Taylor Swift’s last album, the indescribably brilliant 1989, made her the biggest star musician in the world, but it also set an almost insurmountable challenge for her follow-up. Her only hope to hold onto her crown was to do something absolutely nobody was expecting. And Holy Hell, did she deliver on that front. I now know what it’s like to be afraid of Taylor Swift. I’ve always loved her music, but it honestly never occurred to me that she could actually frighten me. This song makes all her angry songs from earlier in her career…”Better Than Revenge”, “Dear John”, “Bad Blood”, “Better Man”…sound like the love child of “You Light Up My Life” and “I Love You Always Forever” by comparison. The strangest thing is that the song actually samples “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred, and yet it manages to make the hook from that famously goofy song sound terrifying. It even closes with the most twisted tribute imaginable to the phone-conversation bridge from “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. Taylor Swift is reaching Bob Dylan/David Bowie levels in terms of continual self-reinvention, and as afraid as I am that the world might not be able to handle an entire album of this kind of thing without going into an apocalypse, I’m still waiting for that next album with trembling anticipation. Emphasis on the trembling.
Verdict: I’m scared of Taylor Swift now!