Label: Big Machine Records
Released: November 10
The return of Taylor Swift was carefully plotted. The queen of pop masterminded a Machiavellian return to power that hearkened back to the golden years of the record industry—an advertising blitz and series of singles and music videos—paired with a never-before-seen level of corporate buy-ins. Swift had everything laid out, and then we started hearing the music.
Reputation is a mess of an album. The singles Swift led off with—"Look What You Made Me Do," first and foremost—are likely the worst songs she's ever released. It's hard to imagine what Swift, one of the best songwriters of a generation, was thinking. However, the songs we heard first were the worst, and even at her most self-sabotaging, Swift is still capable of writing near-perfect pop songs. The album is all over the place, but its moments of greatness are more than enough to salvage it. —Brendan Klinkenberg