A Definitive Ranking of Taylor Swift's Music Videos, From Fictional to Totally Meta
Now that Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" video has fully embraced her perceived "crazy girlfriend" persona, it's hard to imagine her going more meta than that. In the song — which is probably about Harry Styles — she sings about having a long list of ex-lovers who say she's insane, and in the video, she does just that. Her "nightmare dressed like a daydream" personality shows itself as Swift starts a romantic relationship and then ends it violently, smashing in his car, poisoning an apple for him to eat, and slashing paintings she made of him. It's downright perfect.
But this was far from the first time that Swift winked at the haters and made her music videos portray her real-life problems. Although some of her past acting has been just a form of storytelling ("Love Story"), others are total retellings of her life stories and relationships ("We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together"). To celebrate Swift and her cheeky videos, here's a meta ranking of 19 videos. She has more than that, but I've excluded performance-only videos to showcase what is acting for Swift and what is probably just her living her life on camera. Oh, and be sure to remember that most of these videos were made when Swift was a teenager. Even more impressive, right?
#19: "Back to December"
Swift sings by herself in her room as a guy gets upset outside in the snow, all alone. It's snowy and emotional, but there are no big allusions to her own life.
The video follows the song — a small-town guy waiting tables, sitting by the water together, etc. — but it's not particularly reflective of Swift's own life. Her parents aren't divorced and she's not married with kids.
#17: "Love Story"
The sweet video follows the forbidden love story, but doesn't embrace her real life. It's more of a sweet romantic tale where Swift gets her happy ending. She's a true princess.
This video has animated butterflies and clouds as a background to high school scenarios from the lyrics. It is a nod to what her life was like, but there's no wink attached.
#15: "The Story of Us"
Swift plays a student who has a crush on a cute geeky guy in school. She sings and dances in a library, which she's probably done a lot in her life, but otherwise, not really like her. There are flashes to pages in books with her lyrics and she proclaims "the end" at the end, though.
Swift is acting as a sad office worker who is bored with her life. She takes the bus. This is the opposite of her glitzy life. She does have an adorable boyfriend (played by Friday Night Lights' Zach Roerig) who comes back from the Army, and it's totally sweet.
This is mostly a performance video, but there are some characters who are bullied in it, just like Swift was. However, all of the characters end up being successful and happy, which is how she fights back against her high school haters.
#12: "Tim McGraw"
This is another portrayal of a Swift song involving a relationship that went wrong. This track was written before she ever dated anyone famous, so I can't be sure if the floppy-haired cowboy named Johnny resembles her exes.
#11: "White Horse"
The video starts with a phone conversation of a guy asking Swift to give him another chance. Turns out it's Stephen Colletti from Laguna Beach, who breaks her heart. Swift's audible crying toward the end of the video sounds pretty real…
#10: "You Belong With Me"
As Swift sends messages from her window to her neighbor's house — though he doesn't see the "I love you" — and dances around, it definitely follows the lyrics and embraces her goofy side. She plays two versions of herself (the sexy brunette girlfriend and the band geek) and she gets the guy (Lucas Till) in the end.
#9: "Begin Again"
This is mostly Swift wearing fabulous outfits and looking forlorn while singing alone, but a dark-haired guy taking photos of her could be Jake Gyllenhaal?
This video is actually just Swift having a party with friends — including Gossip Girl's Jessica Szohr — even though she wasn't 22 at the time in March 2013.
#7: "Teardrops on My Guitar"
"Drew looks at me" is about a high school friend of Swift's, and in the video, she cries in bed with a guitar and Tyler Hilton plays "Drew." She's friend-zoned, and she has no problems showing exactly how the situation panned out.
#6: "I Knew You Were Trouble"
Pink-haired Swift's long voiceover starts with "I think when it's all over, it just comes back in flashes … it all comes back, but he never does." She talks about how a world moved too fast and burned too bright, but the star of the video doesn't resemble any of Swift's exes. Maybe John Mayer, if he was more of a rock star. She's definitely airing her dirty laundry in this one.
#5: "Everything Has Changed"
Mini versions of Swift and Ed Sheeran are spot-on in this video. It depicts more of an adorable friendship than a relationship, which could be a meta nod to how she and Sheeran are just friends. Turns out in the end that the kids are their kids in the video, so that's a weird twist.
#4: "We Are Never Getting Back Together"
Another dark-haired bearded guy stars in this video, so it could be Gyllenhaal again. They ride in a car together and he puts a scarf around her neck, which are two big hints that it's about him. No maple lattes to be seen, though.
#3: "Shake It Off"
The song is super meta, and her failing at dancing is the main theme of the video. She totally embraces it. With that being said, she does end up being a pretty great dancer in the end, and she definitely has fun.
#2: "Picture to Burn"
Long before Swift went full-on "crazy" in "Blank Space," she showed that side of herself a little bit while spying on her ex in this video. She trashes his place when he goes on a date, but stops short of setting it on fire. Will guys ever learn to never cross her?
#1: "Blank Space"
This is by far the most meta of them all as she shows a glamorous relationship going terribly wrong. Smashing cars, poisoning apples, destroying things? Darling, she's a nightmare dressed like a daydream.