Yesterday at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards, Taylor Swift premiered her new video for the fourth single from her album 1989, ‘Bad Blood.’ MTV dubbed the video an action-packed masterpiece. But is it?
The video directed by Joseph Kahn, the man behind Swift’s ‘Blank Space’ video, once again collaborates with the global pop star. Kahn comes with an impressive filmography, having previously won several MTV Video Music Awards with nominations for Best Video of the Year for Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’, Pussycat Dolls’ ‘When I Grow Up’ and several others including Katy Perry and Brandy & Monica. In 2002 he won his first Grammy for Eminem’s ‘Without Me’ video which also won the MTV VMA’s Best Video of the Year, as well as Best Direction.
This and Swift’s new revamped image meant that the hype around ‘Bad Blood’ was huge. Character posters for countless famous cameos, mostly models, were released and helped to the build the momentum for this neo-noir experience ala Sin City. Famous faces such as Gigi Handid, Cara Delevine, Lena Dunham, Ellie Goulding and even Hayley Williams all make their presence known. Sort of. Even Cindy Crawford and Swifty’s bestie Karlie Kloss make an appearance.
The Villain in this little video, Arsyn, played by Selena Gomez seems almost as pointless as the wig she wears. She swiftly kicks Taylor out of a window for what we assume is a briefcase of money, because being a well-trained female spy doesn’t bring in money in this world, and dances off until the very last scene where she looks to clip Swift around her newly red head.
While the sheer number of cameos within the video are impressive, they are mostly models known for starring in Selfies on Swift’s Instagram and walking down the catwalk as a Victoria Secret Angel where Swift performed. However, the big glaringly obvious issue with ‘Bad Blood’ is that these cameos are meaningless. The wonderful women are all there merely to look cool and build up the idea of a female driven agency of highly trained assassins. They all have seemingly cool weaponry but never actually use it unless they’re training/fighting Swift. Even this training seems to have no place. We know Swift’s character, Catastrophe, can fight because we saw it in the first scene so why is she going through it all again when Arsyn only won with a cheap shot?
While the video is an impressive feat and visually stimulating, the narrative behind the premise is weak and the lack of any real action stings, particularly when female-driven violence took the world by storm when Gaga released her ‘Telephone’ video years back with masterful visuals and a gripping plot. Packed with Spice Girls style ‘girl power’, in the end ‘Bad Blood’ feels more like model catwalk rather than an interesting neo-noir that all its hype led to believe. It will undoubtedly please a large crowd who will all be content to see some famous faces. But really the video lacks any hard edge that Swift deserved after ‘Blank Space’ and leaves us asking, apart from the inclusion of many of her famous friends, what does ‘Bad Blood’ actually achieve?