If you don’t keep up with the latest pop music news, then you probably didn’t know that Taylor Swift released a music video her newest single “Look What You Made Me Do” on August 27th. Clearly, this song is starkly different from Swift’s last album, 1989. It is basically about the old Taylor dying, and Swift acknowledging all the bad things that people have said about her. The video is wrought with hidden symbolism of drama that has happened to her and references to her past music video personas.
Many people have regarded this music video to be another drastic change in Swift’s public image. From country star sweetheart, to passive aggressive ex-girlfriend, to now a vindictive she-devil who blames other people for her actions, Swift has gone through some phases. Oddly enough, some news outlets are seeing this phase as being “punk” or “hard rock”.
Today, we are going to debunk these claims.
“Look What You Made Me Do” is not rock, hard rock, punk, pop punk, or anything of the like. It is simply a more somber and brooding pop song. None of the instrumentals even slightly resemble something that would be present in a rock track. In addition, her vocals are too soft, whispery, and don’t possess the energy or mood that rock music typically entails. Although there may be a similar vibe between this song and some of the more angsty pop punk tunes, there really isn’t all too much in common between the genres.
Moreover, just because this new single is considered “heavy” or “dark” for Swift, it does not mean that it is heavy in general. Yes, she is wearing dark eye makeup and stares coldly at the camera, but she is not rock. Everything else Swift has written, both songs for herself and other people, have been in the pop or country genre. “Look What You Made Me Do” is no different. That being said, there is nothing wrong with this.
For most artists, their image stems from not only how they conduct themselves in the outside world, but also what takes place on their albums. Swift is undeniably a pop star. One song or one album is not going to seriously alter that idea of her. She is indeed being risky, spiteful, and fulfilling the bad girl aesthetic in this new video, and she is not that innocent 16-year-old girl she once was. But, she can only stray but so far from her ‘Fearless’ days.
Nonetheless, this is really just an intelligent marketing ploy. Swift is playing up the drama that surrounds her, and is making people pay attention to this new version of her. This isn’t anything we haven’t seen from Swift, and it isn’t anything we haven’t seen in the industry plenty of times before. People are allowed to change their image, but the public will only really accept the change if it follows a gradual, genuine transition.
All in all, although we often have broad definitions for what genres can be, Swift’s new song is nowhere near our punk world. It irrefutably lies pretty squarely within the realm of pop.