Between natural disasters and political turmoil, Taylor Swift is making news all on her own with the release of unprecedented new music that have fans and critics alike talking.
On Aug. 24, Swift released the first single from her new album “Reputation” called “Look What You Made Me Do,” after an extended hiatus from the public eye. A red and black themed lyric video accompanied the audio release. Just days later, the nation viewed the jaw-dropping music video that premiered at MTV’s Video Music Awards.
Swift, equally well known for her romantic endeavors as well as her music, has always had a flare for the dramatic and “Look What You Made Me Do” is no exception. With multiple costume changes, appearances by Taylors of old music videos and a bathtub full of real diamonds, viewers stay captivated from beginning to end.
Both the lyrics and the music video have an uncharacteristically dark theme compared to her past preppy and spunky productions. This coincides with her clear desire to reinvent her reputation, yet one reference suggests that she’s not quite ready to let the ‘old Taylor’ die. If “I’ve got a list of names and yours is in red, underlined” refers to the “long list of ex- lovers” from her 2015 single “Blank Space,” Taylor Swift, old or new, is still boy-obsessed.
The release of “Look What You Made Me Do” follows two landmark events in Swift’s life. In mid-August, a judge ruled in favor of Swift in a countersuit against David Mueller, who was suing Swift because he claimed he was unjustly fired from his job after being accused of groping her at a 2013 meet-and-greet.
Swift’s unapologetic testimony against Mueller worked in her favor as well as bringing to the limelight the bigger issue of sexual assault culture that has, in the past, been brushed under the rug. Swift gracefully used her leverage as a celebrity to draw attention to a serious issue.
“I am not going to allow your client to make me feel like it is any way my fault because it isn’t,” Swift said to the jury.
Swift was in the middle of her “Red” tour at the time of the incident, and, while quick action was taken against Mueller soon after the assault occurred, those events proceeded largely out of the public eye. Why? Because in 2013, the “old Taylor” was still alive, and everything was about—you guessed it—her reputation.
Soon after the ruling, fans were shocked to find her Instagram account wiped of all pictures previously posted, going back years in the past and, this time, her account wasn’t sabotaged like it was earlier in the year by Russian hackers. With no warning and seemingly no rhyme or reason for doing it, rumors started to spread. Was a new album about to drop? Was there another big announcement coming? Online, her fans were abuzz with anticipation.
If Swift wants “Look What You Made Me Do” to wipe the slate for her reputation, her most recent single, “…Ready For It?” released on Sunday begins the next chapter of her story. With lyrics like “Baby, let the games begin,” and “I forget their names now, I’m so very tame now,” listeners are left anticipating the substance of the rest of the songs on her new album. Although not as mysterious as “Look What You Made Me Do,” “…Ready For It?” still emphasizes the new era that Swift is entering whether her fans are on board with it or not.
Longtime fans of Swift have seen her music evolve throughout her years in the spotlight, from breakout country sensation to rising pop superstar to seasoned limelight veteran. Her newest style— the “new Taylor” with a new album, an empty Instagram and an unapologetic air about her, whether wiping the slate clean, or adding to her already bursting portfolio of what makes up her reputation, will be sure to make headlines. Some things just never change.
Be sure to listen to her two singles and new music video while you wait for her new album. “Reputation” will be released on Nov. 10. Are you ready for it?