The old Taylor IS dead!
Wild Hair, Don’t Care
As any diehard Swiftie would know, “Babe” wasn’t the first time the 10-time Grammy winner changed her look for a music video.
In 2015, Taylor went full brunette for her “Wildest Dreams” music video. Co-starring Scott Eastwood as her love interest, the visuals centered around a fictional 1950s film starlet named Marjorie Finn — played by Tay, natch — filming an adventure-romance movie in Africa.
“I wanted this video to be about the making of a 1950s movie being filmed on location in Africa,” she told GQ that year, explaining she came up with the concept after reading a book by Ava Gardner and Peter Evans called The Secret Conversations. At the time, she said it would be impossible for two actors to not fall in love while isolated on set during an era when social media didn’t exist.
According to directed Joseph Kahn, the video was also heavily inspired cinematic classics like The African Queen, Out of Africaand The English Patient, as well as the real-life romance between some of Old Hollywood’s most famous co-stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Though some fans loved Taylor’s darker locks, they did not like the lack of diversity seen onscreen despite the video being filmed on-location in Africa.
“This is not a video about colonialism but a love story on the set of a period film crew in Africa, 1950,” the director later told NPR, after the video drew backlash for presenting a “glamorous version of the white colonial fantasy of Africa” through its mainly white cast.
“The reality is not only were there people of color in the video, but the key creatives who worked on this video are people of color. I am Asian American, the producer Jil Hardin is an African American woman, and the editor Chancler Haynes is an African American man,” he said. “We collectively decided it would have been historically inaccurate to load the crew with more black actors as the video would have been accused of rewriting history.”
He added, “Let’s not forget, Taylor has chosen to donate all of her proceeds from this video to the African Parks Foundation to preserve the endangered animals of the continent and support the economies of local African people.”
Taylor also changed up her appearance in 2015’s star-studded music video for “Bad Blood.” Wearing a pin-straight, red wig, the songstress was nearly unrecognizable as her much more emo onscreen persona, Catastrophe.
The footage also saw the likes of BFFs and notable #squad members Selena Gomez, Lena Dunham, Hailee Steinfeld, Serayah, Gigi Hadid, Ellie Goulding, Martha Hunt, Cara Delevingne, Zendaya, Hayley Williams, Lily Aldridge, Karlie Kloss, Jessica Alba, Mariska Hargitay, Ellen Pompeo, and Cindy Crawford channeling killer queens in the spy-inspired visuals.
Centered around a big betrayal, the “Bad Blood” video was nominated for eight 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, ultimately winning Video of the Year and Best Collaboration. It also received the Grammy Award for Best Music Video.
Joseph, who also directed the video, later accused Beyoncé of copying Taylor’s “Bad Blood” look for her “Formation” visuals.
“It’s not ‘Formation’ at all,” he told LA Times in 2017, amid criticism that Taylor seemingly stole Queen Bey’s power stance for her “Look What You Made Me Do” video. “They try to say she’s wearing a black crop top and Beyoncé wore a black crop top. But they don’t realize in 2015 in ‘Bad Blood,’ Taylor Swift was wearing a black crop top. I really do think, by the way, that Beyoncé copied ‘Bad Blood.’“
Following more blowback from the Beyhive, he clarified, “I’ve worked with Beyoncé a few times. She’s an amazing person. The #LWYMMDvideo is not in her art space. Love and respect to Bey.”
And of course, Tay went dark brunette to play the so-called “evil cheerleader Taylor” in her 2009 music video for “You Belong with Me.”
“We did have a body double for Taylor, and it was not easy because of Taylor’s hair,” director Roman White explained to MTV. “Her hair is so specific, so we did have to have a body double to go back and forth when we did ‘evil cheerleader Taylor’ and ‘good girl Taylor.’ We really had to cheat it.”
“It works really great,” he continued. “She looks very different with long, blonde hair.”
The director added that Tay went above and beyond than just a physical transformation, saying she also got really into character as well when it came time to put on the dark wig.
“There was real Taylor and cheerleader Taylor, and once she put on that wig, real Taylor was gone,” he said. “I didn’t want to be around ‘cheerleader Taylor.’ ‘Cheerleader Taylor’ was a monster. Taylor, on the other hand: very nice, easy to work with.”
“I really wanted there to be a great love story there,” romance explained. “It’s about these two people who have lived these two lives across from each other and both of them loved each other but just never knew it. They were just barely missing each other, across the way.”