Taylor Swift – “Look What You Made Me Do”

taylor swift

Taylor Swift grew up with music in her blood: Her grandmother Marjorie Finlay was a professional opera singer, and she herself started singing for local fairs at the age of 12. She later moved to Nashville and began writing her own songs.

At a showcase at Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe in 2005, Taylor caught the attention of Scott Borchetta, who was setting up his independent record label Big Machine Records. Taylor signed, and she would go on to write the songs that would form her first two albums, Fearless and Speak Now.

On these early recordings, Taylor shed her country roots like a second skin and revealed herself to be perhaps the most shrewd populist pop songwriter of her generation, one who understood how to grab the zeitgeist and turn it into something personal. She also proved to be a consummate performer, capable of grabbing an audience and holding them spellbound.

In her heyday in 2008 and 2009, Swift went on to become one of the most successful female touring artists of all time. Her eponymous album sold over 6 million copies and earned her multiple awards at prestigious award shows, including Artist of the Year at the AMAs and Album of the Year at the Grammys. She would follow it up with the even more successful Fearless Tour, which grossed over $63 million.

With the release of her sixth album, Reputation in 2021, Swift took a different approach to her music, exploring more nuanced relationship issues and embracing a pop sound that was unapologetically big. It was an approach that paid off: Reputation debuted at the top of the Billboard charts, and its lead single, “Look What You Made Me Do”, broke a number of streaming records.

A song about an inconsiderate boyfriend, this is an example of the kind of wry and relatable lyricism that made Swift famous. It’s backed by a production that pulls out every trick in the Nashville handbook, with Nathan Chapman pulling strings to produce a sound that’s equal parts ’90s and modern.

On this deeply affecting track, Swift takes an unflinching look at the kind of grief that keeps us awake at night. Her use of acoustic instruments, religious imagery and nods to private tragedies we’ll never know about make this an album highlight. It was a sign of things to come for Swift’s future work, which would build on this foundation with collaborations with the likes of Bon Iver and Aaron Dessner on her next project, folklore. Its sister album, evermore, and its single, Willow, both topped the charts as well.