A Conspiracy Theory About the Real Purpose of Taylor Swift’s New Behind the Scenes Videos
Taylor Swift released new content today: a behind the scenes video from the set of “Look What You Made Me Do,” focusing on the creation of the scene in which current day Swift encounters versions of her old self.
The video’s runtime is 7:03. This won’t seem out of the ordinary because the scene in question features a dozen Taylor lookalikes in meticulously recreated period wardrobes, so it’s pretty easy to imagine that you could get seven minutes of footage out of that process. But the behind the scenes video itself, unrevealing except for the awkward interactions between Swift and her extras, is only 2:47 long. At that point, the actual “Look What You Made Me Do” video starts playing to its conclusion—a video within a video.
This could be viewed as merely deferring to convenience—someone has just watched a behind the scenes look at a music video, and so now they can watch that video while armed with some new context. In the words of one of the most obnoxious social media accounts on the internet, “saved you a click.”
But there’s also another factor at play, something much more important than simple convenience: chart position.
As you’re almost surely aware, YouTube plays are counted as streams incorporated into the data that determines each week’s Hot 100. “Look What You Made Me Do” has been sitting atop that chart for three weeks now, but its position there is not secure. Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” has been holding strong at No. 2, and is still seeing gains in performance. As reported by Billboard’s Gary Trust, “Bodak Yellow” had a two percent jump in radio play last week, but more importantly became the most streamed song in the country, with 40.8 million streams, a number that is actually a decrease from the week prior, but was nonetheless enough to move Cardi to the top spot on the Streaming Chart. The song “Bodak Yellow” dethroned was “Look What You Made Me Do.”
Per the anonymous but always accurate chart watch account @chartdata, Cardi B very well may overtake Swift on the Hot 100 next week. Of course, there is still data to be collected, and one way for Swift to hold Cardi B off would be to increase the number of streams for “Look What You Made Me Do.” One way of doing that would be to drive eyeballs to a new video that starts playing the full version of “Look What You Made Me Do” immediately after the conclusion of the actual advertised content so long as the viewer doesn’t close the tab in a split-second with reflexes that could murder Jason Bourne.
Given that Taylor Swift has so far said and done nothing regarding her new album aside from releasing two songs and a video, this piece of content, which was placed as an exclusive with People, is assured to grab the attention of her large and rabid fanbase, as well as us office drones clicking around online all day hoping to pass the time until we can go home and sit on our couches. And if you just happened to Google the words “Taylor Swift” today, well…
Anyway, can’t wait to see who’s No. 1 next week.
Update: People has released another behind the scenes video, which also has the full “Look What You Made Me Do” video tacked on at the end.