Abbey Alley – Editor
On August 18, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift’s Twitter page sat blank on my computer screen as I kept refreshing the page, worried that she had been hacked (or even worse, that she was leaving the public eye forever). It turned out that Swift’s Instagram account was also wiped clean.
Immediately, I went and checked all of her other social media; already, Swift’s fans were performing detective work that could rival Sherlock Holmes in order to figure out what the artist was up to.
At 10 a.m. Central Daylight Time on the same day as the Great American Eclipse, August 21, Swift tweeted a video of a reptilian creature slithering across a dark floor while the screen glitched; it was cryptic, but fans believed that it was a reference to numerous recent events that had revealed Swift as a “snake,” such as her feud with Kim Kardashian-West and the fact that her former group of friends did not attend a Fourth of July party this year at her Rhode Island home as they usually do.
In the following days, at roughly the same time each morning, Swift tweeted, continuing the same video of a reptile in smaller clips. On August 23, she completed the series, revealing the creature in the video to be a snake snapping at the screen; Swift then announced that the first single from her next album, Reputation, was to come out the following day, August 24.
At 10:32 p.m. on August 24, she tweeted that her single was out. Being the freak that I am, I had turned on her tweet notifications so that I would be alerted the instant that the single was released. I made it to the Apple Music app to search for “Look What You Made Me Do” before the single was even listed on her page.
After refreshing the app about three times, I finally clicked on the single.
As soon as I heard the first notes of the song, I was rigid in anticipation. I was already panicking about whether or not I liked it.
“Oh no. This does not sound like a Taylor Swift song. Did I just hear strings that were not attached to a guitar? A minor tonality without pedal steel as well? Is there a BEAT for this song? Well, I’ll give it a try,” I thought to myself within the first minute of the song.
After the first chorus, I found myself dancing and embracing the strange bass line and beat that sounded similar to the one from “Partition” by Beyonce.
This is a dance song with emotional depth, and that is exactly what I love about Swift’s music. She retains an emotional sense of intimacy with the listener, no matter what the actual music sounds like. I could cry angry tears in the club to this song while furiously dancing to the beat. Maybe Swift has invented a new genre: dance music to cry tears of rage to.
This is as much a song of revenge as much as it is an angry, diary-style rant. This version of Swift is not the nice girl from Nashville who wrote about love that she showed the world with her first album, Taylor Swift; strangely enough, this is also not the animal licking her wounds that we heard in her single “Bad Blood,” either.
“I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ’cause she’s dead!” Swift speaks in the middle of the bridge.
Swift is much more confident in herself in this single; instead of tearing down her opponent or playing the victim, she talks herself up, which is refreshing for her. There is a serious message of self empowerment to be found in this song.
“But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time. Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time,” Swift sings in the section before the catchy refrain.
This is the part of the song that you would listen to after a bad day to remind yourself that growth and self-betterment usually come after a rough patch. This is an inspiring quote that moms would repost on social media without knowing that it goes along with a beat that she would tell her kids to turn down in the car.
While I am not particularly in love with the vocal melody of this song, I must admit that it is extremely catchy. Swift’s vocals do not really shine on this song, but that is not the goal of this song. “Look What You Made Me Do” is no “Dear John.” This song serves as a mission statement for the rest of Swift’s new album. Swift is now a woman in love with herself on a mission to defend herself from the world.
Overall, this song is weird. There are speaking parts, one phrase is repeated way too many times and there is a funky beat along with a thundering bass line. However, all of these elements are only weird when you consider them in the context of Swift’s earlier works. For any other pop artist, these elements are their formula. However, by using her competitors’ formula and making it full of heart and soul, Swift somehow communicates the song’s message even more effectively.
These past few days spent constantly wondering about what Swift was going to do next or what the new single was going to sound like were well spent, and they show why Swift is truly a marketing genius. She created the hype herself by going off of the radar, a move that would have flopped for anyone else. She got the whole world to listen by being completely silent, and that is very special.
I cannot wait to hear this album, and I cannot wait for “Look What You Made Me Do” to become the soundtrack for this period of my life.
Look what she made me do.