Taylor Swift, “White Horse”

by

February 9, 2009

tswiftIn the new video for her single, “White Horse,” our little Taylor Swift is growing up. A convincing reconstruction of a real-life breakup (Swift only sings her brutal truths), this project is the most subtle song yet in her burgeoning catalog.

“White Horse” is a perfect companion piece to her recent No. 1 single, the aptly-named “Love Story.” This time, her special someone is unable to keep up his end of the bargain, and Swift learns a painful lesson one “I love you” too late. Trey Fanjoy returns as the videographer for this damsel in distress, handling the heartache behind “White Horse” with a keen eye for detail. The most striking quality of “White Horse” is the maturity in Swift’s response, and the visual interpretation of how the characters change from frame to frame makes for compelling product.

The object of Swift’s misplaced affections is Laguna Beach “star” Stephen Colletti, continuing a trend of reality show castoffs being cast in Swift videos. (Nashville Star devotees will recall model-turned-musician Justin Gaston in “Love Story.”) And while Gaston had the sweetly adorable, puppy-dog appearance that melted the hearts of teen girls everywhere, the seemingly squeaky-clean Colletti is well-suited for the role of a phantom paramour.

Clips of the happy couple bathed in sunlight, nuzzling on the couch and playing a comfy game of cards are slowly interwoven with shots of Swift wearing a gray sweater (Flashdance-style, for the record) and crying like the rain falling outside her basement window. Why, oh, why, do you cry, Taylor?

Because her dime-store dreams are crushed at the hands of a heartless cad. Naive to believe that he’s bound to his promises, Swift chirps on cheerily about their affair during a friendly lunch with a girlfriend, one that turns into an informational meeting for the misled lass. She’s quickly disabused of any notion that their love will be everlasting.

As she makes the slow, painful walk across town to confront him, the red flashing lights in the distance signal disaster. In the final moments, Swift arrives at her soon-to-be-ex’s house where she finds him entertaining another girl; Colletti’s image is tweaked to fit his real reputation.  His once-boyish hairdo is now perfectly coiffed, spiked (like his words) and slick (like his actions). The baby-blue tee is hidden underneath a black hoodie (a knight in not-so-shining armor?). A smitten smile is replaced by a guilty glare. The last time Swift swiveled in the rain, she was giving an off-key performance of her vitriolic “Should’ve Said No,” at last year’s Academy of Country Music Awards. While that effort seemed forced, this emotion is much more genuine.

Swift, back against a brick wall (literally), is faced with a world-changing choice, at least in her eyes. The pain of ending their relationship is secondary to the pain marking her loss of innocence. A teen queen is turning into a young woman. Growing up is hard to do.

Grade: A-

Directed by Trey Fanjoy

Taylor Swift, White Horse : Music Video at CMT.com

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  1. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar says:

    Eh. I like the song a lot, but to me this video is pretty much par for the course from Taylor Swift. There are some cool moments – I really like that montage at the end before she delivers her “final verdict” – but I think it’s all a little too heavy-handed for such a subtle song. Like, I can’t speak to the circumstances that prompted her to write “White Horse”, but I don’t like that all of her songs/videos which revolve around the ends of relationships seem to be the result of the boy cheating on her. It’s a very narrow-minded relationship paradigm which honestly ignores all of the other more complex reasons relationships sometimes have to end, some of which I thought she seemed to touch on in the song itself (for example, there’s the line about having to “fight to have the upper hand”). I want Swift to realize that she’s a good enough writer that she doesn’t always have to paint herself as the total-victim in order to garner sympathy. She can just tell it like it is.

    So, no, not a bad video, and I agree with the fundamental point you’ve raised about this being a sign of growth for her. But I think she still has quite a ways to go with how she interprets things, and honestly I don’t think the direction does much besides provide a visual aide to the song. I’d give it a ‘B‘.

  2. vpNo Gravatar says:

    I agree with the B from Dan, sorry Blake I thought the review was a little over the top. I am not a huge fan of hers, but was delighted to hear this song, it is very similar to the Taylor music that suits her voice like Tim Mcgraw. The video was good like the Tim one too, so theatrics, but I could go with out the commentaries in it and the actual sound of her crying, I think a bigger statement would have been made without that. Overall best since the Tim vid.

  3. Blake BoldtNo Gravatar says:

    She’s tagged here as more than a helpless, hapless victim in my opinion. The scene with her girlfriend in the restaurant finds her prattling on so lovey-dovey about her beau, which is shining a harsh light on her naivete. Though he may have started stepping out with another girl, she’s at least partially to blame for the relationship’s demise. This is in sharp contrast to “Picture to Burn,” where she’s calling her ex “gay” and trashing his apartment. A little more emotional maturity (relatively speaking) this time.

    The shift in Coletti’s image is key, too; his changes in costume, hairstyle and overall appearance aren’t totally dramatic, but they do highlight the fact that Swift was wearing rose-colored glasses, all too willing to paint a picture in her head of him without realizing the realities that mark any romantic relationship.

  4. AaronNo Gravatar says:

    So I hate to admit it, but I actually like this video! I think it’s the best one from Taylor. I think she captures the mood of the song and her acting was actually pretty good, no wonder they put her in CSI! And I had to watch it like 3 times before I finally figured out where I had seen that guy! Laguna Beach was totally a guilty pleasure for me! haha

    Great review, Blake!

  5. jackNo Gravatar says:

    I thought her acting could use a lot of help. She just sat there making a ridiculously fake depressed look.

  6. GailNo Gravatar says:

    Sorry, but I notice little things…….she really does a number on her fingernails! They were chewed to the quick. Nothing special about the video or the song. But then again, not a Taylor fan!

  7. Chris D.No Gravatar says:

    Dan, maybe she’ll release “Breathe” soon ,it explicitly states that the boy didn’t cheat in that song- it’s more grown up.

    Overall, I love the song, just like the video. I hope she grows up soon though. This song is a great start.

  8. CarsonNo Gravatar says:

    Usually I cringe and just downright disagree with the Taylor Swift reviews on this website, but I think you were spot-on, on this one.

    Taylor has definitely matured in this video,and the rain in the window and her crying montage totally make this feel real. She does a lot more acting in this video, and many have compared it to “Tim McGraw”, which I love because I really want Taylor to go back to that kind of feel her songs used to have.

  9. ZachNo Gravatar says:

    I must say, this single and video is the best that Taylor has done. Considering her two singles that I thought were the best were her first two… Taylor is really brilliant in this video and single, yes there are flaws, but flaws are better than her former pop concoctions.

  10. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar says:

    I like the video, but she really can’t sing , so as a radio single I’d give it a C+

  11. MindaNo Gravatar says:

    I love taylor… love the song but think the video is soo boring. She needed to actually have a beautiful white horse in it, even though the white horse was just a metaphor

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