×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Song Review: Taylor Swift’s ‘Look What You Made Me Do’

Well, it’s not just the lipstick that got darker. Taylor Swift sounds like she is never, ever getting back together with her old ingénue image in “Look What You Made Me Do,” the first piece of fresh solo music she’s released since 2014. This is hardly Swift’s first time playing defense in song, but the tone of the tune is intended to get you thinking the bad blood she sang about three years ago has seeped a little deeper into her bone marrow. For these three-and-a-half minutes, at least, she’s an even badder Type A.

This introductory track from her upcoming “reputation” album (due out Nov. 10; the small R is hers) feels like the un-celebratory flip side to the previous album’s leadoff single, “Shake It Off.” The catharsis and playfulness are a little harder to pick out in this one, though they’re there, if you listen hard enough, amid some textures and lyrics that sound a little on the grim side on first listen, and maybe second or third play, too. “I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time,” she sings, in case anyone is still imagining her with that 2006 curl in her hair.

But if you’re au courant enough on all things Taylor to think that maybe those short clips of snakes she started posting the other day represented a desire for some skin-shedding, or that she really intended to send a signal when she wiped all her social media clean, Swift essentially confirms that with a spoken-word aside here: “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, because she’s dead!”

Actually, it’s not just that late interlude that’s spoken-word; it’s the entire chorus, which consists of the title phrase, slightly amended, repeated over and over, over a throbbing-bass rhythm, as if she and producer Jack Antonoff had designs on doing an electro-clash update of the boom-car classic “Supersonic.”  (It’s the writers of Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” who get a co-writing credit for a perceived similarity, though.) It’s part of the cleverness of the song that the tune’s pre-chorus seems to be building up to something big, only to drop into something so flatly stated, steely-eyed, and subwoofer-based. Whatever grander hooks she has in store (and based on past experience, you’d have to imagine there will be plenty on “reputation”) will have to wait until after this alluringly scowling teaser trailer of a single.

Who’s it about? Given how little of Swift’s previous work belongs in the fiction category, it’s a reasonable question, and one that’ll probably break certain sections of the Internet for at least the next few days. “How you laugh when you lie / You said the gun was mine” could be about a certain celebrity ex who publicly cast blame on her for a breakup, or about a certain perennial sparrer who leaked her phone calls to the world. Maybe the net should be cast wider, to a whole world of haters, as Swift sings about karma and adds, distressingly: “I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me.” That’s plasma, not tears, on her (MIA) guitar.

But it’s not exactly a victim song. “Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time” is the ultimate I-eat-feuders-like-you-for-breakfast line. And it’s a sign that, besides undoubtedly being legitimately angry, she’s still having a bit of fun here. “Look What You Made Her Do” makes the superstar sound like a tougher chick than the tougher chick we were already getting to know, but there’s also the undeniable element of Swift being a girl who just wants to have fun… the fun, that is, of playing around with her own fury.

More Music

  • 'Asbury Park' Doc Covers Bruce Springsteen,

    Film Review: 'Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock 'N Roll'

    A civic Phoenix story is promised and effectively delivered in “Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock ‘N Roll,” even if there’s little doubt that what much of the audience will be hoping for from this documentary is Bruce, the whole Bruce and nothing but the Bruce. The film satisfies a good portion of that craving with [...]

  • Woodstock 50 Files Appeal Seeking Return

    Woodstock 50 Files Appeal Seeking Return of $18 Million From Former Financial Partner

    In the latest round of the ongoing legal battle between the organizers of Woodstock 50 and their erstwhile partners Dentsu Aegis, attorney Marc Kasowitz announced that the festival has filed an appeal for Dentsu to return some $18.5 million the financial giant withdrew from the organizers’ bank account. That money has been a point of [...]

  • Taylor Swift The Voice

    Taylor Swift and Brendon Urie Make 'Voice' Finale All About 'Me!' (Watch)

    A new winner was crowned on “The Voice” Tuesday night. But did that champion emerge from a dark chrysalis as the world’s largest and most glittery butterfly? Sorry, Madelyn Jarmon — that is a parking spot that is still very much reserved for overall life champion Taylor Swift, who took to the NBC telecast to [...]

  • Phillip Eubanks and Marc Hemeon Join

    Phillip Eubanks and Marc Hemeon Join Troy Carter’s Q&A

    Q&A, the music and tech company founded by former Lady Gaga manager and Spotify exec Troy Carter, today announced the appointments of Phillip Eubanks as Chief Operating Officer (pictured above, right) and Marc Hemeon as Head of Design (left). The pair join Carter, J. Erving (Human Re Sources, Atom Factory), Suzy Ryoo (Atom Factory, OMD) [...]

  • Swae Lee

    Hitmaker of the Month: Swae Lee on 'Sunflower,' Working With Post Malone and Madonna

    Swae Lee is on another roll. The rapper, singer, songwriter and one half of the duo Rae Sremmurd, first made his mark back in 2015, with catchy, quirky urban smashes such as “No Flex Zone” and “No Type,” that were first underground anthems before eventually exploding onto radio stations nationwide. More recently, Lee, born Khalif [...]

  • Aretha Franklin'Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of

    Three Handwritten Wills Found in Aretha Franklin's Home

    While Aretha Franklin was thought to have died without leaving behind a will, earlier this month three documents were discovered by her niece and filed in court earlier this week, according to the Associated Press. Two handwritten wills, dating from 2010, were found in a locked cabinet, and another from 2014 was discovered in a [...]

  • The Rook

    'The Rook,' Shondaland, Ted Sarandos Among Programming for SeriesFest 2019 (EXCLUSIVE)

    The fifth edition of SeriesFest will deliver panels and programming designed to celebrate individual talent as well as companies who are “taking creative risks and leveraging advances in technology to reimagine storytelling.” On the linup is Starz’s upcoming supernatural thriller “The Rook,” a panel with the creatives behind Shondaland, a look at LGBTQ representation on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content