NEW YORK: Pop superstar Taylor Swift is back with a new dance-club beat — and a stone-cold warning that she is out for vengeance against an undisclosed person who crossed her.
The 27-year-old, who commands one of pop music’s most avid fan bases, on Friday released “Look What You Made Me Do,” the first single from her latest album “Reputation” which comes out on November 10.
Other than a duet with Zayn Malik for the erotic thriller “Fifty Shades Darker,” the song marks Swift’s first new music since her 2014 album “1989” — one of the top-selling works of the past decade.
“Look What You Made Me Do” picks up much where the Grammy-winning “1989” left off with Swift, who had her start strumming her own country songs, heading definitively in a pop direction.
The latest track goes beyond the bubble-gum melodies of “1989” to reach into house music, with Swift sounding like a club DJ as she repeatedly states sternly over the beat, “Oo, look what you made me do.”
One thing that she was apparently made to do — accept the fast-growing format of streaming. Swift made waves in the music industry by refusing to stream “1989” as she accused leading platform Spotify of short-changing artists.
She ended her boycott in July and her new track appeared on major platforms including Spotify.
‘I don’t like you’
“Look What You Made Me Do” opens with unadulterated anger against an unnamed villain.
“The role you made me play, the fool / No, I don’t like you / I don’t like your perfect crime,” she sings.
Her fans immediately speculated online as to the target of Swift’s ire — if the song, like much of her previous work, is indeed autobiographical.
One likely candidate is rapper Kanye West. He outraged Swift with a song last year in which he boasted that he may be able to get her to bed because “I made that bitch famous” — an apparent reference to how he interrupted her acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.
West’s wife, reality television star Kim Kardashian, hit back at Swift by posting a recording of a phone call in which West appears to receive Swift’s blessing for the song, although Swift insisted she had not heard his full lyrics.
In supporting evidence for the Kanye theory, “Look What You Made Me Do” ends with a mock call in which Swift says, “the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now… because she’s dead.”
Swift — the fourth most followed person on Twitter and fifth on Instagram — reinforced the idea of a fresh start by wiping clean her social media accounts in recent days, instead posting images of snakes showing their fangs.
Fresh from lawsuit
The song could also refer to an ex-boyfriend of Swift, whose love life is of frequent fascination to tabloids, or to a recent court case.
Last week Swift triumphed in a sexual assault lawsuit against a radio DJ who she said fondled her during a routine photo opportunity.
A self-styled feminist, Swift said she had shocked herself by instinctively acting politely toward the aggressor after the incident.
While cultivating her image as a fearless fighter, Swift — whose country roots have endeared her to conservative swathes of the United States — has steered clear of political commentary at a time of intense divisions in the country.
Her non-partisanship is increasingly rare in the entertainment world — and a marked contrast to her sometime rival Katy Perry, an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump.