Look What You Made Me Do (2017)
Whereas ‘Shake It Off’ was self referential in a charming way, ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ takes the idea to an unsatisfactory extreme; there are so many messages, symbols and meanings here that it feels more like you’re decoding a renaissance painting of Christ than enjoying a pop music video.
Again, this is one about reputation, with Swift having fallen out with a whole new crowd since her last outing. We have zombie-Swift burying herself (a reference to a fall out with Calvin Harris), snake-Swift drinking tea (a reference to her bust-up with Kanye West and Kim Kardashain) and Beyoncé-Swift (to be honest I have no idea what this one refers to).
It feels a bit like Swift has forgotten that she’s a pop songwriter – a good one at that – and instead focussed her energies on sending not-so-subtle messages to other famous people. That might be interesting to gossip geeks, but to us pure-hearted music lovers it is more than a bit off-putting.
When I started researching this article my initial instinct was that I’d probably not like Taylor Swift, either as a musician or a person. After watching ‘Love Story’, that changed. She seemed harmless; bland, yes, but harmless. Then when I got to ‘Shake It Off’ I suddenly found myself liking her a whole lot. Yes, she’s a mega celebrity, I thought, but one with a keen sense of her own ridiculousness. Maybe I was becoming, dare I say it, a ‘Swiftie’?
Alas, it couldn’t last (and just as well, because a Swiftie sounds too much like an unpleasant mix between a cleaning product and a sex act for my liking). ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ sees a Swift so self-obsessed, and projecting so many identities, that it feels like she has none at all.
I began this article by asking ‘who is Taylor Swift?’ and by the end of it I’m no closer to answering that question. I’m not sure she could answer it either.
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