Taylor Swift released her latest single, “You Need To Calm Down,” on Friday, and of course I had thoughts right off the bat. I still like the song, and it’s definitely been stuck in my head all weekend. This morning, Taylor dropped the video for the song, and she’s really not playing around here. There are about a million celebrities in the video, many of them famous members of the LGBTQ community.
Many of the inclusions in the video make perfect sense, like executive producer Todrick Hall, and known lesbian and friend of Taylor Swift Hayley Kiyoko (who also happens to be my girl crush). But Taylor really pulled out all the stops here, and there are some cameos in the video that were very unexpected, for a number of reasons. Here are all the most random celebs in the video for “You Need To Calm Down.”
Okay, so random is really the wrong word to describe this, but I obviously had to include it. After Katy Perry officially announced the end of her feud with Taylor Swift, we all knew there was something coming, and here we go. I believe that they’ve gotten over their beef, but this is also very calculated. I have a feeling there’s still a collaboration or something coming this summer, so prepare to have Katy and Taylor shoved down your throat for the foreseeable future.
I never thought I’d see Adam Lambert giving Ellen Degeneres a tattoo, but it’s 2019, and weird sh*t is happening all over the place. Ellen’s spot in the video makes sense, because she and Taylor Swift have always been weirdly obsessed with each other, but I haven’t seen Adam Lambert in a minute. These days, he tours with Queen as their lead singer, but I guess Taylor is a fan too?
There are a lot of drag queens in Taylor’s video, but the one who stands out the most is the queen who looks exactly like Taylor. This is Jade Jolie, who was on the fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and she’s known for being one of the best Taylor Swift impersonators. Idk if Taylor Swift actually knows who all of these queens are, but at least she got good ones for the video.
Jesse Tyler Ferguson
I haven’t watched an episode of Modern Family in approximately seven years, but apparently Jesse Tyler Ferguson has friends in high places. Jesse and his husband Justin Mikita got…remarried, I guess?…on the set of the video, and their wedding officiant was none other than…
F*ck, Ciara looks so good. I’m not sure about her connection to Taylor Swift, but luckily she graced us with her presence in this video, as the hot pastor officiating the wedding. Should I be wearing more orange latex?? Probably not, but I’m still tempted after seeing this lewk.
Adam Rippon is great, but I’m starting to think Taylor Swift just Googled “famous gay guys” and called the first 10 people that came up. Of course, Adam made history last year when he won a medal as an openly gay man at the Olympics, but the jury’s out on how he knows Taylor.
Out of all the cameos in the video, Ryan Reynolds was definitely the least expected one. If I had to guess, this one can probably be traced back to the fact that Taylor is good friends with Blake Lively, who is obviously married to Ryan. I’m still not sure exactly how he ended up on set, but that at least explains how they’re friends with each other.
Images: katyperry (2), adamlambert, missjadejolie, jessettyler, ciara, adaripp / Instagram
Over the years, my feelings about Taylor Swift have varied wildly. From going to one of her concerts when I was in high school, to writing scathing reviews of some of her more recent work, Taylor and I have been on a journey together for over a decade. My thoughts about her are always evolving, and with her new song “You Need To Calm Down,” we might finally be entering a positive chapter.
Back in April, Taylor Swift kicked off her new era with her single “Me!”. I was really ready to embrace this new chapter with open arms, but things quickly went south. I’m all about having a good time, but Taylor’s new song felt like it was better suited for an episode of Sesame Street than a pregame playlist. The candy-coated video didn’t help things, and the entire effort came across like a high-budget music video for kids. Taylor, who turns 30 later this year, seemed lost, and a little desperate. Is this really what she thought we wanted from her?
The single underperformed by Taylor Swift’s standards, so at least I wasn’t the only one who was confused by this direction. I’m all for rainbows and catchy pop music, but I don’t want to be shouted at about spelling. The biggest question left in the wake of “Me!” was what Taylor Swift would put out next. Yesterday, she finally announced her album, called Lover, that will be released in August. Along with the album announcement, we also got a new single, and…
I love it.
After the perplexing elementary school vibes that she brought with her last single, Taylor Swift has finally returned to form. “You Need To Calm Down” is classic Taylor Swift from top to bottom, with a trademark long title, a hook that’s instantly catchy, and lyrics that are already burned into my head after approximately three listens. Okay, like 10 listens, but only for research purposes.
This song sounds like the best of the 1989 era, with layered vocals and synth beats that sound both moody and triumphant at the same time. There are some Reputation influences in there too, but luckily not the vague talk-rapping about her enemies. Hopefully that’s gone for good.
As for the lyrics, Taylor Swift really takes a step out of her bubble here by centering “You Need To Calm Down” as a pro-LGBTQ empowerment anthem. The lyrics contain references to Pride parades, GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), and men wearing gowns. In the prechorus, Taylor sings:
You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace
And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate
‘Cause shade never made anybody less gay
Basically, Taylor is telling people to stay in their lane, and that putting other people down doesn’t actually accomplish anything. Whatever your feelings about Taylor Swift, it’s nice to see her including messages like this into her music. She still has a wider impact than anyone else in music, so she actually has the power to influence people who might not be exposed to Pride parades on a regular basis.
Over the past year, Taylor Swift has become more active in the political sphere, something that she was hesitant to do for years. It’s refreshing to see her owning her status as an ally, especially during Pride month. We could argue about whether she’s benefitting from it, or how genuine it is, but sometimes it’s just nice to have visible support from people in places of power.
Of course, this is still a Taylor Swift song, so there are some classic Taylor references to snakes and crowns, but overall, “You Need To Calm Down” feels like a major step in the right direction for 2019 Taylor Swift. Whereas “ME!” almost felt like a publicity stunt, Taylor’s second single feels like an organic step in the right direction. There’s no argument that Taylor Swift can write catchy hooks and lyrics, so this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.
Hopefully you like this song as much as I do, because Taylor Swift is going to be everywhere over the next couple of months. She still has an 18-track album coming later this summer, so that’s a lot of opportunities for things to go very wrong or very right, but I’m at least cautiously optimistic now.
Images: Shutterstock; betches, taylorswift / Instagram; taylorswift / YouTube