Originally posted March 7, 2019.
Released: November 10, 2017
Peak: #14 US, #11 UK, #13 CN, #12 AU
Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.1 UK, 4.5 world (includes US and UK)
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)
For her sixth album, Taylor Swift turned to producers Jack Antonoff, Max Martin, and Shellback – all of whom she’d worked with on 1989 album. While that album completed Swift’s transition to pop stardom, this album is arguably her “first self-consciously ‘adult’ record,” AMG “preoccupied with sex, betrayal, and the scars they leave behind.” AMG Previous albums focused on “the singer/songwriter who grew up in public” AMG as “ a babe in the woods” AMG while this one deals with themes such as “handling fame and media coverage of celebrities.” WK
Sonically, Reputation has been described as “brash, weaponized pop” (Neil McCormick, The Daily Telegraph) WK and “another shift, this time into electronic pop” (Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune). WK Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield said this album “builds on the synth-pop of 1989.” WK Reputation “achieves a steely, nocturnal sound,” AMG “dwelling on drum loops and synthesizers.” AMG
This sound is established from the opening song, Ready for It?, which has been described as and “electronic-inspired…industrial pop song with elements of tropical house, dubstep, and trap music.” WK Swift said the song is “about finding your own partner in crime” WK and that it “introduces a metaphor you may hear more of throughout…this kind of Crime and Punishment metaphor.” WK
Look What You Made Me Do, the lead single, treads similar electro-pop territory, interpolating “I’m Too Sexy” by the British dance-pop group Right Said Fred. The song started as a poem “about realizing that you couldn’t trust certain people, but realizing you appreciate the people you can trust.” WK The song hit #1 in at least 15 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom and amassed more than a billion views on YouTube.
Delicate, another single, was about “what happens when you meet somebody that you really want in your life and then you start worrying about what they’ve heard before they met you.” WK Swift wanted to use the vocoder on the song to create “an emotional and vulnerable sound for the track.” WK
Nearly “every song on Reputation has a cool, gleaming patina that’s designed to put an alluring distance between Swift and the listener.” AMG The exception is “the delicate closer New Year’s Day,” AMG a song which “explores the flip side of the romanticism of a New Year’s Eve kiss.” WK It is about the person who “sticks around the next day to give you Adil and clean up the house.” WK
There is some “awkwardness that’s distracting upon first listen but less so on revisits” AMG and “what’s left is a coming of age album anchored by some strong Swift songs” AMG which “carry Swift’s trademark blend of vulnerability, melody, and confidence.” AMG “They are deeply felt and complex, signs that all of the heavy-handed persona plays of reputation were a necessary exercise for her to mature as a singer/songwriter.” AMG