Taylor Swift’s 7 Best Music Video Alter Egos
Taylor Swift played us all.
Over 11 years and six studio albums, the singer-songwriter has crafted a remarkable story arc: from posing as the quirky girl-next-door on the bleachers to a sparkly, top-hatted ringmaster to a vengeful revisionist. Along the way, Swift inhabited a swath of alter egos, embedding her music videos with intensely personal breadcrumbs, cloying cinematic metaphors and venomous sideswipes at her detractors. Already reputation is expected to snag another million-plus opening week.
If you think Swift is a victim in all this, you’d be dead wrong. She is a fearless, independent artist with the ability to not only illustrate her own personal truths but cut to the underscoring universality. She controls her own destiny (and has been in the driver’s seat since she first set foot on Nashville’s Music Row), and with reputation, she annihilates the carefully-crafted media narratives, confessing on “Look What You Made Me Do” that each of her past incarnations is a perfect illusion.
Her music videos have played a crucial role in driving public perception, from her references to Faith Hill in the classic “Our Song” video to inhabiting the crazy ex-girlfriend trope in “Blank Space.” Below, discover her seven best music video alter egos.
The Nerd From “You Belong With Me”
Fearless marked Swift’s strategic shift toward pop superstardom. One of the biggest hits of the era, “You Belong with Me,” solidified her girl-next-door manifestation, and while she was doting unapologetically on her crush (who was hooking up with the resident “mean girl,” also played by Swift), her “Junior Jewels”-emblazoned white T-shirt became the symbol of the underdog. Of course, by the time Red came along, she had long since ditched the image for a progressively-emo, faux-grunge pop star vibe.
Juliet From “Love Story”
Remember the blissful days of Swift’s sweet persona? Her first hit to climb to No. 1 on Billboard's Radio Songs, and shatter records along the way both at country and mainstream pop, “Love Story” reinvented the classic Romeo and Juliet story line. But instead of the two lovers dying by poison in the final act, Romeo proposed, and they lived happily ever after. Plus, we wouldn’t have gotten that legendary CMA Awards performance.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend From “Blank Space”
Before reputation was reputation, Swift pulled back on the reigns of her public narrative with the dramatic “Blank Space,” the video of which depicted her destroying a lackluster lover. Swift, whose high profile real life romances are constant tabloid fodder, plays the role perfectly.
Office Worker From “Ours”
There has not been a more relatable Swift video in the history of forever. We all know the sluggish strain of the 9-to-5, whether that means working in an actual office space or working the grill line in a restaurant. We're all just trying to make ends meet, meet a swell partner and fall in love. Swift's performance is suitably subdued and honest and unfussy.
1950s Hollywood Starlet From “Wildest Dreams”
The video isn’t without it’s problems, but at surface value, Swift taps into that glossy, intoxicating nostalgia of the 1950s, when there was a mystique and allure still surrounding Hollywood. "Wildest Dreams" delivers quite the romantic thrill ride: Starring as fictional character Marjorie Finn, with Scott Eastwood playing the Robert Kingsley counterpart, Swift could very well have been beamed up from a bygone era.
The Snake Queen From "Look What You Made Me Do"
You can't have a new beginning without a proper ending. Shedding her past selves, literally and metaphorically, Swift learned to embrace her inner slithering snake. No longer is she the wide-eyed, perpetually-shocked ingenue whose exterior has only gotten her into more trouble than it was worth. Now, she has risen onto her throne as The Snake Queen.
Faith Hill From “Our Song”
If you place Swift's career next to that of Faith Hill's, you'll see direct lines wrapping over each other. Both started as predominantly country performers, before the allure of pop led them away (to varying degrees of success, obviously). While Swift pays tribute to Hill's husband and fellow country star Tim McGraw with (you guessed it) "Tim McGraw," she highlights Hill's magnetizing influence in the "Our Song" video, ripping the flower scene from Hill's iconic "This Kiss" for a charming reinvention.
Action Star From “Bad Blood"
Swift is clearly contradicting her self-described feminist spirit by pitting herself and her squad against another woman ⎯⎯ "Bad Blood" is reportedly about her feud with Katy Perry ⎯⎯ but the cinematic payoff is breathtaking. Her bevy of costars include Law & Order: SVU's Mariska Hargitay, Gigi Hadid, Jessica Alba and a collection of Hollywood's finest. You'll find the typical high-octane explosions set to hip-hop drops and Kendrick Lamar's fiery verse. You'll be rooting for Swift, even if you don't really want to.
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