Taylor Swift Is Defiant In Video For ‘Look What You Made Me Do’

I’m not a huge fan of the Tay-Tay brand but I’m partial to some pop, so when ‘Look What You Made Me Do‘ debuted on YouTube, I admit to clicking the sideways triangle with a little intrigue. The song title reminds me of a phrase an abuser would use but I’m aware that’s something for her PR exec to regret and for me to blithely accept. It’s all so meta that it only requires a surface level viewing. For example, she literally stands in front of a T/cross while previous music video incarnations clamour beneath her feet because she wants us to be aware of how she’s been crucified. If I were a woman of the cloth I would call it blasphemy. But I’m not, so we’re cool. And Madonna did it first anyway.

Musicians are clearly starting to take cues from masters of reinvention such as David Bowie and Madonna, as more of them use chameleon tactics to create a long-lasting career. Taylor’s fierce intelligence is what makes her mini film so compelling – the opportunity for double meaning is both plentiful and plausible. And what does her millennial fan-base love to do more than over-analyse? One devoted ‘Swiftie’ gave a detailed analysis of the symbolism on show, and if I didn’t miss A level English Literature before reading their comment, I sure do now. Those essays were like a free ticket to overthink. I applaud her for standing up for herself because it’s not easy to do in the face of gender stereotypes and covert misogyny.

Setting the tone for the mini film, Taylor literally rises up from the dead (honey I do it all the time) from a gravestone emblazoned with ‘Taylor Swift’s reputation‘. If I had to transcribe said Swiftie’s analysis into a Sparknotes webpage, my first sub-heading under ‘THEMES’ would be ‘Re-birth’. I imagine the theme will run throughout her new album. If only there were some clues as to what the album name is…

 

IMAGERY: Snakes. Just before the video release, I read a compelling argument for Taylor Swift to be heralded as a Slytherin as her hallmark traits are ambition, cunning, self-image, loyalty and revenge. And here she is, representin’ in full bloom. The ‘Kimye’ feud shrouded Taylor in suspicion: Kanye called her a ‘bitch’ in his song Famous. After Taylor expressed her discomfort, Kim released a secret recording of T.S giving Kanye permission to name-drop her in this way. Vilified for changing her mind in what many saw as a tactical move, snake emojis appeared everywhere. This is her wearing that criticism like a badge of honour:

 

heart ts
A reference to ex Tom Hiddleston

The ‘I love TS’ top is an allusion to how everyone thought she orchestrated her relationship with Tom Hiddleston for publicity; as though her love life is merely masterminded in order to advance her career and the men she dates are innocent victims. Unlike Calvin Harris, there’s nothing vengeful against this particular ex-boyfriend as they didn’t have any bad blood between them. #katyperrytho

Maybe my favourite throwback is to her ‘squad’. Dressed as though she’s making another Victoria’s Secret appearance, a legion of scantily clad robots line up before her. Their identical clothing and ‘thin white female’ bodies highlight the criticism she received for ‘setting a bad example to young girls’ as it appeared to many that she was trying to create a clan of ‘mean girls’. Once again she plays into the insults thrown at her: the Regina George that Katy Perry labelled her as being; the conceited girl who only hangs out with models.

 

Much of Swift’s power lies in her ability to poke fun at herself: she seems familiar with the idea that if you own your flaws, they can’t be used against you. In essence, she’s taking control of her reputation. Hierarchies permeate society from class to race to gender, and as the ‘other’ gender, we disallow women (especially in the media) to be multi-faceted individuals. When they defy the labels given to them, they are seen as fake. Hence the dialogue at the end, where she echoes the put-downs leveled at her before screaming at herself to ‘shut up!’. She’s used her smarts to hint at the way women are silenced and berated for almost anything outside of quiet complicity with however they’re treated. I’m happy that in 2017, people still make music videos that challenge our perceptions. It’s all performance anyway, right?

“I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me

I’ll be the actress starring in your bad dreams”

tstststs

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Music videos of my childhood in the 1990s: Bon Jovi – Always

Before we begin, please admit that you’ve mimed the chorus while doing the power ballad air-grab at some point in your life. Once you have stopped living in denial, read on.

Smoulder me good, Jon.

Possibly the quintessential portrayal of (rock) music video melodrama, ‘Always’ incorporates everything: big hair, guitar solos, explosions, long shots of city streets, infidelity, fancy dress parties, and baggy denim. Mini-movies like this take the blame for my idealised view of adult life as a hedonistic whirlwind marked by passion and really, really good-looking people. Speaking of which, we see Jon Bon Jovi at his aesthetically pleasing peak in the band close-up shots, with a hairstyle I would like to see re-appearing on the faces of more men, please and thank you.

Throw those veggies at ’em! I’m with ya.

To veer away from my shallow appreciation, the song is sentimentality in a 6 minute punch. Nowadays, hit songs rarely invoke contemplation on what it would be like to care indelibly for somebody who isn’t yourself, and definitely not to this extent: “if you told me to die for you, I would.” Dramatic declarations are too late to save the couple on screen however, as the Mick Jagger-mouthed protagonist cheats on his beautiful, fun-loving girlfriend with her flatmate in a decision nobody has ever understood. I can remember watching the video on VH1/MTV as a young whippersnapper when my brother relayed to me the thought process behind the man who stared a regrettable action in the face and said “yeah, I’ll do that!” It was basically akin to a 2 year old seeing a forbidden sweetie and grabbing it, only this was a grown man who should know better. As you can tell, I have never forgiven Jagger-mouth for his wrongdoing.

He ruined his shot at redemption when he enacted an arson attack on an unsuspecting artist who lived down the street. In what can only be described as the most glamorous one night stand of all time, a beatnik man in a black turtle neck jumper painted a portrait of the lovelorn lady while they inbibed white wine and listened to Bon Jovi, probably. Our protagonist felt entitled to rage upon this incident as he has no control of his emotional impulses, and admittedly, this fits the song perfectly. The storyline fits, entices and enthrals you… Link below!

Bon Jovi – Always

Hallelujah!

I’ve just finished bouncing around my bedroom with flailing arms and open-mouthed expressions in mimicry of Brendon Urie’s enormous mouth. My reason for doing this? Panic! At The Disco have released an official video for their inexplicably happy current release, Hallelujah. Many, many songs are called Hallelujah but this one is 184 seconds of unbridled ecstasy.

Panic! At The Disco – Hallelujah

Until now, those of us who rediscovered pop-punk music with a new perspective (pun intended) had to contend with an emoji-based lyric video that probably made obsequious marketing execs at the record label rub their palms with repulsive glee. While the new, maze themed video reminds me of Monument Valley; an iPhone game, and falls short of intensifying the euphoric melody, it does satisfy my need to watch Brendon Urie dance in two different outfits: a smart-burgundy suit and a James Dean style leather jacket. I search high and low for happy songs and develop obsessions when I actually find them.

Panic! At The Disco have made catchy albums in recent years, with a more mature and refined sound emerging every time they hit the studio. Hopefully this upbeat anthem uses the rhythmic clapping in the final chorus to spare us of the disingenuous dirges thrust upon us by big label bosses and sad men with guitars. ‘Stand up, sing Hallelujah!’ 

Music videos of my childhood in the 1990s: Aerosmith – Crazy

Aerosmith: Crazy

My view of this mini-movie has evolved since childhood: somehow, the sleaziness of wanting your 17 year old daughter to star in a puerile fetishization of lesbianism only became apparent to me over time. (Here’s looking at you, Steven Tyler). As a child, I missed the implied lust in this 6 minute jaunt-around-town. Little me chose to just see ‘Aerosmith chick’ Alicia Silverstone breaking free from the oppressive school regime alongside her fun-loving pal, and longed to be a part of their world.

I just figured it got really warm in America land.

First stop on the mini road trip? Steal numerous sunglasses from a petrol station while an indifferent shop worker aids your thievery. 1993/4 was a renaissance period for Aerosmith, enabling the Toxic Twins: Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, to rake in dollars like it was still Ye Olden Days. However time is cruel and this era could now be considered retro, while viewers wonder why the pair would steal in front of CCTV so brazenly. Sike! Not every shop had CCTV cameras in the 20th century; the only lens they were performing for was the male gaze. *Mic drop*

Rad: suited-up Silverstone rebelling with her exhibitionist friend

But whatever, it still looks like a party to me! A photobooth, androgyny on Silverstone’s part, and the expert pranking of a semi-naked farmer; a portrait of reckless youth. When I was a young’un, music videos were only shown at random on the TV, and therefore my emotional attachment to this tale of two runaways grew stronger for every hour I sat in waiting. Other entertaining events unfold, including a pole-dancing Liv Tyler mimicking the Aerosmith front man perfectly because he is literally her dad. There’s also some skinny-dipping in a lake – shedding our protagonists of all that 90s denim. After the fun is had, ‘Crazy’ is furrowed into a field by farmer boy’s driver-less tractor as the girls ignore a hitchhiker in pursuit of more adventure. Badasses’ with top banter, before anyone used that word in earnest. Oh, what happy days they were. Proceed to the video link below:

Aerosmith – Crazy. (1994)