As you surely know by now, Taylor Swift dropped “Look What You Made Me Do,” her first single off her upcoming album Reputation (or, as she apparently insists on styling it, reputation) last night.
With samples from Right Said Fred and Peaches, “Look What You Made Me Do” could have been a banger, but the vindictiveness of the lyrics feels so out of touch that the track is just cartoonish.
Really, pop music is probably just going to suck for a while because there are just so many more terrible and awful things going on in the world today. So I can’t get too mad at Taylor. But there is one thing that irked me about “Look What You Made Me Do.” It also irked me when I heard it in that other terrible revenge song of the summer, Katy Perry’s “Swish Swish.” Both songs feature a bad and seemingly self-serving understanding of the concept of “karma.”
Karma refers to an interconnected web of intention (people seem to forget this one!), action, and effect. The basic idea is that good deeds yield good karma, which contributes to a more positive future, and bad deeds yield bad karma, which means that some shit will come your way, whether in this life or a future one. Yes, English has borrowed many words from other languages. Yes, meanings change over time. But the way Katy and Taylor use karma undermines the concept, and makes them both sound dumb.
In “Swish Swish,” Katy’s beef song with Taylor, she sings, “Karma’s not a liar, she keeps receipts.” In Taylor’s beef song with Kanye West, “Look What You Made Me Do,” she sings “The world moves on, another day, another drama, drama / But not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma.” Swift’s next line: “And then the world moves on, but one thing’s for sure / Maybe I got mine, but you’ll all get yours.”
First of all, dang ladies! Take it down a notch! Focus on your breathing and find your sit bones! Second, both uses of karma put the concept on par with revenge, as if karma was actually a bitch you could sic on someone. I guess Katy saying that karma “keeps receipts” isn’t technically inaccurate, but threatening someone with this supposed woman called “karma” defeats the purpose of it. As for Taylor, the idea that karma always means punishment is inaccurate, not to mention an unhealthy fixation on her part.
It’s also interesting that both Katy and Taylor render karma as a very active agent of revenge in order to keep themselves passive, which conveniently absolves them of actual responsibility for anything they do. Both women are flattening a complex idea into a simplistic toy for them to play with.
I suppose it makes sense because they’re both trying to inflate a fake and flaccid beef that no one cares about anymore. Since neither are willing to come out and actually do anything about these feuds except release bad music, firing off “karma” references from afar is the best they can do. Karma isn’t schadenfreude but I guess it is probably easier to rhyme.
Honestly it is the most Goopy white lady shit to ~invoke the universe~ to come for another white lady. If only they had the enlightened understanding of karma that Boy George did, this whole thing could have been avoided. I clearly have some personal work to do seeing as how the karma I have racked up probably contributed to me having to deal with this fucking Taylor/Katy/Kimye shit. Look what you made me do.