FearlessRiOT’s Tuesday Top 13: Taylor Swift Music Videos

I was totally stuck when thinking up a Top 10 to do today; I had a few ideas running around in the ol’ noggin (Top 10 R&B/Pop Girl Group Crushes, Top 10 Favorite Stars of WWE NXT, Top 10 Fictional Bands from Movie & TV, Top 10 Animated Music Videos), but most of them would take a bit more time to construct (the are all coming soon, for the record). Plus, even though the MTV Video Music Awards are this Sunday, I could not think of another Top 10 I wanted to do past the Video of the Year and Best New Artist winners. As luck would have it, however, the biggest music artist in the world right now revealed that she would be premiering her next music video at the VMAs. Yes, Taylor Swift is bringing “Wildest Dreams” to the VMAs pre-show! I realize Taylor isn’t everyone’s cup of tea; in fact, there seems to be a contingent of the internet who seem extremely dedicated to hating her no matter what she does. But I’m proud to call myself a longtime fan and in my opinion, part of the multiple-time VMA nominee’s appeal is her lyrical music and the clips she creates for them. Yes, today’s Top 10 is dedicated to the music videos she has given us throughout her five-era career. 13 of them, to be exact. Why 13? Well, if you’re a Swiftie you know why. (And if you’re not, just read this.) So here we go, a ranking of my 13 personal favorite Taylor Swift music videos! (Note: I excluded her live videos for “Sparks Fly”, “Fearless”, and “Red”, but you should check those out to for a look at what a Taylor concert looks like.)

 

#13. Bad Blood (featuring Kendrick Lamar) (2015) [from 1989]
Director: Joseph Kahn

Bad Blood

This is probably Taylor’s most controversial video to date (aside from that Earl Sweatshirt drama involving “Shake It Off”); on the surface it’s a video about Taylor looking for revenge on someone who did her wrong (played by Selena Gomez). However, some people feel it’s an anti-feminist, petty clip that makes Taylor look like an evil grudge-holder. So why does it kick-start this list? For one, the headscissors takedown at the beginning. As a longtime professional wrestling fan, I never thought I’d ever see a grappling maneuver in one of her videos. But there her character Catastrophe is, channeling her inner Rey Mysterio; I lost it the first time I saw that. The other reason is really because at least a few of my other favorite celebrities appear in this extended action movie trailer; Hayley Williams as Crimson Curse, Zendaya as Cut-Throat, Ellie Goulding as Destructa-X. I just loved seeing them appear in one of Taylor’s clips. Probably the last reason it’s on here is because this is probably the closest I’ll get to seeing Taylor in an action movie. I’ll take it! Is it a perfect video? No, and the reasons people dislike it are admittedly valid; that’s why it’s only on the bottom of the list. But there were a just enough small things in it that I really appreciated that allowed it to squeeze it’s way in.

#12. “Teardrops on My Guitar” (2007) [from Taylor Swift]
Director: Trey Fanjoy

Teardrops

This was the very first Taylor Swift video I’ve ever seen and the video that scored her a Best New Artist VMA nomination in 2008. While the video for “Bad Blood” played out like a trailer for an action movie that will never see the light of day, the video for “Teardrops” plays more like a high school drama film. Not surprising seeing as 1) This is a single from her first album, which was released when she was still a teenager and 2) The song is about a topic many teenagers can relate to (I know I have, that’s for sure). It’s about having a crush on someone who’s with another person, and the fact that you’ll never be together tears you up inside. In the video, we see Taylor and Drew (the guy in the song) spending time together in school, but right at the end comes his little miss perfect girlfriend. This is intercut with Taylor in her bedroom wearing a flowing, green dress that should be considered iconic among Taylor lore. It’s a sad song with a realistic video to match.

#11. “Mean” (2011) [from Speak Now]
Director: Declan Whitebloom

Mean

This video came out at a time when people were having a field day claiming Taylor no longer makes country music. Well, this is one of her most country sounding songs to date as well as one of her most country music videos. She and her band are dressed as country as they can possibly look while playing on a barn. If you watch the “Behind the scenes” feature on the Speak Now World Tour DVD, you’d see just how much work they put in to make the farm scene look as authentic as they could. And not just the farm scene either; this is a song about letting the haters know that no matter what they say, you’re gonna make something of your life and they’re gonna feel hella salty for doubting you. And the scenes of the band playing are mixed with A) Three stories chronicling examples and B) Taylor tied to train tracks (which she escapes from rather easily). It’s a really cool music video that makes a powerful statement.

#10. “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (2012) [from Red]
Director: Declan Whitebloom

Never Ever

This video was supposedly shot in one take; that seems impossible once you watch the whole thing through. Once it’s over, you’re like “How the hell did they do all that in one take?!” No matter how many takes it took, though, this is really a cute little music video. Taylor goes from a girl in pajamas kicking an Adam Levine look-alike out of her “house” to dancing with her band The Agency, who are all decked out in funny animal costumes. Next thing you know, Taylor’s in a new outfit, playing that “indy record that’s much cooler” than hers with the guy. Then we’re in a bar, then we’re in a tiny car, then a flower garden, then back in the room where she’s having a house party apparently. There’s a ton of stuff going on in this video and you can tell Taylor and the crew put in a lot of hard work to make it all a reality.

#9. “The Best Day” (2009) [from Fearless]
Director: Taylor Swift

Best Day 2

I’ve tweeted on a number of occasions that “The Best Day” is one of my favorite Taylor songs because it’s one of those songs I have enough of an emotional connection to that it actually brings me to tears sometimes. And that’s because it’s also a personal video for Taylor and her mom seeing as Taylor put the entire video together herself out of old home video footage basically as a “Thank You” to her mom. According to Taylor, her mom’s reaction was very emtional. It’s basically the same I usually get every time I listen to the song. This is the second home video footage video she’s done (the other being “I’m Only Me When I’m With You” and while that video (and song) are a lot of fun, it’s this one that gets the nod.

#8. “Mine” (2010) [from Speak Now]
Director: Roman White & Taylor Swift

Mine

When this single was released, it was praised for showing a more mature side of the singer. And when the music video for the songs debuted on CMT, story-wise, it really did. It’s a song about not just admiring the short term joys of young love, but imagining an entire lifetime of love with someone. Really, in this video, she and love interest Toby Hemingway have fallen in love, had arguments, reconciled, gotten married, and had children! It’s really a sweet little video about imagining having an entire lifetime of love together. Fun Fact: Young Taylor in the video is played by one of the daughters of multiple-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett. Again, I’m a wrestling fan, so I find that all kinds of cool. Also, this was Taylor’s third video to win the CMT Award for Video of the Year (the other two are coming up soon).

#7. “Fifteen” (2009) [from Fearless]
Director: Roman White

Fifteen 2

I had this class in college called “Dreams in Fiction”. One week, we had an assignment to bring in a clip that intertwines reality and dream-like elements to show to the class. I had a hard time deciding what to show to the class; it wasn’t until the day of that it totally hit me. When it was my turn to present, I walked to the teacher’s computer, went over to YouTube, and the next thing you know, I’m projecting the music video for “Fifteen” to the class. This song, about life entering high school and the many events that happen during those years, has a music video with many dream-like qualities in it; the colorful backgrounds, the passage of time, the transitions from one scene and moment to another. Even in the final verse during the heartbreaking Abigail scene (that is really Taylor’s longtime BFF Abigail Anderson in the video, by the way), the environment was dark and rainy to represent sadness. It all caps off at the end with the dream seeming to end and the reality beginning. It’s a really beautiful video; even Taylor’s harshest critics have to give props to this one.

#6. “Love Story” (2008) [from Fearless]
Director: Trey Fanjoy

Love Story

A little weird putting the video for one of her signature tunes outside the Top 5, but I stand by my choice. The star of the show on this one is really the setting. It’s a song about a Romeo and Juliet romance (with a happier alternate ending), so obviously a song that takes on themes such as those has to look all regal and majestic. And that’s exactly what the end result looks like. This video has a CMT behind-the-scenes special (which you can find on the DVD included in the special Platinum edition of Fearless) revealing how it all came together, including the dance rehearsals, the finding of the castle, and even the time a spider on the dress in the video almost scared Taylor and company to death. We even learn a little something about directing and shooting things at just the right angle; who knows what the big scene at the end would have been at the wrong time of day. Also, there’s a white horse in the video (something that was not in the video for the “White Horse”); that’s just wonderful.


#5. “Everything Has Changed” featuring Ed Sheeran (2013) [from Red]
Director: Philip Andelman & Giles Dunning

Everything Has Changed

One of my favorite Taylor songs and by far my favorite Taylor collaboration, the music video for this song dropped in June of 2013 and I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I don’t think I even heard any hype for the music video whatsoever. Suddenly, every Swiftie on my timeline was discussing it. So I checked it out for myself immediately. Featured in the video was a young blonde girl and a young redhead boy who meet and start having adorable little kid adventures like drawing on each other’s faces, playing on the playground, making music, playing fake tattoos, and slow dancing in the gym. Originally, I thought this was supposed to be little kid versions of the two performers. That is until the twist ending when Swift and Ed Sheeran both pull a fast one by showing up in person to pick them up from school. It’s just an overall sweet little music video and the ending gets me every time.

#4. “Ours” (2011) [from Speak Now]
Director: Declan Whitebloom

Ours

This is another music video where Taylor basically goes through adult life (seemed to be a running theme with the Speak Now videos, huh?) as she goes to work and finds herself in some less than desirable situations, from pesky co-workers to a printer that’s out of paper to watering at the water cooler. In all honesty, it doesn’t look like the most boring place to work; but still, who’d wanna go through it five times a week? Luckily, at the end of the day, two things bring her home to happiness: 1) Her cat Meredith (who makes her music video debut) and her boyfriend, who returns from the army at the end of the video. Leave it to Taylor Swift to make going through a normal adult life seem not-that bad.

#3. “You Belong With Me” (2009) [from Fearless]
Director: Roman White

You Belong With Me

The big one. The infamous one. The one Kanye West objected to defeating Beyoncé’s dance-o-rama “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” for the Best Female Video award at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009. Well, Kanye’s entitled to his opinion and I hope he doesn’t take this personally, but I voted for “You Belong With Me” though. It really is a great music video; in a song where Taylor basically does her own version of “Girl Next Door” by one-hit wonder Saving Jane (don’t ask me how I remember that song), she plays both the nerdy good girl AND the evil bad girl in the video and does a good job as both of them. Lucas Till of Hannah Montana: The Movie fame plays her love interest and the look on his face when Nerd Taylor appears as a goddess at t he end was likely the look on everyone’s face when they saw as well. They even kissed at the end; goes to show that evil does not always win. A nice music video with a relatable story; I say it deserve the Moonman and I’ll hear no arguments to the contrary.

#2. “Our Song” (2007) [from Taylor Swift]
Director: Trey Fanjoy

Our Song 2

And it was with this music video that I developed a major crush on Taylor Swift. This video right here won her Video of the Year at the 2008 CMT Music Awards, her first of three times winning that prize and in my opinion, it’s easily one of her most rewatchable videos. It’s basically her being a beautiful blonde goddess for three minutes and twenty-two seconds, but aside from Taylor’s beauty, the other star of the show are the background visuals themselves. The flowers are nice and colorful and as is the house she’s sitting in front of in many scenes. She and her band also play in an all-white room with another legend in Taylor Swift history: the sparkly silver guitar. I love every second of this video; it’s basically the video (and song, too, because the song is my personal favorite of hers) that made me realize that becoming a fan of hers is one of the best decisions I will ever make in my life.

#1. “Blank Space” (2014) [from 1989]
Director: Joseph Kahn

Blank Space 2

If I can relive my time at Columbia College Chicago one more time here, I remember the day after this video premiered, I walked into my marketing class and they were projecting the video on the overhead. Everyone in class thought it was insanely hilarious; and they’re definitely not wrong. Before this video debuted, I’d have proudly named “Our Song” my favorite Taylor video. But Taylor created a comic masterpiece with this as she takes on the persona of a crazy girlfriend (you know, the persona the media constantly tries to push on her) and turns it up to 11. After receiving a text from someone, Taylor totally goes nuts and the results are hilarious. Paintings are slashed, makeup is ruined, cars are wrecked. “Bad Blood” may have gotten the Video of the Year nomination from MTV this year, but I hope this video takes home Best Female and Best Pop Video. This video is too classic by virtue of Taylor going all out with the humor. I’ll just leave it at that and let you watch it for yourself.

Honorable Mentions:

+ “Shake It Off” (2014) [from 1989]
Director: Mark Romanek

Taylor has been going all out in her 1989 Era video; whether making fun of the media’s perception of her in “Blank Space”, going full-on action movie in “Bad Blood”, or just making fun of her lack of dance skills in this one.

+ “The Story of Us” (2011) [from Speak Now]
Director: Noble Jones

Taylor and her band basically have their own little pandemonium inside of a library. You’ll probably get a kick out of how messy Taylor’s hair gets the more frantic she becomes.

+ “White Horse” (2009) [from Fearless]
Director: Trey Fanjoy

Stephen Colletti from Laguna Beach breaks Taylor’s heart and makes her cry. And when I say he makes her cry, I mean she really goes for it in the music video. Her acting skills are crazy underrated.

+ “Back to December” (2010) [from Speak Now]
Director: Yoann Lemoine

This one almost made the list; basically, it’s some guy walking around in the snow while Taylor sits in her house looking back on the past. But the real selling point of this video: IT WAS SNOWING IN TAYLOR’S HOUSE! SNOWING, I TELLS YA!

+ “Picture To Burn” (2008) [from Taylor Swift]
Director: Trey Fanjoy

Why, yes, that is Taylor Swift and real-life BFF Abigail Anderson spying on a guy who wouldn’t even let Taylor ride his stupid old pick-up truck! How dare he! Too bad most of the video was a dream sequence, though. The Agency were wrecking his stuff up!

+ “Tim McGraw” (2006) [from Taylor Swift]
Director: Trey Fanjoy

The video that started it all; Taylor’s very first one. This won her a CMT Award for Breakthrough Video of the Year, and it’s as beautiful and natural as you would expect 16-year old Taylor Swift’s debut video to look.

+ “I’m Only Me When I’m With You” (2008) [from Taylor Swift]
Director: Taylor Swift

One of my personal favorite Taylor songs; it only gets an honorable mentions video-wise, though. It’s another home video clip and it is admittedly fun to watch. Even Kellie Pickler is in it; do those two still hang out together, by the way?

+ “I Knew You Were Trouble.” (2012) [from Red]
Director: Anthony Mandler

Also known as the music video with the extremely long opening; she won her second VMA for Best Female Video and it’s the first Taylor video to feature physical violence. How nice. Also, dubstep!

What do you think of this edition of Tuesday Top 10? Leave a comment or tweet me up @FearlessRiOT with your opinion or even to suggest a topic for the next edition.

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