I Knew Your Troubled Love Would Ride in a Hopeless Place

A couple of days ago, I sat at my desk and cursed the gods of music for afflicting me with the worst of earworms: “I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift.

I made my way over to YouTube hoping against all logic that a lyric video would get the song out of my head and free me from my T-Swizzle Prison and was surprised to find that the actual music video was now available for viewing.

Again against all logic, I decided to watch it. What I found angered me to the point of stunned silence – Taylor Swift SHAMELESSLY used the idea for Rihanna’s “We Found Love” video. SHAMELESSLY.

Now I would like to take this moment, in the interest of full disclosure, to say that I am not Taylor Swift’s biggest fan. I am also not Rihanna’s biggest fan (though for entirely different reasons).

But I’m team Rihanna on this one.

I understand that art generally involves borrowing from people. I do it, Taylor does it, Rihanna does it, even Golden Goddess Beyoncé does it. But there’s a difference between a nod to someone and headbutting them.

The spoken word intros are even almost indistinguishable from one another:

It’s like you’re screaming – and no one can hear. You almost feel ashamed that someone can be that important that without them you feel like nothing. No one’ll ever understand how much it hurts. You feel hopeless like nothing can save you. And when it’s over and it’s gone you almost wish that you could have all that bad stuff back so you could have the good.  [RIHANNA]

I think – I think when it’s all over it just comes back in flashes, you know? It’s like a kaleidoscope of memories, but it just all comes back…but he never does. I think part of me knew the second I saw him that this would happen. It’s not really anything he said or anything he did – it was the feeling that came along with it. And the crazy thing is, I don’t know if I’m ever going to feel that way again. But I don’t know if I should. I knew his world moved too fast and burned too bright but I just thought “How can the devil be pulling you toward someone who looks so much like an angel when he smiles at you” Maybe he knew that when he saw me. I guess I just lost my balance. I think that the worst part of it all wasn’t losing him, it was losing me. [TAYLOR]

Of course Taylor can’t let her video speak for itself and has to add this outro:

I don’t know if you know who you are until you lose who you are.

Someone please, please just shake Taylor Swift.

Oh and I forgot that dear, pouty-lipped, Lana Del Rey is in on this whole borrowing-versus-copying shebang too. Her video for “Ride” (directed by the same guy who directed “I Knew You Were Trouble”) is a similar concept – hipstamatic tint, spoken intro about a man/men, story told in flashes – with a slightly different concept – an artist who may or may not be some type of prostitute who rides around with a biker gang? I don’t pretend to understand Lana. Or why the video for “Ride” is ten minutes long. Or what “the winter of my life” means when you’re only 26 years old. Here’s her intro:

I was in the winter of my life, and the men I met along the road were my only summer.
At night I fell asleep with visions of myself, dancing and laughing and crying with them.
Three years down the line of being on an endless world tour, and my memories of them were the only things that sustained me, and my only real happy times.
I was a singer – not a very popular one,
I once had a dreams of becoming a beautiful poet, but upon an unfortunate series of events some of those dreams dashed and divided like a million stars in the night sky that I wished on over and over again, sparkling and broken.
But I didn’t really mind because I knew that it takes getting everything you ever wanted, and then losing it to know what true freedom is.
When the people I used to know found out what I had been doing, how I’d been living, they asked me why – but there’s no use in talking to people who have home.
They have no idea what it’s like to seek safety in other people – for home to be wherever you lay your head.
I was always an unusual girl.
My mother told me I had a chameleon soul, no moral compass pointing due north, no fixed personality; just an inner indecisiveness that was as wide and as wavering as the ocean…
And if I said I didn’t plan for it to turn out this way I’d be lying…
Because I was born to be the other woman.
I belonged to no one, who belonged to everyone.
Who had nothing, who wanted everything, with a fire for every experience and an obsession for freedom that terrified me to the point that I couldn’t even talk about it, and pushed me to a nomadic point of madness that both dazzled and dizzied me.


Here’s my real issue with Taylor’s video – it feels inauthentic.

I think that every musician does some performance, song, video etc. that proves to fans, haters, and everyone in between why they are famous. I think with Kanye it was My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and for Rihanna it was the video for “We Found Love.” The song itself is fun, but not unique. It’s an electropop club hit like any other, but the video (I thought) actually delved into some real issues.

Rihanna as a woman of color was portraying a cycle (albeit a glorified version of one) that a lot of women who look like her get dragged into – drugs and destroying yourself and your happiness for a man who, though very attractive (seriously who is that guy in the video and where do I get his number?) is essentially a no good bum who cares more about getting high than your wellbeing.

Taylor Swift just wrote another song about a guy who doesn’t like her. The “trouble” in the video is a guy who gets into fights, doesn’t pay enough attention to her, and kisses some girl at a rave. There is no implication of Taylor being dragged down with him, just the sanctimonious labeling of the boy as “trouble” and her being near him while he’s being all Ian-Somerhald-on-the-first-season-of-the-vampire-diaries-y. Also something about a necklace that either symbolizes her last link to the person she was before she met this guy OR her last ties to this guy. I’m not sure.

I am sure that Tay needs to get her act together, and prove to us all why we keep giving her our damn money, because so far Red is not cutting it.

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