Taylor Swift falls into a puddle, loses her pendant and is pursued by wolves across a mountain range in her new video.
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The clip for Out of the Woods – the sixth single from her best-selling album 1989, which has been out for more than a year – premiered on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve broadcast on ABC, hosted by Ryan Seacrest.
#OOTWMusicVideo was trending on Twitter for much of New Year’s Eve. Directed by her frequent collaborator Joseph Kahn, the video interprets the song’s title literally, showing Swift snatched by animate tree roots. She is then chased by wolves, coated with snow, drenched in water, caught in a bushfire and otherwise inappropriately dressed and at the mercy of the elements.
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The clip ends with “she lost him, but she found herself, and somehow that was everything”, from 1989’s liner notes. Much to the confusion, then excitement of that country’s media, some of the video was shot in New Zealand in November, when Swift was in the Antipodes as part of her mammoth 1989 World Tour. While filming at Bethells beach, outside Auckland, she encountered backlash from conservationists who claimed her production team breached their permit and endangered a rare native bird by using up to 12 vehicles.
The song Out of the Woods is commonly understood to be about her relationship with Harry Styles of One Direction, with whom she was involved in a snow mobile accident, obliquely referenced in the bridge. Observant Swifties have already pointed out the similarity between the dress Swift wears in the clip and the dress she was photographed wearing on a motorboat in the British Virgin Islands, when she prematurely ended a New Year’s holiday with Styles after “an almighty Swift herself has said the song is about “a relationship” plagued with anxiety:
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“It felt very fragile, it felt very tentative”. With 1989 having sold well over 5m copies, Swift has said she intends to take time off from music this year: “I think people might need a break from me.”