I was suckered in by the brio of Taylor Swift’s first big single, ‘Love Story’, despite the clunking lyrics, which one forgave because of her youth. Just a nice slice of maybe overproduced FM country rock with a simple, but effective, chorus. Forgive me. I did not see the monster she would become. The morphing, over nine years, into a hideous colossus, a purveyor of ever more derivative and anodyne Kardashian pop. Music built not upon a compelling melody or rhythm or slice of lyrical wit but upon the exploitation of the image she has built for herself (cleverly enough, it has to be said).
She has spent the past few years on the front pages doing and then undoing a parade of slebdom’s most eligible and handsome men. Good, I have no objection to that. Fill your boots, love. And of course her fame increases exponentially with every name carved into her bedpost — a phrase she actually uses on this album. No problem with that either. It’s the confected outrage at the extensive coverage she’s received that grates, made explicit here on Reputation.
It would be OK if the music had a point to it, but it doesn’t and her Nashville roots are long gone. She is a severely limited songwriter — which is why the demonic Swedish genius Max Martin has been dragged in to make this album happen. She is a severely limited vocalist, too. ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ nicks a chorus from Right Said Fred. ‘…Ready for It?’ is Max Martin at his laziest — no hook, generic EDM.
There’s nothing else to write home about. A triumph of dross over ability.