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End Game

Feat. Ed Sheeran & Future | Single | reputation (2017)

“End Game” is a star-studded track and is the sole collaboration on Taylor’s sixth studio album, reputation (2017). It features Ed Sheeran and Future.

Background

Taylor released her fifth studio album, 1989, in October 2014. Its synth-pop production transformed her sound and image from country-oriented to mainstream pop. The album was a massive commercial success, selling over five million copies in the U.S. within one year, and spawning three Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 singles. The BBC asserted that the success of 1989 solidified Taylor’s status as a global pop star.

In 2016, when Taylor was at the peak of overexposure, some of her rivals in the industry (including Scooter Braun, Kanye West and Justin Bieber) succeded in launching a worldwide hate campaign against her. As a result, Taylor disappeared from public view for an entire year and thought about quitting music for good. She became increasingly reticent on social media, having previously maintained an active presence with a large following, and avoided interactions with the press. She conceived her sixth studio album, reputation, as an answer to the media commotion surrounding her celebrity.

Lyrical Theme

“End Game” revolves around the idea of Taylor wanting to be her lover’s soulmate. While she never mentions who this person is, it is assumed to be about Joe Alwyn, her boyfriend as of the song’s release. Through the lyrics, Taylor hopes that the “drama” revolving around her doesn’t keep him from being with her because they’ve already gotten so close.

Guest Verses

Taylor began working on “End Game” alone, when she invited Ed over for pasta on July 13, 2017. She had written the lyric “I wanna be your A-team” and wanted to play it for Ed because of his song “The A Team”. She then told him she wanted him to sing a verse, so they began writing it then. They had previously worked together on her 2012 track “Everything Has Changed,” on which Ed sang the second verse. Interesting to note, in Ed’s verse he sings, “I’ve made mistakes and made some choices, that’s hard to deny. After the storm, something was born on the 4th of July.” Ed has previously said that he and his wife Cherry Seaborn got together over July 4th and the couple celebrated their first anniversary at Taylor’s house in Rhode Island over the holiday in 2016.

«I actually wrote [my verse] in, I remember where it was, I was in a hotel room in New York, in bed at about eight o'clock in the morning. I woke up ‘cause for some reason I, like, dreamed it in my head what I was gonna do. […] I woke up and then, like, typed it all out and then recorded it like a day later and sent it to [Taylor]. And I remember [she] liked it, which is good, positive. […] I’ve never really featured like this, maybe I’ve done, like, two tracks where I’ve featured. […] Well, you see, [the 'Fourth of July' line] is kind of a play on words. Not really a play on words, it’s kind of…there’s a film with Tom Cruise called Born on the Fourth of July…my relationship started on the fourth of July.»

Ed Sheeran
The idea to collaborate with Future came about when Taylor and Ed got drunk and just began talking about how cool it would be. “End Game” is Taylor’s overall third collaboration with a rapper, following the remix of her track “Bad Blood,” which featured Kendrick Lamar and “Both of Us” by B.o.B., featuring Taylor.

Critical Reception

On January 12, 2018, Taylor uploaded the music video for “End Game” onto her Vevo channel. Directed by Joseph Kahn, the video depicts her partying at three locations during nighttime: with Future on a yacht in Miami, with Ed Sheeran at a nightclub in Tokyo, and with various friends at a New Year’s Eve party and a double decker bus in London. While singing/rapping with Future, Taylor is seen riding shotgun in a Lamborghini Aventador with him. In one of the London scenes, she is seen sitting on a bar playing Snake on a handheld game console, a reference to her reputation as a “snake” during promotion of the album. This reference is also noted in one of the Tokyo scenes, in which she rides a motorcycle in a snakeskin-patterned bodysuit.

Critical Reception

The song received mixed reviews from critics. In a review by Pitchfork, Meaghan Garvey was not impressed by the guest appearances of Future and Sheeran, the former of which was seemingly a means to help Taylor stay relevant with contemporary hip hop trends. Garvey also criticized the production as bland, feeling that the song is an “uninspired” attempt at the authentic hip hop sound: “The decisions here feel measured to the point of lifelessness; preoccupied by the end game, risks become liabilities.” Brian Josephs from Spin praised Future’s verse, feeling that the rapper “fully owned it, making him a bizarrely good fit for a modern day Swift song”. “End Game” was one of the award-winning songs at the 2019 BMI Awards. It also won Pop Award at the 2019 BMI London Awards, in honor of songwriters and producers.

Commercial Performance

The track was released as the third single off reputation and sent to contemporary hit radio on December 3, 2017 in the United States. The music video was directed by Joseph Kahn and was released on January 11th, 2018. “End Game” became Taylor’s 55th top forty hit and the third single from reputation to reach the top 40.

Lyrics

[Chorus: Taylor Swift & Future]
I wanna be your end game
I wanna be your first string
I wanna be your A-Team
I wanna be your end game, end game

[Post-Chorus: Taylor Swift & Future]
Big reputation, big reputation
Ooh, you and me, we got big reputations
Ah, and you heard about me
Ooh, I got some big enemies (Yeah)
Big reputation, big reputation
Ooh, you and me would be a big conversation
Ah, and I heard about you (Yeah)
Ooh, you like the bad ones too?

[Verse 1: Future]
You so dope, don’t overdose
I’m so stoked, I need a toast
We do the most, I’m in the Ghost like I’m whippin’ a boat
I got a reputation, girl, that don’t precede me (Yeah)
I’m one call away whenever you need me (Yeah)
I’m in a G5 (Yeah), come to the A-Side (Yeah)
I got a bad boy persona, that’s what they like (What they like)
You love it, I love it too, ’cause you my type (You my type)
You hold me down and I protect you with my life

[Pre-chorus 1: Taylor Swift & Future]
I don’t wanna touch you (I don’t wanna be)
Just another ex-love (You don’t wanna see)
I don’t wanna miss you (I don’t wanna miss you)
Like the other girls do
I don’t wanna hurt you (I just wanna be)
Drinking on a beach with you all over me
I know what they all say (I know what they all say)
But I ain’t tryna play

[Chorus: Taylor Swift]
I wanna be your end game (End game)
I wanna be your first string (First string)
I wanna be your A-Team (A-Team)
I wanna be your end game, end game

[Verse 2: Ed Sheeran]
Knew her when I was young
Reconnected when we were little bit older, both sprung
I got issues and chips on both of my shoulders
Reputation precedes me; in rumors I’m knee-deep
The truth is it’s easier to ignore it, believe me
Even when we’d argue, we’d not do it for long
And you understand the good and bad end up in a song
For all your beautiful traits and the way you do it with ease
For all my flaws, paranoia and insecurities
I’ve made mistakes and made some choices, that’s hard to deny
After the storm, something was born on the 4th of July
I’ve passed days without fun, this end game is the one
With four words on the tip of my tongue, I’ll never say it

[Pre-chorus 2: Taylor Swift]
I don’t wanna touch you (I don’t wanna be)
Just another ex-love (You don’t wanna see)
I don’t wanna miss you (I don’t wanna miss you)
Like the other girls do
I don’t wanna hurt you (I just wanna be)
Drinking on a beach with you all over me
I know what they all say (Yeah)
But I ain’t tryna play

[Chorus: Taylor Swift]
I wanna be your end game (End game)
I wanna be your first string (Wanna be your first string)
I wanna be your A-Team (A-Team)
I wanna be your end game, end game

[Post-Chorus: Taylor Swift & Future]
Big reputation, big reputation
Ooh, you and me, we got big reputations
Ah, and you heard about me
Oh, I got some big enemies
Hey, big reputation, big reputation
Ooh, you and me would be a big conversation
Ah, and I heard about you
Ooh, you like the bad ones too?

[Verse 3: Taylor Swift]
I hit you like bang, we tried to forget it, but we just couldn’t
And I bury hatchets, but I keep maps of where I put ’em
Reputation precedes me, they told you I’m crazy
I swear I don’t love the drama, it loves me
And I can’t let you go, your hand print’s on my soul
It’s like your eyes are liquor, it’s like your body is gold
You’ve been calling my bluff on all my usual tricks
So here’s the truth from my red lips

[Chorus: Taylor Swift, Future & Ed Sheeran]
I wanna be your end game (End game)
I wanna be your first string (Me and you, first string)
I wanna be your A-Team (Be your A-Team now, A-Team)
I wanna be your end game, end game
I wanna be your end game (Oh, I do)
I wanna be your first string (First string)
I wanna be your A-Team (A-Team)
I wanna be your end game, end game

General Information
Albumreputation
FeatureEd Sheeran, Future
ReleasedNovember 10, 2017
RecordedJuly, 2017
StudioMXM (Los Angeles, Stockholm)
Seismic Activities (Portland)
Tree Sound (Atlanta)
GenreR&B
Hip Hop
Pop Rap
Length4:04
LabelBig Machine Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Max Martin
Shellback
Ed Sheeran
Nayvadius Wilburn
ProducersMax Martin
Shellback
REPUTATION CHRONOLOGY
…Ready For It?End GameI Did Something Bad
Single Certification
Handwritten Lyrics
Single Artwork
Music Video
Live Performance
Official Audio
Making of the Music Video