Taylor Swift’s New Song Is Basically An Alternate Reality Game, And I Hate It

Taylor Swift’s New Song Is Basically An Alternate Reality Game, And I Hate It

Taylor Swift’s new single, “Look What You Made Me Do”, feels like a shitty alternate reality game that you unravel to find out more lore.

Source: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

This tale begins in 2009, where rapper Kanye West was publicly very mean to Swift at MTV’s Video Music Awards. They publicly made up in 2015. West then included a lyric about her in his 2016 album The Life Of Pablo, which went, “To all my southside niggas who know me best, I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. Why? I made that bitch famous.” Swift publicly condemned the song and took a jab at Kanye during her acceptance speech for Album of the Year at the Grammy’s. He insisted that he had spoken to Swift and gotten clearance for the lyrics, which no one believed until his wife Kim Kardashian released a tape of that phone call taking place. Fans of West and Kardashian then spammed Swift’s Instagram and Twitter with snake emojis, you know, ’cause you can’t fucking trust her. On August 22, Swift deleted all her tweets and started tweeting videos of snakes. This was her lead up to announcing a new album, Reputation, which had its first single drop yesterday.

A lot of pop stars do this kind of thing now, where they turn the release of their album into huge spectacles. Katy Perry, who Swift also has beef with, hosted a 24 hour livestream where fans could watch her every move in during the promotion for her latest album, Witness. They do it for the same reason why No Man’s Sky had an ARG to promote their latest update: It makes people sit up and pay attention. Even if I don’t like these tunes, which I did not in the case of Perry’s album, these stunts are usually fun to follow. So at midnight in the US, after walking home from the bar, I opened up the YouTube app on my phone and gave the track a listen.

Taylor Swift’s new song is called “Look What Made Me Do”. It sucks.

There’s a lot of incidental bullshit surrounding the wackness of this track as well. Swift is using a very similar font to the one West did for his Life of Pablo merch on her new album cover. Her album is also dropping on the anniversary of West’s mother’s death, a woman he loved so much he wanted to make a game about her journey to Heaven. She appears to have engineered the release of this song so that everyone knows it is about West and Kardashian without ever having to call them out by name. In doing this, she can act as if she is not prolonging a now very tired beef while still publicly beefing. Swift doesn’t have to say who put her on the “tilted stage” or made her “play the role of the fool,” as she sings in “Look What You Made Me Do”, but the image of her shocked face as West rushed the stage at the VMAs in 2009 is already primed in people’s minds. This is the diss track equivalent of geocaching.

But here’s what matters: The song is bad. It’s a bassline that sounds suspiciously similar to Peaches’ “Operate” mashed up with a sample of Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy”, and the meanest thing she says in it is, “I don’t like you.” In the bridge there’s a weird spoken word section where she pretends to answer the phone. “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now,” she says. “Why? Oh… ‘Cause she’s dead!” I’m sure that sounded bad arse in your head, honey.

It’s the passive aggression that really sticks with you after a while. “Look what you made me do,” is what abusers say, both in real life and in Oxygen made-for-TV movies. Taylor wouldn’t have released an new album 10 years to the day after your mother died, Kanye, if you hadn’t made her do it. It’s pointed and self conscious — if this actually were a video game plot, I’d accuse it of being overwritten.

Swift has engineered her entire life into an alternate reality game, to the extent that she leaves coded messages in the liner notes to her albums so her fans can decipher who each song is about. Putting all the pieces together in those scenarios can sometimes be very rewarding, but this is the Sombra ARG of pop music. I am looking at what Kanye has apparently made Taylor do, and I feel like this bad song is punishment enough for everyone.


  • Love t-swizzle’ last album. Not entirely sold on this new song. Seems a bit try hard and the song isn’t the strongest.

    She still makes better music than that awful Katy Perry

  • “and I feel like this bad song is punishment enough for everyone.” why cant people tell these days that there is a difference between a bad song/movie/tv/game and one that they just dont like? ‘bad’ that is highly subjective.

    sure this song isnt the greatest, according to my taste, but at the same time I dont think its a bad song, just not another song in the world that doesnt do anything for me. My life isnt made worse for it, I feel no need to shout from the rooftops about its badness. I just listen to something else.

    • It’s the writers opinion, thought this was obvious.
      And the song is fairly bad. A dip in standard compared to her recent output. For many reasons, lyrically it’s trying too hard to be bad ass, not clever and uses few of the cryptic metaphors she is known for.
      Also for a pop song, it’s severely lacking any sort of hook. Also, the production is boring and dated.

  • I wonder how much agency any of the singers involved here have in any of this. Seems likely that it’s all kayfabe set up between their respective PR people.

    Whatever the case, you’ve all got a new Queens of the Stone Age album you could be listening to instead.

  • There’s a really good documentary on Neflix about lying, I’ve forgotten the name but there’s a segment about a guy who relied on controversy to promote a book he was employed to publicise. Controversy is the best form of marketing, this guy even hired loads of protesters to protest his book, had street teams of people to deface posters promoting it. It’s basically all bullshit. Celebrity beef is just a marketing tool.

  • Lookit all them grammys. Oderus Urungus (Dave Brockie) described them best, meaningless accolades bestowed by a retarded child. He also wins on the Mutilating Effigies Of Tony Abbott On Stage stakes.

    But I’ll believe she’s feuding with anyone when she starts talking like this about them.


  • I literally made an effort to find a website just to ask how on earth is this a number 1 hit? Music is meant in my opinion to create emotions and feelings. Or something to have fun too. I don’t mind swift”s songs they are catchy and fun. This is rubbish, if anyone else released this do we think it would make number 1?
    And why do people care what everyone else is doing? Stop keeping with the kardashions and live your own life, you actually only get the one!

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