Track by Track: reputation by Taylor Swift (for fans only)

 

 

Everyone interacts with the media they consume in a different way. This is my interpretation of what this album means to me. A few places I’ll reference specific verses from AZ Lyrics as needed. I’m trying to make this a lyrical analysis in the vein of literary analysis.

1.) …Ready For It?

 

Spotify

 

Seems good for a starting track, but that’s obvious. I think this track says that we are made for each other. In every situation they complement each other.

 

“But if he’s a ghost then I can be a phantom”

“Knew I was a robber/…/But if I’m a thief then/He can join the heist”

“And he can be my jailer/Burton to this Taylor”

 

Researching Burton and Taylor says they are the acting duo of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. No idea of the reference before.

 

Isn’t that the ideal relationship we all start out looking for? It’s something I wish for quite frequently and don’t we all at some point.

 

Message:

Sometimes people match up perfectly, but usually the relationship changes the partners to get that perfect match.

 

2.) Endgame (Feat. FUTURE and Ed Sheeran)

Spotify

 

This song combines rapping and singing. A lot of songs these days have that combination. It packs more details into the particular song. Basically, every song on this album has quick sung or spoken statements like this. It’s of note here because the first time I ever heard this enter pop was in a Dido album for 2015, then Bad Blood (Feat. Kendrick Lamar), and then on Ed Sheeran’s albums from + onward. And that’s a trend all over Pop and everything I listen to. I’m a fan of a lot of alternative pop, Halsey, Lana Del Rey, and others.

 

The song says I want to be someone you can always rely on.

 

“I wanna be your end game/I wanna be your first string/I wanna be your A-Team/I wanna be your end game”

 

By the way, Ed Sheeran has a song titled A-Team.

 

End Game is about two guys courting Taylor. Taylor wants to forget about everything except being in love.

 

First FUTURE says:

“You so dope, don’t overdose/I’m so stoked, I need a toast”

“You love it, I love it, too, ’cause you my type”

 

Taylor says:

“I just wanna be/Drinking on a beach with you all over me”

 

Ed Sheeran says:

“Now well, when I was young, we connected/When we were little bit older, both sprung”

“After the storm, something was born on the 4th of July/I’ve passed days without fun, this end game is the one/With four words on the tip of my tongue, I’ll never say it”

 

The argument is history vs. new and flashy. Both are appealing in different ways, but love is still there no matter how it ends.

 

Every friendship is different. Sometimes everything clicks and sometimes you don’t know what’s going on, because everything is so restrained. And depending upon how much both sides want it to work it works or doesn’t. That’s not the same as love. Endgame makes me think of friendship though.

 

Message:

It doesn’t matter what everyone thinks, but the person there with you at the end matters.

 

3.) I Did Something Bad

Spotify

 

Confession: this is my favorite song on here.

 

This song sounds like a whispered confession to me.

 

The verses are about two relationships that she knew wouldn’t last. But still it worked at first and failed later on. I’ll ignore the news postulating the truth behind the lyrics. Digging too deep into the real lives of famous people disappoints me too frequently for it to be very worthwhile. I’ve read the news a little about the Famous scandal, Tom Hiddleston, Joe Alwyn, and Nicki Minaj. But that’s about it.

 

A relationship with a narcissist is destined to fail.

“I never trust a narcissist, but they love me”

 

And it won’t work.

“I can feel the flames on my skin/Crimson red paint on my lips/If a man talks shit, then I owe him nothing/I don’t regret it one bit, ’cause he had it coming”

 

And having a relationship with a playboy is doomed to fail.

“I never trust a playboy, but they love me”

“You gotta leave before you get left’”

 

A playboy goes through relationships like clothes. Each partner is used and put away for greener pastures with another partner. And the cycle continues. Then throwing names sometimes help.

“But if he drops my name, then I owe him nothin’”

 

There’s a reference to witch trials.

“They’re burning all the witches”

I was watching a video about the witch trials on OZY. Apparently a majority of woman prosecuted were widows that inherited property. And that seems what this is alluding to. Wealth makes you a target.

 

The chorus is a few repeating lines:

“They say I did something bad/Then why’s it feel so good?”

 

That line really puzzled me. According to this avowed Pentecost I talk to, bad things feel good because humans are corrupted all the way through. I dismissed that off-hand. Then maybe the outside appearance of doing bad and everyone outside the situation isn’t entitled to an opinion. That’s my interpretation of what this means.

 

Message:

People can twist things around to make you the bad guy, but that alone can’t make you a bad person.

 

4.) Don’t Blame Me

Spotify

 

This song sounds different than everything else on the album.

 

It’s a few layers of Taylor’s voice through the chorus. I heard something like this in an older Halsey song, Empty Gold and another from Badlands: New Americana.

 

It sounds like a gospel you would hear from a church choir.

 

Love is equated to a drug, madness, and a lifetime addiction.

“Don’t blame me, love made me crazy/If it doesn’t, you ain’t doing it right/Lord, save me, my drug is my baby/I’ll be using for the rest of my life”

 

I agree with those associations, and they aren’t new. Love feels good. And the connection makes people seek out love. And loving someone isn’t sane, omitting the wide acceptability of love. Fear of giving another person so much power to hurt you has a widely recognized name “fear of commitment”. And people look for love all their days, if a few things haven’t gone wrong.

 

This song is about the search for love. And that’s basically life. That’s why so much media out there is about finding love, holding on to love, and finding peace after love is gone.

 

One line was interesting.

“I once was poison ivy, but now I’m your daisy”

 

I think that’s about how before everything looked horrible, and now she’s happy and in love.

 

Message:

Love is something we will always need, and pursuing it isn’t a crime.

 

5.) Delicate

Spotify

 

This song uses a whispery voice to differentiate thoughts from what’s going on outside.

 

It starts with wondering if everything is alright.

“Dive bar on the east side, where you at?”

 

Then later everything is going fine.

“Long night, with your hands up in my hair/…/Stay here, honey, I don’t wanna share”

 

The chorus is the most telling.

“Is it cool that I said all that?/Is it chill that you’re in my head?/’Cause I know that it’s delicate (delicate)/…/Is it too soon to do this yet?”

 

That asks if it’s too soon for me talk about this. Do I feel closer to you than you feel to me?

 

That’s frequently my experience with friendship. I’m an oversharer. And sometimes that tanks a friendship before it’s actually a friendship. Blogging is the perfect way to overshare, hence this blogging journey I’m on. I’m tangled up in anxiety deciding what to share. Is this too much too soon? And when’s the right time? How will I know?

 

Message:

Relationships will always be complicated, but that’s one of the things that make a relationship work, that back and forth.

 

6.) Look What You Made Me Do

Spotify

 

This song paints a clear picture in my head of a Whodunit stage play. The victim is the lyrics of Famous. And possible perpetrators standing around, Kim, Kanye, and Taylor.

“Don’t like your tilted stage/The role you made me play”

“You said the gun was mine”

 

Then it goes on a little about betrayal and reversals of fortune.

“I’ll be the actress starring in your bad dreams”

That line implies that Taylor isn’t the party at fault. Everyone is casting her as an actress playing the villain.

 

“The world moves on, another day, another drama, drama/But not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma”

The rhyming of drama and karma really impressed me at first but a few other words rhyme with drama. Pharma, parma, Dharma, and diorama.

 

The chorus is odd if you watch the music video.

“Look what you made me do”

That’s basically the justification people use when the do something they question inside. But the music video is about her rebirth as a new character for the media. That doesn’t really feel evil. It feels weak. The events didn’t cause the transformation but coincided. It feels like a woman balancing between being weak and being bitchy. That bugs me, but still I fall to that position as a gut reaction. I think most people feel that gut reaction, but it’s more important what we do after.

 

Message:

Sometimes things are meant to be a certain way, and nothing can change destiny.

 

7.) So It Goes…

Spotify

 

This song is about the duality of life. Everything can go both ways. That happens again and again.

“Cut me into pieces/Gold cage, hostage to my feelings/Back against the wall/Trippin’, trip, trippin’ when you’re gone”

When we’re together, I feel trapped. When you leave, I can’t handle it.

 

“‘Cause we break down a little/And when you get me alone, it’s so simple”

When we’re apart, the problems arise. But together everything fades away.

 

“And our pieces fall/Right into place/Get caught up in the moments/Lipstick on your face”

Everything should be perfect. but life isn’t that neat. Nothing can be.

 

“I’m yours to keep/And I’m yours to lose”

Anything can happen. Win or lose is life. That’s how things go. So It Goes…

 

“You know I’m not a bad girl, but I/Do bad things with you”

Again that duality. With you I’m a different person.

 

“Come here, dressed in black now”

“Scratches down your back now”

Everything started great, but everything is different now. And we can’t go back.

 

“But, honestly, baby, who’s counting?/Who’s counting?/1, 2, 3”

I’m trying to forget our troubles, but that’s just not possible.

 

This is something that happens to me. Everything has two emotional routes in your reaction. Positive and negative. Love and fear of rejection. Jealousy and happiness. Anger and sadness. Boredom and self-loathing. Laughter and embarrassment. Everything has that duality. That’s why stories like Mr. Hyde/Dr. Jekyll, Dorian Grey, and superheroes work so well.

 

Message:

Life happens, and the outcomes can’t be changed too much.

 

8.) Gorgeous

Spotify

 

This song didn’t make sense for a long time before I read the dedication in the Taylor Swift Target Exclusive Magazine Volume 1. It’s written for a baby. That explains a few things. And the writer’s want to make it possible that the song is about an adult I think. That’s a really far stretch though.

 

“That I got drunk and made fun of the way you talk.”

Because isn’t that what we do when we imitate baby talk.

 

“You should think about the consequence/Of your magnetic field being a little too strong.”

Aren’t we all drawn to the cuteness of babies?

 

“And I got a boyfriend, he’s older than us”

But isn’t that something you could hypothetically say to a baby when talking about an older person.

 

“You’re so cool, it makes me hate you so much”

This sounds a lot like that phrase “something makes my face as smooth as a baby’s bottom”. Those anti-aging commercials make me feel like they speak to the jealousy and slight anger that the young are young. And that’s a far stretch too.

 

“You’ve ruined my life, by not being mine”

That reminds me of the joke some people used to make about children: You’re so adorable, I wouldn’t mind taking you home with me.

 

”’Cause look at your face”

That really doesn’t mean a thing unless that face is a universal symbol of cuteness, or being gorgeous. Because people can be pretty in different ways.

 

“That I’m talking to everyone here but you”

That seems like something you would say to a baby, right?

 

“If you got a girlfriend, I’m jealous of her/But if you’re single that’s honestly worse”

Isn’t that another joke people make? A baby having the responsibilities of an adult. Like a job. Maybe a girlfriend. That’s basically the premise of Boss Baby.

 

“Ocean blue eyes looking in mine/I feel like I might sink and drown and die”

This probably speaks to how baby blue eyes are much brighter than the adult version. And babies stare into your eyes with unrivaled intensity because they’re studying you.

 

I have sometimes experienced this jealousy for a baby with it’s whole life ahead and all the open possibilities. And sometimes a wish that things could’ve been different when I was younger. Basically that’s the question “would you like a do-over? Would you do the same things again?”

 

Message:

Jealousy clouds every interaction with fog.

 

9.) Getaway Car

Spotify

 

The third best song on the album.

 

The sound is really cinematic.

 

I think it’s about cheating to get away from a relationship.

“I wanted to leave him/I needed a reason”

 

“Think about the place where you first met me/We’re ridin’ in a getaway car”

Meeting someone in a getaway car is impossible, so that must be a metaphor for something else right? A getaway car takes you away from a bad situation or something that doesn’t work.

 

“X marks the spot, where we fell apart/He poisoned the well, I was lyin’ to myself”

That old relationship would never work, but I convinced myself it would.

 

“There were sirens in the beat of your heart”

Being with this new guy makes me feel guilty.

 

“We were jet-set, Bonnie and Clyde/Until I switched to the other side”

Defection back to the lover that she was getting away from. She confessed and ended both relationships.

 

Sometimes I need a break from my life. I find that in the pages of a book I’m reading, a story I’ve written, or mediation.

 

Message:

Things aren’t neat and tidy as we would like, but in the end everything works out fine.

 

10.) King of My Heart

Spotify

 

“you are the one I have been waiting for”

She found the love that has been alluding her.

 

At first everything seems fine being single.

“I’m better off being alone “

 

Then it happens.

“We met a few weeks ago”

 

“And you move to me like I’m a Motown beat/And we rule the kingdom inside my room”

We are perfect together when we’re alone. And what everyone else thinks doesn’t matter.

 

It doesn’t matter that the guy isn’t rich, but they are great together.

“‘Cause all the boys and their expensive cars/…/Never took me quite where you do”

 

“Your love is a secret I’m hoping, dreaming, dying to keep”

Again everything is great in private, but sharing will ruin things a little bit.

 

“Change my priorities/The taste of your lips is my idea of luxury”

Love is so important that it changes priorities.

 

“Is this the end of all the endings?/My broken bones are mending/With all these nights we’re spending”

Are you the one? Being with you feels good enough to heal me from everything that happened before with love.

 

For me, finding love has been dream that may never be realized, and that fact makes me a little sad. But that’s I choice I’ve made long ago, not to try given my status quo.

 

Message:

Love changes you.

 

11.) Dancing with Our Hands Tied

Spotify

 

Second best song of this album.

 

Love between her and someone else that remained her secret.

“I, I loved you in secret”

 

“My, my love had been frozen/Deep blue, but you painted me golden”

She’d wilted from love, and his love made her capable of love again.

 

“I could’ve spent forever with your hands in my pockets/Picture of your face in an invisible locket”

The way she loved him meant she was okay with loving him and keeping it her personal secret.

 

“You said there was nothing in the world that could stop it/I had a bad feeling”

He’s in love with her, but she didn’t think it would work out.

 

“And darling, you had turned my bed into a sacred oasis/People started talking, putting us through our paces/I knew there was no one in the world who could take it”

They were together, then people started to find out. That pulled them apart.

 

“But we were dancing/Dancing with our hands tied”

They can still spend time together, but not together like we were.

 

“I, I loved you in spite of/Deep fears that the world would divide us/So, baby, can we dance/Oh, through an avalanche?”

She still loves him. Can they be together again? At least they’ll have this. She would do anything to have this.

 

”And say, say that we got it/I’m a mess, but I’m the mess that you wanted/Oh, ’cause it’s gravity Oh, keeping you with me”

Everyone still sees the love between them even though they aren’t “together”. They are perfect for each other. It was inevitable they would be together.

 

“I’d kiss you as the lights went out/Swaying as the room burned down/I’d hold you as the water rushes in/If I could dance with you again”

If they end up in the same room again, she wouldn’t be afraid. She wouldn’t allow anything to between them.

 

The part about loving in secret used to be me, except it was a secret kept from me too, for years. I have experienced romantic one-way love and could never act on it. I’ve had to be satisfied with hiding it away like this song starts. Sometimes I feel like I’m living with my hands tied because of Duchesne muscular dystrophy. If I could be normal, I could do so much more.

 

Message:

Nothing should stop love. Until you realize that’s the point of life.

 

12.) Dress

Spotify

 

This song is obvious in meaning but a few things stood out to me.

 

“Our secret moments/In your crowded room/They’ve got no idea/About me and you/…/Made your mark on me/A golden tattoo”

No one see what’s between us, but it’s deep. We love each other.

 

This reminds me of the way social gathering feel like to me. I’m really good at one-on-one conversations and suck a talking in groups.

 

“All of this silence and patience, pining and anticipation”

This is longing for something.

 

I long for a lot of things but mainly getting cured.

 

“I don’t want you like a best friend”

I’ve always thought that was the ideal way for love to develop. Best friends falling in love.

 

“And if I get burned, at least we were electrified”

It doesn’t matter if this relationship implodes, at least we had these moments.

 

Basically my philosophy for life is “it’s better to have loved and lost than not having loved at all.” Or “it’s always better to know any experience even just once”. And not repeating it might as well hurt like hell, but it was worth it. My life has a lot of lasts. Last time I walked. Last time I breathed for myself. Last time I talked.

 

“Everyone thinks that they know us/But they know nothing about”

People know what we allow them to know. And they can never know/understand everything even if we tell them.

 

“Even in my worst times, you could see the best of me”

I can never do wrong in his eyes. He loves everything about me.

 

Message:

How we are together matters. And what everyone thinks doesn’t matter.

 

13.) This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Spotify

 

This song seems to match really well with the Great Gatsby.

 

The first image is right on.

“It was so nice throwing big parties/Jump into the pool from the balcony/Everyone swimming in a champagne sea/…/Feeling so Gatsby for that whole year”

 

“Did you think I wouldn’t hear all the things you said about me?”

Gatsby knew what everyone was saying and just didn’t care.

 

“But you stabbed me in the back while shaking my hand”

That is ultimately what happens in the Great Gatsby. The protagonist finds that hanging with Gatsby isn’t that great for your mental health.

 

Never had that experience of excluding people, but being the one excluded. That explains my interpretation of this song. The desired meaning is way off probably.

 

It started as a song about wrongdoers or mean people getting cut off for revenge after trying everything else first.

 

Message:

Some people aren’t worth the trouble.

 

14.) Call it What You Want

Spotify

 

If I’m with him, nothing else matters.

“My castle crumbled overnight/…/They took the crown but it’s alright “

 

“Nobody’s heard from me for months/I’m doing better than I ever was”

I don’t need anybody except him.

 

“Cause…/My baby’s fit like a daydream/…/So call it what you want, yeah”

That is because I love a great person. And I don’t care what everyone thinks.

 

“My baby’s fly like a jet stream/High above the whole scene/Loves me like I’m brand new”

He’s above it all. He just cares about loving me.

 

“Windows boarded up after the storm/He built a fire just to keep me warm”

I’ve hardened against everything, and still he makes me feel good.

 

“All the jokers dressing up as kings/They fade to nothing when I look at him”

Nothing else matters when I’m with him.

 

“And I know I make the same mistakes every time/Bridges burn, I never learn/At least I did one thing right/I did one thing right/I’m laughing with my lover”

Everything else is going wrong except her love for him.

 

“I want to wear his initial on a chain round my neck/…/Not because he owns me/But ’cause he really knows me/…/But would you run away with me?””

They are actually in love. And he’s her escape.

 

This is again the song that describes my dream of finding love from a different perspective.

 

Message:

What other people think doesn’t make people happy, but happiness is there in finding love.

 

15.) New Year’s Day

Spotify

 

It’s about a New Year’s party that’s a microcosm for how to love.

 

“There’s glitter on the floor after the party”

The party was fun but it’s over now. We have great times together, but after.

 

“Don’t read the last page/…/I want your midnights/But I’ll be cleaning up bottles with you on New Year’s Day”

After the party, the good times are over. That doesn’t matter. How we are together when things aren’t so good really matters. It doesn’t matter how this will end, but right now we love each other. That’s what matters. I don’t want lose you, because we are great together.

 

“You squeeze my hand three times in the back of the taxi/I can tell that it’s gonna be a long road/I’ll be there if you’re the toast of the town, babe/Or if you strike out and you’re crawling home “

It started out simple but I could tell it was going to be something. I’ll be with you through good, bad, and everything.

 

“Hold on to the memories, they will hold on to you/And I will hold on to you”

Remember what we had, because it was something important that you’ll want to remember, and I’ll never forget.

 

“Please don’t ever become a stranger/Whose laugh I could recognize anywhere”

I don’t want to lose you and just remember what we had.

 

This is the ideal love I have in mind. Finding someone that sticks with you through good or bad.

 

Message:

Love is about choosing to be together no matter what and mutually not wanting it to end.

 

Conclusion

 

reputation is a coming to maturity album, becoming a fully fledged adult by accepting you can’t make everyone like/understand you. That’s the difference between adulting and staying a whiny adult. Everybody won’t like you, and what you do with that informs a lot of your future.

 

This album is all about accepting that perception of other people. Two people can grow together. What people think can change a little (…Ready For It?). We look for the person that will be with us at the end. I doesn’t matter what people think, if it can work (Endgame). Sometimes people won’t understand and nothing can change that (I Did Something Bad). There’s nothing wrong with looking for love, because it’s something people do (Don’t Blame Me). We can’t know everything in advance, but that makes life interesting (Delicate). People get what’s coming to them (Look What You Made Me Do). Life happens and what we do can’t change much (So It Goes…). (Sometimes things happen that change us in strange ways (Gorgeous). Things happen and only those involved in the matter have a say (Getaway Car). We find love in unexpected places that might not be approved of by everyone (King of My Heart). Love between two people doesn’t have to be known by others (Dancing With Our Hands Tied and Dress). Sharing something can ruin it (This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things). Everything else going on doesn’t matter except in the way we feel about it (Call It What You Want). Love is something special that can be elusive but well worth it (New Year’s Day).

 

New Year’s Day sounds a little like what people expect when two people in love don’t ever have plans to get married. Like how Gorgeous is a little about babies.

 

GK

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Published by

Graham Kar

Writer, Reader, Radical Thinker

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