro-controller (looks like an Xbox controller, and is the correct way to play a game), and I had to physically get up, break my immersion, and use the gamepad to navigate the stupid little ball inside the hole. It was obnoxious and honestly stupid, in my opinion.

While there are some annoyances in gameplay, there are plenty of mechanics that are cool and well-made. You can tame horses and ride them throughout the land, and there's a whole library of things you can cook over a fire to make food so that you can restore your health. The amount of consumable items is incredible and gives you a lot of freedom in crafting. I had some of the most fun seeing what I could make if I mixed an apple, a banana, rice, meat, and piece of fish in a skillet together. While it sounds gross, you could be surprised how tasty your finished product will look!

You'll be a master chef in no time, honestly.

In conclusion, "Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" is an amazing game that is definitely worthy of a lot of the praise it gets, but I personally think that many critics and players overlook the obnoxious game design choices because they have nostalgia-goggles on. LOZ fans, like many fans, can be disillusioned about the most recent game because they hold their favorite series in such high esteem. This is true of almost any fan of a franchise, though. It's certainly rampant with "Pokémon" fans, that's for sure. Still, BOTW is absolutely worth playing if you can get your hands on it.

Pros:

+ Unique and beautiful aesthetic that sets it apart from other open-world games

+ Mesmerizing soundtrack that conveys every emotion under the sun at just the right time

+ Great writing and characters that will make you laugh out loud or even tear up a little

+ There are many layers of complexity to the game, like sneaking mechanics and the amount of food you can cook and armor you can find

+ A great story that makes you want to play it again and again

Cons:

- Some of the shrine puzzles are just plain obnoxious and unfun

- Has a lack of balancing, where you may run into late-game enemies if you wander too far away

- The stamina wheel is poorly-designed and breaks immersion

Final Verdict: 8.5/10

Cover Image Credit: Nintendo

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