Top 13 Taylor Swift Music Videos
Photo: Taylor Swift via Ethan Miller//Getty Images
Taylor Swift is a singer, a director, a performer, a cat mom. But the multi-talented artist is first and foremost a songwriter; she considers herself this above all other titles. Through her incredible songwriting, she uses poetic storytelling to convey detailed narratives. Alongside these stories, she has illustrated impeccable imagery through her creative music videos. In her nearly two decades long career, the multi-talented artist has released over 60 music videos that define her artistry. These videos have movie-level production and are left carved into the minds of her fans, from the most recent releases to her very first single. After 17 years as a Swiftie first, human second, I have created a detailed list of what I consider the Top 13 Best Taylor Swift Music videos.
13. "Picture to Burn" (2009)
“Picture to Burn” walked so the Reputation era could run. The music video perfectly encapsulates exacting revenge on a former boyfriend by utilizing fiery imagery and crazy ex-girlfriend antics. It is the first video that Swift includes her real-life best friend, Abigail Anderson. The video begins with the two sitting in a parked Mustang with Anderson looking through binoculars. She spots Swift’s ex-boyfriend with a new girl, who is driving the truck. This is homage to the line in the chorus, “I hate that stupid old pick-up truck you never let me drive.” From there, the revenge commences. Swift and her band are seen wearing all-black and breaking into her ex’s house, while Anderson stands watch. They begin completely wrecking his house, while Taylor sits on the couch with her trademark smirk. In the separate shots where she and the band are performing, the setting is filled with pyrotechnics to emphasize that he is “just another Picture to Burn.” In the end, the entire scene was only a mere fantasy she dreamt up in the car with Anderson, and no ex-boyfriend’s homes were harmed in the making of this video. Overall, it turns out to be a well-rounded video with mesmerizing imagery and an exciting narrative, cementing its place as the most iconic video from the debut era.
12. "White Horse" (2009)
In my personal opinion, this music video is entirely underrated and deserves more appreciation. “White Horse” was my favorite track from Fearless for years and this music video played on repeat in my house. Swift tells a heart-wrenching story that includes dialogue spoken throughout, to make this one of the first examples of her movie-esque videos. The video begins with her boyfriend telling her, “All I want is you. Do you love me?” Swift tells him she does, so he takes the opportunity to ask her, “Will you give me another chance?” Before Swift can answer, the music begins and the video takes off. This immediately draws in the audience, making them want to know what led up to this moment. Throughout the video, the scenes switch between a dark, gloomy scene with Swift crying, to the couple cuddling, playing cards, and being completely in love. Between the first chorus and the second verse, the music takes a back seat as the video draws focus on the scene where Swift’s friend tells her the wicked truth about her boyfriend. The audience, however, has to wait for the answer. It is not until the bridge that it is revealed that her boyfriend has been cheating on her. From here, Taylor is back in the gloomy scene sobbing, bringing chills to the viewers as they feel her pain. In the outro, the initial conversation is replayed, but Swift finally gives her answer. She tells her ex-boyfriend that she will not give him another chance and hangs up the phone. The music video is emotionally charged, enhancing an already heartbreaking song. It perfectly exemplifies the narrative that Swift was conveying and it remains as one of her best acting moments.
11. "Anti-Hero" (2022)
“Anti-Hero” is a fun song to sing-along to, but the lyrics are utterly depressing. Swift conveys the emotions of not feeling good enough and battling imposter syndrome while maintaining a catchy beat. And if that is not the most Taylor Swift thing to do, then I do not know what is. The music video is filled with clever imagery that articulates her experience of being in the limelight and not being seen as human. The two most impactful imageries used are, when Swift is depicted as bleeding midnight blue glitter and her being a giant among her peers. The former highlights the media outlook viewing her as not a regular person. They paint her as this god-like entity that is above everyone else, thus she cannot bleed red like us mere mortals. Of course, this is not what Swift wants the world to see her as, and yet, she cannot get control of this unrealistic point of view. Furthermore, the latter emphasizes Swift’s struggle to feel seen as simply just Taylor, the person; not Taylor Swift, the superstar. She is seen towering over her peers. Although she is excited to socialize, they are petrified to communicate with her because she is an enigma. Nothing more than a famous singer. A living legend. Swift describes her battle with being the “anti-hero” through cheeky humor, with the peak during the hilarious funeral scene in the bridge. After watching the video, even the most casual fans have a deeper insight on Swift’s mental health and her internal battle with self-image.
10. "The Story of Us" (2011)
Similar to “White Horse,” this track has been severely underrated to the point that too many fans forget “The Story of Us” was ever a single, let alone that it has its own music video. However, this track was my stan song for nearly a decade and this video has been etched into my mind forever. The dark academia aesthetic is everything that a bookworm Swiftie could ever dream of. The video was filmed in the beautiful library at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. With the song being heavy with book references, including her saying “Next Chapter” before the second verse, and ending the track with “The end,” the video being set in a library was a genius move by Swift. In the video, she plays the part of a college student trying to avoid her ex-boyfriend, only to run into him at the school’s library. The entire time, the audience is rooting for a happy ending that includes the two falling back into love. However, in classic Swift fashion, she keeps the audience on their toes by ending the video with a twist. Amid the chaos that ensues within the library, Swift and her love interest are reunited in the center. Just when the viewer thinks they will kiss and make up, the two only comically shrug and walk away. In a separate scene, Swift dramatically closes a book while saying “the end,” concluding both the track and the love story. “The Story of Us” was the beginning of wildly unpredictable music videos by Swift, making it one of her most iconic visualizers to date.
9. "I Bet You Think About Me" ft. Chris Stapleton (2021)
Despite being released in 2021 as a vault track on Red (Taylor’s Version), the video for “I Bet You Think About Me” is a classic country Taylor Swift video in every way possible. The storyline. The acting. The costumes. Everything screams Country Taylor, making it a no brainer for her best music videos list. The video consists of an all-star team, with actress and best friend of Swift, Blake Lively as the director, and actor, Miles Teller and his wife, Keleigh Sperry, as the bride and groom. Swift is shown in all-red crashing the wedding of her ex-boyfriend, committing crazy antics such as tasting the cake before it is cut and teaching the children present to flip off the groom. Teller’s character seen throughout the video in distress as he recalls this failed relationship, painting the picture that even at his wedding, he still thinks about her. This video is the crazy ex-girlfriend version of Swift’s song “Speak Now,” off of the album of the same name. While “Speak Now” is a sweet ode to the one she once loved, fantasizing about running away with the groom at his wedding, this one is a humorous twist on this idea. Instead, she dreams of crashing the wedding to ruin his night and remind him of the pain he caused. It is the “Speak Now” video that the fans always wanted, but never thought we would ever get. Swift’s re-recordings are not only a noble method of reclaiming her art, but a perfect way for old Swifties to relive the nostalgia of her old music while new Swifties are able to experience these eras for the first time.
8. "Delicate" (2018)
Similar to “Anti-Hero,” Swift tells her side of the story within the “Delicate” music video. However, it is less what the media sees her as, and more of who she is behind closed doors. In the midst of the chaotic red carpet, Swift is slipped a note, which contents are hinted at later. Inside the glamorous hotel, she poses for photos with fans, only to be attacked from behind by a crazy stalker. This is a reference to the handful of home invasions and attempted attacks by stalkers at her concerts, something that has caused deep anxiety within Swift. The scene pans to Swift sitting in front of a mirror, making funny faces at herself, until she realizes no one can see her. She takes this opportunity to be her true, authentic self. She no longer has to seem prim and proper, but can dance like nobody is watching. Each dance move is more ridiculous than the one before, making the video lighthearted and comedic. Swift ends the video with her dancing in the rain, ending it in true Swift fashion with her trademark love for dancing in the middle of a storm. When the song begins to fade out, Swift enters a dive bar and everyone turns to look at her, indicating she is no longer invisible. However, she looks over all of them and smiles. She has found the one she was there to meet: The one that passed her the note. In the end, she does not care that everyone is staring at her again because she has now found the one she loves. The video is a fan-favorite due to Swift being able to show off her adorable, dorky self that we have all fallen in love with. However, for me, I may be a little more biased than the rest, because this music video is what gave me my very first ‘like’ by Swift on Twitter. This simple act by her has made the song and video more special to me in a way that words cannot describe.
7. "Bad Blood" ft. Kendrick Lamar (2015)
The “Bad Blood” music video was not just a video, but a cultural reset. Everyone was talking about the video for weeks after its premiere. It was all anyone was anticipating before it was released, especially with the Kendrick Lamar remix that differed from the 1989 album. The days leading up to the video, Swift announced new cast members everyday as if the video was the next blockbuster film of the century. The video stars a long list of iconic celebrities such as Swift’s real-life friends Martha Hunt, Gigi Hadid, and Lily Aldridge, and the actresses that play her cats’ namesakes, Mariska Hargitay and Ellen Pompeo. Of course, the most iconic cast member is Swift’s best friend, Selena Gomez, who played the villain of the story. The video contains special effects and unique costumes that makes it less of a music video, and more of a full production movie. After Gomez’s character, Arsyn, betrays Swift’s character, Catastrophe, Swift and her badass team of fighters gear up and train to go to war against Arsyn. In the end, the two finally meet for battle and the video cuts before the audience can see who wins, leaving it up for interpretation. Despite all of Swift’s videos that came before, this was truly the first one she released that made her fans want a full feature action film that shows the entire story, from beginning to end. With her inevitable re-recording of 1989, it would be interesting to see if she would do a sequel video that follows up with the unforgettable plot.
6. "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" (2012)
The music video for “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” is iconic for multiple reasons. The squirrel pajamas, Swift’s overdramatic expressions, and her band in full animal costumes are just some of the simple examples that come to mind. But perhaps the most unique aspect of the video that landed it on this list is the videography behind it. The video was recorded in one take, with no special effects or multiple cuts to create it. Instead, Swift and the entire cast and crew worked diligently to make sure the entire video could be made in only one take. Through quick costume changes and clever moving sets, the video maintains an easy-to-follow storyline, while not once switching cameras. This videography technique is something that any film buff would swoon over. It places a bigger importance on the role of the entire crew, rather than only recognizing Swift and any of her on-screen co-stars. Furthermore, Swift includes what may be her first of many easter eggs in the bridge of the song. This is when her on-again off-again boyfriend places a scarf around her neck, which she then dramatically takes off and leaves with him. This may be a nod to the scarf referenced in fellow Red track, “All Too Well,” which allegedly shares the same subject. References to this scarf made a significant comeback with the re-release of Red (Taylor’s Version), so it comes as no surprise that the lead single from the original release would include this meticulous detail. Overall, the music video has a lively atmosphere that perfectly matches the catchy track and Swift’s fun-loving attitude.
5. "Wildest Dreams" (2015)
“Wildest Dreams” is largely considered Swift’s most aesthetically pleasing videos with its old Hollywood visuals and African safari scenery. The video follows the storyline of Swift as a 1950s actress filming a romantic movie while trying not to fall in love with her co-star, played by Scott Eastwood. Her character, Marjorie Finn, is a reference to her grandmother, Marjorie Finlay. Meanwhile, Eastwood’s character, Robert Kingsley, is a reference to her grandfather’s first name and her father’s middle name, respectively. Inevitably, Marjorie and Robert have secret rendezvous that lead up to a dramatic fight that blows up the love affair. At the end of the video, they attend the movie premiere in the United States, where it is revealed that Robert is married. Marjorie is deeply hurt by this and eventually ditches the theater in an effort to protect her broken heart. Robert chases her out, but is left in the middle of the road while Marjorie is driven away in a classic car. Similar to “Bad Blood,” this music video plays like a full-production movie and leaves viewers wanting more. Additionally, Swift donated all the proceeds from the video to African Parks Foundation of America in support of wild animal conservation efforts.
4. "You Belong With Me" (2009)
"You Belong With Me” is without a doubt the most memorable video for not only fans, but also for the general public and the entire music industry. The video went on to win a handful of awards and solidified Swift’s place as the world's next big superstar. The track follows Swift’s hopeless romantic plea to the one she loves, telling him that he is with the wrong person and should be with her instead. The corresponding video flawlessly captures this storyline from beginning to end, resembling a picture-perfect film. Swift plays both of the female parts: the nerdy girl-next-door and the mean cheerleader girlfriend. To this day, new fans still discover that the popular mean girl is Swift in a brunette wig, proving the video has stood the test of time and continues to be watched 14 years later. The video starts with Swift being in her bedroom and seeing the love interest in his room next door arguing with his girlfriend. This directly parallels the lyrics, “You’re on the phone with your girlfriend// She’s upset.” Instantly, the audience knows that this video is not a vague representation of the lyrics, but an exact replica of the story within the track. The visuals in the video are still considered iconic outfits from Swift’s career, especially the “Junior Jewels” band camp t-shirt she is seen wearing in the first scene. It is perhaps the most iconic look from the original Fearless era, as fans still replicate the look at Swift’s concerts and other related events. The video is cute and lighthearted and ends on a happy note where Swift finally gets the boy.
3. "Out Of The Woods" (2015)
Once again, Swift hits the mark with an aesthetically pleasing video that is largely favored by the majority of fans. The video contains a great amount of clever imagery that soft launches Swift’s introduction into using her videos to communicate with fans through secret messages and easter eggs. Although the first blatant use of easter eggs is truly found in the “Look What You Made Me Do” video, she uses imagery in the same way—to tell her fans what she is really thinking. “Out Of The Woods” is an incredibly vulnerable track that expresses her deep anxiety within relationships and the fear that they will inevitably end. No matter how hard she tries to protect herself and the one she loves, the media and those around her will find a way to ruin it. In the video, Swift is seen walking barefoot in the woods, surrounded by wolves that are hunting her. All around her are thick thorny vines that attempt to trip her and stop her from escaping. At the end of the first chorus, she falls into a new scene where she lands in fluffy white snow. As she trudges through the frozen landscape, the wolves find her again and slowly follow her to a ragged cliff. There, Swift yanks off the paper airplane necklace mentioned in the second verse, and seen worn in previous projects. She then dives off the cliff and lands into a barren desert, before the scenes begin to chaotically switch, representing her unpredictable anxiety. The constant changes represent her feeling safe from the media slander, only for her to find herself in danger again. Additionally, Swift is seen with sharp ice spikes growing up her arm. This visualizes Swift’s inability to touch anything, or anyone, without them getting hurt. As the video progresses, she is seen fighting back against the danger and breaking free. The video ends with her finding another version of herself at the calm, serene beach. The scene fades into the dark screen that reads the message “She lost him, but she found herself and somehow that was everything.” This is a secret message hidden in the lyric book for “Clean,” the last track off of 1989. This video ties together every song on the album, which spreads the message of hope and happiness after a breakup. Swift proves that finding herself is the true happy ending in this story.
2. "Blank Space" (2014)
Once again, a classic 1989 single has made the list, proving that this album should have been a visual album all along. “Blank Space” is a satirical track where Swift plays the part of the boy-crazy, heartless woman who only dates men so she can write a song about them. After years of being hit with ridiculous rumors of her love life and the media paying more attention to who she is dating than her success, Swift decided to write a song from the perspective of this character they conjured up. The corresponding video perfectly encapsulates this imagery with Swift playing a fancy, rich woman who switches sides against the men she dates and becomes erratic and violent. The video is just as comical as the lyrics themselves, once again showing off Swift’s brilliant creative storytelling. The critical reception from the general public and music industry tastemakers were astonishing. “Blank Space” went on to win Best Pop Video and Best Female Video at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, and was placed on Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 Greatest Music Videos of All Time list. Furthermore, Swift and her team included a unique experience for fans with the interactive app, American Express Unstaged: Taylor Swift Experience. This consisted of a 360° video version of the video where fans can follow Swift through the video, or explore other parts of the mansion with hidden easter eggs throughout. This made the video more sentimental to fans and made them experience the video in a brand-new way. This app went on to earn the Original Interactive Program at the 67th Primetime Creative Emmy Awards. Through the detailed imagery, the iconic costumes, and Swift’s crazy antics, “Blank Space” serves as one of the most iconic music videos of all time.
1. "Look What You Made Me Do" (2017)
If you ask any Swiftie where they were when Swift blacked out all her socials, posted a cryptic snake video, then announced “Look What You Made Me Do,” you would get a detailed account about the beginning of the iconic Reputation era. For me, I was stopped at a Starbucks Coffee in Palm Springs, California on the way to my third year of college. The music video was a defining moment in Swift’s career. It is the first video where easter eggs became a prominent part of Swift’s videography. The singer has even said it will be years before fans catch on to some of the easter eggs, as we are still finding some today in 2023. With this single, Swift chose to take back the narrative and embrace the negativity thrown her way. After being called a snake by vicious haters online, she decided to become one. The music video consists of dark imagery that includes snakes, bank robbery, and death to the “old Taylor.” In the iconic bridge, the “new” Taylor is seen standing over past versions of herself, as they are fighting each other for the throne. Yet no one but the new Swift prevails. This was Swift’s way of rebranding herself and proving that she can rise like a phoenix from the ashes. In the last scene, all the different Taylors, some from the past and some that made their appearance in the video for the first time,are lined up in a row. Swift has a cheeky conversation with herself that references past feuds and societal outlooks about her that have been blown out of proportion. This makes light of the drama and the hatred that led to Reputation, making “Look What You Made Me Do” the most iconic lead single from her entire career and proving that Swift truly always gets the last word.
Honorary Mention-- All Too Well: The Short Film (2021)
When Swift announced that she would re-record her first six albums to take back what was rightfully hers, we never thought in our wildest dreams that “All Too Well” would become a single. Let alone that we would finally get the mythical ten-minute version and a music video to accompany it. Written and directed by Swift herself and starring Dylan O’Brien and Sadie Sink, it is more than just a video but a short film. This is why I chose to omit it from the list of music videos. With a greater budget and a different approach to the production, it does not feel fair to compare a cinematic release that was eligible for an Oscar and released in theaters to the music videos listed above. With that being said, this video beautifully encapsulates Swift’s heartbreak that she sings about in “All Too Well” and leaves not one dry eye in the audience.
With the number of creative videos that Swift has released, there is no doubt that some of your favorites did not make the cut. Visit our Instagram below and let us know which videos you wish made the list and which ones are your favorites!
Written By Karlee Skipper
*copyright not intended. Fair use act, section 107.