Welcome to the second mega-budget, almost-feminist, wantonly destructive action movie of the weekend.
After debuting at the Billboard Music Awards, Taylor Swift’s video for “Bad Blood” has arrived, guns blazing and supermodel-packed.
Its rollout -- built around a steady drip of guest stars with cornball action-movie names -- was unavoidable for anyone keeping tabs on pop music in the last few weeks. But those expecting a genuine, plot-thickened “Sin City” vamp got much less of a movie (but a lot more new music) than they were probably expecting.
The noir of the Joseph Kahn-directed clip is less of a plot than a premise for all these coltish Instagram heroes to pull knives and fire RPGs at each other. As if there’s a pop fan alive who’s not going to watch Cara Delevingne knock around some nunchucks while Ellie Goulding fires an antitank rifle and Lily Aldridge, Gigi Hadid and even Cindy Crawford make this the model-iest-per-capita event since Leo DiCaprio’s last happy hour.
For all the star power, it’s still a traditional four-minute music video -- the cast barely has time to get introduced and punch each other in the face a few times before they get to the song’s bridge and start the big explosion walk-away.
But it’s what’s happening off-screen that’s perhaps more interesting.
The video version of “Bad Blood” gets two new verses from Kendrick Lamar and a light trap-music remix in the margins (some new spatters of high-hats and some spooky open spaces). Lamar’s definitely not at his most fiery (in the video, he named himself after this viral star [WARNING: Some images might be objectionable]), but his verses sit well in this new edit and prove that his range can go from difficult free jazz all the way to the tightest, glossiest pop out there.
It’s hard to tell what Lamar’s up to here, especially so close after his thorny epic exploration of the black male psyche, “To Pimp a Butterfly.” Is it a gesture toward eventually becoming as broadly popular an artist as Swift (because, frankly, he’s already pretty much there?). Is it just a self-aware lark, proving he’s not always quite so self-serious?
The remix is officially on iTunes and you can download it for yourself to try and figure it out. But who are we kidding -- you’re going to watch Zendaya and Selena Gomez kick people out of windows for the rest of today. As are we.
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