Is "Wildest Dream" excessively clever? Overly sophisticated? Ironic? Earnest? Anything?
Adrien Begrand: Well, if there's one artist with the clout and the cash to try to make a video on par with a David Lean film, it's Taylor Swift. Instead, sadly, it amounts to nothing more than a preening music video version of Out of Africa. Which, for the kids out there, was arguably the most boring movie to ever win the Best Picture Oscar. But who am I to say how good this is? My eight year-old niece watched this clip five times in a row, agog at the love triangle and Tay-Tay's black wig. [5/10]
Steve Horowitz: Taylor Swift may not be a Meryl Streep, and the guy many not be Robert Redford, but this meta-version of Out of Africa doesn’t pretend to be more than a travelogue with erotic connotations. Wild animals = wild emotions without having to be any more graphic than a kiss on red lips. The song works more as a soundtrack than a stand alone cut because it functions more as atmosphere than narrative, which makes the whole allusion to the world outside of the movie somewhat syrupy. The framing works to prevent the dream work from being taken too seriously. The romance is only a screen romance, and the performers know it, but still…. For all those who wonder if what they see in the cinema is real, Taylor lets you have it both ways. [8/10]
Colin McGuire: Because 1989 needed a ballad for a single and "This Love" was too optimistic. "Wildest Dreams", perhaps the weakest track from the singer's wildly successful 2014 pop music portfolio, was made into a music video, why? A few cursory glances would suggest that it continues the thread of victimizing our protagonist princess (honestly: look at all the other videos Swift has made for this record). She falls for him. He appears to fall for her. They combust. She sees him at a social function with (gasp!) a new girl. He watches the movie they made together. It reminds him of the good times. He wants her back. She's already gone. The upper hand, predictably, ends up in possession of Taylor Swift. "He's so tall and handsome as hell/He's so bad but he does it so well" is about as watered down a lyric as you can find on an otherwise-biting collection that deservedly won the hearts of so many skeptics when it was first released, nearly a year ago. Sure, the song already felt like it was written for the B-side of a made-for-Lifetime movie, but not even Joseph Kahn could make this track into something worth going to the movie theater for. It's hard for Taylor Swift to sound boring, cliched and cheesy in a world that mostly worships at her altar. "Wildest Dreams" embodies those detriments more so than anything else on 1989. [3/10]
Paul Duffus: The effect of this power ballad/dream pop and its accompanying video is of enormity, expense, and some manner of technological terror, such are its fizzes, booms, and gleaming carapace. The gurgle of capital and the babble of focus groups and the churn of all the resources being brought to bear form a howl of white noise. For all its overt charms there's something oppressive about a product created on this scale. Buy into it and it probably feels glorious, like being swept away on a fun slide greased with glitter and Willy Wonka's special soda pop. Don't buy into it, however, and you might well feel like Wile. E. Coyote, looking up, slowly being covered in shadow as a lump of cliff the size of a football field descends upon his head. Putting this aside, is "Wildest Dream" excessively clever? Overly sophisticated? Ironic? Earnest? Anything? The answer is always no, but that's the whole point of it. For this reason, the score below is neither high nor low. [5/10]
Brian Duricy: From the second the camera pans to Taylor, the Lana Del Rey impression goes from winking reference to full-on tribute. The melancholia brooding via the airy background vocals, slow tambourine claps, and the hook's emotional eruption are such a spot-on cover that Taylor proves two can play at that game when both play it so well. It's a testament to her talent that 1989 can sound so fresh this long after its release. There's no reason why every song shouldn't get the video treatment. [8/10]