Look What You Made Me Review

Let me begin by saying I love Taylor Swift. She’s a brilliant businesswoman, a great singer, a fabulous performer and a wonderful lyricist. And it’s because of that skill level I find myself disappointed in her new hit, “Look What You Made Me Do.”

If you haven’t heard T-Swift’s latest single (and record-breaking hit), get out from under the rock you call home and give it a listen.

Yeah, that was….something else. And not something good.

Compare “LWYMMD” to other T-Swizzler songs and it’s clear to see Taylor’s strongest skill as a musician is nowhere to be found. Her lyrics are usually extremely clever and perfectly delivered but this single fails to impress. The first verse and bridge start off strong, classic “My Friend Becky” wit:

I don’t like your little games

Don’t like your tilted stage

The role you made me play

Of the fool, no, I don’t like you

I don’t like your perfect crime

How you laugh when you lie

You said the gun was mine

Isn’t cool, no, I don’t like you (oh!)

But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time

Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time

I’ve got a list of names and yours is in red, underlined

I check it once, then I check it twice, oh!

There’s not much in the rhyming department, just a bunch of soft connections (“crime” with “mine” etc.) but the narrative in there is great. The song is clearly a call-out song where TayTay isn’t holding back. She has a list of names, yours being highlighted and she checks it twice – that sounds like an angry woman refreshing her fury in order to go for a kill strike. I’m so prepared for the tea about to be spilled that I’ve got a towel in each hand.

The problem comes in the second half of the song – especially since she stopped writing it. Look at the lyrics for the chorus:

Ooh, look what you made me do

Look what you made me do

Look what you just made me do

Look what you just made me

Ooh, look what you made me do

Look what you made me do

Look what you just made me do

Look what you just made me do

 

It’s the same sentence, over and over and over and over and over. That’s not writing. And it’s not unique or interesting.

Then there’s the second verse:

I don’t like your kingdom keys

They once belonged to me

You asked me for a place to sleep

Locked me out and threw a feast (what?)

The world moves on, another day, another drama, drama

But not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma

And then the world moves on, but one thing’s for sure

Maybe I got mine, but you’ll all get yours

 

And yeah, there are some good lines here explaining how she’s the victim of some attack and her revenge is justified and glorious. It’s all very, “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” which would be cool but that’s what the first verse was. This literally adds nothing to the story of the song. It sounds engaging the first time you hear it but it’s empty and plotless.

What makes this worse are the conflicting parts within the verse. She says she’s not thinking about drama (drama), instead focusing on the karma (shouldn’t there have been a second karma???), but wishing your enemies get their just desserts is drama. It’s the very definition of drama; she’s still invested in what happens to this person.

Then it’s a minute of the same three lines:

I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me

I’ll be the actress starring in your bad dreams

and

Look what you made me do

And then the voiceover, which is so melodramatic I almost thought Raven Ebony Dementia Way stole the mic.

“LWYMMD” is 71 lines but if you remove all the duplicates it’s actually only 28 lines – and that’s being generous and counts look what you made me do and look what you just made me do as two separate, unique lines. Compare that to “Blank Space” which is 82 lines originally and then 48 lines excluding repeating lyrics, and you can see how “LWYMMD” feels underdeveloped and unfinished. This song is beneath someone of Taylor’s level, and after three years of no new music, my high expectations were severely let down by the first single off Reputation.

What makes everything worse is the lack of story in “LWYMMD.” Pick any classic Swift song and the story drives the lyrics: “Fifteen” is about how devastating young love can be; “Tim McGraw” explores the intricacies in how music affects a person; “Red” details the dangers of undefined, unrealistic dreams. Even the meta songs have a point: “Wildest Dreams” and “Blank Space” mock how the media portrays TayTay’s relationships.

And that’s what gives “LWYMMD” an undeniable favor of fakeness. 1989 was successful and amazing because it was Taylor Swift writing about how people see her as the brand TAYLOR SWIFT, not the person she is. But “LWYMMD” almost exclusively relies on her brand – you won’t understand the bigger picture in the song if you don’t know the media circus that is being TAYLOR SWIFT.

That reliance on brand doesn’t just happen to T-Swift, though. Katy Perry’s “Swish Swish” is a trainwreck, too. There’s no substance in either of the songs. And while pop music has a history of vapid hits (The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar” is terrible, lyrics-wise), both Swift and Perry are known for great lyrics.

 

You don’t get these kinds of awards with songs like “LWYMMD”

 

In the race to gain hits and headlines, using your brand instead of your art cheapens the experience for the fan, the creator and the medium itself. People can praise “LWYMMD” all they want but if I had to pick a song to bring to a deserted island, I’m choosing Florence + The Machine’s “Saint Jude” or Lorde’s “Liability” over that hot mess in a New York minute.

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