“One of the wonderful treats that came as a by-product to the building of Rivendell was that - while we were building it - Alan Lee was so… attached to this miniature that he’d come down regularly and work on it - with us.” - Richard Taylor
Hey guys! I’ve told you before that I’m a writer so this is a hella long post because it’s track-by-track. Unapologetically so. Hope you guys enjoy x
TRACK 1: “… READY FOR IT?
This song is a battlecry. The thumping bass brings to mind the heavy thud of wolves paws as they race towards their prey, seeking the trail left by a girl who used to leave her heart open and on her sleeve, ready to be snatched at any moment in a snap of their jaws. But no more. From the moment she clears her throat, we learn this battle will be on Taylor’s terms. It is her fight to win.
This is the first love song she’s released and had complete artistic ownership of in three years. It is no coincidence then that there’s reference to the tortured passions of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. They were a couple hopelessly and dangerously in love with many scars carved on their hearts by the other’s knife. This reference is a throwaway to the long list of ex lovers the girl who bathes in diamonds has had but also a reference to the flickers of hope Taylor feels for longevity no matter what with Joe. Their road may be complicated at times but they will get there because the game is hers. The constant question of ready for it and in response baby let the games begin is so obviously a call of warning to Joe for what lies ahead but perhaps more subtly it is the call of Taylor’s inner voices and heart to her razor sharp self awareness. Is she ready for the games to begin? Is she ready to open her heart and give Joe a chance to be a better man?
TRACK 2: “END GAME” ft. Ed Sheeran & Future:
This song starts off with Taylor’s declaration that she wants to find a forever. It sounds sincere, gentle, wearied, the tone of the too often heartbroken. But then it shifts, it’s like the rose coloured glasses have come off and she’s reminded of her reputation. Then it’s all tongue in cheek sarcastic satire to keep the smile in place so that we don’t see how much it hurts. She has to weigh up every interaction in the context of her reputation. The addition of Ed & Future speaks volumes; one is a time trusted friend who has finally found a bright love of his own but that was not without heartbreak and the other gives her an edgier attitude that makes her self awareness all the more powerful.
There has been a further loss of innocence in this sharpening of her self awareness, gone are the wistful days of “say you’ll remember me”, that’s all I want. Now it’s all “I don’t wanna touch you, I don’t wanna be just another ex love you don’t wanna see.” She can see the fall right from the start but this time she opts out and says unless I’m your end game… because I don’t want to pick up any more pieces of my broken heart.
Also: Shoutout to Ed for his Cherry inspired verse. It made me feel many emotions too. SWEERAN THRIVES.
TRACK 3: “I DID SOMETHING BAD.”
The girl with the long list of ex lovers is back. However with the casually explicit twist, this narrative seems layered with perceptions and recognition of self-worth, “If a man talks shit, I owe him nothing.” This is drip-feeding the media exactly what they want, she’s stoking the fire herself. But in feeding the fire herself, she’s sending the burning embers back at them. Did you really think the girl who you used as an international rod for slut shaming would stay quiet forever? Nope. She doesn’t care if you burn her like a witch at the stake because she’s already done it. She’s burnt away all of the misplaced guilt and is now revelling in how good they felt in the moment. In fact, watch out she’s blazing with all the fire of a phoenix reborn and you might just get turned to ash.
TRACK 4: “DON’T BLAME ME.”
This & “I Did Something Bad” sound like sister tracks. The girl who jetsets around the world collecting men isn’t quite finished with her tale yet. She reminds us that defining her relationships by their headlines and paparazzi shots is a foolish move because those things are one-dimensional. Taylor believes in love and this is her way of reminding us that there was love in every escapade of her heart up until now, at least at some point. She’s talking about the heady rushes head spinning intoxication of first glances and hands on skin and it doesn’t matter what the media says about the way she handles relationships because they forget love and that makes you crazy. Maybe in their minds the drug she refers to is not a singular identity but a collective “baby” and to them love will always be something she “uses”. But the heart wants what it wants and Taylor knows that so it doesn’t really matter.
TRACK 5: “DELICATE.”
This is the kind of song that happens when you cut the cord that is the boy crazy perception of yourself. You step back into the shadows and disappear so that they can’t find you. You close your heart, lock your doors and rebuild. And then he shows up. This is a cautionary songpp because Taylor can obviously feel sparks but… she’s just started to rebuild and if they find out the wolf hunt begins again. With delicate disbelieving vocals, we see Taylor start to realise that he can’t possibly want to gain anything from her reputation because it’s so bad… The wheels turn in her head. I imagine the realisation, “Wait so he must like me for me?” With the beat drop comes hope. Details are slowly given and then he stays. He doesn’t run so Taylor gives him pieces of herself; confessions thoughts and then her brain catches up with her mouth and the wheels come to a grinding halt: Her inner monologue screams it was too much too fast. We’ve all been there. It’s too delicate. No going back now. It’ll break and I’ll be left alone. Maybe one day I’ll find someone who doesn’t walk away, one day too.
TRACK 6: “LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO.”
The world tore a girl to shreds, made her play the fool on tilted stages. She retreated and rebuilt. Now the fool is dead. From here on out, she only trusts her army. With high heeled boots, red lips and words as sharp as daggers, she’s cutting herself a path. She is taking no prisoners and she’s accompanied by a savage snake because she and her army will always be better at the game. When she’s finished hunting down your asses, she’ll sit back on her throne with a high pitched giggle and say, “oh look what you made me do.”
TRACK 7: “SO IT GOES…”
When people are watching, you have to be careful. Cover your tracks. Taylor doesn’t leave her heart open or on display anymore. But then they leave. The door shuts. You lock it with a key and the crashing chemistry you’ve been trying to deny slams into your ribs, knocking the breath out of you. It’s stolen kisses, careless touches, reckless chasing of the high. Body language is a fluency all its own. But a quick reminder before you unlock the door and venture out again; wash the lipstick off your face. *clears throat* you got a little caught up in the moment and you don’t want to blow your cover!
TRACK 8: “GORGEOUS.”
The childish proclamation of the title to begin this next glimpse into Reputation is hinting at the satirical inner monologue that this song is , reminiscent of the times you write your crush’s last name instead of your own to see how it fits. It’s all giggles and late night phone calls, the kind Taylor most likely had with Abigail where they talked real slow because it was late and their mamas didn’t know (: However, it could also serve as a projection of the runaway daydream that fills Taylor’s mind from that very first night when she stumbles home alone to her cats, of what a possible future might look like (with kids one day) The lazy liquor loosened rhythms of Taylor’s thoughts tell us things she hasn’t admitted fully yet but will soon on nights at 4am staring at her reflection in the bathroom mirror, telling herself the bravest thing she ever did was run - that this gorgeous swoonworthy British boy with his careless touches and drawling accent has awakened the possibility of something better. This realisation rattles Taylor as she contemplates the gaps in her current relationship. *cue wistful sighs of frustration and enchantment, set to the dialogue of every teenage movie where the girl thinks the boy is just too good looking, how unfair is that?
TRACK 9: “GETAWAY CAR.”
The thing about any movie that has a getaway car scene is that they inevitably crash…. And that’s exactly what happens here. Except, the carnage is human hearts. She was running. There was a person she crashed into. It gets all blurred and tangled, she thinks she’s free but the thing about those movies is that the thing you ran from in the getaway car catches up to you particularly if there’s a track you can follow. Oceans of distance weren’t enough, darling. You needed to disappear. And I think she realises that but she tries to pretend innocence and will the sunset closer. Unfortunately the only real way to untangle yourself is to disappear crying in the back of a getaway car in the dead of night. Without a word. That must have hurt a lot.
TRACK 10: “KING OF MY HEART.”
This song happens in tandem with Delicate. She’d sworn off love. Joe turned up. The British boy with the heart of gold who made his American queen believe. He made behind closed doors a paradise of rooftop nights. Before she knows it, he is every love story Taylor has ever daydreamed of. The line “is this the end to all the endings” made my heart swell because it’s clear Taylor hopes he’s the one. Please let there be no more heartbreak.
TRACK 11: “DANCING WITH OUR HANDS TIED.”
Dancing is supposed to be a joyous thing and maybe it was in the beginning. You can reassure with every beat. Sometimes your gut instinct shouldn’t be ignored though because it does raise red flags. The door only needs to be fractionally ajar for the hunters to find a way in and set your paradise aflame. It sometimes doesn’t matter how much you dance to escape the flames, they will catch you. You will get tired. Dancing is a bliss that is euphoria swimmimg through your veins if the beat enters your bloodstream in the right moment; you feel like you could live forever. And in the end no matter how much it might hurt to walk away again, you would still dance for just another kick of that rush.
TRACK 12: “DRESS.”
Taylor’s caught up in the chemical rush. Every syllable drips with lust and the glory of the high when your hearts crash into each other, slamming the breath from between your ribs. It’s hands in hair and I don’t care what they think. It’s seeing the worst (hi bleachella) and still wanting. It’s realising you made mistakes before this and why didn’t you just do this from the beginning because it feels so good now you can’t ever have imagined wanting anything else. But every mistake is a marker in the roadmap and you woke up just in time to find where you needed to be.
TRACK 13: “THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.”
I think everyone’s been in this situation, right? Someone burns you and it hurts but in the fun of a party, you click and connect again and it all starts to feel like water under the bridge. Maybe there was over-reacting happening. You throw them a second chance. Redemption. You’re the nice girl and you make excuses. But then they do it again, maybe it takes a couple of things and suddenly it’s too much. You lock the gate for your own safety. But they still expect you not to care. To flash a smile and forgive. I’m sorry. That’s not happening. You get hurt when I push back. I guess I should forgive you because we both threw stones. But… that would require me to mean it. Whoops, *laughs manaically* I can’t even say it with a straight face!!!
PS: It’s not too obvious I have personal experience with this song is it? Thanks KS x.
TRACK 14: “CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT.”
This song is difficult for me to process because I never thought it would actually happen. I seem to remember somewhere along the way, a couple of years back, Taylor expressing frustration that she couldn’t seem to write happy songs about being in love like Ed Sheeran could. Well, I wish you could go back Taylor and tell yourself what you know now.
This song is a three minute ode to happy love. It’s smiles so wide you might split your face in half at the thought of that person. It’s blushing and shy giggles and bursts of song and twirls and all caps texts from your girls as they collectively lose their minds over how happy you are. This is every love story and fairytale Taylor has ever wanted but the wolves are always waiting, not so easy to outrun.
Taylor says it herself in the opening lines. She was done. The castle had crumbled. The bricks left bruises blooming on her exposed skin. People were tearing her down and she was hurting. Her heart had been shattered but so had her soul, again and again, relentlessly. And then she retreated, went silent and rebuilt. What she didn’t count on was love. A man who saw all the bruises and broken pieces and said it’s OK, I can still find the real you under all that. Taylor like so many of us looked in the mirror and saw all the danger for herself and for Joe, tried to push him away, keep him safe. That’s a very noble action but breaking your own heart so it doesn’t hurt as much when you feel like the other shoe is going to drop requires apathy from the other person. And Joe, god bless you, you didn’t let her push you away. You broke down her walls and showed you that starlight love does still exist. You loved her for Taylor. The person. You got her to give love a chance when she swore never again so thank you so much for that. I can’t really express how much that means to all of us.
This is an anthem of hope for every person who has ever been broken and is in the process of putting pieces back together. It can be done. We will find love. We will be radiantly happy again. We will be the strongest we’ve ever been.
PS: *leans over to whisper in Taylor’s ear*
I think you’re finally clean…
TRACK 15: “NEW YEARS DAY.”
Piano on the final track… This is an ode of pure hope and happiness, a fitting final chapter to a remarkable story. Everyone wants the glory of the midnights and the lover who will be in their bloodstream like the party. But what we all hope for is someone who stays long enough to help us clean up the bottles on New Years Day. Someone who makes us feel like the messy unfiltered parts look like a highlight reel. Good times and bad times and all in between. They won’t leave. You found him. Forever.
This album is fucking brilliant Taylor. I love you. Proud x.
“My Dear Americans, The film you are about to see is a biopic of my life. The events take place, not so long ago, in a proud land called Wales. Wales is next to England, a country you pretend to treat as an equal. My homeland has produced Catherine Zeta-Jones, Tom Jones and some other people. You have not yet invaded my country and for this I thank you. Submarine is an important film. Watch it with respect. Fond regards from your protagonist, Oliver Tate.”