Written by Swift herself with the help of Max Martin and Shellback — the Swedish songwriting and production duo who also helmed “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” as well as a litany of hits for artists like Britney Spears, Ke$ha and Pink — “I Knew You Were Trouble” sees Swift experimenting, as promised, with a dubstep sound. But the ultimate effect is less Swift aping Skrillex and more a very Taylor Swift interpretation of dubstep: Light, bright and country-inflected, with spunky guitars and Swift’s twangy adlibs pinging like echoes in the bass. Listen to the full song below.
Where Swift’s songwriting usually tends to be driven by highly specific details, here, the chorus is broader: “I knew you were trouble when you walked in/So shame on me now/Flew me to places I’d never been/Now I’m lying on the cold hard ground.” (If Swift had been writing this solo, we would have known the name of the bar that he walked into, the type of plane he flew her in and whether the ground was made of tile, linoleum or concrete — and it all would have happened on a Tuesday.)
The hook isn’t quite as immediate as “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” but Martin’s stamp is still all over “Trouble,” from the bright, sparkly instrumentation to the keen, radio-friendly melody. There might be a little part of us that misses Swift’s very personal and idiosyncratic songcraft, but it’s already clear that it’s elsewhere on the album — and the introduction of these all-star producers into the mix is giving Swift a chance to show that she’s way more versatile than just a girl with a guitar.