I have been there since (almost) the beginning. Taylor has been a big part of my life for about ten years now and I grew up while she did. This means that I highly anticipated this album, but also feel like I’m in a better place to stand back and not be as biased as I would’ve been three years ago because we’ve both grown up.
(The best songs on this album were collaborations with Jack Antonoff, hands down. Thank you, Jack, for some of the great things you helped give us.)
1. …Ready For It?
When the single came out, it was definitely tamer than “Look What You Made Me Do” and after the uproar that one caused we needed something that pulled back. However, the music video sent me spiraling into a land of confusion. She’s a clone? Good clone Taylor is really bad? What is happening? But when I sat down to listen to the whole thing, it had the right effect in context. It got my adrenaline up and ready for the everything that was to come.
2. End Game (feat. Ed Sheeran and Future)
Taylor has collaborated with Ed before (see “Everything Has Changed”) and it was pretty beautiful. But, with the addition of Future I was nervous to see what the sound would be. I have to admit, it missed the mark for me. It almost feels like Taylor being something she isn’t. And if she feels like it’s her, wonderful and go her. But musically, I want more.
3. I Did Something Bad
The first listen, I looked at my friend and my jaw dropped. It has been a rocky few years for her in the light of the media and she made some bad choices, but also was blamed and targeted for things out of her control. But here she is standing up saying “yeah okay I’m human and I’m not perfect so if you really want to come after me, do it.” It’s empowering. It shows strength. And it’s a pretty fun jam.
4. Don’t Blame Me
Off the bat I was a fan, but as I’ve listened more and more I kind of pass over this one. It has some cool metaphors dropped in, but not a lot of depth lyrically or sonically. She simultaneously is again admitting that she may have been utilizing relationships to her benefit, but also saying you can’t blame her because love makes you crazy (relatable AF).
Other than the choir sound during the chorus after the bridge when she starts hitting some fun notes (which oooh it really kicks), it’s not a standout.
Much more understated than some of what we’ve heard, but I really like. There’s an infectious groove in the background that makes it hard not to slowly dance to. It’s her classic love song with a popular twist for what music is trending, and it gives the listener a breath of fresh air after the first four songs that went hard. It’s tender in its own way but also quietly bold. It grew on me a lot.
6. Look What You Made Me
We all know this song well enough, and although I was not a huge fan when it came out (it left me out of sorts for days, overwhelmed with the message and the idea that my beloved Old Taylor is dead and that she rhymed time with time but I didn’t completely hate it), but I can get with it now. And it has some fun lines to drop in everyday conversation to see if anyone notices.
7. So It Goes…
The transition song of the album where we start to drop that anger and more harsh, in your face feelings of the past songs to the fresh feeling of new love that she’s trying to understand how it fits into her life now.
The end of the bridge is very clever, singing about “you did a number on me but who’s counting?” and then quietly counting “1, 2, 3” to lead into the chorus again. We’re all counting. But other than that, nothing really stands out with this one either. But I can still dramatically sing it in front of a mirror and that’s what matters.
The production of this one is the most unique out of all of them. It starts off with a little 80’s vibe, we have a fun triangle ding to start the chorus, and then a more “spoken” bridge to tie things off.
I’m not always a fan of the cute little inserts of speaking about “stumbling home to my cats” (don’t get me wrong I love cats more than many things) because it distracts from the song for me. I'm a fan of meaningful lyrics and this isn't' packed with them so it's not my song of choice.
9. Getaway Car
Speaking of song of choice, this song is absolutely everything. Arguably the most like Old Taylor on the album, the story of this song is a journey. Following her starting a new relationship to escape the old one that died, and eventually accepting that she knew he was just her escape all along and now she needs to leave the rebound.
Oh my I will never get over this song. “I struck a match and blew your mind.” “We never had a shotgun shot in the dark.”
The lyrics in the entire bridge. THE STORY. THE INSTRUMENTALS. THE COMPLEX LYRICS. THE RHYMING PLAYOUT. This song wins. Perfect to play on repeat while looking out the window on a long ride, pretending you are leaving your past and saying goodbye in your own getaway car.
10. King of My Heart
I am a sucker for the bridges of songs. If they have really hard-hitting lyrics or do the fun thing where it’s the chorus but the instrumentals drop out so it’s just lead singing, it gets me.
This one gives us that kind of bridge so I continue to listen, but it’s not the very top of the album. I like that she put in the beginning that she was accepting and celebrating thinking she was better off alone for a little bit, but love found a way. It’s a good thing to remember that it’s okay to take time for yourself.
11. Dancing With Our Hands Tied
One of the only ones that I still can’t remember how it goes five days after the album was released. Maybe it’s underwhelming? Maybe I’m not a fan? Either way, I lost this one. I feel like it’s something I’ve heard a lot, which means I don’t dislike it but I don’t love it. There weren’t really any standout lyrics either, so I think this one got lost in translation for me.
Ah yes, the infamous song where Taylor finally gets a little explicit and not happy-teenage romance. Imagining Taylor, who is in her late 20’s, having an adult relationship is shocking for the world.
There are some great parts when she mentions him seeing the best in her and her truth no matter what and when she sings “and if I get burned at least we were electrified” and those hit you in the feels in the right way. And she even stops the song for a few seconds when she sings “say my name and everything just stops” and those are the little things that make a song special.
13. This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
An anthem. She sets the scene. It’s glamorous, it’s fun, it’s lively.
From the transition of the party music in the beginning to the swooping melancholy reflection of her parade getting rained on to the standing up and looking on an unfortunate situation and almost putting herself above it, being unbothered. For anyone who feels like they were betrayed by a friend, this is for you.
Yes, the bridge will annoy many people and it can be argued it’s childish. But sometimes, you don’t need to forgive. You can move on, but not everyone deserves to be told what they did was okay. And if you’re bothered by this song, you’re part of the inspiration behind it.
14. Call It What You Want
This is a beautiful song about love. It’s understated so I don’t want to analyze a lot, but the pure feeling of being so happy and so secure that you don’t care what anyone says about it or calls it comes through. It’s special and I’m happy she’s found something that inspired it. If you don’t like it now, listen to it a little later when you know you find the one.
15. New Year’s Day
I cried. I did. It’s a beautiful way to end the album that was full of so many different emotions. A journey from feeling scared and alone and needing to lash out to being happy with her love and not caring about what anyone says. It’s a quiet end page. It leaves things open.
Plus, she even says “don’t read the last page, but I stay” and if that doesn’t fill you with emotion, what will. This is the last page of her story of reputation, and she’s ending it but carrying it on at the same time.