On November 12th, Taylor Swift released Red (Taylor’s Version): a 130-minute tracklist with songs focusing on themes of falling apart and fresh starts, including 9 previously unreleased songs “From the Vault” that were excluded from the original 2012 recording of the album. Red (Taylor's Version) is second on Swift's checklist of rerecording her albums currently owned by Big Machine Records to reclaim her masters.
One of Red’s “From the Vault” songs, “I Bet You Think About Me,” has recently been accompanied by a music video directed by Taylor’s close friend and actress Blake Lively. It seems to be a cheeky middle-finger to a certain J-named ex that features Chris Stapleton, heavy country undertones, and could have easily been on Fearless.
In an audio clip tweeted by Boston radio station Country 102.5, Swift explained that she and co-writer Lori McKenna intended the song to be a "comedic, tongue-in-cheek, funny, not caring what anyone thinks about your sort of breakup song" in comparison with the more melancholy heartbreak songs on the album.
Swift teased the long-awaited collaboration between herself and Lively in a surprise Instagram post; a 10-second clip extracted from the music video of Taylor dragging her hand through a wedding cake, mangling the red velvet layers and fluffy buttercream frosting with her manicured fingers to resonant "I Bet You Think About Me" instrumentals in the background. This announcement comes only two days after the release of the “All Too Well” short film with Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien as the leads.
The music video is essentially a story about crashing a wedding, starring Miles Teller as the groom, his real-life wife Keleigh Sperry as the bride and, Taylor herself as the crazy ex-girlfriend; a title she's often been subjugated to by the media because of the themes of some of her music and the relationships she’s pursued since her emergence in the music industry two decades ago.
“I Bet You Think About Me” is a spirited twist on a breakup song and the punchline is speculated to be none other than Jake Gyllenhaal who, aside from recently playing Mysterio in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was Taylor’s boyfriend during a short-lived relationship spanning three months from 2010 to 2011. The lyrics mock Jake’s supposedly pretentious and pompous persona and even poke fun at his preference for underground indie music and his grandiose taste for interior design.
"I bet you think about me when you're out / At your cool indie music concerts every week / I bet you think about me in your house / With your organic shoes and your million-dollar couch"
The video itself opens with Miles preparing his wedding vows in the bathroom beside his groomsmen before the ceremony when he suddenly envisions his ex’s face in the mirror. This marks Taylor’s first appearance before she encroaches into Miles’ mind and his wedding with as much de trop as an uninvited guest.
As Taylor strolls past the guests exchanging conversations over drinks in a cherry red pantsuit, Miles cranes his neck trying to catch a glimpse of her before she is quickly submerged into the crowd. Taylor continues to appear throughout the music video and throws herself into the wedding festivities, much to Miles' frustration.
The music video emphasizes Taylor’s immaturity and youth and, in comparison to the elegant and classy vibe of a formal wedding ceremony, she doesn’t fit in. Taylor destroys the wedding cake with her bare hands, inappropriately delivers a speech to the newlyweds and their guests, entertains the children at the kids' table by mimicking a walrus, and shows them how to make a generally rude gesture with one finger.
These scenes likely parallel with Taylor's feelings of incongruity with the sophisticated, high-society lifestyle she experienced while she was dating Jake. Or, they could represent one big act of retaliation to all the people who have wronged Taylor in the past, such as Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta, who have both purchased the masters of Swift's first 6 albums at one point in her career, much to her public opposition.
The essence of the video is that Miles “still thinks about” Taylor, which is a direct reference to the song title. Taylor is haunting him and literally bleeding the past into what is supposed to be the start of his future life with another woman, which is why viewers observe more and more of her trademark red color overpowering the mainly white ceremony as the video goes on.
You get some insight into what would’ve happened if Miles had married Taylor instead, with a few shots of them sitting down on the floor together, conversing cheerfully as bride and groom; their wedding appears to be more lowkey and rustic, but he seems genuinely happier to be with her. Miles even imagines their first dance if Taylor were to be his bride instead.
The music slows to a complete stop: in the silence, you can hear two hearts beating rhythmically in unison and the soft crunch of Miles’ hand against the bodice of Taylor's wedding dress (custom-designed by Nicole + Felicia, with a skirt garnished with hundreds of handmade organza and tulle floral appliques) as he pulls her in to sway across the dance floor.
The reverie is shattered when Taylor gathers up her skirt and marches away from Miles. A voile curtain drops to the ground with violent intensity, and the big reveal is a band waiting for their lead singer. Taylor joins them centerstage, pulls her curls out from a neatly pinned back updo, and whips out her acoustic guitar as her white wedding dress flowers into a vibrant red ballgown. Miles is astonished to see this confident and bold version of the Taylor he once knew, to witness her total security in her self-worth.
As Miles looks on still stunned at the sudden turn of events, Taylor smirks back almost mockingly and strikes the final chord on her guitar with gusto at the song's end, as if she’s satisfied with herself that her ex-boyfriend who once thought he was too good to be dating her, can’t stop thinking about her on his own wedding day.
While “I Bet You Think About Me” marks Lively’s directorial debut, her eye for aesthetics has likely been refined by years of experience in the film industry and the details in the music video are no exception. Taylor has gained a reputation for leaving clever Easter eggs throughout her content for eagle-eyed fans to catch and decode; there's even a cameo of the infamous scarf mentioned in "All Too Well."
This visual of Taylor and Miles gazing at each other on the ballroom floor is a personal favorite: Taylor’s face is bathed in a cone of white-blue light that encompasses her in an air of composure and tranquility, while the same light widens its beam around Miles, exposing his still intact admiration for the poised woman before him and perhaps the newfound revelation that she was the right one the whole time.
“Does it make you feel sad / That the love that you're lookin' for / Is the love that you had?”
The "I Bet You Think About Me" music video is an expression of Swift's personal growth and going rogue paired with a light-hearted "drinking song" as Swift described in the audio clip above. It's about moving on from old relationships and shaking off past superfluous ties in pursuit of something much more valuable: herself.