CURRENT: Taylor Swift – “Bad Blood” [ft. Kendrick Lamar]

In the context of 1989, “Bad Blood” always stood out, considering the song was placed next to the Haim-inspired “I Wish You Would” and the moonlit glow of “Wildest Dreams.” “Blood”‘s cheerleader stomp and vocal chants share more in common with “Shake It Off” and “Hollaback Girl” than it does the pop sheen of “Blank Space” or “Style.”

The single version of “Bad Blood” exchanges Swift’s opening two verses for new ones from King Kunta himself, Kendrick Lamar. The move – it turns out – works wonders for the track. On the album version, Swift is undeniably hurt and insulted from being double-crossed (presumably by Katy Perry), so much so that it threatens to dwarf the song’s bombast. With assistance from Kendrick Lamar, however, Taylor Swift is able to soar above the fray, far away from the explosive devastation below. Significantly, Lamar helps explicitly convey what was first only hinted at on the original; Swift successfully avoids being plagued by the bad blood infecting her rival. “Still, all my life I got money and power / And you have to live with the bad blood now,” raps Lamar, subtly echoing the Swift-adored “Backseat Freestyle” in the process. She’s having too much fun with her friends to worry about her enemies.

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