Last week, Taylor Swift sent shockwaves through the Twitterverse when she scrubbed her social media accounts, prompting fans to speculate that the country singer turned pop star was preparing to make headlines for something other than the liberal use of the word “ass” in a courtroom. Then, on Wednesday, Swift posted a series of short, cryptic videos of a snake on her Instagram account, followed by the announcement of Reputation, the long-awaited follow-up to 2014’s blockbuster 1989.
That album’s second single, “Blank Space,” proved Swift was capable of laughing at herself—and defusing the criticisms levied at her. While some have claimed that there are hidden meanings in the Reputation rollout, the snake is undoubtedly an attempt by the headline-maker to reclaim the serpentine symbol that’s been ascribed to her by her detractors. The focus on her public image is trite but perhaps inevitable for an artist whose romantic entanglements and beefs with everyone from Katy Perry to Kim Kardashian have often eclipsed her music over the last few years.
Rather than fighting her reputation as a mean girl, though, Swift embraces it on Reputation’s first single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” dropping seething bon mots like “I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me” and “Maybe I got mine, but you’ll all get yours” with tongue only half-pressed in cheek. Retribution is paired with resurrection, as Reputation is clearly being positioned as a sort of rebirth for the singer: “I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time/Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time,” she deadpans rhythmically and then launches into a half-spoken hook reminiscent of Meghan Trainor.
The track continues Swift’s shift from the retro-minded pop-rock of 1989 toward the more urban aesthetic established on last year’s “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever,” opening with deceptively lush strings before giving way to a pulsing hip-hop beat.
Watch the lyric video, co-produced by Swift and longtime collaborator Joseph Kahn, below:
Reputation arrives November 10th on Big Machine Records.