2018 went out with a bang in more ways than one for Swifties everywhere, because on New Year’s Eve, Taylor Swift released her reputation Stadium Tour concert special on Netflix. And like everything Taylor Swift does, it was magical.
I want to start off by saying that I’ve been a huge fan of Taylor Swift’s since her album Fearless came out in 2008, but when reputation was released in 2017… I didn’t like it. I couldn’t hear any of the Taylor Swift that I fell in love with on that album, and I didn’t even make it through listening to the whole thing once before I never listened to it again. But don’t throw me to the wolves yet, because while it was the first tour of hers I didn’t get tickets for, after watching this Netflix special, it’s safe to say I have regrets!
Taylor Swift’s reputation Stadium Tour on Netflix reconverted me into a Swiftie, and boy, does it feel good to be home. I’m about to tell you exactly how she won me over in the two hours, so strap in and enjoy the ride as we take an in-depth look at the two-hour show.
The concert begins by showing a montage of Taylor’s rise to fame, starting as an innocent looking little girl playing a guitar and slowly morphing into something darker as the voice overs talk about her love life, how she holds too many grudges, brings attention to herself with charity donations, and basically — in the eyes of the media at least — can’t do anything right.
Then the crowd goes wild as we get a close up of Taylor as she is now, a chorus of, “Baby let the games begin,” repeats, and the music kicks in with the first song she performs on stage, “…Ready For It?”
Taylor is standing alone on center stage, framed by two massive screens on either side, dressed in a long-sleeved black sparkly jumpsuit complete with hood and black knee-high boots. I was surprised to see Taylor doing so much choreography right off the bat because while her shows are always full of plenty of dancing, it’s not usually her who does so much of it. But she totally pulls it off, and I was impressed throughout the whole show by how well she moved.
She takes a short break, removes the shawl she was wearing, and goes right into “I Did Something Bad.” This is a song I didn’t like the first time I heard on the CD, but she made me fall in love with during the concert. Taylor uses her male dancers as props during the slow opening of this song, stringing them along with a wave of her hand and knocking them over with a shake of her hips. I particularly loved how the female dancers joined her once the men were lying helpless on the stage, providing a real sense of a powerful female ensemble.
The first time I got goosebumps (and there were many!) during the special was during this song. Taylor is standing in the middle of the stage with her female dancers spread out behind her in a vee, and she sings the lyrics, “If a man talks shit then I owe him nothing.” Her voice echoes as the music stops, the dancing stops, and all at once the only thing you can hear is hundreds of thousands of people screaming at the top of their lungs. Taylor and the dancers slowly drop their hands from their shoulders to their hips, and then Taylor picks it up again with, “I don’t regret it one bit ’cause he had it coming.” Fireworks go off, the chorus kicks in, and I am officially dancing in my chair along with every other fan in the audience.
Small confession? I have listened to this song dozens of times since I first watched this on New Year’s Day, and I haven’t stopped dancing to it yet. It is a jam and if you haven’t listened to it yet, go do it immediately and join me in my hair tossing and hip popping.
As this song comes to an end, Taylor somehow manages to go from sexy man-eater to the sweet girl we all feel like we know and love while she glances at the crowd and gives a little hop of excitement. She welcomes the fans to the tour, explaining that she’s been playing in the Dallas area since she was fifteen years old, and reveals this night’s show is the 30th she’s played. She also explains that nobody has ever played back-to-back dates at the AT&T Stadium in Dallas before now, which is massively impressive.
She sings, “Gorgeous,” next where she takes a break and goes through each and every one of her dancers, putting their faces up on the big screen, and introduces them to the crowd, which is something I haven’t seen her do before and enjoyed seeing. The first song Taylor performs that’s not off of the reputation album is next, and it’s “Style,” from 1989, which morphs into “Love Story” and then “You Belong With Me” from her album, Fearless.
I admit I was surprised to hear her sing some of the older songs she sings during the concert. I thought because reputation was so different from her other albums that she wouldn’t be able to incorporate them without it being a jarring change of pace for the show, but I was so, so pleased to find that I was wrong. I absolutely love the glimpses of the fans in the audience we get as she performs, watching them having the time of their lives, dancing and singing along to every word makes me feel included somehow because I relate to them on a personal level, even not knowing who they are! I also can imagine that would be a huge moment for the fans who saw themselves on-screen during this special while they watch, too, so that added an extra layer of fun as I was watching.
Taylor takes her first break here to do a costume change, and we get a video on the big screens to entertain us. It’s another montage of many clips of an innocent-looking Taylor, slowly morphing into the current Taylor, taking her place on a throne wearing an all-black head to toe sparkling jumpsuit. That’s, of course, a throwback to her video for the song, “Look What You Made Me Do,” and she comes back on stage wearing a black and gold cover up with matching boots.
Fans of Taylor’s no doubt got a kick out of the gigantic snake she used as a prop on stage during this song, which is obviously a nod to when Kim Kardashian called Taylor out online by calling her a snake. Instead of taking the term to heart, Taylor used it during the promotion for reputation, on stage here, and even included it on a lot of her merch for the tour.
“End Game” is the next song she performs, which is a duet with Ed Sheeran on the album but she sings solo here. After “End Game,” she loses the shawl she was wearing and is down to a short-sleeved black and gold jumpsuit with a zippered front, singing, “King of My Heart.” She does more one-on-one dancing with her male dancers in this song, while others in the background bang on some truly giant drums.
She takes another break and comes back out wearing my favorite outfit of the night, a dangling rainbow ensemble. She talks a little bit about the light up bracelets each fan gets when they enter the stadium (which is something she did on the 1989 tour as well), explaining that because of the bracelets, she can see every single fan in the stadium, even if they’re all the way in the very back row. She also does a bit of a monologue, taking the long way around to spell out exactly why she was so afraid of earning herself a bad reputation, which basically comes down to her feeling like it will stop her from having something real. Real friendships, real love, real encounters with people she might otherwise miss out on because of earning herself a bad reputation due to gossip. She says the anxiety from that is all really “Delicate…” which is the lead in to her singing the song from reputation.
She steps onto a small platform which detaches itself from the stage and lifts her up into the air. The platform is wrapped in fairy lights, and carries her through the stadium and the crowd, bringing her onto a smaller stage on the other end of the stadium. Once she lands, she starts singing, “Shake It Off,” having Charli XCX and Camila Cabello join her on stage. All of the confetti falling from the sky during this song gave me major flashbacks to the end of the 1989 tour.
After taking a quick break to change into a red and black jumpsuit with a green jacket on top, Taylor slows things down next and explains it’s going to be just her and a guitar for a little while. She talks a little bit about how much she appreciates her fans sticking with her while she switches genres, giving credit to the relationship she has with the fans for being able to do that. She says that she’s learned through reading what she sees fans say online and what they tell her backstage that what her fans really care about is the lyrics. So she’s always tried to write songs that can be stripped down that can be sung along to. She sings, “Dancing With Our Hands Tied,” playing the entire thing on her acoustic guitar.
Afterwards, she talks about how a lot of times, she writes songs to try to get past something or understand something she’s going through, which is the case for the next song she’s about to play, “All Too Well”. Because of her fans telling her that they want to hear older songs, she started playing this particular song. She goes into a really neat story here that answered one of the questions I’ve always wondered. How does she sing such heartbreaking, personal songs on stage in front of so many people without getting upset by them?
She says that “All Too Well” has two lives to it in her brain.
“In my brain, there’s the life of this song where this song was borne out of catharsis, venting, and trying to get over something, trying to understand and process it. And then there was the life where it went out into the world and you turned this song into something completely different for me. You turned this song into a collage of memories of watching you scream the words to this song, or seeing pictures that you post to me of you having written the words to this song in your diary, or you showing me your wrist and you have a tattoo of lyrics to this song underneath your skin. And that is how you have changed the song ‘All Too Well’ for me.”
Taylor released a preview of “All Too Well” before the Netflix special came out, which you can watch below if you want a little taste of how wonderful this song is.
“All Too Well” was never a single, and it always blows my mind that it is consistently one of the loudest songs the crowd sings when I play it. Moments like this defined the Reputation Stadium Tour for me, and I can’t wait for you to see it in full starting at 12:01 AM 12/31 PST pic.twitter.com/wgcV3oumje— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) December 29, 2018
After her breathtaking performance of “All Too Well,” Taylor loses the green jacket and is down to a red, v-neck sparkly jumpsuit complete with black details and a black belt. She sings, “Blank Space” and then talks a little bit about how she noticed the fans in the crowd are dressed in accordance to lyrics from their favorite songs. In order to get on their level, she puts a little black dress on over her bodysuit and sings the song, “Dress.” This is another song I fell in love with because of this Netflix special that has been on repeat for the last two weeks.
“Bad Blood” is up next, which Taylor sings while she gets onto another platform that brings her back to the original stage where she’s joined by her dancers again, including two men who rappel from the stage and do some trapeze style dancing. Portions of “Should’ve Said No,” from her debut CD is cut into it, which is an interesting mix that worked so much better than it should have considering it’s as country as they come and “Bad Blood” certainly isn’t, but Taylor proves once again that her music is ridiculously diverse.
Taylor sings another song from reputation called “Don’t Blame Me,” which is almost unfairly catchy. It starts off slow, just Taylor wearing a long, black dress with a high slit on one leg in the middle of the stage, but once the chorus kicks in, she’s joined by a lengthy line of dancers wearing dark costumes with wing-like accents on their shoulders. Taylor does a lot of her signature hair flipping while kneeling on the stage during this scene, but it totally works with the heavy beat of the music, and the fans in the crowd are loving every minute of it while they dance and sing along.
Taylor seats herself behind a piano for the next portion of the show, showing once again what a talented musician she is. She praises the crowd for being so loud and says that they don’t remember a tour ever flying by as quickly as this one has. She explains that when she says “they” she means everybody who she shares the stage with, including the dancers, the backup singers, the band, everybody. She discloses that there are 368 people who travel around the world with them to help make every show what it is, building the stage for each show, taking care of the sound, lights, and instruments, and takes a second to thank them.
Of course, there wouldn’t be a show without the crowd, so she plays a song next that she says, for her, will always be about the fans. “Long Live,” from the Speak Now CD. This song makes me cry regularly, so I wasn’t at all surprised to find myself tearing up while she played. I’m not the only one, either. We see plenty of fans in the crowd singing along, overtaken with emotion as they sing, “Long live all the magic we made.” “Long Live” morphs into “New Year’s Day” and she ends the mashup with the lyrics, “I had the time of my life with you.”
The stage goes black momentarily before another video begins playing, with the words, “When she fell, she fell apart,” on the screen. She talks about the fall she took when her good reputation was shattered into a million pieces, cracking her bones and losing all of her ‘fair weather friends’. She says her skin was spattered with ink from all of the things people said about her. “Whatever you say, it is not right. Whatever you do, it is not enough. Your kindness is fake. Your pain is manipulative.” She says she dreamed about time machines and revenge, and when she woke up, she was weary of everything: phone calls, promises, charmers. But she came to realize that she never would have ended up exactly where she was always supposed to be without all of that. And where was she always supposed to be? Right here.
“Getaway Car,” is what she comes back out singing, in yet another new outfit including a sequined bodysuit with a glittery silver trench coat over top. This song is sang with a projection of Taylor dancing onto the screens behind her with different backdrops of roads and scenery, which is something I’ve never seen at another concert that was really interesting to watch. She ditches the trench coat for “Call It What You Want” where she’s rejoined by her dancers and a fountain on stage. For me, personally, the show drags during these two songs, but considering it’s a two-hour concert, ten minutes that are a little lackluster isn’t really anything to complain about.
Things pick up when “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” somehow seamlessly turns into “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.” This is a super fun song to listen to, so it makes perfect sense that it looks like all of the dancers and Taylor herself is having a blast on stage, twirling and hopping around to the music. The dancers take their bows while Taylor is helped down from the top of the fountain, then the backup singers get their bow, and Taylor bows with all of them before she asks for the crowd to give it up for the band. Taylor takes her own solo bow, giving high fives while she runs from one end of the stage to the other for a final goodbye to the crowd.
The last message on the screen reads, “And in the death of her reputation, she felt truly alive.” As the credits roll, we get a look at some behind-the-scenes clips and that’s the end of the Netflix special.
I have now watched this twice, and I don’t have a single doubt that I will watch it again. Each time I’ve watched so far I’ve seen something different: a glimpse at how the set was changed, a particular fan in the crowd that’s crying, an expression on Taylor’s face that made me laugh, noticing that Taylor boops her crew on the nose when she interacts with them on stage. It’s fascinating to watch the videos that play while she has costume changes, getting a deeper look into how Taylor dealt with the fall-out of losing her “good girl” reputation and how it truly seemed to devastate her, but then seeing first hand how she came back from that and is still killing it.
Watching Taylor Swift’s reputation Stadium Tour on Netflix made me fall back in love with Taylor herself, dance to her old songs I’ve been a fan of for so long, and gain a new appreciation for her newest music that I didn’t enjoy until now. It helped me see for the first time that Taylor can be the artist who sings faster, more electric sounding songs like what’s on her reputation CD and still be the girl with a guitar who can make a grown woman cry with the emotion she can convey with her voice alone. That’s all it took for Taylor Swift to get her hooks back into me and send me diving head-first into the “Swiftie and proud of it!” mindset, and I am thrilled to be back where I belong.
You can catch Taylor Swift’s reputation Stadium Tour on Netflix now.