“Delicate” is fun, weird & full of pop culture influences. We have some questions.
Taylor Swift has been keeping a low profile lately. Maybe it’s because she’s been too busy with her new man-friend, British actor Joe Alwyn. Or maybe she understands that in the cycle of admiration and admonishment that every celebrity goes through (especially female celebs!), she’s firmly in a backlash period. Why court media attention, if that attention is just going to be negative anyway? Besides, it’s not like it’s hurt her sales.
But, she made somewhat of an appearance on this weekend’s iheartradio awards—which we guess are like some hip, 2005-version of something called the HeartRadio awards—at least, in pre-recorded form. She was there to introduce her new video for her song Delicate, which, speaking of 2005, sadly isn’t a cover of Damien Rice’s weepy song of the same name.
The video sees Taylor suddenly become invisible, allowing her to dance like no one is watching (and possibly love like she’s never been hurt, too). It’s a fun video! But, like Taylor’s music, it shows its influences pretty heavily. But hey, curating and sampling and recycling is what pop music has always been about. Right?
With that in mind, here are some thoughts we had while watching Delicate.
Let’s get this out of the way up top. People have pointed out the similarities between this video and the advertisement by Kenzo a few years ago. And they are right! Both videos have a woman dancing in a dress in a fancy lobby. But, we’d argue that both those videos are heavily inspired by Fatboy Slim’s video for Weapon of Choice, which had Christopher Walken dancing in a lobby, though not wearing a dress. As with nearly everything in this life, if you see something interesting, chances are Christopher Walken has already done it.
The video begins. Influence check: is it just us or is there some serious shades of Imogen Heap in that first bit? Remember Imogen Heaps? Another singer from the early aughts.
As Taylor Swift walks a red carpet, there are journalists (gross) shouting questions at her. This has nothing to do with influences, but do you ever wonder if lip readers get distracted by scenes like this, where people mouth words at the camera? Or is lip reading kind of like quicksand—it’s real, but way less prevalent than television would have us believe.
Influence Check: Taylor is passed a kind of magic, golden glowing note. This is what makes her invisible presumably. But why, in the note’s golden glow, is there not a connection to Willy Wanka to be made? Remember how Charlie Bucket got a golden ticket? What’s interesting about this is that it might give an indication of how Taylor sees herself. Yes, she’s a privileged global popstar, but inside she’s still just a poor, oppressed child, just waiting for a miracle.
She’s accompanied by four bodyguards (though, really, only one is wearing sunglasses, so how effective could the other three be) who may just be the worst bodyguards ever. She gets accosted by bellhop that—is it just us—is reminiscent of TJ Miller? No? Huh
Influence Check: While Taytay is making faces in a mirror, there are clear facial references to Iliza Shlessinger’s party goblin being made. This proves that all white, blonde celebrities really are all the same…
Influence Check: Some Robin “Tell Your Girlfriend” Vibes while Taylor is in that empty room.
Note: Bare feet in the subway got us like 😱 .
Influence Check: Singing in the rain, stomping in the puddles.
Influence Check: Ok, so obviously there have been several instances where people dance on cars in popular culture. Is this really a call back to Michael Jackson’s controversial, uncensored “Black and White” video where The King of Pop does some soft shoe/crotch touching dance on an old car to stop racism? Probably not. But who knew Taylor could do the splits?