At the 2015 Billboard Music Awards, the world was blessed to not only get gifted with Taylor Swift’s much anticipated “Bad Blood” music video, but to be wowed with a second present in the form of Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé’s “Feeling Myself” video.” In the space of 24 hours, we received two masterpieces from three of the world’s biggest and best women in music — not including the cameo heavy cast of “Bad Blood,” of course.
I was shocked, then, when I realized that instead of celebrating the miracle that had been bestowed upon us by our favorite celebrities that many were instead pitting these talented women against each other. I shouldn’t have been especially shocked: Comparisons (to put it lightly) are easily made in the music industry. But that’s exactly my problem with critics attempting to take the “bad blood” one step further to create competition between Bey, Minaj, and Taylor Swift.
To put it simply: There are no comparisons to be made between the videos, other than their release date. Some have argued it was shady of our Queen Bey and Queen of Rap to “steal” Swift’s spotlight by releasing their video on the same day, but it would only be throwing shade if the videos (and the songs) had any similarity to them.
“Feeling Myself” is a bubbly, bright, and fun video that just makes you smile via Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj’s happiness and friendship. Bright colors, incredible outfits, and some hit summer hang-outs (post-Coachella blues anyone? I’m heartbroken and I don’t even live in America). The video changes the meaning of the song: It isn’t just solely through self confidence that you’ve gotta feel yourself, but through your fabulous female friendships that boost you to new heights. The song celebrates female empowerment and the video proves that female solidarity and support are integral in feeling yourself.
Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” arrives at the same message, but from a completely different angle. The song takes down an “unnamed female pop star” (word on the street, Swift’s beef is with Katy Perry) for ruining their friendship and creating bad blood. Her music video could have so easily turned into a remake of Avril Lavigne’s (iconic) ”Girlfriend,” or even Swift’s own ”Love Story” vid. Instead, through futuristic, Hunger Games-y visuals and a cast of Taylor Swift’s female-fueled friendship group, she again teaches us the importance of female solidarity and how strong women can make each other.
Personally, I love both music videos — and even if they had been incredibly similar, I’d still love them equally. And what I adore about these works — both arguably created with the same female-focused goals in mind — is that they articulate femininity and feminism in completely opposing ways.
The bubble gum palette, bright skies, and inside jokes of “Feeling Myself” are simple, but it all works. The contrast of sexy, sexual leotards with pastel rainbow fur coats and face-pulling shows even within the video itself the layers of complexity that can be found in representing femininity. The video doesn’t have a focus other than fun — and it doesn’t need it. A song that is a self-love, self-confidence anthem represents summer vibes through a variety of fabulous summer outfits.
Bey and Minaj’s video shows two women not judging the other’s self-confidence (as is so often the case in a world of girl-hate), but instead basking in it. Even bringing each other’s positivity to another level by bouncing it off of each other. All whilst in outfits that costs thousands and make me cry over the fact that they’re not in my summer wardrobe.
Contrastingly, Taylor Swift’s dark, leathery wasteland (even a change to blood red hair to represent the ferocity of not just a female’s wrath, but a team of solid female friendships) represents the strength that we receive from boosting each other’s confidence. With many homages to strong cinematic heroines — from Katniss Everdeen to Hayley Williams’ ode to Leeloo — the video doesn’t hold back on representing the strength of women in the coolest ways.
Swift represents the rage all women have inside them, as well as highlighting how individual women all have their own strengths, whilst reminding us that when together, we’re unbeatable. The dark, detailed video is undoubtedly empowering and if you’re not wishing that you were a part of Taylor Swift’s bad ass crew, then you’re at least wishing there was more. A feature length film, perhaps?
With these messages in mind, portrayed in the most opposing ways possible, I’m left furious that anyone could take these feminist music videos and try to twist them into a tune of girl hate and to spill more than bad blood. The complexity of femininity is shown to us in a myriad of ways and even better, they reinforce that with each other’s support, our individual representations of our femininity and feminisms can only reach even greater heights.
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