Poptimism

A Time for Poptimism: I Lost My AirPods Case. Is This My ‘Reputation’ Era?

Courtesy of Big Machine RecordsTaylor Swift released "reputation" Nov. 10, 2017.
Graphic by Alec Karam “A Time for Poptimism” is A&E Editor Alec Karam’s music appreciation column.

Attention: my AirPods case has gone missing. It was last seen in the first floor of the IC on one of those grey chairs. Clearly, this is what I get for staying in the IC. I’m a Cudahy loyalist, I promise.

Nov. 10, 2017 is the day Taylor Swift rose out of the ashes of public disgrace and released “reputation,” veering from her singer/songwriter roots with an album of bombastic pop production.

Back then, I saw things with rose-colored glasses, but now I see the world in that gross green tint prestige TV shows employ. Truly, I saw the world in its saturated glory until Nov. 3, the fateful morning when I last set my eyes on the case.

Just as Taylor fought back from the PR nightmare that was “Snakegate,” I too must rise from the ashes of AirPods past. If there’s one thing Taylor Swift and I have in common, it’s our proclivity to make something out of nothing.

My “reputation” era begins. Are you “…Ready For It?”

“There’s nothing I hate more than what I can’t have,” Taylor sings in the saccharine “Gorgeous.”

Oh, do I relate right now.

Fun fact: Apple doesn’t sell the case individually to the AirPods Pro, so its solution is to have you buy an entirely new pair. Cute, right? “Call It What You Want,” but I call that extortion.

So “I Did Something Bad” and ordered a knockoff case on Amazon. I tried to go through Apple, “Don’t Blame Me.”

A&E Editor Alec Karam may be in his “reputation” era.

“reputation” is Taylor Swift uninhibited. It’s the first album she made for herself, not critics — resulting in a chaotic, tonally inconsistent mess of glamorous proportions, a flawed gem in her refined discography.

Misunderstood yet enticing, “reputation” features many career highlights. From the anthemic “Don’t Blame Me” to the sleek “Delicate,” Swift didn’t let her “bad reputation” inhibit her — it fueled her.

The album had me in a chokehold senior year of high school. Sitting in my friend Grace’s parked car on the first day of Christmas break, we enjoyed the chill weather as “End Game” glistened in the background. The cringe of a Taylor Swift, Future and Ed Sheeran collaboration was nothing in the face of unabashed joy.

“End Game” may be lyrically obtuse, productionally challenged and aimless — but when she sings “I hit you like, bang!” three minutes and thirteen seconds into the song, it still makes me quiver.

Drama never feels as energizing as it does with “reputation” blasting in the background. Swift took life’s melodrama and turned it into glitzy art.

Swift served cold ice with “I Did Something Bad,” her first-ever song to feature a cuss word.

“I never trust a narcissist, but they love me / So I play ‘em like a violin, and I make it look oh so easy,” she opens the song, which should have been the lead single.

The power of the title plus the catty lyrics would’ve sent the pop community into overdrive and misogynists into straight disarray. “Look What You Made Me Do” was a fun little number, but the potential to lead with an Earth-shattering bang was right there.

In “Getaway Car,” Swift sings of escaping one relationship by hopping into another, only to swiftly ditch her new lover thereafter. It’s a driving anthem made for singing at the top of your lungs in angst. But do it alone, so you don’t get called out for being too loud.

Whoever stole my AirPods case went on a getaway walk of their own. I hope they enjoy the worthless case, given Apple doesn’t sell the Pros separately. I suppose that’s karmic retribution.

“The world moves on, another day, another drama, drama / But not for me, not for me, all I think about it is Karma,” sings Swift in “Look What You Made Me Do.” Fitting.

The truth is, the world has moved on. Taylor Swift is back to being a critically acclaimed pop darling, and I’m back to wearing wired earphones. In all fairness, the Alec of 2017 listened to the album with wires, too.

Maybe I am in my “reputation” era, and maybe that’s a good thing. You see the world differently without AirPods. You remember to plug in — because you have to.

“I swear I don’t love the drama, it loves me,” Swift lies in “End Game.”

But I do love the drama. By the time this is published, I’ll have a case for my AirPods again. “So It Goes…”

Stream “reputation,” available on all streaming platforms, in remembrance of my AirPods case.

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