February 9, 2009
In 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.
Directed by Trey Fanjoy