Taylor Swift Attempts to Change Her Persona

The results are…well…questionable

By Katelynn Browne

Staff Pop Critic

Two weeks ago, Taylor Swift dropped the music video for her new hit single “Look What You Made Me Do,” which now has over 350 million views on YouTube. “Look What You Made Me Do” ushers in yet another persona change for Swift – except this time, instead of shaking off the hate, she appears to be embracing her scandals, as if they were her plan all along. This is extremely dubious.

Throughout her music video, she alludes to several large scandals she was part of – for example, pretending not to know about the line in “Famous” where Kanye West raps, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/ Why? I made that bitch famous,” the huge case where she removed her music from Spotify, Tom Hiddleston’s I ❤ T.S. T-shirt, and the Katy Perry feud. Towards the end of the music video, she stands upon a tower of her former music video personas (i.e. “You Belong with Me” Taylor), as well as former awards show Taylor Swifts, who are all trying to climb to the top. However, she knocks them all down and says “I’m sorry…the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now…why? ‘Cause she’s dead,” thus indicating that she won’t let her past scandals bother her anymore, and a newer, stronger than ever Taylor Swift has emerged. At the very end of the video, she has her past selves dialogue with one another, mocking her overly sweet and innocent country girl roots, and “always playing the victim.” Here, Swift attempts to sell that she knew she had been perhaps dishonestly playing victim in all of her scandals.

Swift’s style change to this badass/bad girl character seems rather abrupt when you consider her past public personalities. Just because you a put a baby in a leather jacket means that the baby is a super badass mastermind of scandal? She looks good in the new video, but it’s hard to forget her nice girl roots, which before this video has always been the case with her. She has always been playing the nice girl, never the inflictor of any conflict – always being/playing the victim. And while she alludes to the media condemning her for playing victim, the idea that she played victim on purpose, strategically, scandal after scandal is unconvincing, because no matter what she’s always on the short end of the stick in the eyes of the media.

I found some of the imagery in the video itself to be confusing. There’s a part where she’s surrounded by snakes, and a snake serves her a cup of tea. She also wears snake rings. Is that implying she’s a snake? Is she calling herself a snake? Or are the celebrities she is surrounded by all snakes? Is she acknowledging that the media thinks she’s snake-like? It’s all super vague and I’m not sure what we made her do or I guess Katy Perry made her do except make millions of dollars in music sales, ad revenue etc.

Musically the song is okay – not one of her best, but definitely catchy. The chorus feels disjointed from the rest of the song upon first listen, but after inevitably listening to the song several more times (whether by choice or by hearing it on the radio), it begins to feel much more cohesive. Lyrically, the song again, is very okay, but Taylor Swift in recent years hasn’t been writing the most complex of lyrics. The lyrics can be corny, especially with certain repetitions like “The world moves on, another day, another drama, drama/ But not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma” as well as just vague and stupid lines like “You said the gun was mine” or “I don’t like your kingdom keys.” They’re meant to be metaphors for something relating to specific scandals and feuds, but there were definitely better lyrics that could have been written by an international pop icon.

In conclusion, “Look What You Made Me Do” is kind of a mess, and there’s definitely a lot going on with it in terms of interpreting what Taylor Swift wants us to believe is true, what the media says is true, and what’s actually true (like a lot of things these days.) The song itself is your regular, run-of-the-mill pop song, it’s nothing extremely special – it’s catchy, but definitely not her best work. I give it 3 out of 5, because I personally enjoy catchy songs, but I really can’t get behind the song lyrically, and the new look is so contradictory with the Taylor Swift we’ve come to know over the last ten years.

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