Taylor Swift premiered her star-studded, futuristic, neo-noir video Sunday night at the Billboard Music Awards after a highly publicized teaser campaign on her social media sites.
As promised, Selena Gomez, Kendrick Lamar, Jessica Alba, Lena Dunham, Ellie Goulding, Hayley Williams and others in Swift’s circle appeared in the dark, action-packed video. After Swift (as Catastrophe) and Gomez (as Arsyn) engage in a high-flying martial arts display, Gomez kicks Swift through a window and sends the singer falling onto a car.
From there, the scene shifts to Swift’s cohorts, all dressed in black, training Mission Impossible-style, before Swift takes on Karli Kloss in a vicious kickboxing match. Jessica Alba proceeds to rides motorcycles with Swift in a nod to sci-fi classic Tron (with cameos from Mariska Hargitay and Cindy Crawford) before a girl gang, led by Swift, walk in slow motion in front of post-apocalyptic, city-on-fire visuals.
After the video, Swift welcomed the audience to the show and introduced Van Halen, who performed a high-energy performance of their 1984 hit “Panama.”
“Blank Space” director Joseph Kahn helmed the clip, for which he pushed Swift to be her most self-aware and vengeful. “I love working with [Swift]. She is the bomb,” the director posted on Twitter along with one of Swift’s posters. According to Swift, each actor chose their character’s name and persona.
Swift has never revealed the lyrical inspiration behind “Bad Blood,” though speculation began when the singer revealed to Rolling Stone that the tune was about another famous female artist. “For years, I was never sure if we were friends or not,” Swift said. “She would come up to me at awards shows and say something and walk away, and I would think, ‘Are we friends, or did she just give me the harshest insult of my life?'”
Swift revealed that most of her anger came from a business move that the other artist made back in 2013. “She basically tried to sabotage an entire arena tour,” Swift said. “She tried to hire a bunch of people out from under me. And I’m surprisingly non-confrontational — you would not believe how much I hate conflict. So now I have to avoid her. It’s awkward, and I don’t like it.”
The dark clip continues the visual flip side of Swift’s real-life perceived sweetness. Last year, the singer got revenge on a cheating boyfriend in the sinister “Blank Space” video, which found a vengeful Swift throwing flower pots, brandishing a butcher knife and destroying paintings of her lover.
“Bad Blood” Cast
Taylor Swift as Catastrophe
Selena Gomez as Arsyn
Karlie Kloss as Knockout
Kendrick Lamar as Welvin Da Great
Martha Hunt as HomeSlice
Jessica Alba as Domino
Serayah as Dilemma
Lena Dunham as Lucky Fiori
Hailee Steinfeld as The Trinity
Ellie Goulding as Destructa X
GiGi Hadid as Slay-Z
Hayley Williams as The Crimson Curse
Zendaya as Cut-Throat
Lily Aldridge as Frostbyte
Ellen Pompeo as Luna
Mariska Hargitay as Justice
Cara Delevingne as Mother Chucker
Cindy Crawford as Headmistress