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“Look What You Made Me Do” introduces a terrifying, exciting new era for Taylor Swift


"Look What You Made Me Do," the first single off Taylor Swift's sixth album "reputation," released Aug. 24. Photo illustration by Danica Tran

"Look What You Made Me Do," the first single off Taylor Swift's sixth album "reputation," released Aug. 24. Photo illustration by Danica Tran

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Taylor Swift fans are spoiled; since the release of her self-titled debut CD in fall 2006, Swift has consistently released a new album every two years. Thus, Swifties were prepared for new music fall 2016. However, they were sorely disappointed until December, when Swift would collaborate on “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” with ZAYN for the “Fifty Shades Darker” soundtrack; but I could only listen to that single on repeat for so long before I was again eager for more music. Then, fans were horrified Aug. 18 when Swift deleted all her social media posts, unfollowed all accounts and wiped her website. Swifties were shocked when Swift began posting short, cryptic videos of a snake beginning Aug. 21. Finally, Swift announced Aug. 23 that her single, off her new album “reputation,” would drop the next night. At 8:32 p.m. Aug. 24, people around the world began streaming the hit “Look What You Made Me Do.” In less than an hour, the song was number one on iTunes, was trending on Twitter and the captivating music video had over a million views.

Since Swift did not previously state what time the single would be released, I began anxiously waiting right after school. I knew my Taylor Swift Twitter notifications would alert me when, but I still began checking iTunes every few minutes, each time hoping something would show. Of course with my bad luck, I received the text notification minutes after getting into my car, so I had to wait another 15 minutes during the drive home from my babysitting job. (I may not have followed all speed limits.)

After the anticipation and suspense, “Look What You Made Me Do” did not fulfill my wildest dreams. Although I was expecting a huge change for Swift’s old music, it was still a surprise to hear creepy, ominous tone as soon as the song began, forcing me to realize everything truly had changed. Upon hearing the chorus, I recognized the tune from Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy,” and wondered how a ‘90s hit sung by old British men got associated with the Taylor Swift. Although the song is more catchy the more I listen to it to repeat, “Look What You Made Me Do” is not an example of Swift’s musical genius. The song unfortunately sounds as if Swift is more focused on attempting to insert herself into the genre of mainstream pop, instead of showcasing her vocal talents.

The most significant line of the song occurs when Swift sings, “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Cause she’s dead.” Fans freaked out, proud of Swift for her courage to rebrand but devastated at the possibility of never having back the Swift they know and love.

When analyzing the lyrics, I was confused as to their true meaning and significance. Is she mocking herself? Kanye West? Kim Kardashian? Katy Perry? To the dismay of all her mean haters, the single broke the Spotify record for most first-day streams, playing almost eight million times within the first 24 hours. After the release of the “Look What You Made Me Do” official music video at the VMAs Aug. 27, I have a better understanding of the song’s purpose. Where the song itself was anti-climatic, the music video was anything but. Chock-full with symbolic messages and self-humiliation, Swift’s video left fans terrified and proud at the same time.

Swift also mocks the media. Swift crashes her car and is swarmed by the paparazzi and their cameras who are concerned with photos of Swift’s crash, not the Grammy she’s holding. Earlier, she’s also shown sitting on a throne surrounded by snake servants; the inclusion of the reptiles show Swift embracing the title she got from Kim Kardashian after the Kayne West incident.

The most surprising part of the music video occurred at the very end, after the song finishes and 15 past and present Swift personas box in a line. Swift then, quite literally mocks herself. She uses insults the media constantly throws at her. She tells herself, “You are so fake,” and “There she goes, playing the victim,” even at one point calling herself the expletive used by Kanye in his 2016 song “Famous.” Finally, the video ends with 2009 VMA Swift (the origin of the Kanye dispute) saying “I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative,” to which the other 14 yells back, “Shut up!” Through the inclusion of this unexpected scene, Swift effectively shams the media, while at the same time proving she’s not above making fun of herself, her words and actions. So although she did not portray her talent through songwriting with this single, she definitely used her genius to create a captivating and powerful music video.

While “Look What You Made Me Do” is not my favorite song, Swift’s personality, controversy and talent forces the single to be a hit. The video also broke a record, being the most watched YouTube video within 24 hours, with 43.2 million views. But Swift breaking records and setting high standards isn’t new. While I love this current Taylor for her fearlessness, there’s still hope the old Taylor will appear somewhere in the rest of the album; after all, there are plenty of blank spaces to be filled. But no one will know until Nov. 10, when “reputation” drops and the world explodes.

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“Look What You Made Me Do” introduces a terrifying, exciting new era for Taylor Swift