Video Review: Taylor Swift, “Love Story”

There’s nothing I could say about Taylor Swift that hasn’t already been said – and that’s the point. She knows how to score that attention; she knows how to make the dough. With a strong push from the team at Big Machine, this girl has built a multimedia empire on the back of one triple platinum-selling album, some very crafty Internet skills, and a sparkling, sweetly savvy persona. She is the sort of rare, distinctive star people can’t help but talk about, whether they like her or not. And although her singing and songwriting talents have not yet caught up to her market appeal or massive popularity, she has certainly demonstrated that she knows her way around a singable hook.

Whether these qualities are conducive or relevant to her actual artistic merit is certainly debatable; the lead single for Fearless, for example, finds her trying to pepper up a nondescript teenage romance with misplaced allusions to Romeo & Juliet and The Scarlet Letter, all to a more anemic melody than we’re used to hearing from her. The lyrics are lame, the singing is weak, the package just doesn’t come together. To the average, wary listener, it sounds as if Swift has lost control of her own game.

But here’s where the phenom and her handlers have got you beat: Swift’s fans aren’t average, wary listeners. They’re plugged-in, multi-sensory consumers, weaned heavily on MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, the Disney Channel. To them, more so than to any generation prior, music is as much a visual medium as it is an auditory one. As you sit here reading this review, thousands of Swift fans – some closeted, some not – have already logged onto CMT.com and watched the video for this song.

And they should. As a video, “Love Story” is an unexpected treat: a big-budget, gorgeously-shot piece that highlights much of what is appealing about Swift as an artist – meaning, of course, that the song itself is a bit downplayed. Truly, it’s hard not to watch this thing and wonder whether Swift might have written “Love Story” just to have her “modernized fairytale” concept brought to the screen. What sounded trite on record is still trite on video, but what Swift lacks in voice and writing, she makes up for in spades with charisma. Given the right sort of role, she’s not just pretty; she’s friendly, warm, nuanced, oddly universal.

As a narrative, the video does exactly what you expect it to, but as an experience, it’s startlingly endearing – and it all comes down to that girl on the balcony. Swift may have written a crappy song, but she has figured out how to work around that. Her Prince Charming may be a totally interchangeable snooze, but she’s got enough personality to sell this corny arc all by herself – even if she’s playing the victim throughout much of it, which is disheartening, albeit historically accurate.

In the end, I still dislike the song, and I still dislike the story. As a music fan, I even dislike what this video represents, what it’s allowing this artist to get away with. But I don’t really think this video was intended to change my feelings on any of that. As she demonstrated with her treatment of “Our Song,” director Trey Fanjoy seems to know, intuitively, that the only important thing about any Taylor Swift video is that it features Taylor Swift. She may be overly precious, perky, pandering – but she’s also a princess.

Directed by Trey Fanjoy

Grade: B+


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41 Comments

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41 Responses to Video Review: Taylor Swift, “Love Story”

  1. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    Ah, I think she’s fun. I just can’t help it.

    I actually think I remember hearing an interview where she said something about how she was thinking of the video concept as she was writing a song. It might have been “Should’ve Said No.” I think she said that she begged the label to release the song, because she really wanted to implement the video concept that she had in her head for it. So, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the video was in conception just as early as the actual song.

  2. LanibugNo Gravatar

    OK, so here is my issue, I was watching, I very little time that CMT devotes to videos and this video comes on, and I go away for about an hour and then come back and they are playing it again. Do they have nothing better to play?

  3. Blake BoldtNo Gravatar

    In a good many cases, music is now simply a marketing tool designed to propel forward the career of an artist. Although I respect Swift’s songwriting ability (and withhold judgment until the album drops), I believe that’s the case here.

  4. I’m acutally dissapointed in the video, I feel like it was very boring. The song isn’t anything special, infact it’s the worst I’ve yet to hear her sing, but the video isn’t anybetter. The best thing I can say about it is that it’s shot beautifully but that’s all thanks to Trey Fanjoy.

  5. Oh and I hope there’s more video reviews to come?

  6. Kaitlyn

    Ok. I’m just going to say this again..even though I’ve already said it on another thread…

    I’m a little miffed at the blindness of the reviews i’ve been reading. I personally think the song is amazing. Yes, it does mention Romeo and Juliet, but it wasn’t alluding to the plot of the play. It was referring to the love that the two characters shared. Same with the reference to The Scarlett Letter. I really can’t believe that no one else has seen this. Also, just because it sounds like a “love theme for a cheesy teenybopper movie,” (which, by the way, she IS a teenager, in case you forgot) doesn’t mean it can’t be a good song. The awesome thing about songwriting is you get to choose what to say, and how to say it. If you’ve seen the video, you will have caught the allusion to the movie, Pride and Prejudice. So, you see, this song really isn’t about following literary pieces to a ‘T’-it’s about portraying the love that all the major romance epics have portrayed. And what more can we ask from an artist that is trying to appeal to the percentage of the population that wants to believe that love is fairytale-like? =]

  7. Kaitlyn,

    I did get what she was going for with the allusions, and I agree that the video’s Pride & Prejudice reference helps develop that intent a little more.

    Just speaking for myself, I’ll admit that I’m a huge snob when it comes to name-dropping anything in songs. I feel like it’s usually done as a last measure, when the songwriter runs out of ideas. I’m the only person I know who doesn’t like “Johnny & June.” So Swift’s song was already fighting an uphill battle with me, and while I can appreciate the novelty of her particular approach – particularly after witnessing how well it made the jump to the screen (in my opinion) – I just think it came out sounding sort of forced.

    But I do think you made a strong argument for the song there.

  8. Jordan – I’m down for writing more video reviews, if people like the idea.

  9. Razor XNo Gravatar

    Taylor Swift = all sizzle, no steak.

  10. MirandaNo Gravatar

    Um no. You’re completely wrong.
    She’s the most amazing person EVER <3
    End of Discussion.
    I’d like to see YOU do better
    Don’t judge unless you can outdo Taylor which we all know isn’t possible. Mm’kay?

  11. SusanNo Gravatar

    Dan I would love more video reviews, I was really hoping for a review of Carrie Underwoods Just a Dream when it came out, if you haven’t done so, would you please do a review of that video? I just love the idea of having video reviews as videos nowadays is part of the song package and can have as much of an affect on how a song does than the actual song itself. I think this video is beautiful, however I cannot for the life of me figure out how people can just skim over Taylors blatant lack of vocal skill, I guess in this day and age its all about the visual and marketing than if an artist can actually sing. Taylor in my opinion is the poster child for this. IMO Miranda is superior in songwriting, singing and all around artistry than Taylor yet Taylor has trumped her in the success department, is there some mind control marketing on Taylors part? Me thinks so. Carrie on the other hand is both marketable, beautiful and is imo the best female country singer in the genre today, and is the counterpart to Taylor, I pray that Taylor doesn’t turn Country into her playground for mediocracy.
    sorry don’t think I spelled that right but I hope you get the point.

  12. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    Dan did an informal review for Carrie’s video on his personal blog.

  13. GailNo Gravatar

    Oh my goodness! Sorry, but to me the song is bad, the video is so ridiculous and silly. The two supposed lovers have no chemistry together. This all needs to be on the Disney Channel!

    Leeann..I heard an interview where Taylor said she was in one of her classes at school after she wrote this SHSN song dreaming of performing that song on an award show with the water and everything. So she has been planning on her career for a good while. She already had it planned out before she actually hit the bigtime.

  14. AaronNo Gravatar

    So this video is kinda cheesy. I agree with Gail, this definitely belongs on the Disney Channel. It’s just very cliche…I think she was trying to hard to get the overall concept of love. It’s just weird…I personally don’t like it.

    On a side note, doesn’t the guy kinda resemble the Jonas Brother she’s supposedly dating?? I actually thought it was him when he was sitting under the tree.

  15. SusanNo Gravatar

    Leeann thanks for the link.

  16. LynnNo Gravatar

    The guy in the video is actually Jason Gatson (aka “Underwear Boy”) from this past season of Nashville Star.

  17. Hollerin' BenNo Gravatar

    for the record, I dislike “Johnny & June”. I think it’s offensively dishonest.

    solid review man, I say spot on, especially “As she demonstrated with her treatment of “Our Song,” director Trey Fanjoy seems to know, intuitively, that the only important thing about any Taylor Swift video is that it features Taylor Swift.”

  18. AaronNo Gravatar

    Hey Lynn thanks for adding that little tidbit!! I knew I had seen him somewhere before! It was bugging me so thanks for clearing that up! Haha

  19. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    Actually, Gail, that must’ve been what I heard. So, it was the awards show and not the video.

  20. J.R. JourneyNo Gravatar

    No steak? Ha! That’s the best one-liner I’ve heard all week, Razor.

    Man can not live by sizzle alone by the way …

  21. This video is a start, but what the world really needs is a Swift/Gaston duet.

  22. LynnNo Gravatar

    I forgot to add…nice analysis Dan!

    Just a random thought…I like country music in most of its variations, and I believe it should all be widely played, promoted and enjoyed. However, it’s strange to think that this video could potentially be aired on CMT right after Brooks and Dunn’s “Put a Girl In It.” Should young girls naively dream of the fairy tale romance, or hope that someday “Girls Gone Wild” comes calling? So many mixed messages there. Welcome to the 21st century, I guess.

  23. ZachNo Gravatar

    good thought Lynn :)
    the video reminded me more of “Pride & predjudice” rather than “Romeo & Juliet” LOL, just an observation :D

  24. ZachNo Gravatar

    umm also I thought that… ARGH! I lost a good thought -.- sorry guys LOL
    ahh I was gonna bring up the point that I liked how the video was originally shown in a college campus- maybe hinting at the fact that Swift is not the same girl from her High School days. and I noticed like throughout the video there was no intimacy! o.O I totally agree that they looked awkward in the intimate poses LOL :D

  25. vpNo Gravatar

    to me it seems with all of Taylor’s vidoe’s to date that they try to over compansate for the lack of vocal presence. Let’s face to most that are over the age of 22 we know where her success is coming from and that is the kids under the age of 16 that is 80% of her fan base and these fairy tale cutesy video’s that she puts out just make the young wanting more.

    I have mentioned this once about Taylor, don’t for get this is a artist who re release her two times over just adding a few songs on each. I don’t think any adult country listeners fell for it. Where as the young ones get the money from their folks to go out and buy all three copies of her debut cd, and because it is a re release all three cds count as one when it comes to chart sales. personelly i find that to be just a little greedy when it comes to selling the same album three different ways. IMO

  26. J.R. JourneyNo Gravatar

    vp said: “personally i find that to be just a little greedy when it comes to selling the same album three different ways”

    This is where the Garth comparisons come into play …

  27. ZachNo Gravatar

    good point J.R.,
    but don’t many artists do that? They tend to release their CD in different stores each with different features.
    I may say that even though I am a “teen” I have prefered to only buy the original CD- compared to others.
    But generally, I understand that Big Machine records is aware that Swift is their moneymaker and they try to find ways to get more money from her success. I went on their site the other day and 4/6 of the news bulitans were about SWIFT. the other two were about Yearwood (:D) and Ingram. So I think that kind of says it all.

  28. ZachNo Gravatar

    *compared to other teens

  29. Kaitlyn

    Dan,

    Yeah, well I can totally see why you would dislike this song if you don’t like the whole name dropping thing. I don’t mind it, so it doesn’t bother me. I also like “Johnny & June”. Maybe I’m just a suck up for good love songs. =] Anywho, I am an avid believer that if you can’t compete with the person you’re talking trash about, then you should stop. Not that I’m advocating the loss of free speech, it’s just that I consider it hypocritical. On the other hand, if you are just going to say, “I love Taylor Swift, she’s awesome!”, that doesn’t have much substance either. The pendulum swings both ways. =] Just my two cents (again).

  30. Kaitlyn

    Oh! Just one more thing, unless something someone else says catches my eye. =]

    I also think that it’s AMAZING that someone with so little experience in the industry handles herself so maturely. She doesn’t talk about her private life in the media, and she is very (seemingly) genuine. I admit, it could possibly just be very good acting, but from what I’ve seen so far, she is a very poised young woman. And that can’t be said for many starlets in young Hollywood/Nashville today.

    Ok, I lied. One more thing:

    I also think it’s amazing that she wrote (or co-wrote) every song on both her debut AND sophomore albums. Not many artists (of any age) can say that they have. =]

    I’m done. I promise. =]

  31. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    Caitlyyn says: “I am an avid believer that if you can’t compete with the person you’re talking trash about, then you should stop. Not that I’m advocating the loss of free speech, it’s just that I consider it hypocritical.”

    Wow! Then reading blogs and reviews must not be your thing, because the blogging world would be rather boring if we all just sat around and agreed all day long. Are we supposed to be in awe of every famous artist who has written songs and has had recording time in a studio just because those are things that we may not have done ourselves?No matter how hard you try, I really doubt you’re going to get critics to come around to your way of thinking.:) I understand though, I hate it when critics don’t show the proper love to my favorite artists. Then again, I’m probably just as infuriated when they praise an artist that I feel is undeserving. Go figure.

  32. vpNo Gravatar

    Caitlyn
    no need to answer but i was just wondering your age, and if you have any children and if so their ages?
    I have yet to meet anyone who is a true country fan over the age of 20 like TS so much, and not be able to comprehend all that makes her up.
    internet marketing
    video’s aimed at teens heart strings
    songs all of love, loss, revenge
    vocals that don’t compete with the elite whats so ever, and i do not think they will mature she is 18 and they will mostly likely stay that way.
    i do think she should have went the pop route on this record, but then she would have alot more competitors just like her, and then she would not stand out as much as she does in country because it is a smaller genre.

  33. Kaitlyn,

    I can see where you’re coming from with the argument that we shouldn’t trash-talk people we can’t compete with. Truly, I can. I think there are a lot of critics – professional and amateur – who just revel in cutting artists down for whatever reason, and I think that’s appalling.

    But I think there’s a difference between aimless trash talk and substantial criticism. The second is what we’re going for here, though you’re welcome to point out when you think we’re just doing the first. We exist, in part, to highlight the good and point out the bad so that the average listener will have an informed opinion on whether or not to buy a certain album or download a certain song. Plus we just like talking about music here. :)

    But I gotta say, the world would be a pretty messed up place if no one ever criticized someone they “couldn’t compete” with. Whatever your personal politics, I think you’d agree that neither you nor I could “compete” with Barack Obama or John McCain as politicians. Does that mean no one except other politicians should ever talk about them, unless it’s glowing praise? Of course not, because then we normal citizens would never get a feel for either candidate’s real strengths and weaknesses. Just as many writers make their living exploring the strengths and weaknesses of politicians, we spend our time here exploring the high and low points of country music so that people know what’s going on. I don’t think it’s really all that bad.

    Anyway, as a side note, I agree with a lot of your positive remarks about Taylor. I think it’s wonderful that there’s an artist out there who is writing all of her own material and that so many people are connecting with that, even if she’s not my personal favorite songwriter. I also agree that she seems like a very pleasant, diplomatic person.

  34. Kaitlyn

    Dan,

    Very true. I see what you’re saying about how the world would be without criticism. I was just relaying that I thought that any comments, positive OR negative, should have substance behind them. Hard facts, if you will.

    Leeann,

    I didn’t say we all need to agree. I simply said that if you’re talking TRASH about someone that you can’t compete with, you should stop. Maybe I should have clarified what I meant by talking trash. Trash talking (in my opinion) is as follows: Stating unsupported opinions with the intent to harm another’s reputation or appearance. If we look at it that way, I completely agree with your point of view. We all think of things differently, and we all have the right to say what we feel. I’m just doing exactly that.

    vp:

    In my opinion, it really doesn’t matter what my age is. I could be 15 or 50 for all you know. What I will tell you is that my maturity level is that of an adult. While I will admit that a majority of her revenues are consisted of teenage girls, that really doesn’t matter when we’re talking about opinions. I was simply discussing the fact that the comments people were making about “Love Song” were unsupported. Many people were saying that she shouldn’t have alluded to Romeo and Juliet and The Scarlett Letter, because the theme of the song didn’t match those of the stories. I rebutted that she wasn’t trying to match the stories, just the thought of forbidden love, and love being worth it. “This love is difficult, but it’s real”. That’s all. =]

  35. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    “Trash talking (in my opinion) is as follows: Stating unsupported opinions with the intent to harm another’s reputation or appearance.”

    I don’t think anyone is harming her reputation or appearance. I think they are stating their opinion, however. Opinions don’t always have to be supported by hard facts, as long as they’re not founded upon lies.

  36. vpNo Gravatar

    the question was not to be offensive, it seems as if you are on the defensive with everyone and their opinions on this thread, so i was curious as to your strong connection with TS music. just a ? irregardless i think the song is crap, cause she is still writing and sing about the same things in every one of her song
    love loss revenge.

  37. i LOVE this song and the video they are both so amazing!!! she did a great job. and does anyone know who the guy is(Romeo)in this video? he is so hott!!

  38. Justin Gaston from Nashville Star and friend of Miley Cyrus.

  39. azlee56No Gravatar

    I think the video is done amazingly well, hats off to the director. She takes us back to the old movies (for us older folks) and the love of dancing. The video shows that love is timeless and it reaches over time with the emotions that go along with it.

    The attention to detail as it changes through time is exceptional. Taylor has the charm that comes across on camera to enchant the viewer.

    Again, the director, has chosen the back drops and each element with percision that wasn’t lost to this viewer.

    Exceptional song and video.

    Lee-Tucson

  40. azlee56No Gravatar

    oh BTW, I’m 52 and born and raised country. The only song of taylors that I haven’t totally gone for was “you could have said no”

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