My name is Tyler Hartman, and my Taylor Swift obsession is one of my cornerstone personality traits. 1989 is where my love for her began, and I’ve been unable to shake this feeling ever since (unable to shake it off, you could say).
Her next album – reputation – turned haters into fans and fans into worshipers. Despite a few technical flaws, it is considered one of Miss Swift’s best albums of all time. It spawned a legendary stadium tour and some all-time great music videos. Let’s talk about Taylor Swift’s epic comeback record reputation by discussing each of its tracks individually.
1. “…Ready For It?”
When this song dropped, it was perhaps the most sonically unique track Taylor had ever released. We get two styles for the price of one here, with Taylor sing-rapping through the verses and soaring through the hooks. How you feel about sassy Taylor probably decides how you feel about this album’s opener, but I’ve always loved it. “…Ready For It?” ushers in Taylor’s most dramatic reinvention yet, and I have no choice but to stan.
2. “End Game” (feat. Ed Sheeran & Future)
I’m sorry. I’ve tried. I really have. But in my opinion, this is the queen’s worst single ever. No part of “End Game” gives me the chills the way other tracks on the album do. I skip it every time. Next.
3. “I Did Something Bad”
I have no problem with Taylor emphasizing parts of her personality that may or may not be prominent in her day-to-day life. She is a performer, after all. With this song, bad girl Tay Tay arrives. Anyone who performs glow stick dances for their friends would probably have a fun “light me up” moment in the bridge. This is a reasonably fierce bop that many fans love.
4. “Don’t Blame Me”
This cathedral track has slowly but surely risen in my rankings over the last 3 years (I’m using cathedral as an adjective; don’t blame me). There are a few songs on reputation that feel quintessential to this Swift era, and “Don’t Blame Me” is definitely one of them. It’s theatrical as hell, and brings me to church every time I hear it. A-tier, for sure.
I’ve seen this one on many top-10 T-Swift song lists. Do I agree that it’s one of her best songs ever? Ask me again in 10 years. It’s good. But that good? I’m not sure. If nothing else, “Delicate” is a satisfying expansion to the top-40 radio’s reputation exposure. It’s heartfelt and relatable, rather than edgy and confrontational. I’m so happy we got both flavors on this album.
6. “Look What You Made Me Do”
I’m sorry, the old Tyler can’t come to the phone right now.
Professional music critics have dragged this track for being basic, uninspired, and derivative (I didn’t even notice, but the rhythm of the chorus is snatched straight from Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy”).
I am not a professional music critic, but I am a professional Taylor Swift stan. And O.M.G. Taylor has never had a reinvention so iconic. The attitude. The drama. The theatrics. There is absolutely no better way she could have returned after the infamous Kanye call that tarnished her reputation.
And the music video? Don’t even get me started.
“Look What You Made Me Do” isn’t a great example of Taylor’s dazzling songwriting talent – admittedly, the lyrics here are pretty basic. “Look What You Made Me Do” is my most-played Taylor song ever because it’s got enough attitude, confidence, and break-neck pacing to last a lifetime – all delivered in 3 minutes and 32 seconds.
My favorite song on the album, period.
7. “So It Goes…”
Right. So, this is the only track Taylor didn’t include in her concert set list, and I think we were all pretty OK with that. It’s a slow jam to play in the background, but not a standout hit from the album. Not terrible, but I often skip it in my reputation play-throughs.
This one’s perfectly serviceable as a fun pop single, but it doesn’t rise to reputation’s upper tiers. I have the least to say about “Gorgeous.” Not a skipper, but not a jam. It’s fine.
9. “Getaway Car”
The track that fans wish had been a single, “Getaway Car” has one of the best hooks on the album, and features personality traits haters will say are fake, like humility and regret. Taylor has absolutely still got it (“it” being incredible songwriting talent). This is a reminder of that, and an undeniable highlight from the album.
10. “King of My Heart”
Listen, I am SO happy that Taylor is finally in a relationship that may be “the one.” I’m so glad she can devote an entire song to a man who will hopefully own her heart forever.
But I would be lying if I said I loved this song. It’s not that it’s bad…it’s just uninteresting. It doesn’t do much to stand out from the crowd, and I skip it almost every time I listen through the album. Sorry, Taylor.
11. “Dancing With Our Hands Tied”
Umm. Yes. This one’s a fan favorite for a reason. It feels so clean and colorful, yet bittersweet. It’s sad that Taylor felt the need to conceal her relationship with Joe to protect it from the world, but this track sort of makes me wish she’d wrote about that struggle a little more. One of reputation’s finest, without a doubt.
Our first glimpse at sexual Taylor, “Dress” is a middle-of-the-road slow jam. It’s vibrant and sensual, but doesn’t quite rise above average on the track list.
13. “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”
The second of two overtly confrontational songs on reputation, TIWWCHNT does everything “Look What You Made Me Do” did, but without the style. Instead of “I’m killing all my old selves because they were all vain attempts to please everyone,” this song says “you guys suck and we can’t be friends anymore because you ruin everything.” If I hated Taylor Swift, I could probably use this song to make my case about why I don’t like her.
14. “Call It What You Want”
Here’s the most underrated song on reputation. “Call It What You Want” is a gentle, warm denouncing of the media’s interest in Taylor Swift’s dating life. It’s a message that threatens to feel defensive, but never really descends to that petty level. The strength of her relationship is all that matters, so the world can see it however they want to. We love that. It feels like peace.
15. “New Year’s Day”
Okay, so this one is at the top of just about every critic’s reputation song ranking. Technically speaking, it probably is the best-written song on the album. Its sound beautifully coincides with its subject matter: a quiet morning after a wild night, when you’re looking forward to new beginnings. It’s probably not in my top 5 on reputation, but I love, love, love how it feels. It’s a great example of Taylor’s songwriting talent, and a positive send-off to an album centering on course correction for a fallen star’s reputation.
Reputation Review & Ranking
Overall, reputation succeeds as one of the greatest pop comebacks this century. It isn’t a perfect record, but it hits enough high points to ascend as one of Taylor’s best and most popular albums to date – even among non-fans.
If I had to rank the songs on reputation from worst to best, my list would probably look something like this:
- “End Game” (feat. Ed Sheeran & Future)
- “King of My Heart”
- “So It Goes…”
- “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”
- “I Did Something Bad”
- “New Year’s Day”
- “Call It What You Want”
- “Dancing With Our Hands Tied”
- “Getaway Car”
- “…Ready For It?”
- “Don’t Blame Me”
- “Look What You Made Me Do”