Fan(s) Reactions to Taylor Swift’s ‘Reputation”

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Taylor Swift’s sixth studio album reputation has been out for exactly one week. It’s been a huge week for not only Swift but for the fans. Many have waited three long years for new music from the songstress and now that we have it, it’s been a blissful week of processing, listening to the album on repeat and stating our reactions via social media. During street week, the album has already become the best album of 2017 and Swift’s fifth leader with over 1M copies sold during its first tracking week.

Reputation is set to break sales records since her fifth studio album 1989. It’s a huge album and fans have had a lot to say since it dropped. From the lyrics to the production, nothing is being left unsaid when it comes to talking about Swift’s remarkable talent. With a number of hits before the age of 21, Swift could have stopped then but she’s continued on and has become the greatest artist and songwriter of our generation and reputation just proved it. Not only did the fans go out on release day, so did everyone else. We suppose that’s what happens when Swift drops new music: the world stops and listens.

But it’s not the world that we’re concerned about. It’s the fans. Their opinions are the most important, which is why talked with a select few (5) and asked them about reputation, what they love about the album and the most important question of them all, is the old Taylor really dead? Read on to find out what they had to say:

STAGE RIGHT SECRETS: What was your reaction when you listened to Rep for the first time? 

Nikole (@TheNikoleRenee):

I went into listening to reputation with a pretty open mind. I liked the 4 songs she had released early but I wasn’t crazy in love with any of them and they were all so different sonically that I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. Usually, when I first listen to an album, there will only be 2-3 songs I totally love right off the bat and then it takes me a few listens to get into the rest, but with reputation, the first time I heard it I was surprised at how I loved practically every song immediately.

Christine (@CMSellers14):

When I listened to reputation for the first time in its entirety, I thought it was different than any other album Taylor has previously released, but still so her. Her storytelling and her lyrics have gotten that much sharper and she’s grown so much as an artist since 1989.

Torie (@TorieSwift13):

I was shocked and amazed because it is so different than anything Taylor has ever done.

Perry (@SwiftyPlatypus): 

My first reaction was realizing just how different this album was going to be from 1989. I also thought that her vocals sounded really good on this album!

Alexandria:

I was completely amazed when I heard reputation for the first time. It was nothing like we have ever heard before and the lyrics were sharp. I just covered my face with amazement the first time through. She’s just lyrically a genius.

SRS: How do you think this album is different than her previous albums? 

Nikole:

 I think this album is different than her previous ones most significantly production-wise, then lyrically second. Hearing the acoustic arrangements she’s done of a few of the songs proved that her songwriting style is still the same, but instead of relying more on the lyrics and melody as she has done on previous albums, reputation focuses more on the production and cohesive feel of the album. I think this album will be better known for what this overall Taylor era represents (confidence, rebellion, embracing sexuality, revenge, etc.) while her other albums are mostly remembered for specific lyrics or songs (i.e. RED = “You call me up again just to break me like a promise / So casually cruel in the name of being honest”). Her lyrical subjects have definitely matured as well on this album with many more explicit references to alcohol, sex, and drugs compared to her previous albums. reputation also marks the first time Taylor makes reference to modern-day brands (i.e. Nike, Jaguar, Range Rover); before this, all of her songs have been more or less timeless in their setting.

Christine: 

In contrast to her previous albums, I’d say reputation starts out a bit darker. She paints a linear timeline of what her life has been like throughout the last three years, and I think it’s evident from some of the later songs, like “Gorgeous,” “Call It What You Want It,” and “New Year’s Day” that she’s at a brighter, happier point in her life now (which is awesome!). I also think it’s cool how she ends the album on “New Year’s Day” when you think about the symbolism behind the holiday, as it relates to the song and how she aligned the two (based on what Secret Sessioners have said). It’s pretty clever.

Torie:

This album is different in the fact that it sounds nothing like anything she’s done before with what I feel is a modern pop/EDM sound.

Perry:

 I think this album is more mature. It leans into a more sensual Taylor, and a more adult Taylor. The breakup songs are more adult, and less scathing, which I’m fine either way. I think it’s more soulful a la Don’t Blame Me

Alexandria:

Well obviously, sonically it’s a lot different than she’s ever done before. Lyrically it’s a lot more mature. I think her songwriting has grown quite a bit since we seen her last. I think the content is different than we’ve ever seen her, as well. She’s finally embracing love and happiness in the same sense and it just thrills me to see her that way.

SRS: What do you love most about this album sonically? Lyrically? 

Nikole:

 I think sonically it’s the most cohesive album she’s done so far. I love how it gradually transitions from sassy/dark, bass-heavy anthems into slower, sexy/romantic songs and then eventually into this pure state of love and bliss with “New Year’s Day.” Also, I might be reading too far into it (but knowing Taylor, probably not) I think ending 1989 with “Clean” was a clue as to where reputation was going sonically. Her use of a vocoder vocal effect on multiple songs on reputation (most prominently on “Delicate”) seems deliberately inspired by Imogen Heap who she co-wrote “Clean” with. Lyrically, Taylor will always be an icon in my eyes. She has always been personal and detailed, while also poignant and universally relatable; reputation is no different.

Christine: 

Sonically, I love how Taylor always manages to experiment with cool, new sounds and correlates what she does sonically with how she expresses herself in her lyrics. I think this comes across particularly well in “I Did Something Bad;” the song is edgier, so naturally the sound is edgier as well. Lyrically, I’ve always loved that Taylor writes out of personal experience and is so honest in her music. I’m a writer, too, and my prose and poetry are also drawn from personal experience, so I really relate to her in that way.

Torie:

I love the new sound and how each song is so different yet they all fit together. It’s a sonically cohesive album.

Perry:

Sonically I love the production. The drums in the chorus of “King of My Heart” are something I really love. Also, the synth sound she uses in the chorus of “Delicate” lyrically it’s the stories she brings to life. “Getaway Car” is lyrically the strongest, as well as “Dancing with our hands tied” they are both beautifully done.

Alexandria:

Overall this album is just sharp. With every beat and every lyric, Swift is really on top of things. Even a week later, I’m still listening to it in amazement at how well each song just flows together. I also am amazed at how flawlessly each song knits together yet their all so so different. It’s lyrically and sonically cohesive. She really outdid herself.

SRS: What is your favorite song and why? 

Nikole: 

I don’t think I can choose just one! 🙂 I’d have to narrow it down between “Dress,” “Don’t Blame Me,” and “I Did Something Bad” all for different reasons. Along with being her sexiest song to date, “Dress” is one of her more lyrically vulnerable moments on the album and it has “this sick beat” (bad pun intended) that I’m obsessed with. In my opinion, “Don’t Blame Me” is Taylor‘s best song ever vocally; it’s soulful, dark, and sultry, reminiscent of Hozier’s “Take Me To Church,” and that a cappella layered vocal breakdown into the final hook GIVES ME LIFE. “I Did Something Bad” is a sassy anthem of pure perfection that achieves Taylor‘s highest level of dramaticism, which I relate to on a spiritual level.

Christine: 

That’s a tough one because I have so many favorites, but I’d say it’s a toss-up between “Call It What You Want It” (I’m happy that Taylor’s with a guy who makes her happy) and “Don’t Blame Me (it’s so catchy, I literally cannot stop singing it!).”

Torie:

It changes depending on my mood, but right now my favorite song is “Getaway Car.” I can somehow see a music video in my head when I listen to it. I’d love to see this as a single.

Perry:

My favorite is either “Don’t Blame Me” or “Dancing with Our Hands Tied” I’ll go for Dancing. I really like the bridge, and I’m a writer, I love it so much that I’ve already planned a major plot for a series I’m writing, and the bridge is going to be a big plot point for the book.

Alexandria:

 My favorite song changes every day and with every listen. Right now “King of My Heart” is a favorite. But the first listen was “Getaway Car” or “This is Why We Can’t Have a nice Things”

SRS: How do you see this album being the soundtrack to your life over the next couple of years? 

Nikole:

Taylor‘s music is so special to me because she literally has been the soundtrack of my life since I was in 7th grade with “Teardrops on My Guitar.” Practically every situation I’ve been through (happy, sad, angry, relationships, friendships, etc.), she’s had a song that makes me feel like I have a friend who understands exactly how I’m feeling. It’s actually scary how much I relate to some of the songs on reputation already. At 23, I’m currently going through a similar phase as Taylor of navigating growing up, taking control of my life, gaining a newfound self-confidence, and embracing adulthood. I see reputation as being the album I can jam out and mindlessly dance around my room too, but also lyrically defines both where I’m at in life right now and where I hope to be in the next few years in terms of relationships, reinvention, and controlling my narrative.

Christine:

Great question! I’ve thought about this a lot since reputation was released. I’ve listened to Taylor’s music for years now. She’s been my soundtrack through lots of good, bad, and important moments—from losing friends to making new ones, being crushed by crushes, graduating college, and now working at my first real job, as well as being a first-time pet owner (my puppy, Romeo loves her too!). I hope that she can continue to be there for all the ups and downs in my life, musically, that I can continue creating fond memories to her songs, and that one day, if I’m lucky, I can thank her for the impact she’s made on my life—as both a person and a writer—face to face

Torie:

I can see it being the inspiration for the kind of love I want to find in the future. I want a love like what she describes in “Call It What You Want.”

Perry:

I’m nearly 25, and I’ve finally found myself a relationship that is good, healthy, and loving. I really can relate to the 10 love songs on the album, I can feel this album being helpful for my wedding playlist for next year!

Alexandria:

Taylor has been my go-to since the Fearless era. Her music is on constant repeat and I think that’s because I prefer artists that make you think. Taylor is one of those artists that aren’t just headbanging, shoe tapping songs but also make you think and feel things. Taylor writes in a way that makes you remember instances in your life that you felt that same way.

SRS: What is your least favorite track on the album?

Nikole:

My least favorite track on the album would have to be “King of My Heart.” I think the melody is catchy and I like the beat, but I’m just not crazy about the lyrical concept of giving a man that much power to be the “king of my heart, body, and soul.” I also think some of the other lyrics are a bit random (i.e. “you move to me like I’m a Motown beat”). Taylor said in the iHeartRadio session that the song is supposed to be a progression of defining moments throughout a relationship and I think the verses accomplish that very clearly. I just wish the pre-hook & chorus were more in line with that concept instead of becoming this ultimatum that now that you’re in love, this man suddenly rules your entire persona.

Christine:

I wouldn’t say that I have a least favorite; every song is just that good!

Torie:

If I had to pick, I’d say “…So It Goes.”

Perry:

Honestly, I know this will be an unpopular answer, but “End Game” is my Least favorite. I do like it, it’s a good track, but I think it’s lyrically the weakest on the album.

Alexandria: 

Least favorite? Why do you have to do that to me? “Dancing with our Hands Tied,” probably, it’s sonically one of the best songs on the album but lyrically it’s not the Swiftian genius that we all know and love.

SRS: Is this your favorite album she’s ever done? Why or why not? 

 Nikole:

 Speak Now is still my favorite album of hers and probably always will be. There are way too many incredible songs that have played a huge part in my life and I still find myself relating to all the time 7 years later. I would put reputation in 2nd place though.

Christine:

I love all of her albums for different reasons, but reputation just might be my favorite. I love what the concept behind reputation represents—it’s a rejection of the false caricature the media has created of her and a re-assertion of her own power. I think everyone can relate to the concept of being misunderstood, or painted in a false light, and I’m glad Taylor has set an example and has spoken up for herself time and time again.

Torie:

My favorite album is always the current album. It’s hard to compare albums because each one tells its own story about a different time in Taylor‘s life.

Perry:

It is. I always said that no album would ever top Red for me, but it did. My favorite song is still from Red, but I think that this album is right on track with Red, but is more cohesively put together than Red.

Alexandria:

 It is one of her best for sure. Right now it is my favorite album she’s ever done. It’s so different, yet so her. I love all six albums so much for a different reason.

SRS: Do you miss the old Taylor? Or is the old Taylor really dead? 

Nikole:

In my opinion, the old Taylor isn’t really dead. I think she has just grown up and is showing us new sides of herself compared to her previous albums. Maybe to the general public who only follow her in the media, the old Taylor is dead because this “new” Taylor who stands up for herself and takes ownership of her actions and sexuality is so far from their skewed perception of her, but to her real fans she’s still the same Taylor who authentically cares about her fans so personally, writes her truth through her music, and has just matured into a new way of approaching life as any normal young woman does.

If I were to say one thing I miss about the “old Taylor” though is the accessibility factor. I completely understand her not wanting to do interviews to let the music speak for itself this era instead of perpetuating the media’s control of her reputation, but hearing her talk about the music and what inspired each song has always made me feel more connected to her and the music. She’s done a few bits and pieces of that here and there this week on iHeartRadio/SiriusXM, but I wish there was more of that for fans who didn’t get to attend a secret session. Along with that same point, I understand why she did it but the fact that she didn’t write hidden messages in the liner notes for this album was a bit disappointing.

Christine: 

I don’t think the “old Taylor” is dead at all. She’s still a great songwriter, she’s still generous to her fans, and she still loves to stalk her fans on Tumblr. She’s the same Taylor she’s always been, and I’m incredibly proud of her.

Torie:

I think the “old Taylor” that is dead is the girl who let people and the media give her this reputation of being a serial dater and using guys just so she can write a song about them. I don’t think Taylor is dead in the sense that she still loves her cats, is so incredibly involved with her fans, and is an amazing singer/songwriter. She’s owning the narrative of who she is and she’s showing the world her reputation in her way.

Perry:

Neither. Taylor is still alive, the new and the old. You can hear that in the last two tracks on the album, but I think she is evolving. I would never expect her to just stop changing. I change every year, why can’t she? I like every version of Taylor. She’s my hero, and I will always support and love her.

Alexandria:

Without a doubt, the old Taylor is still alive

About The Author

Kara Johnson is a writer who's interviewed artists from Keith Urban to Heffron Drive. When she's not writing for Stage Right Secrets, you can find her writing about Kelsea Ballerini and Taylor Swift. Follow her on Twitter @AlotLikeKara