Look What You Made Her Do

Jiayi Zhu, Staff Writer

Whether you like her music or not, you have to admit that Taylor Swift knows how to make a comeback. After several months of inactivity, Swift announced her return to the music industry by dropping the lead single of her highly anticipated sixth album, Reputation.

“Look What You Made Me Do” set first day records on YouTube and Spotify, as well as broke Adele’s record for the most streamed debut week by a female artist. It also displaced Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 where the latter sat for four months.

The dark, vengeful tone of “Look What You Made Me Do” sent fans reeling and the music video which premiered at this year’s VMAs stirred up further controversy. The video is filled with easter eggs and symbols that have given rise to a multitude of fan theories.

The music video opens in a cemetery where Swift, in gruesome costume and makeup, rises from a grave. This is likely a nod to the July 2016 #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty, in which Swift was dragged on Twitter during a storm of drama involving Calvin Harris and Katy Perry, leading many to jokingly say that Taylor Swift was “dead.” Another less obvious symbol in this graveyard sequence is the appearance of a tombstone with the name Nils Sjoberg engraved on it. This name is significant as it was the pseudonym Swift used in 2016 while secretly co-writing Harris and Rihanna’s hit song “This Is What You Came For.” When Swift’s team confirmed her role in the song, Harris took to Twitter and drama ensued. Fans believe the tombstone is Swift’s way of saying that she won’t allow others take credit for her work any longer, hence the death of her ghostwriter identity.

Further into the video, fans see a chaotic situation in which it is difficult to tell exactly what is happening except that Swift and her backup dancers are wearing bizarre cat masks. A closer look at this scene reveals that Swift and her cohorts are robbing the vault of a generic music streaming company. In 2015, Swift made history when she wrote an open letter to Apple Music criticizing the company for not paying artists during the 3-month free trial period they offer to new users. After Apple Music acknowledged the letter and changed its policies accordingly, Swift received a wave of backlash on social media where she was accused of being greedy and stealing money from music streaming companies like Apple.

Ever since the release of Swift’s “Bad Blood” music video in 2015, the singer has been heavily criticized for supposedly only including model-like, white women in her “squad” of friends. A scene in which Swift seems to be the leader of an army of slim, fair skinned girls reflects that image the public has of her while the exaggeration pokes fun at those who believe said image.   

By far, the most memorable scene of the “Look What You Made Me Do” music video occurs at the very end after the music has stopped, and fourteen different Taylor Swifts mock each other as they line up for a curtain call. Some eagle-eyed fans have spotted a fifteenth Taylor on the stage, quietly standing on the wing of the plane in the background while her sisters bicker amongst themselves.This Taylor, fans believe, represents the real Taylor, fading into the background as the various media portrayals of her are put in the spotlight.  

If one thing is clear from this music video, it is that Swift is fully aware of what her public image looks like, and judging from the nature of the lead song and its video, Reputation is going to hit and hit hard in November.