November 10, 2017
The album has also topped the charts in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. As of May 2019, “reputation” has sold over 4 million copies in the US and over 8,5 million worldwide. It received a nomination for “Best Pop Vocal Album” at the 2019 Grammy Awards, becoming Taylor’s second nomination in the category (her fifth album “1989” won in 2016).
The title, release date, and cover art were revealed after Taylor removed all of her previous social media presence, a move which many other artists started mimicing and which is now called a “social media blackout”. A few days later, Taylor uploaded three videos of a snake’s tail, body, and head in August 2017; most considered this a reference to the “snake” nickname she was given during the summer of 2016, after public fallouts with Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry and ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris.
BACKGROUND & RELEASE
The album’s lead single, “Look What You Made Me Do“, was released on August 25, 2017, and declared the “old Taylor dead”. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for three consecutive weeks and instantly found a place in cultural ubiquity. Its music video gained over 43.2 million views during its first day on YouTube, breaking the record for the most-viewed music video within 24 hours. Among many other things, throughout the video Taylor is seen as the not-so-benevolent leader of a huge squad of models lined up like an army, a baseball bat-wielding robber of a streaming company, and a controlling dancer leading a group of eight ex-boyfriends wearing shirts that read “I ❤️ TS”. “If everything you wrote about me was true,” Taylor said in a behind-the-scenes look at the music video, “this is how ridiculous it would look.”
Surprisingly enough, Taylor didn’t do much promotion for the album’s release. She didn’t give interviews to magazines, nor did she appear on television to perform her lead single. Instead, she did a lot of marketing through her social media accounts and chose to share recordings from her “reputation Secret Sessions” so fans could hear her thought process behind each song. The sessions — which Taylor also did for the release of “1989” — were several secret events held before the release of “reputation”. Taylor invited fans to her homes in their dozens and played them the album before anyone else got to hear it.
“reputation” was finally released on November 10, 2017. According to Taylor’s father, Scott Swift, the album was supposed to come out months before it did, but her sexual assault trial in Denver pushed it back.
Taylor has stated that she knew very early on in the writing process that she wanted to name the album “reputation”, which is why she was able to construct the album based on that concept. She further explained her reasonings for naming the album “reputation” to Rolling Stone:
“Creating ‘reputation’ felt different to any other album I’ve ever made because it felt a lot less fragmented in its storytelling. It was about a journey, from one emotional place to another. Other albums I’ve made have felt like a scrapbook of different memories, but there was something overarching about the theme of this album for me. I wanted it to sound like losing something you thought you wanted, and in the end, gaining something you really needed.” – Taylor Swift
Taylor further explained that the album had a linear timeline, starting with how she felt when she started working on the album, and transitioning to how she feels now. She told Entertainment Weekly in 2019:
“Songwriters need to communicate, and part of communicating correctly is when you put out a message that is understood the way you meant it. ‘reputation’ was interesting because I’d never before had an album that wasn’t fully understood until it was seen live. When it first came out everyone thought it was just going to be angry; upon listening to the whole thing they realized it’s actually about love and friendship, and finding out what your priorities are.” – Taylor Swift
WRITING & PRODUCTION
Taylor wrote the songs on “reputation” as a “defense mechanism” against the tumultuous media gossip targeting her during the time, and as a means to revamp her state of mind. Elaborating on the songwriting, Taylor told Rolling Stone in a 2019 interview that she followed the songwriting for her 2014 single “Blank Space“, on which she satirized her perceived image. She said, “I took that template of, ‘OK, this is what you’re all saying about me. Let me just write from this character for a second.'” In addition to the media commotion, love and friendship are major inspirations on the album, which corroborates Taylor’s trademark autobiographical storytelling through her songs.
Taylor started recording “reputation” in Nashville in September, 2016. She mainly worked with two production teams: Jack Antonoff (whom she worked with for much of “1989”), and the music industry legends and long-time collaborators Max Martin & Shellback. Taylor explained that she decided to work with a much smaller group on “reputation” than on “1989”, and picked these producers to work with because she “felt like they would be versatile enough to kill ‘1989’, and make something new.”
“There would be no way for me to make something even similar to ‘1989’ and have it be effective. It had to be completely different, because that album was its own thing.” — Taylor Swift
The final cut of “reputation” consists of 15 tracks. Martin and Shellback, the former of whom was co-executive producer with Taylor on “1989”, co-wrote and produced nine songs. Jack Antonoff co-wrote and produced the remaining six. Taylor’s recording sessions with Antonoff mostly took place at his home studio in Brooklyn, with several trips to Atlanta and California for him to incorporate ideas from other producers. According to Antonoff, the sessions tried to capture Taylor’s emotions at a particular time, when “you can feel like you can conquer the world, or you can feel like the biggest piece of garbage that ever existed”, resulting in a “very intense” record. He spoke of his work experience with Taylor on Entertainment Weekly:
“She is great at remembering the heart and soul of the process. Some people forget it — sometimes something works and everyone starts to rewire it. But she’s really great at knowing what it’s about: talking about what the hell is going on in your life and somehow finding a way to take that exact emotion and make a song out of it. That was the theme of those sessions: “Let’s just tell this story, whatever that story is, because that’s the whole point.” – Jack Antonoff
As Taylor wanted to record the album in secrecy, Antonoff kept his studio computer offline to prevent a possible internet leak, and deleted the recording trials once the mixing and mastering finalized. Taylor has called “reputation” her most cathartic album, something she’d wanted to make for “years and years”. “After I finished it, I was like: now I can go back to writing regular songs again.”
Before “reputation” was released, the number of pre-orders reached more than 400,000 units, double the amount of her “1989” album. It was also reported that the album will be kept off streaming services upon release for an undetermined amount of time and would only be available to purchase in digital and physical formats.
When the album was released on November 10, 2017, it scored colossal numbers upon its eventual release, selling 1.28 million copies in its first week in the US, making Taylor the only artist in history to have four albums debut with over a million first-week sales, following “1989” (1.29M units), “RED” (1.21M units), and “Speak Now” (1.05M units) since 1991. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 during the week of December 2, 2017. In addition to that, “reputation” also sold more than the combined sales of the 199 albums on Billboard 200 for that week. The album became the fastest album in history to reach the No. 1 spot on US iTunes, only six minutes after its release.
“reputation” received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 71 based on 28 reviews, indicating “generally favorable reviews”. The Guardian writer Alexis Petri disopined “reputation”, “may be mired in bitterness and gossip, but the pop star’s songwriting smarts and lyrical prowess are impossible to deny on her sixth album”, noting the songs see “Swift cutting her last ties with her Nashville roots in favour of the blare and honk of EDM-influenced pop”. Rolling Stone‘s Rob Sheffield writes “reputation”, “shows the darker, deeper side of the pop mastermind”. Sheffield also remarked, “As one of the all-time great pop masterminds, she’s trying something new, as she always does.”
The album art for “reputation” was photographed by Mert and Marcus in London. The cover features Taylor in her signature lipstick, slicked-back hair, grey sweatshirt, and choker necklace. Newspaper headlines and columns are superimposed over one side of her face, which is a mockery at media that plagued her life. The typeface used for the headlines is reminiscent of the signature font of The New York Times. Target released two 72-page magazines that contain different content, including the album in the US. They contain photos, handwritten lyrics, poetry and paintings by Taylor. The “reputation Vol. 1” magazine cover was shot by Mert and Marcus. Vol. 2 was shot by Benny Horne and features Taylor in a camouflage jacket.
REPUTATION STADIUM TOUR
In August 2017, Taylor partnered with Ticketmaster for a bundling program, with people wishing to buy her concert tickets could gain priority by purchasing merchandise and pre-ordering “reputation”. On November 13, 2017, Taylor announced she would be embarking on the “reputation Stadium Tour” in 2018 in support of the album, first announcing North American dates. The tour began on May 8, 2018, at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, and concluded on November 21, 2018 at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, with a total of 53 dates in stadiums throughout North America, Europe, Oceania and Asia. A concert film of the tour was released on Netflix on December 31, 2018, which was filmed during the two last concerts of the North American leg, on October 5 and 6 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
|Released||November 10, 2017|
|Label||Big Machine Records|