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Taylor Swift, Man

Taylor Swift, in the video for "The Man."

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The Taylor Swift vs. Scooter Braun feud continues in “The Man,” the latest single from last year’s Lover.

The video, Swift’s solo directorial debut (she’s credited as co-director on previous Lover singles “ME!,” “You Need to Calm Down” and “Lover”) takes the song’s conceit to its logical conclusion, following a — you guessed it — man with an eerily familiar face.

“There’s a song that I had wanted to write conceptually for a very long time, because over the course of my life it has occurred to me that we have a bit of a double-standard issue in our society,” Swift explained before performing the track at the Tiny Desk last year.

After rounds of shots, a tennis match temper tantrum, a workplace meltdown and a “Leo on a boat in Saint-Tropez” scene comes the reveal: It’s all a video shoot, directed by Swift, who offers the direction to the actor (also played by Swift, but voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), “Could you try to be sexier? Maybe more likable this time?”

In classic Swift fashion, the visual treatment is full of not-so-subtle nods. A prominent “No Scooters” sign on the 13th Street Station, with previous album titles and scrawled on the subway tile wall near a “Missing: If Found Return to Taylor Swift” sign, points directly to her latest object of ire, Scooter Braun, manager of Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen and Ariana Grande, among others. There’s also the closing credits — “Directed by,” “Written by,” “Owned by,” and “Starring,” all attributed to Swift.

The backstory: In 2018, Taylor Swift announced a new recording deal with Universal. Last year, ahead of the release of Lover, her former label, Big Machine Label Group, was sold to Braun’s Ithaca Holdings. That sale meant that Braun’s company had control over Swift’s master recordings for her first six records. A public feud followed as Swift announced plans to re-record those early albums in order to own the rights and rallied her fanbase ahead of performances at the VMAs and the American Music Awards.

The video also comes on the heels of the release of Miss Americana. Directed by Lana Wilson, the Netflix film chronicles the aftermath of 2017’s Reputation and the making of Lover, plus the behind-the-curtain process by which Swift, who had long avoided public statements on politics, arrived at her first endorsement.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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