In the three years since her last studio album was released to record-breaking sales and rapturous reviews, Taylor Swift has endured two high profile breakups and a string of increasingly ugly celebrity feuds.
For the past several months, she’s kept a low profile, spacing out her social media posts and refusing to acknowledge the petty shade thrown by her detractors.
When we first learned that Taylor had new music on the way – and that she planned to address her haters in song form – the anticipation from fans couldn’t have been much higher.
Unfortunately, while the single released last night delivered on the expected drama, it also met with mostly negative reactions from both actual music critics and the self-appointed variety who love to sound off on Twitter.
Taylor has become an easy target over the past year, and we all know how much the angry social media hordes love to dogpile celebs struggling with public image crises, but in this case, the attackers have a point.
Not only is “Look What You Made Me Do” lazy and uninspired (We wish we were joking when we say portions of the melody were lifted from Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy”.), it sends a troubling message about the importance of staying angry and settling old scores at any cost.
With lyrics like “I got mine, but you’ll all get yours” sounding like they were ripped from the manifesto of a disgruntled postal worker with an NRA membership, the song is an impassioned ode to the power of poisonous grudges.
“I got a list of names and yours is in red, underlined,” Taylor sing-threatens at one point, giving us a taste of what Arya Stark would sound like if she developed a taste for awkward rhyme schemes.
Sadly, the whole single is like this, and Taylor seems painfully unaware that her edgy new image feels as forced and unnatural as that British accent Madonna rocked for a while.
Naturally, the lines that have garnered the most attention are the ones that seem to be directed at specific rivals.
Taylor has beefed with Katy Perry, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Diplo, Calvin Harris, and many others in the years since 1989 marked what might be looked back on as the high point of her career.
Her forthcoming album will likely address all of those feuds, indirectly or otherwise, but fans who have painstakingly unpacked the lyrics believe that “Look What You Made Me Do” is aimed primarily at Kanye.
At one point, Taylor sings, “I don’t like your tilted stage,” which could be a play on un-level playing field imagery … or a very specific reference to the lopsided floating platform West performed on during his most recent tour.
Many have pointed out that Taylor’s album hits stores on the tenth anniversary of the death of Kanye’s mother.
In all likelihood, that’s nothing more an unfortunate coincidence.
Fortunately for Taylor, it’s not like Kanye’s the type of egomaniac who thinks everything is about him.
J/k, he’s probably in the studio penning a diss verse over the beat of Tupac’s “Hit ‘Em Up” at this very moment.
But the biggest problems with “Look What You Made Me Do” have less to do with the mental gymnastics Taylor performs in order to position herself as the eternal victim, and more to do with the structural problems of the song itself.
It’s a slapdash effort that Swift would’ve been wise to pawn off on a lesser-known artist, as it’s simply a poor fit for her.
The song’s most embarrassing moments are saved for its final seconds, when, after crooning, “I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me” several times, Taylor ratchets up the goth-y angst with a cringe-worthy spoken word snippet:
“I’m sorry, but the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now,” the singer breathlessly murmurs.
“Why? Oh, because she’s dead.”
Hopefully the new Taylor has access to a Ouija board, because she desperately needs to recruit her old self as a writing partner.