When it comes to celebrities no one’s been on the receiving end of that criticism more than Taylor Swift. Despite a lengthy catalogue of hits in which she plays scorned exes and lovelorn balladeers, the country singer turned pop superstar has been seen in a different light than a victim.
What does Taylor Swift do to prove to us she’s aware of this narrative (the one, of course, from which she’d like to be excluded)? Bring out a brash in your face hit..with references to her critics.
Released on Aug. 25, Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” single was accompanied by an animated lyric video that became the most-watched lyric video in its first day of release, notching 19 million views within 24 hours, easily zooming past the Chainsmokers-Coldplay collaboration “Something Like This,” which had 9 million day one views earlier this year. Swift’s lyric clip – an homage to the vintage title sequence style made famous by graphic artist Saul Bass – has now logged more than 90 million views.
Look What You Made Me Do – that’s practically boiling over with meta-commentary and self-referential detail, from an ongoing visual snake motif to a tombstone that literally reads “Taylor Swift’s reputation”. Yes, it’s painfully in your face, but Swift’s brand hasn’t exactly been built on subtlety.
Look What You Made Me Do – or LWYMMD, as its Twitter hashtag refers to it has been smashing streaming records, but the song hasn’t been as well received by critics.
Like her last album, 1989, which marked Swift’s official evolution into pop music behemoth, it largely abandons that which made her a household name – singable melodies; sharp, specific lyricism; grand tales of romantic enchantment – in favor of radio-engineered pop and glib proclamations of vengeance. Near the end of the song, she answers a phone call; someone’s asking to speak with Taylor Swift. “She can’t come to the phone right now,” Swift 2.0 says. Why? “Because she’s dead.”
In the battle between Swifts, my allegiance is with the deceased version, a shrewd chronicler of young-adult courtship and seasoned, starry-eyed songwriter. So much so that hearing her new single made me nostalgic for the days of Fearless and Red. But the Old Swift be damned; this new one is all about retribution and, as the title of her forthcoming album suggests, reputation.
Watch it here - Look What You Made Me Do