Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Domerberry Album Review: Reputation

Well, folks, the time that at least three of you have probably been waiting for has arrived: I'm finally writing my review of Taylor Swift's new album. This is a thing that happens on my blog. Mine is not to question why. Tradition says I must review TayTay. My iTunes account says I'm still that sucker who'll fork over $13 every time she releases a new album. So here we are.

To start with the elephant in the room, yes, I know. This album is not that good. And yes, I also know that Taylor is problematic these days and needs to be better at renouncing white supremacists and not to say yadda yadda to a serious issue but yadda yadda. I get it. We should hold our public figures accountable for using their platforms for good, and we should hold Taylor Swift accountable for better songs than "...Ready for It?."

But pop music is fun, and the burning trash heap that is 2017 is terrible, so I don't know, LET ME HAVE THIS!

On the whole, this album is better than I feared it would be after hearing the first two singles. The trend from 1989 has continued in that, the more she embraces her pop-only label, the more we seem to lose the lovable earnestness that made Taylor the star that she is. Lyrically, she's again not at her best here—"I can't say anything to your face, cuz look at your face"? Really?—but there are moments when the complete absurdity of the lyrics feel like a wink to the audience. I know these lyrics are silly, she seems to be saying, because remember? I'm silly too. The old Taylor seems not dead but hiding, and if you dig deep enough behind the autotune, you'll find her.

Before we begin the important-tracks breakdown, I will say one more thing: Homegirl, I am not referring to your album as a lowercase noun. Stop trying to make angsty stylistic quirks happen. They're not going to happen.

And now, to quote from a much better different pop album that's come out recently, heeeere we go!

"End Game" - I'm not gonna lie to you. After an initial, molecular-level hate of this song brought on by the phrase "biiiiig reputation, biiiig reputation, ohhhh you and me would be a biig conversation, ahhhhh," I ended up kind of liking this song. Is it brainwashing? Is it actually good? Who's to say?

"I Did Something Bad" - Taylor swears now, guys. She has done something bad indeed. And she's done something great by creating this song. The double-punch instrumental sounds before each "good" in this chorus have given me a newfound interest in kickboxing. Have I frightened nearby passengers by quietly dancing to this song on planes recently? Maybe. Call that my something bad.

"Look What You Made Me Do" - "I'm Too Sexy," but then make it Halloween. Moving on.

"King of My Heart" and "Call It What You Want" - There is a lot of British slang on this album, and my first response to it was to think, "We get it, Taylor, you've dated some British guys. You sound weird saying 'fit.'" But then I remembered that I went on two dates with a British guy once and basically decided I was married to Harry Potter and was moving to a wee cottage down the country where my mates could come round for a spot of tea whenever they fancied, and you know what Taylor, yeah, I get it.

"Dancing With Our Hands Tied" - This song...is catchy? And...lyrically sound? All at once? What I did to deserve this gift I may never know. I will overlook the similarity of this title to Legally Blonde's "and we dance without moving our arms."

"Dress" - I have no opinion on this song, but I read a theory online that it's about Ed Sheeran, and I want that concept—of Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift, secret, steamy lovers—to ruin your life like it has ruined mine. I am sorry.

"This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things" - I will never be able to say or hear this phrase again without thinking of this song. I have decided that is not a bad thing.

"New Year's Day" - The old Taylor can come to the phone right now. Thank you, old Taylor. Never change.

So, my little snake-emoji nation, those are my thoughts. And while you're here...

You should donate to Puerto Rico hurricane relief! I was lucky enough to spend the week before Thanksgiving with the wonderful students and staff of the Universidad del Sagrado Corazon—article coming soon, stay tuned y'all—and was shocked to see conditions like these in the United States and wowed by the volunteers who have stepped up to help where the federal government has been slow to. The Hispanic Federation is one good place to direct your donations and read up on policy, and if you'd like to learn about and donate directly to the awesome people I worked with, you can do so here.

Enjoy your Taylor Swift! Donate to PR! Your reputation will get a big boost with me if you do.

...Get it?

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