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Look What You Made Me Do

Lead Single | reputation (2017)

“Look What You Made Me Do” is the lead single from Taylor’s sixth studio album, reputation (2017), the highly anticipated follow-up to 1989 (2014). The song is regarded as her comeback single and takes shots at several unnamed rivals. Its themes are of revenge and rebirth into a smarter, stronger person and sees Taylor move in a new sonic direction, incorporating electropop and an interpolation of the 90s hit “I’m Too Sexy” on the chorus.
Fans and mainstream media interpreted “Look What You Made Me Do” as Taylor “claiming back her narrative.” To say the song was polarizing upon first listen would be a rather massive understatement, but nowadays it is considered one of pop music’s most memorable moments, spurred by its music video and the numerous records that were broken.

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.

Release

Prior to the song’s release, Taylor blacked out her website and her social media, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Two days after blacking out, cryptic and glitchy snake videos were uploaded to her social media, leading to the announcement of the song and her new album, reputation.

On August 23, 2017, Taylor announced that the first single from reputation, would come out the following night. The song was released to streaming services on August 24, and earned over eight million streams within twenty-four hours of its Spotify release, breaking the record at the time for the highest first-day streaming for a single track. “Look What You Made Me Do” was then released the next day onto iTunes for digital download through Big Machine Records. It impacted American contemporary hit radio on August 29, 2017.

A lyric video heavily based on the Saul Bass imagery used in the film Vertigo was released through Taylor’s official Vevo account on August 25, 2017. The video was produced by her and Joseph Kahn and directed by ODD. It gained more than 19 million views during its first 24 hours on YouTube.

Lyrical Theme

The song emphasizes the blame that is placed on an enemy, in particular the line “I’ve got a list of names and yours is in red, underlined”, which was inspired by Arya Stark’s kill list in the television series Game of Thrones. At the reputation album release party, Taylor revealed that “Look What You Made Me Do” started out as a poem:

«It actually started with just a poem that I wrote about my feelings, and it's basically about realizing that you couldn't trust certain people, but realizing you appreciate the people you can trust. Realizing that you can't just let everyone in, but the ones you can let in, you need to cherish. And it had all the verses in it, just basically as is. When the beat hit, we were like 'Oh, look what you made me do, look what you made me do,' and we were just like, 'Oh my God, we've gotta edit out the rest of the words, and just do that.' The most important part of the song is, 'I don't trust nobody, and nobody trusts me, I'll be the actress starring in your bad dreams. Oh, I'm sorry, the old Taylor can't come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, 'cause she's dead.'»

Taylor Swift
According to the song’s official credits, the chorus is a deliberate interpolation of the hook from Right Said Fred’s 1991 hit “I’m Too Sexy”. That song was written as a satirical look at the fashion industry and inspired by the time the Fairbrass brothers spent running a gym where they observed “lots of narcissism and posing.” This connects with Taylor’s shots at contemporary paparazzi and gossip culture, a central theme on reputation.

Music Video

The music video for “Look What You Made Me Do” was directed by Joseph Kahn. Preparation began in January 2017, while the shooting took place in May. The dance was choreographed by Tyce Diorio, who had previously worked with Taylor on the video for her 2014 single “Shake It Off“. Her makeup as a zombie was done by Bill Corso. Post-production of the video lasted until the morning of its release. It was also reported that the diamonds used in a scene were authentic. The diamonds, loaned from celebrity jeweler Neil Lane, were said to be worth over $10 million, hence triggering tight security measures.

The music video premiered during the MTV Video Music Awards on August 27th, 2017. It made both VEVO and YouTube history, amassing the most views within 24 hours in history on both platforms, achieving 43.2 million views in its first day. After the music video of “Look What You Made Me Do” was released, Taylor explained the true meaning behind the video: “If everything you wrote about me was true, this is how ridiculous it would look.”

Live Performances

Taylor performed “Look What You Made Me Do” live regularly as part of her setlist for the “reputation Stadium Tour” (2018), with a tilted throne and golden snakes; while there were snakes on the high screen in the back during the part where she sang, “I don’t trust nobody and nobody trust me, I’ll be the actress starring in your bad dreams”, a big cobra named Karyn floating appeared on stage with the line from the bridge announcing the death of the “Old Taylor” spoken by comedian Tiffany Haddish.

Critical Reception

Upon release, “Look What You Made Me Do” received polarizing reviews from critics, with some calling it a fierce return, and some a disappointment. USA Today said that the polarizing reaction to the song illustrated Taylor’s position as a “ubiquitous cultural force”. The Telegraph‘s Randy Lewis praised the song, deeming Taylor and Antonoff’s work as “blowing past the production clichés of clap tracks and hiccuped syllabic hooks that have proliferated across Top 40 fare in recent years with boldly inventive textures and fresh melodic, rhythmic and sonic accents”. He also added how the track musically and sonically shifted alongside the lyrics. Sarah Carson of the Los Angeles Times wrote a positive review of the song, saying: “The reverberating crescendo builds and ever more delicious is the wickedness of Swift’s menacing protagonist”, praising Taylor for her successful embrace of the villain character the media has portrayed her as previous to the song’s release. Mark Harris, in New York Magazine‘s pop culture blog, thought of Taylor’s song as a pop art anthem for the Trump era in how she reappropriates her public feuds as empowering badges of honor without acknowledging her own responsibility or blame.

Commercial Performance

Breaking a string of records, “Look What You Made Me Do” became Taylor’s fifth number-one single on the US Billboard Hot 100 and one of the most dominant number-one hits in the chart’s history. It amassed the most plays in a single day on Spotify and topped the Hot 100 for three consecutive weeks. It also debuted atop the Billboard Digital Song Sales and Streaming Songs charts, with 353,000 song downloads and 84.4 million streams, respectively. The song debuted and peaked at No. 1 in several countries worldwide, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Scotland and the United Kingdom.

Jack Leopards & the Dolphin Club Cover

A cover version of “Look What You Made Me Do” was recorded by the band Jack Leopards & the Dolphin Club, and produced by Antonoff and Nils Sjöberg, the latter being a pseudonym that Taylor first used as a co-writer for the song “This Is What You Came For” by Calvin Harris featuring Rihanna. The cover was featured in the opening credits of “Beautiful Monster”, an episode of the television show Killing Eve that aired on May 24, 2020, and subsequently released on digital music platforms.

As there is no documentation of the band’s existence before the release of the cover, fans speculated that the singer on the track was Taylor’s younger brother, Austin Swift, and that the band’s name references Antonoff and the Swift siblings. Fans also interpreted the cover to be Taylor’s way of bypassing potential licensing issues with her former label Big Machine Records and its owner Scooter Braun, with whom Taylor is involved in a dispute regarding Braun’s acquisition of the label and, subsequently, her back catalogue and master recordings.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
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!)

[Pre-Chorus]
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!)

[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

[Verse 2]
I don’t like your kingdom keys
They once belonged to me
You ask me for a place to sleep
Locked me out and threw a feast (What?)
The world goes 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

[Pre-Chorus]
But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time (Nick of time)
Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time (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!)

[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

[Bridge]
I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me
I’ll be the actress, starring in your bad dreams
I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me
I’ll be the actress, starring in your bad dreams
I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me
I’ll be the actress, starring in your bad dreams
I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me
I’ll be the actress, starring in your bad dreams
(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–)
“I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now
Why? Oh, ’cause she’s dead!” (Oh!)

[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
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

General Information
Albumreputation
ReleasedAugust 25, 2017
Recorded2016–2017
StudioRough Customer (Brooklyn)
GenreElectro Pop
Length3:31
LabelBig Machine Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Jack Antonoff
Fred Fairbrass
Richard Fairbrass
Rob Manzoli
ProducersJack Antonoff
Taylor Swift
REPUTATION CHRONOLOGY
DelicateLook What You Made Me DoSo It Goes…
Single Certification
Studio Picture
Handwritten Lyrics
Single Artwork
Music Video
Lyric Video
Live Performance
Official Audio
Jack Leopards & The Dolphin Club