Belfast Telegraph

Is it just me or does the brand new, born again Taylor Swift seem a teeny-weeny bit like the old one?

By Grace Dent

Taylor Swift, as last Sunday night's MTV Video Music Awards proved, is possibly not the Queen of Pop, but she is certainly one of pop's most irritating - and therefore watchable - courtiers. You have to give her that.

Swift's video for Look What You Made Me Do, her new Right Said Fred 'Too Sexy' re-hash, rhapsodises how furious, vengeful, yet at the same time not bothered, she is about criticism.

The old Taylor Swift is dead. Or so the message was in the video premiered at one of the pop landscape's most lauded evenings.

Swift appears from the grave, dressed as a zombie, in a three-minute video jam-packed laboriously with references to how badly the world has treated her.

No frame, no millisecond, wasted. The symbolism is so bold one would need to be dead oneself not to pick up on it.

Swift lampoons her celebrity girl squad, her fake "Oh, I've won an award" face, her label as a "snake".

But just to make it clear, the all-new Taylor Swift is totally rising above all this tittle-tattle about Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West or Calvin Harris.

Yes, she's put it to bed by employing video director Joseph Khan to stuff a three-minute video with nods to Perry's lack of Grammy awards, Kim K's jewellery heist and her not-so secret credit on a Calvin Harris hit.

This should sort it, Taylor. They won't be talking about you anymore. Hang on, is it just me, or does new, reborn Taylor Swift seem an awful lot like the old one?

And, furthermore, isn't Taylor Swift so utterly fascinating as a pop phenomenon, because every woman, in the Western World at least, knows someone like her?

Swift is a glorious piece of work. And so, indicative of a genre. Every primary school, every office and every college dorm has a Swift.

Your husband dated her in sixth form, but she broke his heart and now he just can't understand why you don't like her messaging him on Facebook.

Twitter, in particular, is awash with Swift-a-likes. They are generally most active at 1am, addressing the self-created problem of "everyone having an opinion" on them by starting a hundred-post-long thread, drawing attention to "backstabbers everywhere", despite themselves being "only about love and good vibes" and this being all a bit rum when considering their charity work and their self-diagnosed bipolar that they rarely talk about.

Swift is the Borg Queen of women like this. It is no coincidence that she spent last week dramatically deleting her Instagram accounts in a scorched earth, nothing-to-see-here, manner.

Flouncing on and off social media is the modus operandi of the Swift-a-like.

If you don't know anyone like this: I'm sorry, you are her. Swift's behaviour last weekend reminds me of a recent, brilliant spoof advice feature on the razor-sharp comedy "woman's interest" website The Reductress, entitled How to Avoid Negativity Now That You Are Over The Drama You Created.

The closing moments of Look What You Made Me Do feature a cacophony of through-the-years Swift (country and western Swift, Shake It Off Swift, all-American goddess Swift).

The gang are insulting the new, reborn Swift 2.0 with the sorts of things you hear in gossip columns. It's all very sixth-form meta and I'm certain Swift hopes this underlines that she is self-aware enough to know and deal with what her detractors say.

Yet, having met women like Swift so, so many times before, this is purely more sympathy-seeking. "Look what they're saying. Poor me," she's actually saying. All I did was dress up as Katy Perry and wave about a Grammy and now everyone's making it look like I've wound up Katy Perry.

Taylor Swift has made it clear she's pig-sick of everyone talking about her, by ensuring everyone in pop land can talk of nothing else.

You have to admire this. Swift may not be the Queen of Pop, but she's a brilliantly accomplished jester.

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