Over the weekend, Taylor Swift debuted the music video for her song “Delicate” from her most recent album Reputation. The track, like many others on the album, explores Swift’s dealings with the brutal destruction of her public image over the past 18 months. In particular, “Delicate” reveals Swift’s feelings toward a new relationship in the midst of her character assassination: “This ain’t for the best / My reputation’s never been worse, so / You must like me for me,” the opening line states.
The video begins with scenes of extreme fame: At a hotel, Swift is bombarded by paparazzi camera flashes, aimed cell phones and the hands of a crazed bellhop in a red uniform. Amid the fame frenzy, Swift is slipped a note as she sings, “Dive bar on the East Side, where you at? / Phone lights up my nightstand in the black / Come here, you can meet me in the back.” The significance of this note, presumably symbolic of a text she received from this new romantic partner, is revealed later.
Disgusted and jaded, Swift makes quirky faces in a mirror while alone in a bathroom, signaling a conflict between her desire to be herself and the pressures and expectations of the public eye. However, when Swift turns to greet a few women who enter the bathroom, she is unnoticed. Suspicious, Swift torments her once attentive bodyguards to see if she can get a response. Eventually, she concludes that she is invisible to everyone around her, but instead of feeling lost and lonely, as one normally would, she is ecstatic — trouncing around the hotel in flashes of goofy dance moves. The red-outfitted bellhop doesn’t even bat an eye.
To end the video, Swift arrives at a dive bar after dancing in the pouring rain and clutches the note she was handed earlier. Finally, the viewer infers that the note contains the same message as the text Swift received, as detailed in the song’s lyrics. Essentially, Swift has found a man that likes her for her, and thanks to him, she can be herself in the midst of nasty public attacks. Regardless of your opinions on Swift and her snake-like tendencies, you have to feel a little happy for her.