Weekend News Update: October 15, 2017

We’re not ready for it, Taylor Nation.

I don’t know if I’m going to make this a thing. The idea of this feature is that when there’s just a little tidbits of news here and there but nothing super official, I’ll throw into this post and you get to hear what the murmur is about. The source is most likely Twitter, Instagram and (occasionally) Tumblr but only when there’s some evidence behind it.

Taylor Swift is in London. The overachieving songstress has many reasons to be there, but only a few are known right now.

  • She’s appeared at some fans’ homes. Which might or might not be related to…
  • She’s started her secret sessions where she’s had some fans listen to her yet-to-drop album Reputation making the rest to the Taylor Nation (as in the fandom, in case you didn’t know) seethe with jealousy.
  • Although non-disclosure agreements have been signed, all we know by word of mouth is that there’s one song that made everyone cry. This was a love song, not a break-up song.
  • Secret sessions are also expected to happen in the US once she returns. Expect at least one on the East coast and one on the West, but chances are she’ll make more. It’s more than likely that London will be the only non-US secret session. Note: I want to be wrong about this one.
  • At least in one occasion, Taylor wore snake-themed boots.
  • Fans have mentioned there’s better lyrics than “All Too Well” in Reputation. A very bold claim, and more of an opinion than fact, but again we’ll have to wait to find out.
  • Taylor has been captured by the paparazzi on the streets of London while filming what appears to be a music video.
  • The most obvious candidate is the video for “… Are You Ready For It?” but nothing is certain.
  • Joseph Kahn (which has been Taylor’s music video director as of late) is also in London. He has gone into his usual snarky self claiming he’s just filming a fish and chips commercial. Note: Fish and chips is a common fast food thing in the UK, in case you don’t know.
  • At this point, I know you might be asking where are the pictures from the paps. I’m not posting those because I’m not particularly fond of the paparazzi taking sneak pictures. Don’t ask me where they are, they’re pretty easy to find (google it!) and of course look like they were taken by a potato. I’ll wait for the official stuff.

Coming up in the Calendar:

  • November 10: Reputation, the new album by Taylor Swift is released!

(Sources: Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr)

Ready For It? No, we were not! New single released!

Let me get a cup of coffee first, Taylor Nation.

Well, I was NOT ready. The Sparkly Dressed released another ditty right now. Yeah, right now. No, I didn’t know. Slow your roll and let me tell you? This is called …Ready For It?

Watch on YouTube

In another spark of smart marketing, this feels like a sports jam anthem. It will definitely get enough play in commercials. Anyhow, yes it has quite a bit of production and some bells and whistles but I’m just glad there’s a happy jam in there. I was scared the whole album was just going to be The Walking Dead. I just love listening to this more than LWYMMD right now.

More thoughts on the song after I’ve listened to it a few more times.

Coming up in the Calendar, if we should even care to keep a Calendar anymore the way that Taylor is releasing stuff out of the blue now…

November

  • November 10: Reputation, the new album by Taylor Swift is released!

Look what you made me write. An editorial.

I’ve got a list of names too, Taylor Nation. Tomatoes, peppers… Wait, this is my grocery list. Never mind.

Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy who’s committed to write about things a little bit deeper, we’re doing one of those critiques that not everyone enjoys. First of all, I don’t think that you do any favors as a fan when you accept everything blindly. I prefer to think that a smart fan is the one loyal because they like their artists (I don’t like to use the word “idols”, sorry it makes me cringe) with flaws and all.

That being said, the following critique is not on Taylor Swift as a person. I don’t know her as a person, I’ve only known her as an artist. I might take a stab at thinking I can guess her frame of mind when she wrote a particular song, but that’s as close as I think anybody can get. The only think I can criticize is her work, her craft. It will still be my opinion, and therefore it might miss the target for a mile. That being said, this is on her musical persona, not her personal identity (I might have to explain that one a bit further).

“Look What You Made Me Do” is the first single from her album Reputation. Unfortunately, its biggest flaw is repetition – a rather constant cliche in pop music to repeat the same lyric over a familiar beat so it can be easily learned. The beat in the chorus is a re-sampling from Right Said Fred’s “I’m too sexy”. Honestly, that doesn’t concern me that much as the monotone repetition. That’s not an accident, it will probably end up as club music with a quick remix. Taylor may not frequent clubs as much, but Kanye, Kim and Katy might have a cheeky DJ play this song in their faces the next time they step into one.

The choice of the phrase for the chorus and the track’s title have been pointed out in this Bustle article as being part of domestic abuse speech. Yes, but you are taking the phrase out of context here. We allow other songs to exist which glorify violence in context so I find selective criticism a bit askew. Lots of songs use suggestively charged titles that out of context mean trouble just to get our attention. This one is not even one of those situations. That being said, if you want to use this as a mechanism to bring awareness about domestic abuse, it’s a worthy cause and I’m not going to stop you.

I actually have more problems with the other repetitive phrase in the bridge which is in context: I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me. There’s anxiety and depression in that phrase. Be careful repeating it – don’t let that seep in. I know what I’m talking about here. For the same reason, I don’t like Taylor laughing at her own death.

That’s Taylor Swift the musical persona, the one in the video as a corpse, as a jewel-bathing millionaire, as bike gang leader and as Snake Queen. I think Taylor is taking some actual distance between herself and her image. That allows her to be extravagant with the way she presents herself artistically but she’s keeping her private persona in private from now on.

By the way, there is a list of names. Every single artist that tours several times ends up with a list. It’s got the names of every stalker fan (no, not you – real stalkers) that has been judged as a risk (a bit too cuckoo for coco puffs if you get my drift) to attend or be too close to Taylor. It’s the kind of people that security keeps an eye on when they show up. For the record, I don’t think I’m in there, but I know I’ve been recognized.

Finally, here’s the other thing about both video and lyrics that I’m not quite a fan of – it makes the song a little too meme-friendly. Now, memes are everyone’s favorite thing. Viral phrases and selected situations re-played and parodied over for everyone’s amusement. This might be Old-Man-Swift talking (and to be real, that’s true for the whole article), but it does seem to unintentionally endorse gossip and scandal reporting. In other words, I fear this will reward gossip lovers everywhere. It will also encourage fans to follow gossip from now on.

I believe that Taylor might have given in too much here. Even the video is a little too TMZ-friendly for my taste. The song itself has too many hints towards you-know-whom. I really would’ve preferred she’d taken the high road instead. I think that’s the reason this song sounds like it does. It’s a club song with a message to someone. It’s as close as a diss track as she’s ever made (and I hope she doesn’t have more). I’ve got high hopes for the rest of the tracks because overall this one is not in my favorite list.

In the end, I just hope there’s something in Reputation that is not meta. I prefer non-club music, not explicit made for Pop Radio and more lyrically complex that a simple phrase played over and over. To put in other album’s terms, I think LWYMMD is the “Bad Blood”, the “Better Than Revenge” song of the album. Now I want to hear the “All Too Well”, the “Clean” equivalents. Unfortunately, if history repeats itself, they won’t get to be singles. We’ll have to discover them when the full album drops.

Coming up in the Calendar:

November

  • November 10: Reputation, the new album by Taylor Swift is released!

Look What You Made Me Do. The video.

Let’s go to the video first, Taylor Nation.

Watch on YouTube

Now I’m not sure if this merits any analysis, because this video was as meta as Taylor has ever been. There was no cameos from anybody. There were scenes of Taylor as a dead corpse, as a rich heiress, as Queen Snake and finally the cherry on top.

The Taylors. All of them, the Taylors from all eras dating back to the beginning. The ringmaster from the tour finale of Red. The nerdy girl from You Belong With Me. The actual acceptance speech Taylor from the MTV incident, even the Blonde With The Sparkly Guitar. We also got some new ones. Zombie Taylor, Bike Gang Taylor… I can already picture new costumes are being worked on for the Reputation Tour.

Reputation_Finale.jpg

But as much as these are past Taylors, they’re very much beloved by fans. So I’m sure that even though this is basically a parody of Taylor Swift made by Taylor Swift herself, that doesn’t mean we’re forgetting them. I think this video might have been fun as a retrospect, but it doesn’t have a storyline of its own. Instead it borrows the one that the media wrote and pokes fun at it.

I still think we’ve yet to see the central theme of Reputation. Good on Taylor to take control of her own narrative, but I also want to hear new music on other subjects.

Coming up in the Calendar:

November

  • November 10: Reputation, the new album by Taylor Swift is released!

Look What You Made Me Do: The Reputation Era begins!

The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now, Taylor Nation. Leave your message after the sound of the hiss.

2017-Aug-25d

Look What You Made Me Do just dropped. It’s reverberating in my headphones right now as I type this in its seventh straight play. It’s dripping with venom. First it felt like a punch but now it really feels like a stab. There’s anger and revenge here. It reminds me of an early Avril Lavigne with shades of Evanescence and Rihanna. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t in love with the chorus, but the song gets a lot more interesting as it moves forward.

Now I guess I will inevitably have to address the fact that Taylor engineered this (with Jack Antonoff for sure) for the club. She wanted people to dance to this. It’s like even oblivious people will dance to her words. There’s something a little dark about a ton of fans singing along to I’m sorry the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Cuz she’s dead!

2017-Aug-25Don’t think for a second that this is Taylor’s current state of mind. This is her bringing up a lot of anger into the song. She’s taking the role she knows that people expect her to play, but she’ll laugh about it all the way to the bank. Yes, the song seems to give you a peek inside a fractured personality that requires some counseling and therapy. Don’t feel sorry for Taylor, this is not who she is. As you’ll see if you ever go to one of her concerts, she’s created a different persona for each of her songs. The song is the scenario.

Although when I think of Taylor having a list of names in red, planning her vengeance in Game-of-Thrones-Arya-Stark style, this song gains opera-like levels of dark introspection. But then I’m playing into the trap. Actually, if this song was an animal it wouldn’t be a snake – it feels more like a spider. A venomous one for sure.

2017-Aug-25cI don’t like the whole title repeat of Look What You Made Me Do but then again I thought the same of Out Of The Woods and the song still became a favorite of mine. However, you can tell this is a Taylor Swift song because the bridge is always the best part, the climatic finale to the song, the part where the lead actress kills everyone. Yeah, I’m casting Taylor Swift in the lead for the next Stephen King’s Carrie remake.

Enjoy for what it is, vengeance made into song for you to dance and sing once the remix comes out. But don’t think she’s suffered a mental breakdown. It’s a new persona, it’s the same songwriting and marketing genius reinventing herself. She got hers, but you all will get yours. I think the title has been carefully selected. And if you want to know what it is exactly you made her do, you made her craft out another song to sail to the top to the charts.

Enjoy the lyric video. Dark, darkitty, dark. Joseph Kahn, you KNEW. You knew this WHOLE TIME. You sneaky video director person you.

Watch on YouTube

The song is out on iTunes. Music video coming soon.

PS: She has snake rings on her online store. Snake. Rings. They’re already sold out.

Coming up in the Calendar! There’s a calendar again? Yes!

August

  • August 27: The music video for “Look What You Made Me Do” is released at the MTV Video Music Awards 2017.

November

  • November 10: Reputation, the new album by Taylor Swift is released!