What Taylor Swift's '1989' Music Videos Have Taught Us All About Her Pop Star Evolution — VIDEOS
New Year's Eve was an important day for Taylor Swift fans everywhere, as Swift's "Out Of The Woods" premiered. It was the artist's sixth music video from 1989, which truly is the gift that keeps on giving. Her album 1989 came out in October 2014, so it's pretty incredible that Swift's still releasing singles off of it. Surely just about everyone owns a copy of 1989 at this point, don't they? Not that I'm complaining. In true Taylor Swift style, "Out Of The Woods" is a complicated video posing important questions about the singer, and the increasingly artistic, influential, feminist direction her music has gone in. Most notably, there is no male love interest present is the video for "Out Of The Woods," which feels like a bold, awesome feminist move for Swift, too.
There's always a lot of speculation about Swift's music, generally regarding who her songs about. Swift has even discussed the turbulent nature of her relationship with Harry Styles when introducing live performances of "Out Of The Woods." And the video for "Out Of The Woods" is no exception, seemingly containing much symbolism which links Swift to Harry Styles. But considering all of the music videos from 1989, what have we learned about Taylor Swift, and her ever-developing career, so far?
1. Shake It Off
While previous album Red (2012) showed a move towards pop music for country artist Taylor Swift, her first single from 1989, "Shake It Off," was a huge departure and brand new sound. Totally mainstream, and with a slick video to accompany the song, "Shake It Off" marked the beginning of pop superstar Taylor Swift.
In the "Shake It Off" video we learnt that Taylor Swift has many dance moves, which she showcased in a totally tongue-in-cheek way. Becoming a bona fide pop superstar requires dance routines galore, and Swift has definitely been up for the challenge. The "Shake It Off" video introduced Swift to a whole new audience, and was a total surprise to people who had her pegged as a country singer only. It proved that she's a chameleon, completely brave, and unafraid to try something new.
2. Blank Space
"Blank Space" leaked on Nov. 10, 2014, and proved that Swift is in on basically every joke that's ever been made about her. Transforming herself from daydream to nightmare, "Blank Space" made much fun of the fact that Swift is often painted as the crazy ex-girlfriend in the media, particularly as she writes so many of her songs about real-life relationships. From stabbing cakes with knives, to smashing vintage cars with golf clubs, Swift tore up every crazy-ex cliche, and inspired the general public to use the misheard lyric, "lonely Starbucks lovers."
In proving she has a sense of humor about all the bad press about her, Swift continued her rise to pop superstar with ease. Plus, the video looks beautiful and features approximately a million costume changes, which only makes it more amazing.
An aesthetically beautiful music video, "Style" has a retro '80s vibe, and a love interest in a leather jacket. It's a really mature video for Taylor Swift and has a lot in common with "Out Of The Woods."
4. Bad Blood
There was so much hype surrounding the release of the "Bad Blood" video, with Swift herself releasing teaser image after teaser image of its many guest stars in the run up to the video airing. Not only is the "Bad Blood" video crazy high budget, but it also features many of Swift's famous friends and BFFs. With cameos from the likes of Ellen Pompeo, Lena Dunham, and Cara Delevingne, Swift proves herself pop royalty. Also, as playing a superhero/spy in the video, Swift shows that no challenge is too much for her.
With so many rumors circling that "Bad Blood" is about Swift's alleged feud with Katy Perry, the fact that the video features so much physical fighting between women only appears to confirm the upset. Regardless of who the song is about, the "Bad Blood" video marked a huge departure from Swift's earlier work, and showed that she was working in a completely different genre now, and could one day take on an action movie role.
5. Wildest Dreams
In many ways, "Wildest Dreams" is a beautiful music video. Filmed in Africa, and featuring hottie Scott Eastwood as the love interest, Taylor Swift is turned into a legit movie star in "Wildest Dreams", totally inspired by Elizabeth Taylor. However, the video faced criticisms of, according to critics, "channeling white colonialism." In response to the criticisms, the video's director Joseph Kahn spoke out to clear up the debate:
The reality is not only were there people of color in the video, but the key creatives who worked on this video are people of color. I am Asian American, the producer Jil Hardin is an African American woman, and the editor Chancler Haynes is an African American man. We cast and edited this video. We collectively decided it would have been historicially inaccurate to load the crew with more black actors as the video would have been accused of rewriting history. This video is set in the past by a crew set in the present and we are all proud of our work.
There is no political agenda in the video. Our only goal was to tell a tragic love story in classic Hollywood iconography. Furthermore, this video has been singled out, yet there have been many music videos depicting Africa. These videos have traditionally not been lessons in African history. Let’s not forget, Taylor has chosen to donate all of her proceeds from this video to the African Parks Foundation to preserve the endangered animals of the continent and support the economies of local African people.
"Wildest Dreams" was the first time that Swift caused real controversy with one of her singles.
6. Out Of The Woods
A surprise release from Taylor Swift, the video for "Out Of The Woods" features Swift alone, and no other people. Namely, the fact that there are no men or love interests in the video for "Out Of The Woods" is huge and meaningful for Swift. She faces off against wolves, jumps off of cliffs, gets frozen in snow, and struggles with mirages in the desert. "Out Of The Woods" is a quest that only Swift can face, and she doesn't need the help of anyone else. It's a bold feminist move on Swift's part, and exciting to see her sidestep relationships, overcome any criticism she faced in 2015, and come out all the stronger for it. "Out Of The Woods" is about fighting for your own life, and overcoming difficulties you face, both important messages for viewers everywhere.
Swift continues to develop as a major player pop star, and her growing confidence is evident in her 1989 music videos. Whether we'll get another single from 1989, or will have to wait for Swift to record new music, is anyone's guess. But it's been exciting watching her evolution to date.