END GAME — Taylor Swift

Grade: D+

Honestly, how did we get here? How did we get from “you’re the reason for the teardrops on my guitar” to “I wanna be your end game / I wanna be your first string / I wanna be your A team?”

I need to preface this by saying I honestly and truly think Taylor Swift is a genius. She is possibly the best self-marketer to ever exist. She knows how to sell herself, and while I don’t agree with her decisions most of the time, I give her props for that. However, she’s “sold” herself before while still maintaining musical integrity: i.e. Shake it Off.” Pure Genius. “End Game” is not that. “End Game” was an easy sell-out to make a quick buck.

The song has absolutely no substance — lyrically or otherwise. I do somewhat enjoy the flipped arrangement of the song: it starts with Swift singing the chorus, moves to a verse rapped by Future, another chorus, then an Ed Sheeran verse, Swift chorus, and Swift verse. It ends with a Swift chorus featuring riffs from Sheeran (at one point he runs “a-team,” which I thought a great nod to his original catapult to fame). But the problem here is that she’s trying to hide the fact that this song has almost no lyrics, basically no melody, and absolutely nothing intellectual about it with fancy featured artists. Sheeran is DEFINITELY the best part of this track, but even he can’t save it. He is, however, the only reason I gave this track a D+ instead of an F, so I suppose he is doing something.

(As a side note, I saw Sheeran open for Swift way back in 2012, when he had just released “The A-Team,” and I also thought him by far the best part of that show, even though he performed for maybe 30 minutes with no special effects, and Swift was on for easily two hours, confetti guns raging.)

“End Game” strikes me, simply, as a song I would have written when I was eight years old. Like, “hmmm what other synonyms for ‘end game’ are there? Oooh, first string! A team!” No. Not good. Even the “adult” lyrics seem like they were written by a child: “I just wanna be / Drinking on a beach with you all over me.” I’m pretty sure that’s the way a six-year-old would describe any scene from Laguna Beach, not the way a 28-year-old woman thinks about having a lover.

I just want to know what Sheeran thinks of the track: does it pain him as much as me?

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