Taylor Swift –
“Look What You Made Me Do”

Taylor Swift –
“Look What You Made Me Do”

Taytay’s New #SorryNotSorry Track Is a Lot More Fun to Talk About Than Listen To

 

Two years removed for her last album 1989, Taylor Swift is back with “Look What You Made Me Do”. It’s lack of subtlety and wilfully unenthusiastic vibe makes it hard to enjoy, but there’s something almost perversely interesting about considering it in the context of where Taylor fits in 2017.

Rating: 3/11

 

There are two recent pop songs I was reminded of when listening to Taylor Swift’s new single “Look What You Made Me Do”. They are Meghan Trainor’s “Me Too” and Selena Gomez’s “Bad Liar“. Neither comparison is a compliment.

Additionally, both songs only come to mind on the chorus of Swift’s latest track. As anyone who’s heard “Me Too” can attest, the cadence and general flow of Swift’s words here are remarkably similar. That’s not good. “Me Too” is, at the least, not a song you wanna emulate. As far as radio fodder goes it’s not terrible, but it is almost sinisterly anodyne. It’s melody doesn’t regress so much as spin woozily on the spot, like a drunk girl on a mechanical bull yelling “WOOOO!” So, points off for that.

But it’s also clear from the bass-heavy minimalism here that Swift’s been paying attention to Gomez’s runaway single from earlier this year. “Bad Liar” – that most unlikely of success stories, managing to be a hit with both listeners and critics – repurposes an iconic Talking Heads bass riff, crafting such a peppy and creative track out of it that it genuinely feels brand new. To achieve this, it relies on little else than Gomez’s delivery and its funky pulse. In trying to replicate that, Swift finds herself woefully underserved by both this tinny beat and her faux-gritty pouting. Gomez sounds like she’s singing to herself and we’re fortunate enough to get to listen in; Swift sounds like she’s desperately trying to get our attention by pretending she didn’t even see us there.

Moving on, though, it’s the lyrics and how they relate to the Taylor Swift of 2017 that deserve the most scrutiny. Having just won a countersuit against some fuckhead who thought it was cool to grab her arse and more than a year removed from her feud with Kanye, Swift has a lot of fodder to work with. And there’s something admirable – at least in theory – about her tactics here. On paper, the words “I’m sorry, but the Old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh… ’cause she’s dead!” have an emboldened spin to them. Her embrace of the “R.I.P. Taylor” meme is an interesting manoeuvre; it’s the popstar equivalent of “You can’t fire me, I quit!” However, when spoken out loud, these words are the very definition of try-hard. Swift has never been known for her subtlety, but this is the first instance of her writing “I’M BREAKING BAD, BITCHES” on a mallet and pummeling her audience to death with it.

We should bear in mind that there’ll be no shortage of this over the coming weeks. Looking at the newly released album art for her upcoming album Reputation makes Swift’s intentions all the more clear. Most international musicians can’t exist outside the context of their image in the media, so of course we’d eventually get an album that drops all pretense of being about anything other than Taylor’s day-to-day battles with other celebs. And, yeah, it does sound like she’s looking to change the narrative, which is a noble pursuit on some level. Still, wouldn’t it be more interesting if she just shirked all of this petty shit altogether? Honestly, why become a name on the wheel when you can simply break it?

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