Pop Culture Decoder: Bad Blood

Misty Harris unpacks Taylor Swift’s latest celebrity-filled video, which belly-flopped onto YouTube earlier this week

By Misty Harris

Confession: I was counting down to the debut of Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood video the way normal people count down to Christmas, or Kardashians to their next selfie. Say what you want about Swift’s love life, which has played out like a cautionary tale against dating songwriters, the girl has chops when it comes to producing killer music videos.


Imagine my disappointment, then, when Bad Blood finally landed and turned out to be all style, no substance (if you put your nose to your computer monitor, you can actually smell the aroma of “meh”). Though all the elements were in place for another hit – slick set design, more than a dozen star cameos, and a budget equal to the GDP of some small countries – the end result was more mess than masterpiece.


Let’s decode, shall we?


Bad Blood opener


Too many celebrities: If there were any more stars packed into one production, it would be a Garry Marshall movie. The entire video, in fact, is just one giant opening-credits scene in which famous faces appear and disappear faster than Swifty’s boyfriends. There’s no obvious point to it, save to remind the world that the singer is super popular with actresses and models. But, you know, so is cocaine.


Plausibility: The video loses me from the opening scene, in which Swift is portrayed as an ass-kicking superhero with the muscle mass of a praying mantis. While I’ll fully buy whatever girl power Tay is selling, her literal power is another story. I’ve come face to face with cupcakes that were more intimidating.


olivia meredith


Cameos by Ellen Pompeo and Mariska Hargitay: Ok, this was just awesome. If I, too, had named my cats after Meredith Grey and Olivia Benson, I’d definitely put the actresses who originated those TV roles in my music video. Every pop culture fan loves an Easter egg.


Weak storyline: You know how in grade school, the ultimate way to throw shade is to host a party and invite all but one person? That seems to be the sole mandate of this video: to show Katy Perry (the rumoured inspiration for the song) all the celebs on Swift’s side, and to remind her who she messed with. Either that or Swift and her ovarian entourage just wanted an excuse to play dress-up in Britney Spears’ old costumes. Which I totally get.




Girl power, interrupted: There aren’t a lot of dudes in Bad Blood, perhaps because there are so few men left that aren’t Swift’s exes. This video is all about strong women who kick ass! Ride motorcycles! Change their hair color with abandon! Consider me on board. The problem is that for every scene in which our heroine is backed up by a woman, there’s another scene in which she’s in combat with one. It’s a shame these feisty female warriors couldn’t have banded together to fight FOR something as opposed to fighting each other. But I suppose a dystopian feminist battle for pay equity isn’t as sexy as seeing country music’s first lady face-punch Karlie Kloss.


The verdict? I still have faith in Swift’s music-making abilities but after seeing Bad Blood, I hope her next breakup is with the video’s director.



1 Reply to "Pop Culture Decoder: Bad Blood"

  • davechesney May 19, 2015 (6:56 pm)

    “Critics overrate you?” Thanks for that Kendrick.