I don’t know what Taylor Swift is doing here, but it’s not rapping.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s discuss Taylor’s new song from her upcoming album Reputation. “…Ready For It?”, released on the long weekend, is much like “Out of the Woods”; the promo single that does a better job at conveying the album’s mission than the lead single. Just like with “Look What You Made Me Do,” Taylor is embracing darker, moodier pop that is a thousand miles away from “Shake It Off”. Anyone hoping for a return to humbler country roots will be disappointed with the fuzzy feedback buzz and industrial-lite beats that underpin the track and provide its edge.
What’s new is the subtle shades of tropical house, the inescapable sound that her bestie Ed Sheeran helped popularize earlier this year. Even Taylor Swift isn’t immune, but to her credit, the influence is minimal, just in the vocals on the verses. Putting aside the bizarre attempt at a Caribbean accent (it’s nowhere close to being the strangest thing to come out of 2017), the song has a sultry, sexier vibe than listeners are probably used to. It’s does sound unnatural, though; she’s a lot more comfortable singing the easy, breezy chorus that is significantly better than “Look What You Made Do” and its silly (but catchy) Right Said Fred sample.
She’s also more comfortable singing about her relationships. Here, the petty attitude at the center of this era gets some much-needed focus. She’s got a new boyfriend, and she’s more than happy to tell us all about him, and how much better he is at everything than her exes. Every pairing before this particular guy has been a “failure.” Now, she’s got a “man” (who she slyly notes is younger than the other ones), who can play in her deepest nighttime fantasies (yup, six albums in and Taylor is talking ’bout sex, baby). Is it petty? Absolutely. Does it work this time? Yeah. Not only does she have a tangible target this time (Tom, Calvin, Jake, John, Joe, and the others on her long list of ex-lovers), she sounds like she’s relishing in the disrespect she’s serving.
For the first time this era, Taylor sounds like she’s having some fun, even if it’s to the embarrassment of her boyfriends. They’ll survive, and so will this album if she lets the reigns loose a bit and plays around with her edgier side.