Taylor Swift's iHeartRadio reputation Release Party: Everything We Learned
By Nicole Mastrogiannis
November 11, 2017
If you are a fellow Swiftie, then by now you've already graced your ears with every last song on Taylor Swift's newest album reputation, hitting that repeat button continuously since the stroke of midnight on November 10th. And throughout the day, iHeartRadio stations across the country played a new reputation song at the top of the hour, every hour, all leading up to the exclusive iHeartRadio reputation Album Release Party with Taylor Swift Presented by AT&T.
This year, Taylor had several Secret Sessions at her homes to personally play her new music for her fans, who also got to hear commentary on the songs from the Queen herself. During this special hour-long broadcast, not only did we get to hear some of Tay's new music, but she also let us in on some of the secrets and details of many of her new reputation songs, as we got to hear audio from these Secret Sessions. THE SECRETS ARE NOW YOURS, SWIFTIES.
Kicking off the iHeartRadio reputation Album Release Party with Taylor Swift Presented by AT&T, her first words to fans were, "I'm Taylor."
Yes, hey Tay. Thanks for letting us be a part of your life...
Then, she explained why she wanted to hold Secret Sessions again, like she did for 1989. She told fans, "The reason why we decided to do them again is because the Secret Session people from 1989 were so wonderful. And they became friends, and they would go to shows together, and they kept the secrets that were unveiled to them in this session, and they really made it possible for me to trust massive groups of people, because they taught me that if you trust people, then maybe those people will show you that respect back and the trust is kind of a two way street."
On reputation, Taylor mainly worked with two production teams: Jack Antonoff (whom she worked with much of 1989 on), and the music geniuses who are Max Martin & Shellback. Swift explained that she decided to work with a much smaller group on reputation than on 1989, and picked these two to work with because she "felt like they would be versatile enough to kill 1989, and make something new." She added:
"There would be no way for me to make something even similar to 1989 and have it be effective. It had to be completely different, because that album was its own thing. It was just in two groups. It was me and Jack Antonoff, and Me, Max Martin & Shellback. It's just such a good, solid group, and basically, this was the first song ['...Ready For It'] where Max and I felt like we'd really done something different from 1989. We were like 'Ooooh, that is ... alright, OK!'"
Throughout the her Secret Session, Taylor opened up about nine out of the 15 new songs on reputation. She talked about some of the secrets behind writing the songs, as well as what they're about and what they mean to her. Read on below.
"...Ready For It?"
"Basically, '...Ready For it' is, it kind of introduces a metaphor you may hear more of throughout the rest album, which is like this kind of Crime and Punishment metaphor, where it talks about robbers, and thieves, and heists, and all that. And I found that to be a really interesting metaphor, but twisted in different ways throughout the album. The way that's presented in '...Ready For It' is basically, finding your partner in crime, and it's like 'Oh my god we're the same, we're the same, oh my god! Let's rob banks together, this is great!' And we'll hear that theme carried on throughout the rest of the record, but not exactly in the same way as you heard it in '...Ready For It.'"
"I Did Something Bad"
"I wrote this song on piano ... it's not going to sound like it, though. You're not gonna say that after you hear it, it's not that kind of song. So, I brought it into them, and I was trying to explain the production. I had had a weird dream, and I had woken up with this. I had woken up with this sound in my head. It was a sound that was so hooky and so catchy, that I knew it had to be in a song, because it was that annoying, it wouldn't stop going around in my head. Like after the chorus, that's what I wanna hear, but I don't want it to be my voice, I want it to be an instrument. What instrument is that? So I was playing the voice memo to Max, and he's like 'Oh, no, there's not an instrument that can do that. But what we can do is, we can take your voice doing it, and pitch it down, so that it sounds like an enchantress/a dude.' So, that's what you're hearing after the chorus."
"There's an effect that you may hear on the vocals throughout the vocals on the rest of the album that is recurring, and it's a vocoder. It's a vocal effect where you sing, and the vocoder splits your voice into chords, and you can play your voice on a keyboard, in chords. So basically, if you're singing the notes of a piano, and you could play your own voice. So that's what you'll hear in the beginning, and throughout the song, and then you'll hear it several times. We tried it in the studio, and I thought it sounded really emotional, and really vulnerable, and really kind of, like, sad but beautiful. The idea of your reputation is definitely something that I play on for the entire album, but when the album starts off it's much more bombastic. It's more like, 'Oh, I don't care what you say about me, I don't care what you say about my reputation, it doesn't matter.' But then it hits this point, on track five, where it's like, oh god, what happens when you meet somebody that you really want in your life and then you start worrying about what they've heard before they met you. And you start to wonder, could something fake, like your reputation, affect something real, like somebody getting to know you? And you start to wonder, how much does all that matter? And this is the first point of vulnerability in the record where you're like, oh maybe this does actually matter a little bit. And how does that factor in, kind of questioning the reality and the perception of a reputation, and how much weight it actually has."
"Look What You Made Me Do"
"It actually started with just a poem that I wrote about my feelings, and it's basically about realizing that you couldn't trust certain people, but realizing you appreciate the people you can trust. Realizing that you can't just let everyone in, but the ones you can let in, you need to cherish. And it had all the verses in it, just basically as is. When the beat hit, we were like 'Ooh, look what you made me do, look what you made me do,' and we were just like, 'Oh my god, we've gotta edit out the rest of the words, and just do that. I would just like to play the most important part of the song, 'I don't trust nobody, and nobody trusts me, I'll be the actress starring in your bad dreams. Oh, I'm sorry, the old Taylor can't come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, 'cause she's dead.'"
"King of My Heart"
"I think it's really interesting when people talk about their love stories. Like when you guys blog about like, 'me and my husband, me and my boyfriend,' or just anybody talking about how they fell in love. There seems to be these definitive phases, and it doesn't matter how long that phase lasts, there seems to be a moment when you knew it transitioned into the next phase. People will be like, 'Oh my god, we were friends for six years, and there was this moment, and we knew, and then it changed. Then there was a moment and it got deeper, and then there was a moment and we knew. Or, like, I saw this person and there was this moment, and we knew. Everybody has a different story with how they connect with someone else. And what I find interesting are the moments where it switches, because you always hope that that switch is going to move you forward and not backward. Because, it can happen both ways. It can happen either way."
I've always wanted to structure a song where each individual section of the song sounded like a move forward in the relationship, but still be listenable. So, I wanted the verse to seem like its own phase of a relationship, the pre-chorus to sound like its own phase of a relationship, and the chorus to sound like its own phase of a relationship. And I wanted them to have their own identity, but seem like they were getting deeper and more fast-paced as the song went on. So finally, I was able to achieve that in a song."
"This song was one of those things where almost every line is something that I came up with like a year before, and then when I was writing the song, I just cherry picked, and I was like, 'Like that, like that, like that, like that.' And I was really proud of the hook of this because it sounds like a pickup line, and yet it is a love song about deep and tender feelings."
"This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things"
"It's about when people take nice things for granted. Like friendship, or trusting people, or being open or whatever. Letting people in on your life, trusting people, respect -- those are all really nice things." And so this is a song called 'This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things.'"
"Call It What You Want"
"The way I feel the album is, as far as a storyline, is I feel like it starts with just getting out any kind of rebellion, or anger, or angst, or whatever. And then, like, falling in love, and realizing that you kind of settle into what your priorities are, and your life changes, but you welcome it because it's something that matters to you. And this last part of the album feels like settling into where I am now. So it started with where I was when I started making the album, and ends with kind of my emotional state now. And this song, I think, really reflects that probably the best on the album, and it's called 'Call It What You Want.'"
"New Year's Day"
"We threw a big New Year's Eve party in London this year, and I was thinking about how everybody talks and thinks about who you kiss at midnight. Like it's this big romantic idea of like, 'Who are you gonna kiss at midnight, like ring in the New Year.' And I think that is very romantic. But I think there's something even more romantic about who's gonna deal with you on New Year's Day. Who's willing to give you Advil and clean up the house. I think that states more of a permanence. So I was thinking about that, and I wrote this song called 'New Year's Day.'"
There are two lines in this song that I had been saving for a long time, for the right moment, and I had picked them for this song, and I'm really excited about them. The first one is, 'Please don't ever become a stranger whose laugh I could recognize anywhere.' And the other one is, 'Hold on to the memories, they will hold on to you.'"