ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN The Huntington News, February 13, 2015
By Sara Tucker, News Staff
In promotion of Taylor Swift’s most recent album, “1989,” the pop princess released videos of tracks “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space,” the record’s first two singles. Today, Swift followed up with the release of the album’s third single video, “Style.” While the track is one of the album’s best, the video, directed by Kyle Newman, leaves something to be desired.
The video can be described in no better terms than very hipster – the whole thing looks as if it was shot through an Instagram filter by a man wearing thick-framed specs.
The action opens on a dark silhouette of Swift, her neck and shoulders bare, hair in a messy bun, lips slightly parted. The camera moves in while smoke swirls around her head, and then she’s overlayed with the opening of a cave, a man standing at the mouth looking out at the ocean. Random images play – Swift looking over her shoulder (this is going to become a theme), her hands clasping a necklace, the man’s fingers. This continues for about 20 seconds, giving you ample time to check headphones, the computer speaker – is this thing on? Just as you’re about to hit the refresh button and hope for better luck, the song finally begins to play.
You’re feeling a little frantic and a bit exploited, but things can only improve from here, right? Ha.
The viewer is next treated to several repetitious images of Swift in a white dress that she may have picked up at Goodwill on her way to shoot the video. If not Goodwill, it was definitely stolen from her Grandma’s attic. Then another shot of Swift looking over her shoulder, some close-ups of her, some close-ups of the guy, some close-ups of trees.
By this point, you may be wondering if there is ever going to be any real video. The answer: no. The entirety of the four-minute song is played out via quick clips of Swift and her male counterpart – but rarely of the two of the together, and rarely of the singer actually singing.
The video develops several themes – most of them incredibly strange.
The first: mirrors. This one starts out okay, just the singer standing in front of a cracked mirror, but then several clips of the guy occur in which he holds a shard of the mirror, which reflects Swift’s mouth singing the song, up to cover his own mouth. The effect is incredibly strange, making him appear very lipstick-sporting and feminine. This happens later in reverse, except his eyes cover Swift’s, rather than his lips.
The second: standing in front of a projector. You know when you’re in class and your professor wants to point something out on the screen but then forgets that she’s standing in front of the screen and messes up your view of everything for a few minutes while you try to read across her waving arm? This is like that. Except with body parts over the body parts – i.e. Taylor Swift’s mouth across this guy’s entire torso like she’s a giant about to chow down on lunch with her hungry, red lips. When she’s not singing over his body, his face is projected over her hands covering her own face – very trippy stuff.
The third: weather. In the last minute or so of the video, the viewer is given rain (projected over Taylor’s body, of course), lightning (ditto with the projecting) and sunshine (he’s just standing on the beach, surprisingly. No blinding light coming out of his mouth or anything.) It’s unclear what the goal of the use of the elements was here, but all it seems to succeed at is causing angst. Is it raining, storming or sunny? Is an umbrella going to block the rain or get you zapped Ben Franklin-style? You really can’t be sure.
The last 30 seconds of the video are probably its best. Several quick clips of each Swift and her man friend are given, and for the first time they’re actually smiling. The previous three and a half minutes give off a we-used-to-be-together-but-aren’t-anymore vibe, but, by the end, who knows? The viewer is left with the image of Swift getting up off the ground (where she sits in Grandma’s attic-dress) and walking towards a set of headlights on a car that has just pulled up.
Maybe boyfriend just forgot about her for a few hours and she fell asleep and had some strange dreams or something. But don’t worry, he came back, because they never go out of style.