Music video: Taylor Swift - You need to calm down | Gurl, this is not the one

Music video: Taylor Swift - You need to calm down | Random J Pop

I wasn't gonna bother posting about Taylor Swift's new song and video, because it's Taylor Swift. I never post anything about her 'round these here parts of the Internets. But, HERE WE ARE BITCH.

Taylor is making me feel all types of ways with everything she's done since the release of "Me", the lead single from her 7th studio album Lover, due on August 23rd. Starting with that Billboard music performance. I did write a little something about it, but that shit stayed in my draft folder, because as I always do, I just sat on it for too long. But in short, here is what I thought about it.

Taylor Swift at the 2019 Billboard music awards | Random J Pop

Now, I'mma get this out of the way here and now. I do not hate Taylor Swift. I actually played her 1989 album quite a bit and thought it was a really good album. "New romantics" was and still is my shit.

Taylor has a lane. But the problem she's encountered over the past few years, is that every time she feels brave and wants to move out of it, she causes problems and the doo-doo homing missiles lock straight onto the fan. She did it with that off-beat marching band during her debut performance of "Me" and she done did it again with this "You need to calm down" foolishness.

"You need to calm down" is a terrible song. It's worse than "Me" and that's saying something. I've always respected Taylor Swift as a pop star who writes her own songs. Not to diss those who don't. Many pop stars that I really like don't write all, or any of their own songs. Britney. Aaliyah. Whitney Houston. Namie Amuro. Beyoncé. But I respected the fact that 'that' was her thing. She had a craft, she took it seriously and she was acknowledged for it. But "Me" made me realise that Taylor Swift's lyrics aren't that great. Then "You need to calm down" came along and I'm like 'These lyrics are really fucking awful'.

♪ You are somebody that I don't know
But you're takin' shots at me like it's Patrón ♪

I see what you tried to do. But sweetie, this doesn't make sense.

Then I thought about her Reputation album and even some of 1989, and realised 'Oooo, bitch. Actually...her songwriting has always been kinda iffy'. Maybe the rich production and the catchy melodies of her hooks (things that "Me" and "You need to calm down" don't quite have like some of her other more notable singles) hid these things in plain sight. Or maybe I just wasn't paying much attention. But it's something I'm privy to now and it sucks the enjoyment out of these songs for me, aside from them just being bad songs. "Me" sounds like something from High school musical and "You need to calm down" sounds like Disney Lorde.

Then there's the video, which is what irks me the most.

Taylor and her team have been about seizing dem opportunities in ways that only a star like Taylor can. And with this new album phase, ain't shit changed. They seem to have focused much of her upcoming album visuals on love and colour. So it's absolutely no coincidence that her lead single and album drop either side of Pride month, and that her queer focused video dropped right in the middle of it.

I'mma tell you straight. I do not like this video. And I don't think that just because Taylor put a bunch of queers in a music video that it should be exempt from being disliked or seen as low key problematic. Visibility is very important. But visibility shouldn't just get an auto pass because...ViSiBiLiTy.

Visibility and inclusion is more than a bunch of queer people in a colourful trailer park. For a video that was supposedly intended to make a statement, all I got out of this was how that Taylor's money really talks. As with "Bad blood", Taylor managed to bring together a huge number of celebrities and talents.

But where this music video really makes me screw my face is in what it thinks it's representing vs what it actually represents. Sure, we got drag queens, cross-dressers, the Queer eye guys in rhinestones, a big black dude in a rainbow romper and a bit of trans visibility. But the video felt like a depiction of queerness and the LGBTQIA+ community through a very white len. This is to be expected, because Taylor is a white girl whose only black friend is Todrick Hall. Sure, this video featured Karamao 'Hairline' Brown, Laverne Cox, Ciara and Billy Porter. But these are folk white people know of and see on TV and YouTube every week. This i not to diminish their appearances in any way, as they deserve all of the air time they get, especially on a platform of the magnitude of Taylor Swift's. But everything still felt very white facing and not everything in this video was relate-able. At least not to me. But maybe I'm not the target audience. Although here-in lies the problem. Was this video ever intended for a wider audience, or a specific audience within the LGBTQIA+ community? Or just the queer Swifties? Because this blanketed / one size fits all approach certainly did nothing for me.

When I think of the LGBTQIA+ community, I view it as this very white focused thing, and this video is more less a visual representation of that. And the inclusion of Todrick Hall felt very 'But my best friend is black'.

This video isn't anywhere near as inclusive, fresh or progressive as Taylor and her team probably think it is, and there have been enough examples of videos showing queer allyship in a good way for her to have done a better job. Carly Rae Jepsen's "Party for one" had a great message of inclusiveness and acceptance. It felt far more relate-able and inclusive to me than this massive circus of a video that Taylor Swift gave. Madonna's "Vogue" took a style of dance and fashion from the underground ball scene which was predominantly black and Latina, and put a spotlight on it. Beyoncé performing "Single ladies (Put a ring on it)" with 2 queer black male dancers on national television. Neither of these videos were of the scale of Taylor's, but their messages were more focused as a result. Sometimes less is more. And I guess when you've low key been advocating and exercising queer allyship in your music videos all along, there is less of a need to make this grand gesture of 'LOOK AT ME, LOVING THE GAYS!'.

Queerness isn't a trend.

On one hand, I do commend Taylor for putting this video out, because there are people who are going to love it, take solace in it and feel seen because of it. But Taylor also needs to acknowledge that queerness is a vast spectrum and that her video was not reflective of that, although she probably thought it was. If you're going to decide to take on the mantle of showing queer representation, then you need to make sure you do it right.

And for all of the spectacle in this music video, the focus for me wasn't the queerness of it all. It was still Taylor Swift. Everything was a narrative to the moment at the end of the music video where Katy Perry turns up and the two reconcile over that foolish ass 'beef' they had a couple of years ago. So what was the purpose and intent of the video, really?

*Chorus of Taylor Swift's "Me" plays as screen fades to pastel pink*