Sunday, July 5, 2015

Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" video: Is this the end?

OK, Swift is as popular as ever, and I can't get this song out of my head today. But have you seen the video? It's one of those "concept videos," and the concept appears to be Taylor Swift playing at being some future spy chick and inviting her celebrity pals to be in the clip with her.

It starts out kind of cool. There's action and ridiculous costumes, and Swift herself looks great. But it soon degenerates into a series of even faster edits and pointless cameos. I would have enjoyed 4 minutes of Taylor Swift kicking butt, but shots of Lena Dunham looking tough and smoking a stogie? Not so much.

Plus the nice catchy radio edit is abandoned for a "Bad Blood" mix with an extended rap part. What comes to mind is the word my kids use when they don't like what comes on the radio: "SKIP!" If this version were on the radio, I probably would skip it.

I don't intend to just rip this video, though I got off to a good start in those last two paragraphs. What worries me is the parallel I see with another pop superstar. Remember when Michael Jackson's "Thriller" established him as not just a pop superstar, bit an icon? His videos were eye-catching and entertaining and complemented his songs.

Then the "Bad" album came out, and suddenly Michael Jackson didn't just release videos. He made "premiere events." The videos had to be directed by Hollywood big shots and had to feature celebrities and musicians from different genres. The overhype was bad enough with, well, "Bad," but it really got out of hand with "Black or White." Lordy, remember the Macaulay Culkin part?

It only got worse with Eddie Murphy and Magic Johnson in "Remember the Time." I believe the music at this point was nowhere near as accomplished as it was on "Thriller," but I honestly can't guarantee I am not swayed by those lame bloated videos.

I'm not saying Lena Dunham is Macaulay Culkin (it would probably make a better blog post), but I see in "Bad Blood" some troubling signs. Taylor Swift is one of my favorite celebrities because my kids like her music, yet her songs don't make me want to jab my ears with knitting needles. She keeps her nose clean--at least as far as the public is concerned--and doesn't do anything that makes me embarrassed to watch her with my children. The "Bad Blood" video is *almost* embarrassing, and if she shows up in her next one with a pet chimp, I think I'm outta here.

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