Taylor Swift’s music video for her latest release “Look What You Made Me Do” marks her return to the music scene with a tantalizing illustration of her negative press, despite its jagged beat and at times painfully conspicuous endeavors to distance herself from her past.
Released as a single on Aug. 25, then as a music video two days later during the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards, “Look What You Made Me Do” serves as the official teaser for Swift’s upcoming album “Reputation,” her first album in three years. As she demonstrates through the repetition of lyrics “I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me,” her new sound will attempt to shatter the facade of naivete she is constantly associated with. As far as achieving that end goal is concerned, the music video facilitates her evolution in a more pleasurable manner than the actual tune itself.
The opening shot soars over a misty graveyard, capturing a tombstone etched with the words “Here Lies Taylor Swift’s Reputation.” What appears to be the corpse of Swift pierces through the ground and crawls forward, spatting the sharp beginning lyrics and setting the angsty tone for the rest of the piece.
Out of her metaphoric death arises a rush of snippets in which Swift embodies how the media typically characterizes her. Shots of her swinging inside of a giant golden cage, signifying how she’s constantly on display, rapidly shift to her dominating a throne entwined with snakes. One snake even proceeds to pour Swift’s tea, embracing media symbols for deception and gossip.
A recurring motif of the video is the variety of past Taylors that eventually fall under the feet of the new, fiercer Taylor who divulges through red lips, “‘I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ‘cause she’s dead.’ ” Every representation of her past, from the VMA’s circus leader Taylor to the nerdy “You Belong With Me” Taylor, crashes beneath the feet of a black fur adorning Taylor, an overt signal to the notion that Swift rejects the boxes she’s been placed within by pop culture.
The video concludes with these animated symbols of her history accusing one another like the media tends to accuse Swift, saying she’s “playing the victim” and referencing her ongoing tension with Kanye West over his vulgar namedrop of Swift in his song “Famous,” saying “Getting receipts. Gonna edit them later.” Although these flashes of speech serve as her final disapproval of treatment towards her in recent years, this conclusion also demonstrates Swift poking fun at her own image in a way that upholds her power to shape her own future persona despite the bad press.
Swift dives deeper into the more violent imagery she experimented with in her “Blank Space” video, strutting away from a burning building and even crashing a car in clothes that resemble those of singer and reported rival Katy Perry. This aggressive visual display is completely unfitting for Swift, which dovetails into the notion that we are witnessing a bolder side of her we’ve never seen before, albeit its blaring and structurally ill-motivated attempt to do so.
Regardless of whether you can accept the song’s choppy divergence from Swift’s typically softer textures, the country-turned-pop star never fails to stir the metaphorical pot. Anyone who has at one time dubbed themselves a Swift fan or follows conflict among stars in the media will revel at this piece. Swift remains loyal to her capacity for digging at past romances, mocking her ex-boyfriend and Thor actor Tom Hiddleston by dressing her male dance squad in “I heart TS” shirts resembling the one he once sported for her.
The video alone is ultimately analogous to an explosion. It is flashy and abrupt, and blazing wreckage is flying in every direction. However, no viewer can peel their eyes away. It sparks curiosity in onlookers and even encourages a sense of morbid wonder at the sight. The video lifts the lyrically challenged, generically composed single out of the mud and offers a vibrant depiction of the new Taylor Swift sensation the songstress is eager to build.
Featured Image By Big Machine Records