Who would have guessed that “Despacito” would spend the entire summer at the top of the chart? After all, 16 weeks ties the all-time record for the most weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100. And before that, we had four new number one records in four weeks, which was the first time that had happened since 1990.
It was starting to look like “Despacito” might never be unseated. But then, all of a sudden, new T-Swizz!
From Reputation, due November 10 on Big Machine.
People have lots to say whenever Taylor Swift does anything. There are a couple of obvious reasons for this. First of all, she is a provocative artist who does interesting things. Additionally, haters are compelled to hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. Either way, she is a ridiculously successful artist who guarantees eyeballs and everybody wants a piece of that action. So it goes.
In some ways it doesn’t even matter what the music sounds like. There are plenty of trappings to focus on when it comes Taylor Swift™ (and pop music in general). But how’s it sound?
Pretty cool actually. A sparse 808 beat with spooky piano and strings. It builds up to some drama-drama in the pre-chorus, and then the chorus switches gears with a stripped down interpolation of Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy.” Who knows why, but it must have been worth it to give away 12.5% of the songwriting credit (but none of the publishing) to a couple washed up one-hit wonders. She moves in mysterious ways.
The lyrics are interesting even if you don’t know any of the Kimye backstory. It’s essentially a murder fantasy against an abusive partner, flipping the classic excuse of the abuser: “Look what you made me do.” The dopey “voicemail” interlude that claims “the old Taylor is dead” makes me wonder if it’s really a murder-suicide fantasy. She’s taking out her abuser and then killing herself. Or is she her own abuser? Who knows?
Unfortunately, the video obliterates any subtlety you might find in the lyrics, and makes it crystal clear the song is about killing off the old persona(s) and resurrecting a meaner, new self. Laura Snapes wrote the definitive take on the video for Elle, suggesting it “demonstrates hyper-awareness, but not real self-awareness or a willingness to understand Swift’s own role in these scandals.” More drama-drama.
My favorite part of the video is the sacrilege of what first appears to be the new Taylor standing at the foot of the cross, but when the camera pulls back we see that it’s not a cross but a big capital T. For someone who has historically avoided upsetting conservatives, this is downright blasphemous! I love it.
Is Taylor Swift the antichrist? Could be. But in the meantime she’s got the number one song in the country.
“Look What You Made Me Do” fact sheet:
• 84.4 million U.S. streams in the week ending Aug. 31 (source)
• 353,000 download sales in the week ending Aug. 31 (source)
• 64 million all-format radio audience impressions following its first full week of airplay tracking. (It debuted a week ago with 46 million in its first three days.) (source)
• 10,129,087 first-day Spotify streams (source)
• 43.2 million YouTube views of the official video within 24 hours (source)
Listen on to all of the year’s #1 songs Spotify:
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Stay tuned for the latest developments with the top pop singles in the country. The toppermost of the poppermost! These are your number one records, America!