Taylor Swift has come a long way from the girl she was in her first music video, “Tim McGraw.” Back then, Swift was a fresh-faced country singer performing some of her earliest lyrics about an ex-boyfriend. The video showed her playing guitar and recalling ultra-innocent romantic memories, like walking through a meadow and lying in the back of a pickup truck looking at the stars.
Since then, she’s made a gradual transition from country star, to country-pop star, to one of the most successful pop stars ever. Swift’s transition from sweet country girl to sexual adult woman has happened even more slowly, but in her latest music video, “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)” she’s finally getting there. She wrote the song for the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack, and performs it with Zayn Malik. While the lyrics are based on the events of the film, they have a familiar theme for Swift—a messy, emotional breakup. Other than that, this is new territory for her. Minor chords give the electro-R&B ballad a dark feel that’s matched in the music video. It depicts Swift wearing black lingerie with dark red lipstick as she throws things, spills champagne and pulls petals off of roses.
Stylistically speaking, it feels like “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” is to Taylor Swift what “Sexy Back” was to Justin Timberlake. If she is following Timberlake’s career trajectory, we look forward to the moment about 11 years from now when she writes a song for a movie about trolls and gets an Oscar nomination.