Swift gets back at her foes

In her Look What You Made Me Do music video, Taylor Swift includes snakes, from a snake necklace to a snake serving her tea, referencing how the Internet branded her a "snake" after Kim Kardashian and Kanye West released a phone call recording of Swi
In her Look What You Made Me Do music video, Taylor Swift includes snakes, from a snake necklace to a snake serving her tea, referencing how the Internet branded her a "snake" after Kim Kardashian and Kanye West released a phone call recording of Swift and West discussing his controversial song Famous.PHOTO: YOUTUBE

Singer Taylor Swift knows she has been made fun of and responds in her latest music video

WASHINGTON • Pop star Taylor Swift forgets nothing.

That is one lesson from her music video - which debuted on Sunday during the MTV Video Music Awards show - for her new single, Look What You Made Me Do.

The fiery song, in which Swift declares her former self "dead", dropped last Thursday night and quickly shattered streaming records.

She has not explained the meaning behind the tune (Is it a parody? Is she very serious?) and, according to Instagram, she has no plans to do so.

"There will be no further explanation. There will just be reputation," she wrote, name-checking the title of her sixth studio album that will be released in November.

So allow us - and the rest of the Internet - to translate. Swift is aware that her reputation took a hit last year after well-publicised feuds with her former boyfriend, DJ Calvin Harris, and her nemeses, reality television star Kim Kardashian and rapper Kanye West, along with a much-mocked relationship with British actor Tom Hiddleston. Even her tweet about the Women's March earned backlash.

This year, she withdrew from the spotlight almost completely.

And it looks like she has been taking careful notes about every single insult hurled her way and is using her new video to respond - par for the course, given her love of vengeance and defending herself against critics.

She even says as much in the song, as she is consumed with how to get back at her enemies: "The world moves on, another day, another drama, drama/But not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma."

Here are the criticisms she calls out in the video.

Her reputation

The video kicks off with this not-so-subtle visual gem, a tombstone that reads: "Here lies Taylor Swift's reputation". Yeah, she knows what you have been saying about her.

Then, zombie Swift erupts from the ground.

"I don't like your little games, don't like your tilted stage/The role you made me play of the fool, no, I don't like you," she sings - this may or may not be a reference to West's tilted stage on his latest tour.

"Nils Sjoberg"

Before last year, it was unusual to see a fellow celebrity call out Swift - then, in June last year, former boyfriend Calvin Harris went on a tweetstorm that accused her of trying to "bury" him.

Why was he so angry? Because Swift's team publicly confirmed that she wrote his hit This Is What You Came For, under the pseudonym Nils Sjoberg.

And he did not seem thrilled that it suddenly looked like Swift was the brains behind the operation.

Anyway, Swift has thrown "Nils Sjoberg" on a tombstone in the opening moments of the video.

So now that is really buried.

Katy Perry

The singer, who hosted the Video Music Awards, spent a lot of time this summer discussing her years-long feud with Swift.

It is a tired subject, so Swift did not even bother to go there - except possibly with a shot of her in the video dressed as a Perry look-alike, holding a Grammy.

The important background here is that Swift has 10 Grammys. Perry has zero.

The snake references

Last summer on Snapchat, Kardashian released a phone call recording of Swift and West discussing West's controversial song Famous, and the Internet branded Swift a "snake" - because earlier, she had implied she had been caught off guard when she was mentioned in the track.

So, Swift includes snakes in her video, from a snake necklace to a snake serving her tea.

Her squad

Swift helped popularise the idea of #squadgoals with her army of famous friends, bolstered by events such as her celebrity-packed July 4 party with perfectly curated Instagram photos.

In the video, Swift assumes the role of some kind of cult leader in front of lots of mindless drone mannequins as the word "SQUAD" is displayed on video screens.

That "I Heart T.S." tank top

This feels like it happened 1,000 years ago, but last summer, Swift embarked on a much-photographed relationship with Hiddleston. This included an incident where he wore an "I Heart T.S." tank top in the ocean and became a social media laughingstock.

According to a GQ profile, the mockery still haunts him. (He said he wore it as a joke.)

Of course, in the video, Swift's dancers rip off their jackets to reveal... well, the heart tank tops.

The fact that West called her a "b****" in Famous

Swift's main defence in the West-"Famous" incident is that, yes, West may have told her about the song, but he never said he was going to refer to her as a "b****". (The full lyric: "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that b**** famous.")

So the conversation between the Swift characters in the video continues. "What's with that b****?" new Swift says, scoffing at ballerina Swift.

"Don't call me that!" zombie Swift snaps.

Swift is not actually that nice

Though she skyrocketed to fame as the friendly, down-to-earth former country star, she knows that not everyone believes that.

"Y'all!" cries out sparkly-dress-and-guitar Swift, with a 13 painted on her hand, just as she did during her Nashville days.

"Oh, stop acting like you're so nice, you are so fake," snaps ringleader Swift, dressed up in the We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together performance costume.

Her "surprise" face

Wow, she has been holding this one in for a while. Even back in her country music days, people made fun of Swift for looking shocked when she won awards... because she won all the awards.

In the video, as Swift declares that the "old Taylor" is "dead", she dresses up as several of her former music video characters.

After the song finishes, more than a dozen Swift clones gather together and take a bow.

"You guys!" exclaims bookish nerd Swift from the You Belong With Me video.

"Stop making that surprise face, it's so annoying," says zombie Swift.

"You can't possibly be that surprised all the time," sighs ballerina Swift from the Shake It Off video.

Swift loves to play the victim

Again, a common criticism of her - and she knows it. When sparkly dress Swift starts to cry, new Swift rolls her eyes.

"There she goes, playing the victim, again," she sighs, as snake Swift hisses.

Kim Kardashian

As the Swift clones argue, one of them is dressed in a long cheetah-print coat, obsessively snapping selfies.

Obviously, Swift cannot let this video go without taking a dig at Kardashian, who released the infamous Snapchat recording, or "receipts", as the Internet dubbed them - a recording that was clearly edited.

"Getting receipts! Gonna edit this later," the Kardashian-Swift clone says.

Her famous phrase

When Swift fired back at Kardashian and West after the Snapchat recording last year, people immediately pounced on the phrase that she used in her statement: "I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I never asked to be a part of."

It even became a meme.

The final Swift clone speaks up - it is Swift dressed like she was at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, when West stole her spotlight and started their whole rocky relationship.

"I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative," she starts to say.

"Shut UP!" all the other clones yell. End scene.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2017, with the headline 'Swift gets back at her foes'. Print Edition | Subscribe