13 Times Critics Lost Their Minds Over Taylor Swift’s Songwriting on Reputation

Some critics also helped themselves to using references about weapons and arms.

Big Machine
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Now that you’ve voiced your praise of Taylor Swift’s sixth studio album, Reputation, let’s turn to the professionals. Below, a sampling of what the critics are saying about Taylor’s follow-up to 1989, her songwriting, and not-so-surprising appearance of Ed Sheeran. Unfortunately, there’s no explanation of why so many critics used references about weapons and arms to describe 2017 Taylor.

1. “While Reputation packs heavy artillery that was almost entirely absent from 1989, it’s actually a helluva ride. Take the exhilarating and enjoyably self-aware ‘This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,’ a delirious waltz that depicts Tay slaying a snaky former friend… The reputation-obsessed ‘End Game’ boasts a killer feature from Future and, erm, a less killer rap from Ed Sheeran (someone please withhold the mic from the lad from Suffolk), while defensive lyrics and a warped vocal sample on ‘I Did Something Bad’ epitomize the album. Is this a relatable record? If you’ve ever wanted to exact revenge on someone, the answer is yes.” NME

2.Reputation is a big, brash, all-guns-blazing blast of weaponized pop that grapples with the vulnerability of the human heart as it is pummeled by 21st-century fame…. Closing song, New Year’s Day, dials down the electronics and histrionics for a piano and guitar ballad about cleaning up after a party with the one person she really wants to stick around… It’s a beautiful song, delivered with touching sincerity – and proof that, whatever else she’s known for, Swift deserves a reputation as a genuine musical talent.” The Telegraph

3. “Swift is a smart cookie. She’s smart enough to write lyrics far better and wittier than the average pop fare, inverting the cliché of the love ’em and leave ’em Romeo... At the heart of Reputation lies a sequence of songs that chart the rise, fall and fallout of a fleeting relationship and offer a masterclass in pop songwriting along the way."The Guardian

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4. “Like the singles ‘...Ready for It?’ and ‘Look What You Made Me Do,’ other tracks on the album have similar flair and a big sound, including ‘Don’t Blame Me,’ ‘Getaway Car,’ ‘Dancing With Our Hands Tied’ and ‘King of My Heart.’ Riding those big beats are the lyrics — Swift’s specialty. Some of the words hit hard like gunshots.” The Associated Press

5.Reputation builds on the synth-pop of 1989ingenious hooks blown out for maximum sonic bombast, with production split between the team of Max Martin and Shellback ("2 Swedes and a Swift") and Jack Antonoff… The word "reputation" comes up in a few of the songs – not in reference to her public image, but the far more relatable dilemma of how you surrender your identity in counting the likes and faves you rack up every day. In a way, that's always been a theme of her songwriting, going back to the high-school milieu of her earliest records – she's always sung about girls struggling not to internalize the misogyny around them, from ‘Fifteen’ to ‘New Romantics.’ As she found out, that struggle doesn't end when you grow up.” — Rolling Stone

6.Swift doesn’t need her lover to save her, as she notes on album standout ‘Call It What You Want,’ which is, arguably, the best song she has ever made. Its lyrics are more open and willingly vulnerable than anything she’s done before; that line on the chorus where she sings: ‘My baby’s fly like a jet stream/high above the whole scene/loves me like I’m brand new’ hits you, hard… One of Swift’s greatest talents as a songwriter is to encapsulate those small moments, often in a new relationship, that you as a listener cannot." Independent

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7. “With its percolating beat and shimmering synths, the Jack Antonoff-helmed ‘Dress’ reprises the nostalgic reverie of 1989, a reminder that Swift is capable of making pop perfection seem effortless… The closing track, the acoustic ‘New Year's Day,’ finds her nimbly switching time signatures and layering harmonies in ways she largely eschewed throughout the rest of the album. ‘You squeeze my hand three times in the back of the taxi/I can tell that's it's gonna be a long road,’ she laments. For a moment, she takes off her armor and reveals the big, bleeding heart underneath.” — Slant Magazine

8. "It’s definitely one of the best songs ever written about abstinence jitters." - on "Dress."

"As lyrically intimate as most of the album is, Swift does come out of her inner sanctum for a party on ‘End Game,’ an old-school R&B sing-along that gets a little less retro when Future shows up to rap and Ed Sheeran to scat. It’s probably the album’s most obvious smash — a ‘Good Blood’ for 2018.” — Variety

9. “She is a songwriter and performer who has long thrived on antagonism (it’s one of her two poles; the other is swooning), and no pop star of the modern era has communicated the contours of her disappointment with such emotional precision and melodic sophistication… ‘I Did Something Bad,’ which comes third on her new album, Reputation, has all the hallmarks of a classic Swift assault: lyrics about men who are out of their depth sprinkled with just enough details to imply grave shortcomings."The New York Times

10. “On nearly every track, the reported muse for these swoons, British actor Joe Alwyn, is invoked over and over again as a refuge and a savior, the only person she can trust in a world where ‘All the liars are calling me one/Nobody’s heard from me for months.’ She also saves one of the strongest entries for him, and for last: ‘New Year’s Day,’ an intimate, infinitely tender ballad plinked out on bare piano notes with a sweeping roundelay chorus… On any past album, a song like that or the blissfully smitten ‘Gorgeous’ might even feel like throwaways, sweet sketches to fill the spaces between monster singles. But they’re a reminder of how easily Swift shines when she’s true to her creative DNA—not the burn-it-down renegade she wants to be but the pure pop destiny she still can’t help manifesting, with or without a crown.” — Entertainment Weekly

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11. "The double-edged sword of success — and the fame and fortune that have accompanied it to stratospheric levels for her — inform many of the songs on Reputation, possibly the most anticipated album of the always-intensive fall season… I'll venture to call it her most focused, most cohesive album yet.” The Los Angeles Times

12. Most of the time, Swift has the good sense to play to her strengths; she finds more inspiration in the ’80s electropop of 1989 on 'Getaway Car,' while the unabashedly melodramatic power ballad 'So It Goes . . .' and the hushed, piano-and-voice intimacy of 'New Year’s Day' prove that her songs hit hardest when she ditches any pretense of cool… From a purely musical standpoint, it’s a pretty good album — even when she’s throwing this many ideas against the wall, Swift is too talented a songwriter to miss her target more than a few times per record.”Boston Globe

13. “But while Swift’s country instrumentals may be a thing of the past, her flair for storytelling shines through on the album’s most engaging songs, like the delightfully dishy ‘Getaway Car,’ which tells the story of her tabloid drama with Tom Hiddleston by portraying him as her hapless driver, whom she abandons after their heist… Over the course of Reputation, Swift takes ownership of her narrative in a way listeners haven’t heard before."USA Today

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