Taylor Swift’s Reputation finally dropped in full Friday and, regardless of whether or not you love the new Taylor, everyone will be talking about this album for weeks to come.
Her sixth studio album and second full-on pop record kicks off with “… Ready for It?” and includes the singles that have continuously kept her at the tip of our tongues since August: “Look What You Made Me Do,” “Gorgeous,” and “Call It What You Want.”
So what about the rest of the album? As expected, it's fun, it’s peppy, smooth, and it’s what you’d happily listen to before getting ready for a night out with friends or waiting to board a plane once you’ve crossed the terminal.
Across its 15 tracks, Swift returns with the familiar chart-topping vocals she shared on 1989—there’s no country twang here—though this time the overall sound (with Swift, Jack Antonoff, Max Martin, Shellback among the producers) has stronger hip-hop, R&B, and indie pop vibes.
On some tracks, she sounds like a cross between Rihanna on Anti, Halsey on Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, and Lady Gaga on “The Cure,” perhaps mixed with Lorde, Flume, Charli XCX, and Billie Eilish. Some of those examples may sound like a stretch, but plain and simple: You’re going to be listening to Reputation over and over and over and over again.
So what do the lyrics say? As we’ve talked about for weeks, Swift addresses the capital D drama between her and other celebrities (Katy Perry and Kim Kardashian and Kanye West come to mind) but also, guys, it sounds like Taylor Swift is 100 percent, head-over-heels certifiably in love.
On “Delicate,” she sings about meeting a guy (could it be boyfriend Joe Alwyn?) who likes her despite what the headlines say.
This ain’t for the best
My reputation’s never been worse so
You must like me for me
“End Game,” which features Ed Sheeran and Future, finds her singing about wanting to be with one man only and defending herself against the boy-crazy stereotype (“I swear I don’t love the drama, it loves me”). Future raps about being the bad boy and Sheeran defends her by relating to her experiences with fame and love.
Notably, her lyrics remind us that she’s still mad at those who cross her (“If a man talks s—, then I owe him nothing” she sings on “I Did Something Bad”) and she fully plays up the good-girl-gone-bad persona. Though from the sounds of it, the new Taylor is just the real Taylor unraveled. “You know I’m not a bad girl, but I do bad things with you,” she sings on “So It Goes.”
Swift addresses her love life too. “I’ve been breakin’ hearts a long time, and toyin’ with them older guys,” she sings on “Don’t Blame Me.” The singer addresses past tumultuous relationships, and there are a lot of references to drinking late at night.
But make no mistake: She’s now happy. “You are the one I have been waiting for, king of my heart,” she sings on “King of My Heart.” “Only bought this dress so you could take it off,” she sings on “Dress.”
“New Year’s Day,” a song which die-hard Swifties had initially speculated could be about a potential engagement between Swift and Alwyn, is a sweet, slow love ballad about being in it for the long haul. “You and me forevermore,” she sings.
All in all, it’s as if the dramatic promotion behind Reputation—the Instagram blackout, the videos, the snakes the Kim and Kanye quarrel, etc.—blurs out the fact that, in my opinion, Swift appears to be in the best place in her life so far.
Make no mistake: The new album surely stirs the post with those in her past, but above it all, it's about where she is now.