Delicate Music Video Reaction

Image Courtesy of Vevo

Image Courtesy of Vevo

By Grace Gay

In the music video for “Delicate” released Sunday, March 11, Taylor Swift contributes to the trend of music videos that consist of two things- a girl, and the camera. Unlike Sia in “Chandelier,” with her manic, lonely energy, or Lorde’s direct address to the camera in “Green Light,” the music video of “Delicate” is infused with Swift’s own unique showmanship, departing from the way the music video style of “Girl Dancing Alone for the Camera” is usually executed.

The video begins with her, lonely, talking to cameras, faking a smile, until she is made invisible by a note handed to her (presumably from the lover who the song is addressed towards). She spends her time invisibile dancing with embarrassing abandon through various sets until she becomes visible again as she reads the note at the bar where she (again, presumably) is meeting her lover. She never directly addresses the camera, unlike Lorde, who spends the entirety of the “Green Light” video singing directly to the audience. One of the major criticisms Swift has received thus far regarding the video is that many of the shots, the plot, and color palette mimic Spike Jonze’s Kenzo commercial. While there are many similarities, the moods of Swift in the video versus Margaret Qualley in the commercial differ enough to create alternate messages about independence, freedom, and stardom.

“Delicate” also departs from Taylor’s other music videos for her most recent album, reputation. This is mostly due to the fact that the song is very different from the others’ that Swift has made music videos for. Her other music videos have seen her in conflict with herself in “Ready for it…?” and with the audience in “Look What You Made Me Do.” The album itself contains an interesting mix of harsh, angry songs about her old self and enemies and songs that are delicate in feeling and devoted to love like “Dress” and “New Year’s Day.” Focus has mainly rested on Swift’s angry tracks eclipsing the less controversial songs like “Delicate.” With this music video, like much of what has emerged as part of reputation, Swift surprises.  I would never have guessed that Taylor Swift would transform a video for a song about the delicacy of a new relationship into an ode to how badly she wants to be invisible to the limelight, or at least seen as a person, rather than a villain.

The most powerful part of the music video is that it rings true, that she wants to be able to live freely. Trapped in Taylor Swift’s bitter, confrontational relationship with the rest of stardom and the media is a woman who is lonely and tired of performing these separate versions of herself. This video, though less grandiose and marginally less fun than the others, is compelling is because it shows Swift just like every other mean girl, and every other person: she’s lonely and sad inside and just wants to be free to live her own life.

In many ways, even as Taylor shows new sides of herself, the whole video is reminiscent of “Old Taylor.” She is back to one of her classic looks in the video: red lips, bangs, and a pony tail in an old fashioned dress (which I hate to say, but the flapper look is not quite what I wanted to see Taylor Swift). The throwback makes this video feel more authentic and interesting than her others for this album: the nostalgia for “Old Taylor” has only grown, at least for me, as Swift has created this new image for herself. I can only hope this trend continues where Swift focuses on growing and reflecting on herself rather than attacking others, since her growth and presentation of self is ultimately much more interesting than her petty grievances with others. But with the proclamation that “Old Taylor” is dead, Swift in the future will likely continue to play with how she has portrayed herself in the past and whom she is performing as now.

 

Steven Norwalk