The magic in Taylor Swift’s video for “Delicate” starts when, in a brief moment alone before a mirror, the singer reads a golden note.
Most people are driven half-mad when they can’t get any attention; Swift, who gets attention even when she doesn’t want any, is overjoyed.
Why is anyone watching a Taylor Swift music video, if not to see Taylor Swift? As its title suggests, Swift’s recent album Reputation was essentially a coping strategy to deal with the fact that the artist, who for a decade seemed to have mastered the science of getting people to view her exactly the way she wanted them to, had suddenly lost control of her own narrative.
If past videos are any proof, Swift is a capable, though far from electrifying, dancer; if her clumsy dancing for “Delicate” can inspire, among casual viewers, a cringing so extreme as to verge on a sublime experience, one can rest assured that it was entirely choreographed and wholly intentional.
Major artists have thinned out the ranks of their fans with clumsy maneuvers before, but for Swift to do so on purpose is remarkably spiteful.
It’s not the progression most people would have liked to see from Swift, but maybe, just maybe, that’s precisely why she’s doing it.