Blank Space

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"Blank Space"
Taylor Swift - Blank Space (Official Single Cover).png
Single by Taylor Swift
from the album 1989
Released November 10, 2014 (2014-11-10)
Format
Genre Electropop
Length 3:51
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Max Martin
  • Shellback
Taylor Swift singles chronology
"Shake It Off"
(2014)
"Blank Space"
(2014)
"Style"
(2015)
"Shake It Off"
(2014)
"Blank Space"
(2014)
"Style"
(2015)
Music video
"Blank Space" on YouTube

"Blank Space" is a song by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift from her fifth studio album 1989 (2014). It was written by Swift, Max Martin and Shellback, the song was released to the radio by Republic Records on November 10, 2014 as the album's second single, after "Shake It Off" and is the second track on the album. Musically, "Blank Space" is an electropop song with lyrics that satirize the media's perception of Swift and her relationships.[1]

"Blank Space" reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 following "Shake It Off". Swift became the first woman in the Hot 100's 56-year history to succeed herself at the top spot.[2] A critical success, it has also been included in numerous year-end critics' lists, the song has also topped charts in Canada, South Africa and Australia. It also charted in the top 10 in numerous countries, such as Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, New Zealand, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

The song's accompanying music video was directed by Joseph Kahn and was shot over three days at Oheka Castle in Huntington, New York, the song received its first televised performance at the 2014 American Music Awards and as part of "Taylor Swift's 1989 Secret Session with iHeartRadio" on October 27, 2014, in New York City.

The song received nominations for the 58th Grammy Awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance.

Background and composition[edit]

"Some of the things I write about on a song like "Blank Space" are satire. You take your creative license and create things that are larger than life. You can write things like I get drunk on jealousy but you'll come back each time you leave, 'cause darling I'm a nightmare dressed like a daydream. That is not my approach to relationships, but is it cool to write the narrative of a girl who's crazy but seductive but glamorous but nuts but manipulative? That was the character I felt the media had written for me, and for a long time I felt hurt by it. I took it personally, but as time went by, I realized it was kind of hilarious." —Swift, behind the purpose of writing the song[1]

"Blank Space" is an electropop song that many critics compared to the works of fellow artist Lorde.[3] It makes fun of Swift's recent exposure in the media about her dating life, portraying herself as "an overly attached man-eater who dates for songwriting material",[4] the song was written by Swift along with Martin and Shellback, and produced by the latter two. "Blank Space" is composed in the key of F major and set in a 4/4 time signature at a moderate tempo of 96 beats per minute. Swift's vocals range from A3 to D5.[5]

Some listeners, including Swift's mother,[6] misheard the lyrics of "Blank Space", incorrectly hearing "got a long list of ex-lovers" as "all the lonely Starbucks lovers".[7] On Valentine's Day 2015, Swift jokingly tweeted about the misheard lyrics and Starbucks responded.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

"Blank Space" received critical acclaim. PopMatters called the song to be "likely the best of Swift's career and easily a candidate for the best pop song of 2014" and that it "captures the essence of 1989 in all its glimmering, solipsistic glory".[8] The New York Times noted the song as a clever metanarrative, commenting that "This is Ms. Swift at her peak. It's funny and knowing, and serves to assert both her power and her primness."[9] In a positive review, Robert Leedham of Drowned in Sound recognized it as "It's the work of someone who finds success in misadventure, instead of wallowing in it."[10] Los Angeles Times called it:

A thrillingly vicious riff on Swift's reputation as a man-eater, a topic she also addresses in the album's jumpy lead single, "Shake It Off". "Got a long list of ex-lovers / They'll tell you I'm insane", she sings, her voice surging with newfound power, "But I've got a blank space, baby / And I'll write your name."[11]

It was included in several critics' year-end lists and was the second and the sixth best song according to Time[12] and Rolling Stone;[13] in January 2015, "Blank Space" was ranked at number 3 on The Village Voice's annual year-end Pazz & Jop critics' poll, one rank before "Shake It Off".

Chart performance[edit]

The song topped the Hot Digital Songs charts with sales of 155,000 copies in its first week, making it the second song from 1989 to reach number 1 on the Hot Digital Songs, becoming Swift's ninth number one on that chart.[14][15] Swift stood at rank three as the artist with the most number-one Digital Songs tying her with Eminem and surpassed Rihanna for the most number-one debuts,[16] the song debuted at number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100.[17] In its second week, the song sold 164,000 copies (up 5%) and moved up to number 13 on the Hot 100 being the Airplay Gainer;[18][19] in its third week, the song sold 328,000 digital copies (up 100%), spurred by the release of its accompanying music video, and jumped to number one, becoming her third number one single and making Swift the first female artist to replace herself at number one (the number one song of the previous week was "Shake It Off") and tenth overall among all artists.[20] The song remained at number one on the chart for seven consecutive weeks making it Swift's longest reign at #1 besting her previous records of "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and "Shake It Off" which peaked atop for three and four weeks respectively. It also helped set a record for the longest period that the #1 spot on the Hot 100 had been held only by female musicians, on the chart issue dated January 17, 2015, it was pushed to the runner up spot as Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk!" topped the Hot 100.[21] It reached its one-millionth sales mark in its fifth week,[22] as of January 2016, "Blank Space" has sold 4,325,000 copies in the United States.[23] The song stayed in the top ten for 17 weeks including the song's seven week reign at the chart's top spot, making it Swift's second longest time lingering in the top ten, bested only by "Shake It Off" which spent 24 weeks in the chart's top ten, it ranked at #7 in the 2015 billboard year end chart.

In New Zealand, it debuted at number 26;[24] in its third week, the song jumped from number 33 to number four, becoming Swift's sixth top-five hit in New Zealand.[25] In Australia, it debuted at number twenty-nine before reaching number one on November 22.[26]

In the United Kingdom, "Blank Space" debuted at number 99 on November 8, 2014, after the release of 1989, after the song was released as the second single from 1989, the song re-entered the chart at number 11, progressing into the top ten the following week, becoming Swift's seventh top ten hit in the UK. Ultimately, "Blank Space" peaked at number four, and charted in the top ten for 10 weeks, the song has sold over 650,000 copies in the country, as of November 2015.[27]

According to the IFPI, the song sold 9.2 million units (combined sales and track-equivalent streams) worldwide in 2015.[28]

Music video[edit]

The video was shot at Oheka Castle in Huntington, New York.

The accompanying music video was directed by Joseph Kahn, who said that Swift approached him with the idea for the treatment, saying she was all too aware of the jokes made about all of her ex-boyfriends and how she likes to include them in her songwriting, she told him that she wanted to address the general thought of her in the clip in a fun way by playing a crazy villain.[29] The video was shot over three days in September at two different Long Island locations; 12 hours in day one, 18 hours in day two and 10 hours for filming the American Express Unstaged app.[30] Most of the scenes depicting Swift were filmed at Oheka Castle in Huntington, New York, while some of the interior scenes were shot at the Woolworth Mansion, after two days of filming with Swift, a second-unit crew assistant-directed by Henry Thong kept going, taking much of the photography that would later be used to construct the world within the American Express Unstaged: Taylor Swift Experience app.[31][32] The video was partly inspired by A Clockwork Orange. Kahn explained, "There's a lot of symmetrical framing that's Kubrickian, which is a really funny way to approach a pop video, but it's there if you look at the way there's center-framing and symmetry throughout the whole thing,"[30] Swift's love interest in the video is portrayed by model Sean O'Pry and a second love interest is portrayed by model Andrea Denver.[33][34][35]

The video accidentally leaked on Yahoo! on November 10, 2014.[36] Kahn tweeted about the accidental early release, "I'll link video later when I think it's clear. I think it may be a mistake on Yahoo's part—they may have released it early by accident."[37] To which he later added, "Yup. Yahoo effed up. Wait to see the Blank Space video. Let Taylor introduce it herself. It'll be worth it :)"[38]

American Express Unstaged: Taylor Swift Experience is a 360° music video app for "Blank Space" that compliments the classic-style linear music video. The 360° video features a similar storyline to the classic-style video, uses the same set, and stars the same Swift and O'Pry, the user can follow Swift and her love interest throughout many rooms of the mansion, although the user may leave the couple and go to other rooms to find interactive easter eggs and watch the butlers doing their work.[39] Kahn, the video's director, compared it to a "stage play" and dubbed it a "choose-your-own-adventure" video, the video was filmed using special 360° cameras and can be viewed by downloading the app to a smartphone or tablet. When in the app, the user physically moves their phone to move their point of view,[40] the app won the Emmy for Original Interactive Program at the 2015 ceremony.

As of October 2017, the video is one of 17 videos with over 2 billion views on YouTube, with over 2.2 billion views,[41] it is the thirteenth most viewed YouTube video of all time and has the third most views for a female artist after her own song "Shake It Off" and Katy Perry's "Roar". Swift was the first artist in history to have two videos exceeding two Billion views,[42] on July 3, 2015, it became the fourth and, at that time, the fastest music video to reach 1 billion views on Vevo.[43][44][45] On October 20, 2015, it became the most watched music video on Vevo;[46] in July 2015, "Blank Space" was nominated for two VMAs at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, Best Pop Video and Best Female Video; the video won both its nominations during the ceremony on August 30, 2015.[47]

Accolades[edit]

Year Organization Award Result Ref.
2015 MTV Video Music Awards Best Pop Video Won [48]
Best Female Video
2015 Primetime Emmy Awards Original Interactive Program [49]
2015 American Music Awards Song of the Year [50]
2016 Grammy Awards Record of the Year Nominated [51]
Song of the Year [51]
Best Pop Solo Performance [51]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Blank Space" – 3:51
  2. "Blank Space" (Mr. Worldwide Remix) – 3:58
  3. "Blank Space" (Jump Smokers Remix) – 4:43

Live performances[edit]

Swift performing "Blank Space" during 1989 World Tour.

Swift performed the song on television for the first time at the 2014 American Music Awards,[53] she first performed it live as part of Taylor Swift's 1989 Secret Session with iHeartRadio on October 27, 2014 in New York City, streamed on iHeartRadio and Yahoo!. Swift performed the song in The Voice and the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show,[54] she also performed the song live in London, U.K. at Capital FM's Jingle Bell Ball 2014 along with some of her other songs.[55] This was also a major part of the set list of the 1989 World Tour.

Cover versions[edit]

Ryan Adams' cover version of the song was featured on his Taylor Swift tribute album, 1989 (2015).[56] Father John Misty released a cover version of the song in the style of the rock band The Velvet Underground in 2015.[57] The cover is a reinterpretation of Adams' version and is built on the melody of the song "I'm Waiting for the Man."[58]

I Prevail released a post-hardcore cover.[59] and has received over 35 million views on YouTube since.[60]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from album liner notes.[61]

  • Taylor Swift – vocals, writer, background vocals, shouts
  • Max Martin – producer, writer, keyboards, programming
  • Shellback – producer, writer, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion, music programming, shouts, stomps
  • Michael Ilbert – recording
  • Sam Holland – recording
  • Cory Bice – recording assistant
  • Serban Ghenea – mixing
  • John Hanes – mixing engineer
  • Tom Coyne – mastering

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[118] 5× Platinum 350,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[119] 4× Platinum 320,000^
Germany (BVMI)[120] Gold 200,000^
Italy (FIMI)[121] Gold 25,000double-dagger
Mexico (AMPROFON)[122] Gold 30,000*
New Zealand (RMNZ)[123] Platinum 15,000*
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[124] Gold 15,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[125] Platinum 650,000[27]
United States (RIAA)[126] 7× Platinumdagger 4,500,000[23]

^shipments figures based on certification alone

dagger Since May 2013, RIAA certifications for digital singles include on-demand audio and/or video song streams in addition to downloads.[127]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label Ref.
United States November 10, 2014 Rhythmic crossover radio
  • Big Machine
  • Republic
[128]
Hot adult contemporary radio [129]
November 11, 2014 Contemporary hit radio [130]
Germany January 2, 2015 CD single Universal [131]

See also[edit]

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External links[edit]