Monday, September 17, 2018

Reputation Album Review

I meant to write this a year ago, but I never got around to it. You know how it goes, life just gets busy...

What did I think of Taylor Swift's Reputation album? That is one of the reasons I have been putting off writing this post. I have to say I am not the biggest fan of the album. I have come to terms with the fact that there will be more favorite albums than others from Taylor and I am perfectly fine with that. I hope Taylor if you read this know how much I still love you and care for you, but how it is okay if I did not love this album.
Why is it not my favorite album? It is not my favorite album, because it is two albums in one. It is not sonically cohesive. Reputation is not lyrically cohesive either. Excuse me while I hold my head in shame. One of the messages is about anger and resentment and how she deals filled with harsh sounds. The other message is about her finding love filled with beautiful lyrics and sounds. "End Game" tries to be both of these concepts and loses badly. When I listen to End Game I enjoy the first verse about love and "end games" and then all of the sudden she breaks into rap about her reputation. And goes back and forth the whole song. Just separate the two I say. "King of My Heart" is also two songs in one, starting out nicely and then big and loud with weird sounds. It goes back and forth the whole song too.

Every artist has an album or song like this. What kind of song or album is it? It is about being famous and the problems that go along with it. Britney Spears had the song "Gimme More". She talks about camera flashes and being the center of attention. This is that album for Taylor. She talks about a major fallout she had with Kanye West for most of the album and finding love on the big stage.

The year 2016 was really harsh for Taylor. Not only did she break up with her boyfriend Calvin Harris very publicly, she had a major falling out with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. Kanye basically said that Taylor owed him sexual favors because he made her famous. Taylor stood up for herself at the Grammy's in 2016, and rightly so.

Taylor said:
"I want to say to all the young women out there: There are going to be people along the way who try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame. But if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday, when you get where you’re going, you will look around and you will know — it was you, and the people who love you, who put you there. And that will be the greatest feeling in the world."

Why couldn't we have a whole album about this concept? Kanye and Kim came back later and said Taylor speech was hypocritical because she was okay with him saying she owed him favors because he recorded a phone call with her with him asking about it.  Kim Kardashian and Kanye manipulated the situation (I think for ratings, isn't everything Kim K does for ratings) to make Taylor look like the bad guy. Why would anyone in their right mind be okay with their husband saying such a thing? Taylor was trying to be nice and not start a huge fight. But she does not need to be pushed around by him, no women should be pushed around or accept that as their fate. But because she said she was okay and then she decided she was not okay with him saying she owed him something, all of the sudden Taylor has a bad reputation.

In this album Taylor describes Kanye West's constant, undeserving, belittling of her and how it makes her feel and how she gets past it.  She was not the bad guy even though people said she did "something bad". Kanye was treating Taylor with disrespect and Taylor was not having it. This is what the whole #metoo movement is about. Women not putting up with men's crap. I think she missed the mark because she was too afraid to "blame" him, too afraid to come out and say hey no you can not treat me like that besides that reference. She mentioned it in "I Did Something Bad" possibly the best song on the album, "If a man talks S%$%, then I owe him nothing", but does not explore that message much more in the album. She focuses on her "reputation" too much in the album. The actual word is mentioned in the album in at least 3 or 4 songs and the idea of her reputation is mentioned in most of them. Taylor wrote this before the #metoo movement. I wonder how different the album would have been if she had written it after the movement came out. Would she have had the courage to call out the bad behavior more?

The other message about finding love is epitomized in "Call It What You Want". Taylor says if people hate her, she is okay as long because she has a boy to love her. No Taylor!  This song takes a step back from the independent strong nature of 1989 that was epitomized with the song "New Romantics", where she was fine being alone. People do not need love to conquer all. People can be okay without having to have some romantic interest.

The Reputation Album may conveys the struggles that Taylor was going through at the time. Maybe if the #metoo movement had not been happening at the same time the album would have been okay. But it was. When I heard the album it did not resonate and made me want something more. I wanted the album to call out all those men, and all those that accepted sexual abuse/harassment as the norm and say, we are not having it anymore!!! We needed more songs like "I Did Something Bad" on the album and less songs about her reputation. I think she might have been afraid because of the repercussions after the Grammy speech. I hope Taylor is not too afraid in the future to talk about these concepts. We need it. Men need to know it is not okay to sexually abuse or harass women.

(I will say that on tour Taylor did a great job with "I Did Something Bad". She lengthened the song and really emphasized the story and how when she did something bad, she was not really doing something bad, but standing up for herself. And how that is okay and not Bad.)

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