Reputation is pretty much what I expected based on the mostly disappointing pre-release singles. The good news is the rest of the album is a step up in quality, even if the subject matter is disappointingly more of the same. Dis tracks, love songs and meditations on what it’s like to be as famous as Taylor Swift.
We’ve had a whole lot of discussion about Taylor Swift on this blog in recent weeks, mostly centering on her choice of subject matter (namely, herself). I maintain that Swift’s obsessive focus on her own personal drama diminishes her as an artist.
Two days ago, Swift released the first single from her upcoming album Reputation, and I’m sorry to say it reinforces that negative impression.
Our third Round Four matchup pits Elvis Costello against Taylor Swift. Swift has been a giant slayer in the contest thus far, propelled by some major fans and a whole lot of debate. She took out David Byrne in Round One, Tom Petty in Round Two and Simon & Garfunkel in Round Three (72/28).
Costello topped Carly Rae Jepsen, then John Mayer and finally Michael Jackson (with a commanding 90% of the vote).
Swift’s path has been a generational war, Millennials vs. Boomers, and that won’t change in this round. Can she continue to topple the oldsters on her way to the Final Four? Or will Costello prove too tough a foe?
Swift defeated a couple of celebrated veterans to get here, dropping David Byrne with 88% of the vote in Round One and Tom Petty with 72% in Round Two. Simon & Garfunkel defeated Rufus Wainwright with 80% in Round One and Prince with 64% in Round Two. That’s an impressive batch of artists left in the wake of these two contenders. Continue reading
Petty won his battle in one of the closest Round One contests, picking up 56% of the vote. Swift had an easier time dispatching Byrne, netting 88%. Now they face off against each other.
Apart from Adele, nobody has the four-quadrant appeal of Taylor Swift. She parlayed country stardom into pop superstardom and is now pretty a much a genre unto herself. David Byrne is an indie rock, New Wave and world music pioneer who has influenced scores of modern musicians. Note: For the purposes of this face-off, we are considering only Byrne’s solo work, and not Talking Heads.
Swift co-wrote the song with Jack Antonoff and Sam Dew, making this her first new material since the smash hit 1989 was released three years ago. It’s also notable as a collaboration between Swift and her ex-boyfriend Harry Styles’ former bandmate. That had to sting for old Harry.