Saturday, February 3rd, 2018

Taylor Swift ft. Ed Sheeran & Future – End Game

Another Friday, another Swifty single..


Thomas Inskeep: Finally, a good single from Reputation. First off, I love the sentiment of the chorus: “I wanna be your end game/I wanna be your first string/I wanna be your “A team”/I wanna be your end game.” I mean, who doesn’t want that? Sheeran raps, and I’ve gotta admit, not horribly. Future of course does too, and of course is better. Weirdly they both sound right in this Max Martin/Shellback musical setting. Swift dials down the snark and sounds honest-to-goodness sincere, the synth chords behind the chorus sound gorgeous and expensive, the drums sound delightfully cheap, and both Sheeran and Future chime in later in the song on some ad-libs, not just “do a verse and leave” as is so often the case these days. On paper, this should not work — Swift, Sheeran, and Future, really? — but on record, it actually does. And I’m as surprised as you are, maybe more. And it sounds better the more I play it.

Ryo Miyauchi: Excess has been the name of the game for this era of Taylor Swift, though “End Game” doesn’t sell it so appealingly. Somehow Future ends up making more sense than Sheeran in the world of Reputation. That swinging “big reputation” hook and the attached drawl sound best fit for the rapper circa Honest, considering both cadence and history. But neither men serve the track any good as both crowd a room made with solely Taylor’s presence in mind. The double-time and overall word crunching adopted by all three don’t make this easier to swallow. It’s a shame, because she tucks in such a breezy pre-chorus that could potentially be a star on a wonderful post-1989 anthem.

Katie Gill: Remember 1989? Remember how the third single off of that was “Style”, something that topped a lot of singles lists and has only sounded better with age? Yeeeeeeeeeah. Lightning doesn’t strike twice. Everything about this song just sounds so embarrassing. Whether it’s the awful “big reputation” hook, Sheeran’s travesty of a guest verse, yet another retread of Swift’s ‘I’m crazy and you love it’ “Blank Space” persona that “LWYMMD” completely bombed, or the awkward pseudo hip-hop posturing, this song feels like something all parties involved would look back on with regret and cringing.

Stephen Eisermann: This song is Taylor’s equivalent to when Hillary Clinton dabbed on Ellen: calculated, contrived, and though it starts out fun, as it goes on it only gets more and more awkward, until your opinion of Taylor/Hill has inevitably lowered.

Katherine St Asaph: Less a song than a me at the beginning of 2017/me at the end meme. Taylor Swift adopts a rapper’s cadence (despite what you may have heard, the “big reputation” bridge is the only time on a single Swift has actually rapped, as defined by engaging at all with actual rap flows; granted, it’s as awful as claimed) and slips into the gloomy synth-pad-scape of the Weeknd. But where actual rapper Future and somehow accepted rapper Ed Sheeran have uncomplicated braggadocio, Swift has self-abnegation at Lana Del Rey levels (“you like the bad ones too” basically quotes her). The ingenue of Red is (telephone giggles) dead, but so are the gleeful player of “Blank Space” and even the steelier version from her past two singles. Here Swift’s a female fish in a male pond, outplayed and resigned; even when she asks for his time, it’s in the language of ruthless strategy and first-implying-second-and-so-on strings. Either she can’t acknowledge a world outside the game (no more you! love! for it) or knows it’s pointless to try. There’s something bleak about how songs like this and “Good For You” get called sexy or alluring when they’re so obviously wounded and reluctant, subtextually and textually — the very first words of the prechorus are “I don’t want to touch you,” so far away from anything resembling enthusiasm it makes her last verse ghoulish. When rapping Ed Sheeran is the most enjoyable part of a single — at least he finds the humor in the “A Team” bit — something’s dire.

Alex Clifton: Pros: the best song Ed Sheeran’s been featured on in about a year; a sexy pre-chorus; “I swear I don’t love the drama, it loves me!” delivered with a gleeful smirk. Cons: “Big reputation! Big reputation!” is frankly awful; Taylor attempts to rap, again; the unnecessary “A Team” shoutout; a bland chorus. The combination of Swift/Sheeran/Future works better than it should have in the first place, but it’s the first Swift single I’ve ever heard that feels truly unlike her (and her vocal performance does her no favours). Most of all, it’s boring–which would be fine for any other artist, but coming from Swift, it feels like a sin.

Micha Cavaseno: I can’t believe modern society has evolved in a way where Taylor Swift is providing a better example of 3rd-phase Eminem singles than Eminem is capable of these days. Let’s be serious here, though — she’s got Future putting in effort, an occurrence that somehow I’m expected to do without when I listen to the man provide his own music releases these days! And even Ed Sheeran is remarkably tolerable, albeit performing a blandified sort of earnest lad verse that would’ve propped up any of his guest verses in the early pre-Taylor patronage era of his ‘rapping’ career. Swift’s own performance is a bit formulaic and unremarkable, with her rapping still moments away from the ‘caramel delights’ verse of yesteryear, but nothing about it is too punishing in an era where we presume every pop star who can ride a beat is somehow GREAT at the act of rapping.

Alex Ostroff: This campaign continues to release singles that sound like a music exec’s idea of what the kids are listening to on pop radio these days, instead of any of the great songs buried on Reputation. Songs like ‘Delicate’ and ‘Getaway Car’ might not be crafted to be Billboard #1s, but there was a time when Taylor let the charts come to her instead of unnecessarily trend-chasing. That said, Taylor can only kneecap herself so much, so the pre-chorus (“I don’t wanna touch you / I don’t wanna be / Just another ex-love / You don’t wanna see” etc.) is gentle and sensual and lovely and everything you would want from her continued exploration of pop, but everything else from her is plain awkward.

Will Adams: Taylor Swift suspended in fog and draping herself over IV-iii-ii progressions — a one-way ticket to sadness in R&B-pop — makes for drab listening, the kind that even “Look What You Made Me Do,” for its many faults, knew better to avoid. Future and Ed Sheeran enliven the proceedings, and the result is a half-smirk of a song.

Alfred Soto: It’s cute to ask Future for call and response distorto-vocals, less cute to cede a verse to Ed Sheeran, but This is Pop 2017. Forsaking narrative for a tag line metaphor that’ll guarantee SEO, Taylor Swift has never been more cunning. 

Michelle Myers: Turns out I spent tens of thousands of dollars to study Shakespearean acting in college just so I can perform all three parts of this song at a local karaoke dive at 3 am on a Saturday.

Hazel Southwell: I’m not a Taylor Swift fan and too long working on the UK singles chart has made me actively aggressively anti-Ed so I was kind of assuming this would be an entertainingly diverting rinse of something derisible. But actually I… like this rather understated lil jam. I don’t even mind that Ed Sheeran does some rapping and ok Future barely bothers to turn up but that’s largely understandable. Something kinda hypnotic in it is very evocative of travelling at night and I can imagine this massively soothing and entertaining me during my next longhaul bullshit epic. It’s floppy comfort pop and it almost does nothing but it’d be a really surprisingly pleasant head stroke on a tired journalist’s forehead at 3am.

Jonathan Bradley: Big drums and a big playbill announce “End Game” as a song of meta-narrative; the third single from this release cycle to respond to the artist as she exists in media space. “You and me we got big reputations,” Swift crows in letters the size of tabloid headlines. And look who she’s been seen with: the avant-artist of these times, Future — who definitely contributes some very Future sounds for his verse — and best buddy Ed Sheeran, a milky Brit who substitutes a glottal stop for a personality and wields a Phil Collins-like knack for turning schlubbiness into stardom. It is not as if any of these qualities are a feint — “End Game” is in many ways as modular and thin-skinned and gargantuan as it seems — but nor do they entirely matter. With its pastel synth clouds and a lyric that looks for wonder in the work of long-term commitment, “End Game” is also coy bedroom pop, a sister to singles by Sky Ferriera, or Charli XCX, or even Chvrches. Accordingly, Future’s verse is not a stunt, like Kendrick Lamar’s spot on the “Bad Blood” remix was, or a showcase, but a counterpart and a complement, augmenting existing lyrical and textural themes at an oblique. As unwelcome as Sheeran’s raps are in following, his professionalism is less noisome when he’s not in sadsack mode. Swift doesn’t resolve this sprawling pop exercise, but allows it to take on different hues as it unfurls. When it’s over, it lingers.

Reader average: [7.58] (12 votes)

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5 Responses to “Taylor Swift ft. Ed Sheeran & Future – End Game”

  1. michelle and hazel’s blurbs are both moods

  2. I almost gave this a 10, except I hate when Taylor Swift talks about red lipstick

  3. rmxbb back

  4. the prechorus on here is great and well that’s it

  5. As with some other Taylor Swift songs, I like the juxtaposition between fantasy and reality here. It’s just that the “fantasy” is the chorus and the “reality” is the prechorus.