Taylor Swift offered a new personal transformation on Sunday as she debuted a video of herself as a feminist action hero in a collaboration with rapper Kendrick Lamar.
Appearing at the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas, where she was the night's big winner, Swift debuted Bad Blood as the fourth single from her album 1989, by far the top-selling solo album last year.
The single version features Lamar, one of the most acclaimed rappers of the moment, in a hip-hop duet – a once unthinkable step for the 25-year-old Swift, who started off in country music before shifting to pop.
The song – the chorus runs, “Baby, now we’ve got bad blood / You know it used to be mad love” – is about Swift’s fallout with another pop star, widely speculated to be Katy Perry.
But the video, directed by veteran music director Joseph Kahn, turns Bad Blood into a mini-action film, with Swift leaping into an office and duelling with baddies.
Hoping for a theme of women's empowerment, Swift enlists as her co-heroines a number of female stars, ranging from model Cindy Crawford to actresses Zendaya and Selena Gomez to Lena Dunham, the creator of the dark television comedy series Girls.
“Let the lethal forces of femininity rock you to sleep,” Dunham wrote on Twitter ahead of the video’s debut.
In the promo, Swift turns into a boxer and, with her hair dyed deep red, struts with a row of weapon-toting women.
The Billboard Music Awards, run by the music trade magazine, recognise chart performance in contrast to the more prestigious Grammys, which are based on voting within the industry.