With only a few hours left in August, it’s safe to say that this month has been one for the music books. Justin Bieber made his sexy return to the charts, Nick Jonas released yet another smash single post-Jonas days, The Weeknd dropped his album Beauty Behind the Madness, Miley Cyrus pulled a Beyoncé with her latest record, and Taylor Swift released her fifth 1989 video, Wildest Dreams.
Swift premiered the video on the red carpet at last night’s MTV VMAs, a debut that was quickly overshadowed by the evening’s celebrity beefs and Kanye West’s 10-minute speech. Even without the ample supply of water cooler moments during the annual awards show, Swift’s anticipated video failed to hit the mark.
The concept surrounding the video for Wildest Dreams was solid. Swift and actor Scott Eastwood play ’50s Hollywood actors who have an affair on set and later have to see one another on the red carpet, where Eastwood’s character is joined by his wife. The song is about remembering the other party after a relationship has ended. Seems like a good start, right?
The expansive shots of the African desert and period-appropriate costumes would be great for a song that required some visual assistance to tell a story, but Wildest Dreams isn’t a song that needs help evoking emotion.
From Swift sitting in front of a lion, to singing in the air as Eastwood flies a plane, to running into the set of what looks like Britney Spears’ Lucky video, too many scenes end up coming off as over the top and forced, the opposite feeling that should be conveyed with a song that has an understated lightness to it.
The frantic cutting from shot to shot doesn’t leave enough time for the relationship between the two starlets to be established, with intense, slow-motioning kissing scenes cutting away to show images of birds and zebras. Animals are great, but are these two people in love or just having a meaningless affair? It’s difficult to determine.
Then there’s the hair. Swift’s constant desire to play dress up with wigs and gowns may be a way to distance herself from revealing too much about the personal nature of her songwriting, but the costumes often fail to transform the singer and instead act as a distraction. It’s difficult to see Swift in her red Bad Blood wig or brunette Wildest Dreams wig and not be taken out of the storyline when the hair pieces end up looking out of place and fake.
Swift would have been better to team up again with director Kyle Newman, who made her dreamy video for Style, which upon its release was quickly deemed a more appropriate video for Wildest Dreams. The two videos could easily switch places and be a better fit for each song.
The song itself sets a high bar to match, with Swift stepping away from her comfort zone of guitar-driven heartbreak tracks and dance-flavoured pop hits. Wildest Dreams has been compared to Lana Del Rey’s catalog, with the song giving off a dreamy, melancholic vibe. The lyrics read like the diary entry of a scorned lover, overwrought with emotional turmoil from lost love.
Wildest Dreams is an exciting departure from anything Swift has previously released, but unfortunately the video isn’t. We’ve seen Taylor in the big budget production, wearing the ball gown, swooning over the 5″11 handsome white male lead, posing her way through a four-minute video. When do we get to actually see the person whose song is giving us chills?