8 Pop Music Videos With Hidden MessagesPublished on October 11, 2017. Updated November 10, 2019
Taylor Swift left fans with their jaws dropped all around the world when she released her latest music video “Look What You Made Me Do.” The video was laced with endless hidden messages that took jabs at her past feuds with fellow celebs, ex-boyfriends, the media and even streaming companies! The music video definitely required a few views to pick up on all the hidden details and was considered an intricate work of art by many. Although this specific music video was epic, Swift wasn’t the first Hollywood A-lister to hide messages within her music videos. Follow along for 8 pop music videos that have hidden messages within them that you may not have caught:
8. Rihanna – Diamonds
Although Rihanna does not explicitly talk about her ex Chris Brown in her 2012 hit Diamonds, many were completely convinced the song was an ode to him and especially after the video was released. A scene in the abstract video features Rihanna running away on the street and being illuminated by a car, which many believe was a reference to the heartbreaking night that Chris Brown assaulted her in a car back in 2009 after leaving a party. Many theories have been pieced together trying to decode the work of art, but the most popular one surrounds the idea that the man who appears in the video (who also looks quite similar to Chris Brown!) is lit on fire to represent the way the media turned him into a villain. At the end, Rihanna is surrounded by water and many believe this is a hidden nod to her “rebirth” and leaving behind her past after the attack.
7. Nick Jonas – Jealous
Nick Jonas has previously admitted that his hit song “Jealous” is about jealously in a relationship and actually based on true events, but he hoped the music video would take the song to a deeper level. When Nick Jonas launched his solo career and split from his Jonas Brothers trio, fans were unsure where his career would lead him. Luckily, “Jealous” was a great success and established Nick as a mature and respectable solo artist. If the song wasn’t enough to prove that he has grown up, during a scene in the video Nick is driving along a road on a motorcycle with sunglasses on and the highway sign behind him reads “leaving childhood” with an arrow pointing forward. This indirect nod was clearly towards his brothers and the world as he launched his new career as an adult singer and left behind his previous reputation as a teen heartthrob.
6. Zayn Malik – Pillowtalk
Zayn Malik first grew to fame when he appeared with his One Direction band mates on X-Factor. The boy band quickly won the hearts of the world which made Zayn’s departure into a solo career all the more devastating. Luckily, during Zayn’s first single “Pillowtalk” he proved that he hasn’t forgotten where he came from and featured a hidden nod to his band mates and former career that only a few caught on to. The abstract video features a brief shot of Zayn with a black tear rolling down one side of his face. Back on his X-Factor days with One Direction Zayn cried the exact same black tear during his performance of “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” As much as Zayn wanted out of One Direction, it’s clear that this singer definitely still has a soft spot for his old band mates.
5. Taylor Swift – Style
Taylor Swift’s album 1989 was laced with direct and indirect references to her relationship with One Direction band member Harry Styles. In “Out of the Woods” she referenced the classic paper airplane necklace that Harry Styles wore religiously and the lyrics stated, “Your necklace hanging from my neck … two paper airplanes flying, flying.” Another song on her album, “Style,” was clearly another direct nod to Styles which was confirmed even more so when the video was released! The video features a split second shot of Taylor holding the paper airplane necklace which he reportedly let her wear during their relationship, and many people called the gesture a token of his love!
4. Beyonce – Formation
Beyonce’s video for “Formation” dives deep into the lives of the black community and her heritage growing up in the South. The video shows images referencing hurricane Katrina and the belief that the area didn’t gain as much help as it should have because of it’s high black population. She references the Black Lives Matter movement and shows a powerful scene of a young black boy dancing in front of a line of policeman who all immediately raise their hands back to him. She shows empowering sisterhood, family and even features her adorable daughter Blue Ivey.
3. Sia – The Greatest
Sia’s 2016 hit music video for “The Greatest” is filled with artistic imagery and subliminal messages that pay tribute to the devastating Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting. The video stars Dance Moms‘ Maddy Ziegler dancing among exactly 49 others, which is the same amount of lives that were lost during the tragic shooting. The video is filled with hidden messages such as the opening scene where Maddy wipes rainbow colors on her cheeks to symbolize the LGBTQ+ community. The video concludes with all the dancers congregated together dancing wildly in what appears to represent a nightclub setting and then falling to the floor to reveal a wall filled with bullets. One of the dancers in the video, Matt Mosley, posted a screenshot of the video alongside the caption, “Humbled to be a part of this video. Thank you @siathisisacting. 49 beautiful lives lost. This is for you. #WeAreYourChildren,” and added a rainbow emoji.
2. Justin Bieber- Where Are You Now
Justin Bieber’s “Where Are You Now?” music video is filled with artistic snapshots drawn by fans that are displayed across a dancing Justin Bieber at rapid fire pace. Of course, the Internet quickly grabbed hold of the video and broke down the quick frames to discover quite a few interesting clues into the breakup between him and Selena. Fans immediately noticed the words “Jelena Forever” with a huge slash through it flash across the screen which led them to believe the duo was officially over. Later, however, it was noticed that another reference to the relationship flashed across the screen and the words “I miss you Selena!” were captured in a speech bubble coming from his mouth. Although Justin has spoken out about the situation and claimed all the art work was created by fans, viewers can’t help but wonder why Bieber would have approved the final cut and allowed the note to be left in the video, especially considering the main lyric of the song is “Where are you now that I need you?”
1. Taylor Swift – Look What You Made Me Do
Taylor Swift’s hit song “Look What You Made Me Do” blew up the Internet last month, especially after the video was released and was laced with subtle and not-so-subtle references to her past scandals. Among the many controversies referenced included Swift’s pseudonym Nils Sjoberg that she worked under to help her ex boyfriend Calvin Harris. She references her $1 lawsuit win in the sexual assault case; she mocks Katy Perry in a leopard print coat and choppy blonde haircut; and acknowledges her past scandals with streaming services. She makes fun of the media calling her a mean girl squad leader and her backup dancers rock a similar “I love TS” tee to the one her ex Tom Hiddleston infamously wore at her fourth of July party. The iconic conclusion of the video features all the different versions of Taylor’s past arguing with each other and even commenting on the ongoing Kanye West feud that began at the 2009 VMAs.