“Have you heard the new Taylor Swift song yet?” Expect to hear this question countless times over the next few days, following Thursday’s late night release. Taylor Swift has returned with her new single “Look What You Made Me Do,” off of her sixth studio album, Reputation. So, the question on everyone’s mind: is it any good?
Short answer: Yes, “Look What You Made Me Do” is good.
Taylor Swift makes fantastic pop music–she always has. That is not to say that she “plays it safe” by staying in the genre she knows. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: she broadens the scope of pop music with each song and album released. She did the same in country music–successfully blurring the lines between the genres more than anyone who came before her. Nothing about her music is “safe.”
Her brilliant lyricism, infectious melodies, and clear artistic vision allow her to push the envelope and take risks. From “Tim McGraw” to “Bad Blood,” those three qualities remain constant throughout all five of Swift’s albums.
A lot of people, I’m sure, will disagree with that statement, and that’s their right. However, as delineated in Billboard‘s thought-provoking editorial, a lot of people will hate this song, for no reason other than the fact that it’s Taylor Swift. People love to hate her.
Taylor Swift is basically the Hillary Clinton of pop music: clearly qualified to lead but completely undermined by her unlikable and disingenuous public persona.
Much like “Blank Space,” I expect that “Look What You Made Me Do” initially will be met with complaints about her change in style or direction. We, as music consumers, tend to react negatively to such reinvention, at first. But, then, it’ll grow on you. Whether by choice or the radio stations force it down your throat, this song will grow on you.
Swift doesn’t seem to mind waiting for listeners–fans, haters, and everything in between–to warm up to new material or a new sound. A country-pop crossover, Swift has spent her career challenging perceptions and trying to change people’s minds about her. Across genres and topics, Taylor Swift always used music to tell her side of the story and take control of her own narrative. And, “Look What You Made Me Do” is no exception.
Lyrically, the lead single from Reputation (due out in November) is just as clear, and dramatic, as ever in addressing her contentious public image:
“I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now.
‘Cause she’s dead!”
While we’re entitled to our own tastes and opinions, anyone who says, “Taylor Swift sucks” is objectively incorrect. She has 10 Grammy’s, 19 American Music Awards, 8 Academy of Country Music Awards, an Emmy, and record-breaking 21 Billboard Music Awards. And, she’s only 27 years old.
Taylor Swift doesn’t suck, and neither does this song. That’s not a feeling or a judgment. It’s just the truth. You don’t have to like Swift’s music or even like her, but let’s not confuse personal preferences with a critical evaluation of her work.