“Bad Blood” is Dope as Hell and Everyone Else is Just Jealous
If your eyes haven’t feasted upon the celebrity clusterfuck that is Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” music video, I honestly don’t understand what you have been doing in the last 48 hours. After a much-anticipated build-up, the girl of the moment finally dropped her latest single in dramatic fashion Sunday night.
“Bad Blood” is a run-home-from-the-bus-stop-on-a-Wednesday-afternoon-just-to-catch-it-on-TRL-kind-of-video. In a 2015 devoid of chart-slaying girl bands (think Spice Girls, Destiny’s Child, or even the cringe-worthy Cheetah Girls), “Bad Blood” stands out for its epic crew of hot celebrities coaching Taylor Swift through a sexified version of the Hunger Games training facility. The sheer awesomeness of this musical extravaganza stands out for several reasons–many of which have nothing to do with the song itself.
For starters, let’s appreciate the fact that Taylor managed to take arguably the worst track on 1989 and make it sound good — maybe even great. “Bad Blood” rivals “Welcome to New York” in its campy, bush-league terribleness. The original track sounds like a group of pre-teen cheerleaders half-hardheartedly jeering at the equally flat-chested kids rah-rah-ing for the opposing team. The unimaginative lyrics are reminiscent of something Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale would sing in High School Musical. “Wildest Dreams,” “I Know Places,” and “New Romantics” are all much stronger candidates to release as singles, it almost makes me wonder if Taylor chose to release “Bad Blood” to prove that she could. Which is a totally baller move that only someone of her talent and stature could pull off successfully.
Simple changes in the remix — like adding Kendrick Lamar and throwing down a strong, Missy Elliott-inspired beat — transform this song from “literally the worst thing since Who Let the Dogs Out” to “Oh, this is actually bearable to listen to for four minutes.” The listless cheerleader effect is replaced by a sound that says, “I am here and you will not fuck with me.”
Beyond the sheer impressiveness in turning the song into something palatable, the video is dope as hell. You can read a few whiny critiques of the video and the song here, here, and here, but, at the end of the day, this shit is fucking awesome. Over the past several months, the Taylor-haters have been on their grind about her faux feminism, self-promotion, and Anne Hathaway levels of fakeness. But at the end of the day, Taylor Swift and her squad are so powerful and so tight that she doesn’t need to give a fuck about what you think. And trust me, she doesn’t.
Many critics (AKA haters) take issue with Swift seemingly using her vast arsenal of female friends to put down other ladies. It’s widely know and accepted that “Bad Blood” is about a feud between Swift and former friend Katy Perry. Critics lament, “Women should be lifting other women up not tearing them down! She’s just reinforcing stereotypes! Joan of Arc! Seneca Falls! 77 cents to the dollar!” Cry me a river. We live in a big world full of big challenges. Sometimes those challenges will be people–and women are people. Every once in a while you’re allowed to think that someone else just plain sucks. Plus, before “Bad Blood,” the best girl fight song we had was… well… this.
You could argue that this video sends a feminist message. You could argue that it’s so anti-feminist that it sets women’s rights back to the days of drowning witches and stoning suffragettes. You could argue that Earth no longer revolves around the sun and we’ve all been launched into some black hole where Taylor Swift is our supreme commander and anyone who speaks out of turn will be shot by Cara Delevingne. It doesn’t matter. Tay and her team clearly had a ton of fun making this video—and that’s what matters. It’s a multi-million dollar version of playing dress-up and singing into hairbrushes in front of Dad’s camcorder. In its own way, “Bad Blood” manages to achieve the same essence as “Our Song” and “You Belong With Me” while being absolutely nothing like them. We’re still just like Taylor, just with smaller houses and more crooked teeth.
Yes, the video features a star-studded cast and I guess that’s important — it’s nice to see Lena Dunham in a role where she isn’t complaining about something I don’t care about on a channel I don’t even have. The celebrities are a fun touch and generate hype, but if I’m being really honest, I’ve never ever heard of half of these chicks.1 It’s not important that they’re famous. It’s important that they’re Taylor’s friends. It’s a video about a girl squad that rolls deep, kicks ass, and looks damn good doing it. It’s the dream. Talk about #squadgoals.
Whether you’re in the clarinet section of your high school marching band or you are actually Taylor and her clique, “Bad Blood” is about you and your crew. Every group of girlfriends thinks that it’s tightest, fiercest, most kick-ass squad that has ever existed. And it doesn’t matter that the table next to you and your crew at the bar thinks of themselves exactly the same way.
Ultimately, “Bad Blood” is the slightly kitschy love child of Susan B. Anthony and a Michael Bay movie (cue “feminist” haters. I see you guys. Go back to Jezebel). How many times have you walked out of a make-or-break test or a crucial meeting and wished there were explosions going off in the background with a sick beat swelling in your wake? Taylor Swift simply took everyone’s dream and made it into a reality. And she doesn’t care if you like it. She didn’t do it for you.
There’s more to life than being really, really ridiculously good looking. It’s being really, really, ridiculously good looking and crushing it on the daily with your team by your side. It doesn’t matter if the enemy is your boss or a pesky AP French exam or that bitch who keeps stealing your copy of Cat Fancy from the mailroom. It’s about the team that’s going to get you through it.