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20th of March 2018

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Taylor Swift's 'Delicate' music video has a secret message

Taylor-ingTaylor-ingImage: WILL HEATH/NBC/NBCU PHOTO BANK VIA GETTY IMAGES2016%2f09%2f19%2fd0%2ferinstreckerheadshotshighres1.26ba1By Erin Strecker2018-03-12 20:27:23 UTC

“Look What You Made Me Do” may have kicked off Taylor Swift's reputation era in headlines, mood setting and score settling, but it was Sunday night’s release of the music video for Taylor Swift's “Delicate" that will ultimately be looked at as the definitive visual representation of this point in Swift's career.

It's the celluloid moment that best matches the takeaway lyrics of reputation, centering on a woman who has been through the celebrity ringer (with the battle scars and Twitter hashtags to prove it), shed a few layers, built a few protective walls and became a more private, yet happier, person. 

By opting out — of the fame game, interviews, paparazzi chase downs and more — she, like Beyoncé and others, are remaking what it means to be an A-lister in 2018.  The song "Delicate," the fifth track off her sixth studio album, is the early stages of that rebirth and adjustment period on the album, with the singer noting her "reputation's never been worse, so you must like me for me." So it makes sense that the video would follow suit and quietly shed some light.

Like all Swift projects, the "Delicate" video is chock-full of Easter eggs, nodding to everything from “Track 5s” significance on her albums (Swifties know it’s always an ultra-vulnerable track that'll probably make you cry) to that gorgeous Gatsby-esque bright blue dress she wears throughout before she’s “painted golden.”

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But the most striking visual — the perfect pairing to reputation's biggest themes — may be her carefree rain dancing. Rain of course is a popular Swift lyrical motif that she tends to employ when her heart and feelings are moving so much faster than words could ever hope, so instead it manifests as a physical force. Here, though not explicitly mentioned in the song lyrics, it was nice to see her return to that dancing feeling, albeit secretly this time, as she seemed to clue fans into the wondrous headspace she’s been occupying lately, away from the cameras.   

Throughout all of the joyous, lovably dorky secret dancing, I couldn’t help but think of another iconic pop video centering on a woman at the height of her powers letting the world know that actually, things aren’t always as great as they appear. 

I’m talking, of course, about Britney Spears’ “Lucky.” (Obviously Britney wasn't the first pop star to say fame is hard. Calm down; don't @ me.)

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Both videos show the top-of-the-world singers struggling with being the upbeat and perpetually grateful girl next door on the red carpet, with everyone taking, taking, taking something from them until there's nothing left; a broken empty vessel that people can scream "Your life is perfect!" at.  But while Spears' vid ends in a darker way — with of course added significance taken on after the fact due to Spears' later personal struggles — Swift's escape suggests a different path forward. 

Her wild fantasy here is to get away from the cameras for a minute, have a second to breathe and go forward in a hopeful mindset to whatever's next — whether that be a meet-cute with a new guy in a bar who could be The One, or just the calm confidence to negotiate a public versus private battle, navigating another year figuring out what the next step is in a life that must be planned dozens to hundreds of steps out. 

"Delicate" is a quieter kind of bop, moody and thoughtful and tentative. It may or may not perform on radio, but by giving it the additional attention of a music video/single release she's putting it out as a pretty definitive dispatch from her new world. 

Look how far she's come. 

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