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Taylor Swift's Best Visuals (Pt. 2)

Here are Taylor's 13 best music videos and the meaning behind them.

Safe and Sound, ft. The Civil Wars

"Taylor Swift is a lyrical genius," someone once said. Her songs captivate you in ways you would never imagine. While her songs are the best lyrical representations of her life, her music videos provide us with marvellous visual representations of her songs. Her array of music videos shows us many aspects of her faceted life and today I am sharing a few of my favourites as a respect to her.

As always, I am ranking them based on the aesthetics of the videos, how well they portray the themes of the songs and also the significance of the videos to a Swiftie (Taylor's fan).

Before we get started, I have written Part one of the list and the link is below. Read to find out what the videos at the final six places are!

Disclaimer: This list is entirely my opinion and is not in any way professional. It may differ vastly to most of the lists curated by professional critics as this list is mainly curated from the standpoint of a "Swiftie" (Taylor's fan).

Okay, now that the disclaimer is done, let's get to it!

7. "Out of the Woods"

With other videos which blew up like "Blank Space," "Bad Blood" and "Shake It Off" being released by Taylor during her 1989 era, the video for "Out of the Woods" is undoubtedly one of her least appreciated videos from that era despite its excellence in captivating its viewers. Using a lot of brilliant metaphors, it depicts the start and progress of her career and also hints on the main factor that has possibly driven the end of her relationship with the guy in context. 

The video was directed by Joseph Khan and so it was no surprise that it has absolutely stunning visuals. From the opening shot of Taylor standing on the beach to the final shot of her looking back at the camera, every shot is almost perfect. The camera work is excellent and the transitions between the various settings are amazing.

At the beginning of the video, Taylor can be seen standing at the beach looking out to the vast ocean. As the song starts playing, branches grow around her rapidly all of a sudden and before she could even react, she is completely surrounded by them and she is now in the woods. This signifies the start of her career as a country singer. After she released her second country studio album Fearless, she became worldwide famous. With her fame, she drew the attention of the "wolves," (i.e. the media). The media went after her constantly and throughout the years, she was hurt in different ways.

After the first chorus, the video transitioned from the dark woods to a snowy terrain. This represents the bold change she made in hope for an escape. When she slowly transitioned into pop music in her Red album, she opened up new grounds for herself. However, the number of "wolves" increases drastically. With a greater audience for her music, the attention she got from the media was like never before. In the video, she can be seen throwing her paper-plane necklace away while the wolves are chasing after her. The necklace signifies one of her most talked about relationships. With the pressure and attention from the media, Taylor realised the relationship was bound to end. In the video, Taylor tries to grab the necklace back, but to no avail. Attempts to revive the relationship are fruitless and it is clear that it was heart-breaking for her to end the relationship. She mourns the loss and as the wolves get precariously close to her, she finally makes the leap off of the snowy cliff. Once again, she was trying to escape from the claws of the paparazzi. 

While the song motivates broken hearts to stand back up after a failed relationship, the video motivates everyone to persevere through every failure in general. Taylor falls down seven times in seven different settings in the video, but she stands back up eight times. "She lost him, but she found herself, and somehow that was everything." I think the main message of the video is: It is okay to meet with failure many times along your way in life. The most important thing is that you find yourself after each failure and fight back every time you fall. 

And with all being said, it is clear that "Out of the Woods" has a really solid video and it definitely earned the seventh place on this list.

December 1, 2018: 143 million views

6. "You Belong With Me"

In the sixth place of this list, we have the most viewed country music video in history, " You Belong With Me." Released in 2009, this video has garnered almost a billion views!

It has the same story-telling method as her most of her early videos like "Ours." In the video, Taylor is singing and narrating as everything goes on around her. It is the most common high school love story ever and although cheesy at times, the story is absolutely charming. 

Taylor lives next door to her schoolmate (played by Lucas Till). She has a crush on him, but he has a brunette girlfriend (also played by Taylor in a wig) who is a popular girl in school. After a football game in school, however, Lucas finds his girlfriend flirting with another guy. This results in an argument which eventually leads to their breakup in the end. Lucas hopes that Taylor will turn out to prom but to his dismay, Taylor expresses that she can't make it. Finally, however, Taylor shows up at prom with a beautiful white dress. It is revealed that Lucas has feelings for Taylor this whole time. The video ends with them kissing adorably.

This video became such a staple of modern pop culture and it won her the MTV Best Female Video in 2009! This is also the video which started the Kanye West controversy when he stormed onto the stage and interrupted Taylor's award speech. Besides, the video spawned lots of parodies and fan fictions. There is even a gay parody of the video, which is really cool. The outfits in this video are memorable. The "Junior Jewels" outfit is so iconic that many people could recognise it almost immediately. 

Most importantly, however, this video is responsible for her image in her early career. Her songs from her early eras like "Teardrops on my Guitar," and "Love Story" have successfully established her "girl next door" image with beautiful lyrics and romantic plots. This video further reinforces it and shoots her to mega-stardom. 

Needless to say, this video stands as not only one of Taylor's most successful music videos but also one of the most iconic videos in modern pop culture.

December 1, 2018: 902 million views

5. "Wildest Dreams"

There is nothing more beautiful than nature, and this video shows it all. Set in an Africa savanna, the video uses the breath-taking natural sceneries as a canvas to paint its romantic love story on. Every shot from the cascading waterfalls to the galloping creatures is absolutely gorgeous. Directed by Joseph Khan, it has arguably the best visuals among all her music videos.

The video begins with Taylor shooting a romantic adventure film with her co-star (played by Scott Eastwood). They are having a love affair on set. However, there is a fight between them and that leads to the end of their romance. Despite being upset with Scott in reality, Taylor has to continue her role in the film so she acts nonchalant. During the premiere, it is revealed that Scott has a wife. While watching the film, Taylor is finally overwhelmed by her emotions and she storms out of the theatre. The video ends with a sad note as Taylor sighs in a car driven away from the theatre and Scott watches after running out into the streets.

This video adopts a storyline which encapsulates the theme of the song poetically. Taylor and Joseph draw their inspiration from classic Hollywood romances like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and add in their twist. In the video, Taylor and Scott are acting for a film and while in reality things may not have worked out for them, they have to pretend their romance for the film. This aspect of the video matches the song's theme of Taylor desperately trying to hold on to someone even if the romance is not real and will only be in their "wildest dreams." Eventually, the filming has to come to an end and when the lights finally go out, there will be nothing left as it has always been just an act. This echoes the lyrics "say you'll remember me...even if it's just pretend" in a rather melancholic way.

This video is a very solid effort from Taylor and her team in portraying a melancholic love story happening in the wilds of Africa in the 1950s. However, since it's Taylor we are talking about, there were definitely controversies about the video. While many praised the video for its spellbinding visuals and romantic plot, many others criticised it for being racist and for bringing back "white colonialism in Africa." Joseph defended the video, stating that "This is not a video about colonialism, but a love story on the set of a period film crew in Africa, 1950." I personally think it was a stretch to mark this video as an embodiment of white colonialism as it is obvious that the main focus of the video is on something else as I mentioned before. 

All in all, this is a beautiful video and is definitely one of my all-time favourite music videos by Taylor.

December 1, 2018: 628 million views

4. "Blank Space"

The song started off as a joke in response to what the media has been saying about Taylor. According to Taylor, over the years, the media has been painting her as a psychotic serial-dater and she thought it would be interesting to write a song from the perspective of the girl character the media has been making up. And thus "Blank Space" exists.

If you think this was an intelligent move from Taylor to turn the tables, the music video for this song does an even exceptional job in poking fun at the media's ridiculous portrayal of her. Mirroring the lyrics, the video starts with Taylor being in a mansion with her boyfriend (played by Sean O'Pry). They have fun, ride horses, play games and even carve their names on a tree. However, good times don't last long. As the song progresses into the second verse, things begin to go downhill for Sean. Taylor starts to show who she really is and Scott is shocked by the insanity of Taylor. In the end, he leaves out of frustration and another guy (played by Andrea Denver) arrives at her mansion. The video ends with a somewhat menacing smile from Taylor before it cuts to black.

This is the first video on which Joseph Khan and Taylor Swift work together and it is spectacular. In the video, almost everything—from Taylor's wealth, Taylor's obsession with men to Taylor's craziness—is exaggerated and blown out of proportion to mock the media's tendency to stretch things whenever they can and to ridicule their portrayal of her as this "man-eater" character who dates men for inspiration to write songs. The video features an exceptionally huge mansion with an enormous garden and it also features Taylor acting all sorts of crazy and insane. It is definitely one of her quirkiest and funniest videos to watch. 

Apart from once being the most viewed music video on Vevo in 2015, it also won the MTV music video awards for Best Pop Video and Best Music Video. With the success of the video, there is no doubt that it deserves the 5th spot on this list.

December 1, 2018: 2.37 billion views

Love Story

And ... that is all for part two! 

Taylor's creativity is boundless and her music and videos truly showcase this. From over 30 music videos, I have chosen 13 of my favourites and ranked them, and I have to admit it was very difficult. 

I hope you guys enjoyed Part two. If you haven't checked out Part one, please do check it out. The link is at the beginning of this article. In Part three, I will be revealing my top three favourites and explaining why. Stay tuned!


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