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LISTEN: Taylor Swift Is Embracing The Role Of The Villain With Her New Single

We finally have new music from Taylor Swift. And if you’re surprised, you’re not the only one.

It’s not that anyone’s shocked about the timing or the actual release of a new single from Swift. This is all textbook Taylor. It’s August and she loves a late summer hit with a fall album, especially after the good press of her recent legal victory and the poor reception of her sworn enemies (Kim Kardashian and Katy Perry, for example, are both facing harsh albeit valid criticisms of their recent projects).

That all being said, we definitely did not expect the song that we got.

I’ve been a pretty dedicated Taylor Swift listener for about a decade now and not even in my wildest dreams (pun intended) could I have predicted “Look What You Made Me Do.” The sentiment and wordy title are typical Taylor Swift, yes, but the lyrics, the composition and the presumed samples are just… wildly dramatic, even for Taylor Swift, a girl who literally wrote a song about being a sad princess.

I wouldn’t call it “bad” (though I feel like one of few at this point) but it’s certainly not an easy listen, especially the first time. The single is abrasive, aggressive and even a little bit grating. It harkens “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred, and for good reason. The aforementioned Fred co-wrote “Look.”

Now, that’s all well and good, but because Taylor Swift is Taylor Swift we know there’s a little bit more to it than attempting to diversify her roster of hits (though that’s probably a factor as well. Taylor Swift loves forcing her fans to follow her through different genres with highly-addictive music, which was the whole impetus of 1989!). It’s all part of the plan. *Evil laugh.*

Several Twitter users pointed out that Swift’s latest also seems to sample Peaches, specifically “Operate,” a song well-known by many millennials for being featured on the iconic Mean Girls soundtrack.

What’s the connection?

One tweet…

The Mean Girls connection is made stronger by the slightly unsettling mention of keeping someone’s name on a list with a red underline.

There’s another Swift lyric also pointing to Katy Perry, a line in which Taylor Swift sings about allowing Perry to stay in Swift’s “kingdom” (yes, it’s all very self-indulgent because again, this is Taylor Swift we’re talking about) and then mentioning a feast. This could easily be a reference to “Bon Appetit.”

With that in mind, Swift isn’t clearly taking shots at Katy Perry, though there are a few examples of different ways she could be in the lyrics. She mentions a tilted stage in the first verse, something Katy literally performed on during the Super Bowl, but Perry isn’t the only one to perform on a modified pedestal for a crowd. Enter Kanye West.

Rolling Stone

Though it’s pretty easy to say that this song could be about Katy Perry (again it very, very well could be), many signs point to Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West. The most obvious is Taylor Swift’s lamentation of being forced into a narrative as a liar and a villian, something Kardashian did with her infamous and history-making Snapchat receipts.

Taylor Swift’s response to this drama isn’t explicit (it never is), but it is multi-layered. It’s the usual Swift deflection… but it also comes with a side of darkly-tinged, slithering sass. I mean, in some ways it almost feels like a bratty death march, her idea of a black widow (or venomous snake?) style of kiss-off. “Look What You Made Me Do” is Taylor Swift’s version of leaning in. Want to call her a villain? Ok. Look what you made her do.

The deflection comes in the form of the title. It’s a classic reply from someone unwilling to take accountability for their own actions. In fact, calling a song “Look What You Made Me Do” is so blatantly, obviously, painfully Taylor Swift that it almost seems like it’s a joke. Swift is constantly criticized for playing the victim (which is valid) and if you think she doesn’t understand that public perception of her, you clearly don’t know her very well. There is an inherent lack of accountability in blaming someone for your actions. This is Taylor’s way of turning up the volume on our understanding of her and laughing at it.

Swift has reclaimed the once dreaded snake for her own use in a way that only Taylor Swift truly can. While the snake emoji was the very first symbol Instagram ever muted (all for Taylor Swift, duh), she’s now selling the symbol in her merch and posting it on her page.

Taylor Swift Store

Taylor Swift Store

She’s done this before, particularly with “Blank Space” as she took on the media’s constant reporting of her dating life and reclaimed the portrait of her as a crazy ex-girlfriend. There are lyrical similarities between the two and their sentiments also mirror one another.

She was willing to play a role, but one that felt so far removed from reality that it seemed like a period drama and not an accurate or unbiased depiction. The charge also wasn’t quite as serious as a snake emoji, but either way, Taylor Swift was flipping us on our heads and laughing all the way to the bank.

This time it’s not just about us, though. It’s about revenge and that’s somewhere she’s been before. And you can believe that, as always, it worked.

If “Look What You Made Me Do” is reminiscent of “Blank Space,” it’s also a nod to “Better Than Revenge,” a song from her 2010 album Speak Now widely believed to be about the actress Camilla Belle.

In terms of certain production elements and lyrical non-admissions of guilt in the name of being slighted, the two songs have a lot in common.

Of course, the phone call audio on her new song is strategic, considering Swift’s exposure came via a recorded phone conversation, but this time, it’s not about standing “in the corner” and thinking “about what you did.” Don’t call her, she’ll call you. There’s definitely no more forgiveness or repentance. The old Taylor? “She’s dead.” No more Mr. Nice Guy.

In the end, she’s alive and well, but damn if she didn’t teach us to expect the unexpected. Taylor Swift has decided to play the villain and whether you like it or not, you’re going to be seeing a lot of her and her evil ways. Kimye, look what you made her do… another hit single and another era of Swift.


Listen to “Look What You Made Me Do” on Spotify

Taylor Swift’s new song “Look What You Made Me Do” is available for Spotify users with login information.


Listen to “Look What You Made Me Do” on iTunes

You can buy the song on iTunes for Apple Users with a pre-order available for her entire album or stream on Apple Music.


“Look What You Made Me Do” Lyric Video


Reputation Album Cover

A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on


“Look What You Made Me Do” 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 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

[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

[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
(Look what you made me do)
(Look what you made me do)
“I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now.”
“Why?”
“Oh, ’cause she’s dead!” (ohh!)

[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

  • Louis BaragonaCOLLEGECANDY Writer
    Brooklyn-based writer and editor who is probably eating Mexican food and yelling something about feminism, the Kardashians and finding the perfect highlighter.
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