Taylor Swift‘s “Out of the Woods” music video is the latest in a long line of colorful clips that have helped define the music superstar’s sprawling career, from the humble country days of her self-titled debut to the ostentatious pop phenom she became with 1989. Swift has released dozens of music videos over the course of her career, each with many millions of views — but which 10 separate themselves as her most memorable visual achievements?
From the bright-eyed whimsy of “Our Song” to the scorched-earth cinema of “I Knew You Were Trouble,” check out our picks for Taylor Swift’s 10 best music videos so far:
Taylor Swift likes to cast herself as a decidedly regular person in her music videos, and what’s more ordinary than an office job with a cramped elevator ride up to a too-small cubicle? The “Ours” video is necessarily understated and successfully empathetic; bonus points for pairing Swift with Friday Night Lights star Zach Gilford, who steps in as Military Matt Saracen at the end.
What would a Taylor Swift Broadway musical look like? Maybe we’ll find out someday, but the inventive “Mean” music video gives fans a good idea: the banjo jamboree is combined with vaudevillian antics and testimonials from the bullied and beaten-down, who eventually find the adult success they long for during adolescence.
8. “Our Song”
Back when Taylor Swift was a promising country up-and-comer, she unveiled one of her simplest, sweetest music videos with the “Our Song” visual, which posits the teenager as a blonde bombshell with a lot of flowing dresses and a glitter-encrusted guitar. Think of the “Our Song” video as Taylor’s version of Britney Spears’ “Sometimes” video: Swift would become a much more complex artist over time, but on her first album, she was cool girl having a lot of wholesome fun.
7. “Picture To Burn”
Many of Swift’s early tunes center on the boys that make up her life: crushes, boyfriends, brothers. It’s such a treat, then, for her to give fans “Picture to Burn’s” relationship-ending barnburner. Between rocking out in a black dress and boots with her band and footage with real-life best friend Abigail Anderson helping her plan some sabotage, the whole thing is a delight (complete with fireworks and sparklers) about first heartbreak.
6. “Wildest Dreams”
Taylor Swift is a movie star from an era past in her latest ballad. With Elizabeth Taylor-esque dark hair and a sexy co-star in Scott Eastwood, this ode to Old Hollywood showcases Swift among majestic beasts of the animal world as she gets up close and personal with her sensual side thanks to Mr. Eastwood. The hauntingly romantic lyrics are perfectly showcased in this video by Joseph Kahn, who also was behind the camera for “Bad Blood” and “Blank Space.”
5. “Out of the Woods”
Swift takes us on an epic journey in the video for “Out of the Woods,” a visually stunning spectacle shot in New Zealand. Decked out in a royal-blue gown, the singer runs from ferocious wolves in the woods while giant vines shoot up around her, stands atop a snow-capped mountain (and has icicles form on her hands) and gets submerged in the ocean. The adrenaline-filled mini-movie ends with Swift eventually (literally) finding herself and the words, “She lost him. But she found herself. And somehow that was everything” (which originally appeared in the liner notes for 1989).
4. Blank Space
Taylor Swift’s 1989 era ushered in higher-production videos (if you’re going to be a pop star, it’s obligatory), and Swift is clearly having fun owning the genre. “Blank Space” contains gorgeous backdrops, pitch-perfect outfits, and Swift getting to show off a little crazy girl rage. The fact that the singer seems to be experiencing genuine joy as she sends up her media image is just icing on the blood-filled cake.
3. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
For the lead single off Red, Taylor made sure to give fans something to talk about – in her silliest video yet, the fun house party theme of upbeat pop pleasure “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” gets added coolness points for the overall video aesthetic: seemingly all one shot, with Swift running from scene to scene like a popup book. Bonus: Her band was decked out in furry animal costumes. Enough said.
2. Shake It Off
From the moment Swift popped up from the barre in a tutu, fans knew they were in for something special. What better way to kick off a new era than by literally shaking off the old? The stylish video features Swift donning plenty of GIF-able costumes, but it’s the sleek all-black number (paired with her signature red lips) that make the most memorable statement about the new chapter.
1. You Belong With Me
Swift has plenty of videos about young love, but she hit her apex both musically and visually with her crossover hit “You Belong With Me.” Tackling purposeful dorkiness (check those glasses) as well as exuberant glee, Swift — playing her own nemesis in the vid as well – expertly crafted her own perfect high school movie tale, all in a quick three and a half minutes.