5 Taylor Swift Music Videos with Stunning Visual Storytelling

Taylor Swift grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania, but even as a pre-teen, she was writing songs that were compelling enough to garner her a publishing contract. She developed her professional music chops by collaborating with Nashville songwriters before she released her self-titled album in 2006, establishing her as a rising star. Although she’s arguably best known for her live performances and recordings, Swift continually develops her artistry in many mediums. One is making videos that visually illustrate her songs. Below are five that are among the most visually stunning: 

Videos by American Songwriter

1. “The Man” (2020)

Those who perceive Taylor Swift as a resident in a realm of affluence and privilege might change their perspectives when they watch her music video “The Man.” Swift is one of the most successful musicians in the world, but that doesn’t mean she’s blind to the double standards of gender, class, and race.

Taylor Swift successfully transforms into a male character using a combination of clothing, makeup, and prosthetics. In this role, she skillfully portrays a range of stereotypical male behaviors, including rudeness, arrogance, promiscuity, and acts of public indecency. What’s visually captivating are the rapid scene changes, featuring instances such as urinating against a wall (with Swift’s name on it), a tennis court tantrum reminiscent of John McEnroe, condescending behavior toward a server on a yacht, uncouth conduct in a subway, and more. The underlying message is clear: society often embraces and praises such conduct when exhibited by men, whereas women engaging in similar behavior tend to face criticism and may even be subjected to social backlash.

2. “Delicate” (2018)

Taylor Swift is not immune to the pressures of fame, especially now that she’s one of the most successful musicians in the world. In the video “Delicate,” Swift shows her weariness, and in some cases, fear and dismay at how she’s treated—either as an object or invisible. Once Swift sheds her glamorous gown in exchange for a basic dress—think of this as her dropping her public persona—her expressions and body language relax into playfulness as she dances in the rain, forges casual personal connections, and shows vulnerability. Although the scenes are bright and visibly compelling—everything from the red carpet to a subway—Swift’s facial and body language make this video compelling.

3. “Blank Space” (2014)

If you want a video with lush beauty in the style of the television series “Bridgerton” and “The Gilded Age,” Swift’s video for “Blank Space is the perfect visual feast. Think castles, couture, champagne, delicate sweets, and a Ken-doll handsome boyfriend. In a clear answer to the critics of her love life, Swift has a meltdown that would rival Britney-Spears-mixed-with-Lindsay-Lohan-freak-out complete with streaming mascara and golf-club-on-luxury-car attack. This beautiful, visually compelling video is full of rich sights, including massive white stallions, crystal, and all the other trappings of immense wealth that serve as a perfect slap from Swift to her critics. 

4. “Mean” (2011)

Watching a young Swift play the banjo on a set seemingly straight out of a theatrical ho-down is a fun visual you likely won’t see too often as she increasingly gains fame. But this video’s true power— visually and lyrically— is the message of overcoming humiliation. No, Swift doesn’t do this with ugly photos of physical violence but with compelling scenes of a damsel tied to train tracks, a downtrodden restaurant server, a bullied schoolgirl, and more scenes of those who endure “mean” people. 

The moral of this video story is that those who endure abuse can personally and professionally succeed. And that’s just what has happened with Swift. Though she’s never said what compelled her to write “Mean,” several publications, including Distractify, believe she wrote it about critic Bob Lefsetz. After Swift joined Stevie Nicks for a 2010 performance at the 52nd Grammy Awards, Lefsetz criticized Swift’s singing.

5. “Love Story” (2008)

Swift’s long, golden hair, porcelain skin, and delicate features are on full display in the many close-ups shot for her video “Love Story.” The modern retelling of “Romeo and Juliet”—complete with a stunningly attractive male love interest for Swift—has visuals akin to “Bridgerton” with luxurious, and sometimes downright provocative period costumes, waltzing dancers, and castles with oversized columns. The true beauty of the video, though, comes from Swift’s angelic appearance.

Photo by John Shearer/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

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