For many years, the event album has been in decline. While there are a handful of records from this year that have generated public excitement and strong reviews, like Drake's More Life, Kendrick Lamar's Damn, Lorde's Melodrama, or Jay-Z's 4:44, they haven't conquered the zeitgeist in the same way as blockbusters of the past. In the absence of a major release from Beyoncé, Rihanna, or Adele, the pressure is on for Taylor Swift, who will release her sixth studio effort Reputation on Friday, to deliver an electro-shock to what remains of the monoculture. Unsurprisingly in 2017, the record is already endlessly divisive.
Ever since it was announced back in August with the conspicuous wiping of posts from the 27-year-old pop star's social media accounts and subsequent deployment of symbolically loaded snake imagery, Reputation has been engulfed in controversy. Despite quickly soaring to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, the first single, the Right Said Fred-sampling "Look What You Made Me Do," was viewed as a disappointment by many critics. Pitchfork deemed it a "half-assed airing of grievances," while New York Magazine described it as, "The worst music of her career." Clearly, the Reputation roll-out was going to be bumpy.