Photo courtesy of Big Machine

Without warning, Taylor Swift’s fans were consumed by darkness. Around 11 a.m. on Aug. 18, the much-publicized celebrity’s Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and official website were suddenly blacked out. Every meme, message and mention had vanished.

She left the world unimaginably befuddled, as her confused fans searched for signs indicating whether she had been hacked or was plotting a significant announcement. Swift had also abandoned all those she was previously following, an unusual purge for celebrities. Something big was undoubtedly about to happen.

In the next few days, Taylor Swift posted a few ominous videos and images on her
social media outlets, depicting a snake. Fans continued to grapple with the various interpretations concerning her whereabouts.

Five days later, Swift finally ended the torturous anticipation by announcing her new
album “Reputation” to be released on Nov. 10. She would also be dropping the album’s first single on the following day. Spectators could breathe at last.

However, when “Look What You Made Me Do” dropped on Aug. 24, many experienced a
similar shortness of breath similar to that which the superstar’s social media blackout induced. The song is unlike anything she had ever released.

The album appears to be headed in a dark dance-pop direction, including edgy R&B and hip-hop sounds. Considering the 14-year-old version of this musician was a stainless sweetheart dedicated solely to country music, one could imagine the controversial reactions to this constantly evolving artist’s new song.

Regardless of the polarized responses to her musicality and choice of genre, Swift undeniably applied herself when writing the song’s lyrics. The single is jammed with references to her previous works and personal affairs.

A common analysis of her first verse is that she refers to Kanye West in the line “[doesn’t] like [his] tilted stage.” West recently used a tilted stage during his Saint Pablo tour. Swift appears to still be agitated by his interruption at the VMAs in 2009. The piece is overflowing with subtle mentions of the people who have wronged her and her hatred of the
reputation they have given her.

The passive aggressive, yet well-written song was no match for the music video that went along with it, delivered to followers the next day. Swift destroyed all lingering bits of confusion about what she is doing next in a four-minute film.

She knows what everyone has been saying about her, and she knows who said it. The Taylor Swift that existed before these rumors is dead. Now she has nothing left but to embrace her new reputation. In honor of the frequently trending tag #TaylorSwiftIsASnake, Swift becomes one with her brethren in the video, sitting in a throne room abounding with reptiles and
allowing one to serve her tea.

Additionally, Taylor Swift seemingly impersonates Katy Perry in one scene of the video, reflecting on their many preceding conflicts, in which Swift is often criminalized. She embodies this idea by carrying a Grammy, highlighting that she has many while Perry has none.

Toward the end of the video, the celebrity stands atop a tower of past versions of herself fighting with each other. She wears the letters “REP” across her chest, and she wipes out the mountain underneath her. Her new reputation massacres her past.

One cannot deny that Taylor Swift dedicated immense amounts of effort to make her new song and video well-thought out and well-executed, but critics have tended to ignore the craftsmanship of her recent work.

USA Today says “Taylor Swift’s ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ isn’t smart — it’s just petty.” The Nashville Scene, an alternative newsweekly in her hometown, says her new piece is “worse than bad — it’s irrelevant.”

While their criticisms may hold some truth, it seems that they will only feed her new
concept of a reputation created based upon rumors and opinions. One day, this supposedly “petty” and “irrelevant” Taylor Swift will die as well. Right now, one can only wait and see what else she has in store, especially on Nov. 10.