By Lily Firth
Most of Taylor Swift’s fans eagerly anticipated new music following her three-year hiatus since “1989.” The single she released was nothing less than a surprise. “Look What You Made Me Do” is different from anything Swift has released in the past, centering around dark instrumentals and using cryptic messages dedicated to her enemies who morphed her into someone she doesn’t want to be — vicious, hardened and vengeful.
This new Swift is surprising to fans and non-fans alike because the singer started out as a young, country-pop singer with an acoustic guitar, singing about boys and writing in her diary. We’ve seen her change over the years. Swift slowly shed her country sound, but she still kept up her girly signature style. Following her break, many people still expected similar bubblegum pop songs, but her first single was quite a divergence. Personally, I think Swift got exactly what she wanted — to show the world that she has shed her carefree, innocent self.
Like most celebrities, Swift has always been under harsh scrutiny and judgement from the world, but it seems she has been a common target for mockery because she focused on boys and heartbreak. Critics argued that she played the victim and that she morphs her own experiences to make other people look petty. Critics called her “boy crazy” and claimed that she had no depth to her lyrics or her work, which is unfair considering the singer’s success. Swift, likely tired of her victim persona, decided it was time to change her image.
The lyrics to “Look What You Made Me Do” show this change more closely. She specifically says, “I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me” and that in the past, people have made her seem like a “fool.” Now, however, she’s grown “smarter and got harder in the nick of time.” She also continually repeats the phrase, “look what you made me do,” to refer to how the media, other celebrities and haters have led her to this change. Perhaps the song’s most significant lyrics — a part of the song that have attracted a lot of attention — are “the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, because she’s dead!” The lyrics represent that Swift’s change is completed and there’s no going back to the way she was before.
The new Swift is here to stay.
The music video was highly talked about as well, premiering at the 2017 Video Music Awards. The first scene shows Swift as a corpse, burying her former self. She then shows different versions of herself that are more acidic and evil, including her sitting on a throne with snakes, walking with a huge cheetah print coat and stilettos, lying in a bath of diamonds, strutting fishnets and heels, and leading robotic minions with a whip in hand. Many people who analyzed the video blame her critics, in addition to former friend Katy Perry, who wronged her, and rapper Kanye West, who famously dissed her in front of the whole world at the 2009 VMAs.
The end of the video disturbed a lot of people as well. As Swift stands on top of a mound of people, it is soon revealed that the women beneath her are each an older version of Swift from major parts in her life, all screaming and trying to get to the top of the mound. But the new Swift kicks them all down. The scene is symbolic of her new image, representing that the old versions of herself are completely detached from who she is now.
The song overall has had many mixed reviews — many people love the new image, but some are upset and nostalgic for the old Swift. Some straight up hate the song and still criticize her for her new image, but it’s obvious that Swift is unbothered. With the song’s success and the publicity it brings, her upcoming album will surely continue to create more buzz.