Kayleigh Roberts
August 30, 2015 8:26 pm

Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” video premiered tonight at the 2015 Video Music Awards, after the requisite social media build up (clips, images, general fan rallying on Swift’s part). The video features a raven-haired Swift on an old-timey film set (by the looks of it, some time around the 1930s) and chronicles her love affair with her dashing, but brooding costar (played by the dashing, but brooding Scott Eastwood). It’s beautifully shot and the film-within-the-video takes place in Africa and, as such, there are gorgeous sweeping shots of landscapes and wildlife; it’s lovely to look at. There’s no question of quality in the filmmaking behind Swift’s latest video.

The song “Wildest Dreams,” which oozes Lana Del Rey vibes, is one of the sexiest on 1989 and of Swift’s career. The lyrics paint the picture of a brief-but-torrid love affair, the kind that Swift the Narrator knows from the onset is doomed to end and to end soon, but that is worth pursuing in spite of any impending heartache. The song’s plea is not for love to last, but for the memory of that love to last. “Say you’ll remember me, standing in a nice dress, looking at the sunset, babe, red lips and rosy cheeks. Say you’ll see me again, even if it’s just in your wildest dreams,” Swift croons.

Lyrically and thematically, “Wildest Dreams” marked a major departure for Swift, who had, until recently, built a career on confessional love songs that, for the most part, either espoused the existence of True Love or channeled the misery of a lost chance at finding or keeping True Love. The narrator of “Wildest Dreams” might believe in True Love, but she doesn’t hold it as paramount; she sees the value in something temporary but great (“nothing lasts forever, but this is getting good now,” she sings).

In the video, which has the look and feel of a classic ’50s Hollywood movie, dark-haired Taylor is smitten with her lover. While she may believe, at the beginning, that she’s fine with a tryst, it’s revealed by the end of the video that our heroine was either naive or willfully fooling herself. 

When Video Taylor arrives at the film’s premiere, she’s dressed like a princess and she embodies it. Where Swift pranced majestically and almost manically in ballgowns in the “Blank Space” video, here she embodies the elegance and earnestness of a girl who sincerely believes she is Cinderella arriving at the ball to meet her Prince Charming and collect on her Happily Ever After.

When she sees Prince Charming though, he’s hanging on another woman and that woman is wearing a diamond ring. And not just any diamond ring, one that should come with its own choking hazard label.

Video Taylor tries to make it through the evening, but she’s heartbroken. She had expectations for this evening and they were wildly different from reality.

In the end, she can’t take it. She’s forced to flee from her own premiere, overcome by the grief she feels over the end of the romance she was apparently convinced would be more than it was.

The video ends with the kind of teary-eyed close-up shot we haven’t really seen in Swift videos since she was trading heavily in heart-wrenching ballads like “Teardrops on My Guitar,” “White Horse,” and “Back to December.”

“Wildest Dreams” is one of my favorite tracks on 1989, partially because it was such a shocking departure from Swift’s earlier take on love and romance. Her attitude seemed to have changed in such a profound way as to force listeners to reexamine how they thought of her and her personal outlook. That’s what makes the “Wildest Dreams” video both stunning and surprising, given Swift’s current trajectory. As much as it’s an homage to classic Hollywood, it’s also an unexpected callback to her own musical past (think the era of Fearless). And while we love everything about 1989 Taylor, we’re always game to walk with her down memory lane.

(Images via YouTube.)

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