Swift is known for her Pop perfectionism, and “delicate” shows why she remains at the pinnacle of the Genre. Swift plays with the celebrity born fantasy of being a person who becomes unrecognizable. Undoubtedly, the charmed life of a being a person as famous as Swift can have it’s downsides, from the constant media attention to the demands of rabid fans. In the video, a bellhop succeeds in rushing Swift for some much desired physical contact, moments before being aggressively whisked away by ever-present bodyguards. Yes, this life could be annoying to live if there were no escape from it. Enter the magic of imagination.
Swift is handed a piece of paper by a mysterious stranger, and while she possesses this paper, strange things begin to happen. These happenings are all too convenient and don’t make much sense, but the point is that Swift gets to live out the fantasy of being invisible to those around her, from fans to bodyguards; free to escape the public’s obsessive gaze, and even dance alone in the rain. There is definitely a parallel to Michael Jackson videos and their exploration of escapism.
“Delicate”’s deceptively simple and ambiguous lyrics explore a nighttime city rendezvous with a boy; words that don’t correspond to the video, but somehow compliment it’s spirit and underline Swift’s desire to be seen for who she really is - flaws and all; “this ain't for the best, my reputation's never been worse, so you must like me for me.” Is it that Swift really wants true love and true acceptance, even though she is already successful and adored beyond what might be humanly possible. No, what she seeks is an individual connection, and for whatever reason, she presents this lonely motif and these self-depreciating lyrics as an indication that what she really wants in life remains elusive.
The cinematography and production value are as high as expectations demand, and Swift is a great performer, showing her goofy side by making ugly faces in a mirror, and adeptly contorting her body to a challenging choreography that is much more in line with interpretive dance than a routine that actually looks attractive. There are definitely a few moves that have been seen recently in a couple Dua Lipa videos already; specifically an odd, spread gaited, hunched backed style of movement, emphasized by the hanging down of limp arms, with the body sinking lower and lower as if deflating.
The melody has a tom-tom heavy, tribal loudness, with all the expected cacophony of synth-noted progression, yet the mix is engineered with an overall filter pass that severely dampens all this energy into more of a driving whisper, akin to shooting an orchestra of synth through a 10 dollar pair of earbuds. This technique makes the song sweeter and more introspective, which helps translate the personal vibe that the track wants to convey.
Taylor Swift, Max Martin, Shellback
"Delicate" is a song by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift for her sixth studio album, Reputation (2017). It was released on March 12, 2018, as the album's sixth single overall and fourth and final single in America. Swift wrote the song with producers Max Martin and Shellback. Upon its release, the song was met with critical acclaim, with many critics praising its lyrical vulnerability and production, and was noted as an album highlight.