Taylor Swift has been a global phenomenon for years. After her popularity hit its peak in 2014 with the release of her fifth album, 1989, many fans wondered what direction the starlet would take next. The album marked a distinct break from her country roots and the beginning of a new pop era for Swift. It was an international success, receiving rave reviews from the majority of critics, including The New York Times, and nabbing Swift numerous awards, one of which being Album of the Year at the 58th Grammy Awards.

So when Taylor’s first single from her sixth album, Reputation, was released it had been a long time coming.

Look What You Made Me Do caused immediate and spectacular controversy.

It also brought Swift unprecedented success, breaking records on Spotify with 10.1 million people streaming the single on its first day of release. When the video dropped, it had over 43.2 million views in the first 24 hours, breaking YouTube’s streaming record.

Despite this, critics were…ahem..swift to slate the single, branding it petty. Even fans of the song agreed it was ‘scathing’. The world became obsessed with decoding T-Swizzles first single in three years, and catalogued all the references and in-jokes contained in the lyrics and video.

The general consensus is that the song contains numerous digs aimed at Swift’s critics, rivals, and former love interests, as well as a few pointed jabs at herself. But despite the extensive media coverage and debates, a lot of people completely missed the point Tay Tay was so eloquently making.

Here are 10 things everyone got wrong about Look What You Made Me Do

#1 Taylor’s Referencing Headlines, Not Haters

LWYMMD supposedly takes cracks at various celebrities, from Kanye West to Calvin Harris, but despite appearances, it may not be a litany of haters and exes.

It’s a list of all the headlines Swifty had to contend with after 1989 propelled her to the pinnacle of her popularity. A rise which, inevitably, resulted in a rapid fall from grace. 

And she’s not just making the point about herself.

The video for LWYMMD features Taylor in a bath filled with diamonds, widely considered to be a reference to Kim Kardashian.

Swift has an infamous feud with Kim and her husband, Kanye West, which started when Kanye stormed the stage while Taylor was receiving an award, and escalated when he released his own single, Famous, in which he references Swift. Following the song’s release, West claimed Taylor had given him permission to use the lyrics, a claim eventually backed up when Kim released a video of a phone call between Taylor and Kanye.

The incident put a severe dent in Swift’s reputation, despite her claims she had given permission for some of the lyrics, but that he’d not told her all of them.

**2020 edit: the uncut version of this has since been released and vindicated Taylor, revealing Kanye and Kim purposefully manipulated the conversation and edited the recording to make it appear Swift was the bad guy.**

It’s undeniable that there’s a history between Kanye and Taylor, and that Kim underwent a horrendous ordeal when her diamonds were stolen at gunpoint and she was forced into a bathtub.

But is Taylor really mocking her rival? Or is she pointing out that one of the (many) trappings of fame is that the more wealth you have, the more people want to take it from you?

No matter how horrendous life gets, nothing is off-limits to the paparazzi.

Kim made headlines after the robbery and was forced into the spotlight despite what must have been a traumatic experience.

Similar points can be made about the other examples of shade Tay Tay is supposedly throwing around in this song. Yes, she’s clearly making reference to feuds, relationships, and criticism she’s received, but rather than doing it to take yet another swipe at those who’ve wronged her, she’s making a broader point.

Taylor isn’t alone in suffering at the hands of the media. For all the times she’s made headlines for breakups and feuds, she’s been forced to deal with the fallout, and so have the other celebs involved.

Nobody came out of the Kanye/Kim/Taylor video scandal well. Kanye’s song was derided as misogynistic trash, speculation was rife that Kim had doctored the video **since proven to be correct!**, and Taylor was inundated with a social media storm of snakes.

Swift chose snakes as the core image in the LWYMMD video and marketing campaign.

Look What You Made Me Do Isn't Bad It's Satire

#2 It’s Not Bad, It’s Satire

The song is based on I’m Too Sexy for a reason. Taylor is making a point (isn’t she always?) that eloquent lyrics and music have nothing to do with making a hit song.

Right Said Fred’s 1991 hit isn’t an epic work of musical genius, but it was catchy and controversial, and made people ask, “WTF?

It was a hit because of the WTF quality, and the fact it was an instant earworm – you just can’t get it out of your head.

Every time that chorus starts Swift’s winking at the camera as if saying “I’m a phenomenally talented singer, but ‘you’ don’t care. All ‘you’ care about is who I’m dating and fighting with. I can sing anything and it will still be a #1 hit because you care about the headlines, not the music.”

And naturally, the second the song dropped, it made headlines. Even though a lot of people thought it was a terrible song it became a record-breaking smash.

But that rather painful chorus belies Taylor’s true talent, evident in the rest of the song, which features the kind of clever lyrics and vocals we’ve come to expect from the songstress.

Look What You Made Me Do Zombie Taylor Swift

#3 The Deeper Meaning Of Death

We can probably all agree that the sight of zombie Taylor, crawling out of her own grave is a great visual. It’s even more poignant as she’s resplendent in a mouldering version of the iconic blue dress she wore in the video for Out Of The Woods (itself an homage to the blue dress she was wearing when Harry Styles famously left her broken-hearted on a boat). But there’s a deeper meaning to the zombie/death motif in the song than simply pointing out Swift is revamping her image.

It’s a warning.

How many stars and beloved celebrities have we seen go to an early grave because the scrutiny surrounding their personal lives superseded their talents and mission?

Princess Diana

Marilyn Monroe

Amy Winehouse

They all have one thing in common: they were incredibly talented and had a great deal to

offer, but the world cared more about the scandalous headlines they created than the substance of their gifts.

Look What You Made Me Do Meta Narrative

#4 You’re Listening To The Wrong Narrative

People are taking LWYMMD the wrong way for one simple reason: it’s intentionally misleading.

There is a clear meta-narrative to the song, meaning it appears to be telling one story (that of the many times people have done Taylor wrong), but it’s actually saying something completely different.

It’s not the first time Taylor has dropped a superb meta-narrative. Blank Space, released on 1989, was an exquisite meta-narrative from start to finish. At face value, the song tells the tale of a slightly psychotic maneater, but it’s actually a commentary on the manner in which Swift is portrayed by the media, and just how wrong they get it!

LWYMMD is another meta-narrative.

We’re all so distracted by the obvious story of Taylor blaming everyone who’s crossed her for the mysterious thing she’s been forced to do, we’re ignoring the other narrative.

Look What You Made Me Do Taylor Swift

#5 She’s Talking To US

Just as Blank Space took a shot at the media for its portrayal of her, LWYMMD has a deeper narrative at work which takes a subtle shot at the ‘fans’ who aren’t interested in Swift’s music, only her headlines. They will buy anything – even stuff they profess to hate – if enough headlines are written about it.

The titular ‘you’ of the song is not Kanye West, Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian, Tom Hiddleston, or any of the others Taylor’s been accused of trashing with the song. Like the version of Taylor portrayed in Blank Space, the references to people in the song are characters involved in the narrative surrounding Swift. 

The ‘you’ to whom Taylor is directing her message is you

It’s you.

It’s me

It’s all of us.

The song is directed at the teaming consumerist market that demands ever-more from singers like Swift and is never, ever satiated.

The Old Taylor Can't Come To The Phone Right Now Why? 'Cause She's Dead

#6 The Old Taylor Was Never Alive To Begin With

I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now


Oh, ‘cause she’s dead!

The ‘old Taylor’ isn’t Taylor Swift herself but a reference to the image of the perfect, innocent good girl, who later developed a slight edge of maneater. An image created by the media for the consumption of the public, which Swift has cast aside in this single in favour of telling the truth.

They created her, and they killed her (metaphorically speaking) when they replaced her with a new narrative: the snake, the harpy, the girl who dated Tom Hiddleston because she’s fame-hungry.

Look What You Made Me Do Versions Of Taylor

#7 Swifty Isn’t Reinventing Herself, She’s Playing A Role

The highly articulate Swift didn’t employ the double negative “I don’t trust nobody and nobody trust me” without being completely aware of the connotations.

Yes, it’s a subtle nod to her country roots, but at the same time, Taylor’s demonstrated enough sophistication in her lyrics over the years that we really can’t take this at face value. There’s the obvious: nobody trusts her. But despite this, Taylor’s not saying she doesn’t trust anyone, or that she herself is untrustworthy.

In fact, she literally says the opposite.

She does in fact trust people, but for reasons that are predominantly out of her control, the world has chosen to stop trusting her.


Because their view of her is not as a person, but as an actress. 

“I’ll be the actress starring in your bad dreams”.

As Taylor sings this refrain, she stands atop a mountain of her former selves who are climbing over each other, pushing each other down, scrabbling, and fighting to get to the top of the pile. The multiple versions of Taylor seen throughout the video are all roles she has played over the years, either in her own music videos or in the media. Public perception of her is a mix of characters she created and acted herself and stories appearing in the media.

The result is a fragmented view of a host of made-up personalities and exaggerated heartbreaks and scandals, not an actual flesh and blood girl.

Tay doesn’t blame people for not trusting her, but she’s also fully aware that the ‘her’ they don’t trust isn’t the real Taylor.

It’s just an image people have, based on the various roles she’s played for them over the years. It’s no coincidence that of all the Taylor alter egos seen in the LWYMMD video, many of whom are from previous videos, none of them are from Blank Space.

#8 Taylor isn’t Avoiding Responsibility

LWYMMD has been simultaneously criticised and applauded as Taylor calling attention to her faults, while at the same time avoiding taking responsibility for any of them. It’s right there in the title, Look What You MADE ME Do.

Nothing mentioned is Taylor’s fault, it’s all on the fault of the ubiquitous ‘you’.

While it’s impossible to deny there are elements throughout the song of Taylor putting the blame on the media, rather than herself, contrary to popular perception she isn’t sidestepping responsibility completely.

When Kanye first dropped Famous, the media went into a frenzy over the lyrics: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that bitch famous”

The line refers to the fact Taylor hit the headlines after Kanye stormed the stage during her acceptance speech, the implication being that her success was build on that media frenzy. 

LWYMMD not-so-subtly nods at the fact Taylor’s fame is standing on the back of every version of herself ever created, every story about her ever told, and as much as she criticises that fact, she’s not going to stop taking advantage of it.

She is, indeed, a hypocrite.

Not for constantly playing the victim when she’s truly the villain, but for deriding a system she simultaneously plays flawlessly for her own gains. 

Taylor Swift Don't Like Your Tilted Stage Meaning

#9 That Tilted Stage Is Hers

Another part of the song that’s riddled with a double meaning is the line. ‘I don’t like your titled stage’. Kanye West sang on a literally tilted stage during his Saint Pablo tour. On the surface it seems the song’s lyrics are Tay Tay having another blatant dig at Kanye, but does she really have a problem with Kanye’s set-piece, or is she using a double entendre to reference both the headlines fueled by her feud with Kanye, and the stage upon which she and all celebrities perform?

A stage that is forever tilted to work in the media’s favour, exploiting the artists they use to make their headlines.

In the LWYMMD video, while singing this lyric, Taylor grabs a tilted statue and physically straightens it, along with all the other gravestones surrounding her zombie persona, while lamenting the fact that she doesn’t like the role ‘you’ made her play

This is a further indication that the ‘you’ is to be taken literally: it’s whoever is watching the video.

Because it is for the sake of the millions of people watching that the media writes the headlines.

The media only writes what people want to read.

The public has forced Taylor to play a particular role, by responding with such fervour to certain types of headlines about her, and endlessly clamouring for more of the same.

The song is leveling the playing field, putting Swift back on an even footing with the media by telling the unapologetic truth.

Swift makes this point explicit in the lyrics, ‘The world moves on, another day another drama’. The media is constantly churning out drama after drama, at the expense of the celebrities artists, actors, and singers at the heart of their stories 

Blank Space already made the point the media created an image of Taylor that the public desperately wanted. LWYMMD is furthering that point by showing that, as soon as public opinion started to turn against her, the media tore down the image they themselves created and replaced it with a different one.

One that was in line with the public’s new desire to watch a falling star.

Look What You Made Me Do - Maybe I Got Mine But You'll All Get Yours

#10 We All Got Ours

One reason the song received such criticism was the notion that Swift is ‘consumed’ by resentment. This seems to be reinforced by the lyric, ‘all I think about is karma’. But, rather than expressing Tay Tay’s belief that everyone who wronged her has payback coming, Swift is making LWYMMD the karma that is due.

‘Maybe I got mine, but you’ll all get yours’, sings Swift. The ‘you’ in question is still ‘us’.

Taylor delivered a phenomenal record in 1989 with some absolute bangers. Her reward? 

The world delighted in almost immediately tearing her down from the pedestal they had placed her upon. And all the while, the demand for more music from the artist never ceased. Taylor’s new album, Reputation, isn’t about what she wants to create so much as what the world has demanded she create.

She’s given us exactly what we wanted 

We predictably hated her for it, but we wanted that too!

We wanted the controversy, the headlines the gleeful dissection of every lyric to understand exactly who the song is about.

We might complain about her playing the victim and hitting out at her rivals with scathing lyrics, but really, we love it.

We demand it.

LWYMMD is Taylor giving us our karmic reward: we got exactly what we asked for, and exactly what we deserved. 

Taylor’s reward?

A multi-record breaking, number one smash hit.

Look what we made her do.