(Instagram / Taylor Swift)
Taylor Swift's hot-blooded sixth studio album "reputation" is the sign of a confident woman in total control of her creative vision – cementing her status as the artist of a generation.
"reputation" is a monster of an album. Selling over 700,000 in its first day of release on Nov. 10, it is expected to bow out with first week sales nearing 1.5 million.
Not only will Taylor score the best-selling album of 2017 in a mere seven days, she will also manage to outsell her previous albums' already impressive numbers. After a decade, the superstar's continued upwards trajectory proves she is her only competition.
While "reputation's" popularity with the fans may not come as a surprise, the album is also a massive critical success. Boasting a 75 on Metacritic, "Rolling Stone" calls it "her most intimate album yet" and lauds Taylor as "one of the all-time great pop masterminds."
Quite simply, "reputation" is the pinnacle of artistic achievement.
The bombastic "I Did Something Bad" is her own declaration of independence from the reputation social media trolls and tabloid headlines have assigned.
"I did something bad / But why's it feel so good," she sings. "Most fun I’ve ever had!"
Even at her most vulnerable on the song "Delicate," Taylor possesses a quiet confidence never before heard on previous ballads.
"My reputation's never been worse / So he must like me for me," she gingerly echoes on the track. "Do the girls back home touch you like I do?"
While succumbing to the pop genre typically means a lyrical sacrifice to generate an infectious hit, Taylor maintains the Nashville song-writing roots on "reputation" that made her a star in the first place.
Each track is a chapter in her story. Together, the 15 songs reveal how the most famous woman in the world quietly rebuilt her reputation and settled into her most serious relationship ever – all without the world knowing.
Thematically, "reputation" is a far cry from the celebration of self-discovery on "1989" or "Red's" tale of life after heartbreak. Yet Taylor manages to make the trappings of fame on "reputation" just as relatable as her previous efforts by narrowing in on her personal details and emotional responses. While teenage girls may not relate to celebrity feuds or public breakups, the feelings of betrayal and heartache are universal.
Taylor's musical evolution from Nashville's girl-next-door to global pop monolith has proven to be completely unprecedented. After all, who could have expected the girl "on the bleachers" in 2008's "You Belong With Me" to be dancing on the grave of her "reputation" nearly a decade later?
This personal, creative and commercial growth is a feat unmatched by any of Taylor’s contemporaries. Moreover, it is a trifecta rarely seen manifested in the music industry's incredulous history – only witnessed by icons like The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones.
"reputation" was not just a topic of conversation during its Nov. 10 release – it was the topic of conversation. The album generated 1.5 million tweets in 24 hours, and spawned think-pieces by gossip blogs to analyze the lyrics' hidden meanings
Love her or hate her, the world waits with baited breath to hear what she'll say next.
Each of the superstar's records mark monumental pop culture events. More than a new album, "reputation" is a new era altogether.
Taylor embodies the confidence and effortless swag she demonstrates on the album in her rare public appearances.
Her "Saturday Night Live" performance, for example, sent a bold message to the world – you can't keep Taylor down.
Singing into a golden snake microphone (owning the insult haters pelted her with after a social media feud with Kim Kardashian), Taylor exuded tenacity as she performed her hit single "…Ready For It?".
During the set, Tay confidently nailed choreography when she was once flacked for her awkward dancing at award shows. She was even blasé about the overwhelming applause from the crowd – only offering a smirk before the show cut to commercial.
"SNL" was just a glimpse at Taylor's growth as a performer. She will fully demonstrate her prowess on the freshly announced "reputation Stadium Tour" throughout 2018.
The pop star's unrelenting dominance on both the music charts and in pop culture remains unmatched. She is much more than a hit factory like pop princess Britney Spears. And while well-respected artists like Adele and Bruno Mars' sales and accolades are monstrous, the public fascination with Taylor is undeniably more feverous.
So while haters may balk at comparisons to The Beatles or Bob Dylan, Taylor's record-shattering numbers don’t lie. Plus, life is just too short to pretend to not like Taylor Swift songs.
The "reputation" era's "New Taylor" is unflappable – and her reign is only beginning.
-- Oscar Gracey