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"Blank Space"
File:.Taylor Swift - Blank Space (Official Single Cover).png
Single by Taylor Swift
from the album 1989
Released November 10, 2014 (2014-11-10)
Genre Electropop
Length 3:51
  • Max Martin
  • Shellback
Taylor Swift singles chronology
"Shake It Off"
"Blank Space"

"Shake It Off"
"Blank Space"
Music video
"Blank Space" on YouTube

"Blank Space" is a song recorded by American singer Taylor Swift for her fifth studio album 1989 (2014). The song was written by Swift, Max Martin and Shellback, while it was produced by the latter two. The song was released on November 10, 2014, by Big Machine Records and distributed by Republic Records on November 10, 2014 as the album's second single, following "Shake It Off" and is the second track on the album. "Blank Space" was written after Swift discovered she was being portrayed by the media as boy-crazy. Musically, it is a electropop song with lyrics that satirize the media's perception her relationships, labeling herself as "an overly attached man-eater who dates for songwriting material".

"Blank Space" received positive reviews from music critics, who commended the song's quality and Swift's self-deprecating tone. It also was a success commercially, having reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 displacing her own song "Shake It Off". With this, Swift became the first woman in the Hot 100's history to succeed herself at the top spot, and also helped set a record for the longest period that the top spot of the chart had been held only by female musicians. "Blank Space" has also topped charts in Canada, South Africa and Australia, and also charted within 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. It depicts Swift taking revenge of her boyfriend after she discovers he is cheating on her. In order to promote the song, Swift performed it in several occasions, such as the 2014 American Music Awards, Victoria's Secret Fashion Show and the 2015 Brit Awards. It was additionally added to the set list of The 1989 World Tour. "Blank Space" was covered by various atrists, such as Kelly Clarkson, Father John Misty, and Ryan Adams on his Taylor Swift tribute album, 1989 (2015). The song was also nominated for several awards, including in four categories on the 58th Annual Grammy Awards.


Swift has been romantically linked with other famous men several times by the media and fans alike. In an interview with editor Nancy Jo Sales from Vanity Fair magazine in 2013, she was confronted on her romantic life, and revealed that since 2010, she had dated exactly two people, Conor Kennedy and singer Harry Styles. Though she has gone out with some other famous men, Swift said, "[t]he fact that there are slide shows of a dozen guys that I either hugged on a red carpet or met for lunch or wrote a song with... it's just kind of ridiculous". Swift then continued, "It's why I have to avoid the tabloid part of our culture, because they turn you into a fictional character". When asked by the interviewer if she was boy-crazy, the singer answered: "For a female to write about her feelings, and then be portrayed as some clingy, insane, desperate girlfriend in need of making you marry her and have kids with her, I think that's taking something that potentially should be celebrated—a woman writing about her feelings in a confessional way—that's taking it and turning it and twisting it into something that is frankly a little sexist".[1]

Since then, she felt the media fascination with her dating life was out of control, labeling her as a "psycho serial dating girl". Swift commented, "My first reaction was like, 'This is a bummer. This isn't fun for me,'" she expressed. "But then my second reaction ended up being like, 'Hey, That's a really interesting character they're writing about. She jet sets around the world collecting men...then she traps them and locks them in her mansion, and then she's crying in her marble bathtub surrounded by pearls. So I was like, 'I can use this.'"[2] She also said it was a risk for her to even take her idea into the studio for the song's producers Max Martin and Shellback and say, "Hey, I want to write this completely satirical song about the fictionalization of my personal life, and just kind of poke fun at it".[3] Swift further commented: "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".[4]


"Blank Space" is a electropop song that many critics compared to the works of fellow artist Lorde.[5] 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".[6] 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 96.1 beats per minute. Swift's vocals range from A3 to D5.[7]

Some listeners, including Swift's mother,[8] misheard the lyrics of "Blank Space", incorrectly hearing "got a long list of ex-lovers" as "all the lonely Starbucks lovers".[9] On Valentine's Day 2015, Swift jokingly tweeted about the misheard lyrics and Starbucks responded.[8]

Critical reception[edit]

"Blank Space" received positive reviews from music critics.[10] 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".[11] Jon Caramaica 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".[12] 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."[13] 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'".[14]

It was included in several critics' year-end lists and was the second and the sixth best song according to Time[15] and Rolling Stone.[16] In January 2015, "Blank Space" was ranked at number three on The Village Voice's annual year-end Pazz & Jop critics' poll, one rank before "Shake It Off".

Chart performance[edit]

"Blank Space" debuted at number 18 on the US 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] In its third week, the song sold 328,000 digital copies (up 100%), spurred by the release of its 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.[19] "Blank Space" remained at number one on the chart for seven consecutive weeks, making it Swift's longest single at number one. It also helped set a record for the longest period that the number one 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.[20] The song topped the Hot Digital Songs chart with digital sales of 155,000 copies in its first week of release, making it the second song from 1989 to reach number one on the chart, becoming Swift's ninth number one on that chart. 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.[17] It reached its one-millionth sales mark in its fifth week.[21] As of May 2015, "Blank Space" has sold 3,980,000 copies in the United States.[22]

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 United Kingdom. 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.[23]

In New Zealand, it debuted at number 26 on the Official New Zealand Music Chart.[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 on the ARIA Charts before reaching number one on November 22, 2014.[26]

Music video[edit]

Development and release[edit]

Model Sean O'Pry (pictured) portrays Swift's love interest in the music video.

The accompanying music video for "Blank Space" 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.[27] 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.[28] 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.[29][30] 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,"[28] Swift's love interest in the video is portrayed by model Sean O'Pry.[31][32] Director Kahn commented about the video's development:

"Taylor wanted to make a video addressing this concept of, if she has so many boys breaking up with her maybe the problem isn’t the boy, maybe the problem is her. We wanted to make a very funny version of this, that Taylor is the nightmare. She was very thorough: She came up with concepts, imagery and references. When you have an artists wanting to test her imaging, it's always great territory to be in. You know what's funny? When she called me I was watching A Clockwork Orange. Not that this is [Stanley] Kubrick or anything like that, but there's a lot of symmetry and symmetrical framing in here — like, for instance, there's a shot of two horses at the beginning and that's a very Kubrick shot".[33]

The video for "Blank Space" was set to premiere on Good Morning America on November 11, 2014, but accidentally leaked on Yahoo! a day before.[33] 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". It was later posted on Swift's official Vevo channel on the same day.[34] American Express Unstaged: Taylor Swift Experience is a 360° music video app for "Blank Space" that compliments the 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.[35] Kahn 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.[36] In 2015, the app won the Emmy for Original Interactive Program at the 67th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards.[37]


The video begins with Swift's love interest (played by O'Pry) arriving in a mansion on a sports car. She is waking up on a bedroom featuring two white horses while holding up her cat. While O'Pry enters the mansion, Swift walks down the stairs wearing a black dress. Soon, they are sitting on a table while having breakfast, and can not see each other as the table is full of food. Scenes of the couple dancing are intercalated with other scenes of them riding bikes inside the house. Swift is seen painting a portrait of his lover when the chorus of the song begins and the couple is outside the mansion having a dog walk, with him tethering three Dobermans. He chases the singer playfully as they head through the woods. After they are seen riding white horses, Swift hangs her painting of her lover along with the ones of her ex-lovers in a hall.

The couple is having a romantic encounter at a garden when the singer carves "Sean + Taylor" inside a heart in a tree before they share a kiss. She is laid on his lap during a picnic when she sees he is texting another girl. The singer starts yelling at him during another scene and throws a flower vase on him, which crashes against the fireplace. She starts destroying his stuff, such as dropping his phone on the pool, setting fire and cutting off his clothes and taking a knife on the portrait she made, while she cries on the mansion's floor with her mascara running. Swift is then seen holding an apple. When she is about to bite it, O'Pry spits the apple he was eating. She starts hitting his sports car with a golf club and distroying the tree she once carved their names wielding an ax, before stabbing a large kitchen knife into a white heart-shaped cake. After Swift bit his lips, her boyfriend is seen driving away from the mansion, while a new man arrives the mansion in a red car, a hope for a new love.[38]

Reception and analysis[edit]

Randall Roberts from Los Angeles Times said Swift delivered an "award-worthy performance [...] unhinged version of herself" in the video, before commenting, "specifically, all hail Taylor Swift's ridiculously unhinged new video for 'Blank Space' [which soundtracks] a video involving the arc of love between Swift, playing an outsize caricature of herself, and a handsome boyfriend named Sean".[38] The Michigan Daily's Gibson Johns commented that the video had set an overall message that essentially fliped off the media and the singer's haters. After he compared some scenes to films Gone Girl and Mean Girls, he complimented the video's director for "know[ing] how to make spectacle-driven music videos for pop stars looking to make a lasting impact, which is exactly what Swift needed to do here. She'd tried the over-the-top, storyline-driven music video before with Red's 'I Knew You Were Trouble'. but it wasn't as convincing or fun".[39] Along with the Cool Girl reference, Esther Zuckerman from Entertainment Weekly called the video "hilarious" and added that Swift has "spent years being the 'princess' to some guy's 'prince' but in 'Blank Space' she's taking control over her image, appropriating the media narrative that she's a handful who can’t keep a man. Played straight, the video is an unflattering portrait of a woman going nuts [...] In fact, the video's subsequent disappearance may be the best example of how deft Swift is at controlling what she puts out".[40]

Jessica Valenti witing for The Guardian commented that the video was a "feminist daydream". She elaborated that it was "a world where the narrow and sexist caricatures attached to women are acted out for our amusement, their full ridiculousness on display. And for those who would try to pigeonhole Swift as little more than the sum of her dating life", and that the real nightmare was the woman behind the character, "a woman who has full creative control over her image and isn’t afraid to use it to mock your efforts to stereotype her".[41] Allison Takeda from Us Weekly called the music video "a grown-up version of her "Love Story" video, complete with horses and dancing and formalwear, which Swift and her man don for no discernible reason other than to look nice while running around outside", and also said it was reminiscent of Beyoncé's "Partition" video.[42] Jason Lipshutz and Erin Strecker, writers from Billboard, ranked "Blank Space" as Swift's fourth best music video, stating "Taylor Swift's 1989 era ushered in higher-production videos (if you're going to be a pop star, it's obligatory), and Swift is clearly having fun owning the genre. "Blank Space" contains gorgeous backdrops, pitch-perfect outfits, and Swift getting to show off a little crazy girl rage. The fact that the singer seems to be experiencing genuine joy as she sends up her media image is just icing on the blood-filled cake".[43]

As of February 2016, the music video is one of 20 videos with over 1 billion views on YouTube. It is the second most viewed YouTube video of all time on the website and has the most views for a female artist.[44] On July 3, 2015, it became the fourth and, at that time, the fastest music video to reach 1 billion views on Vevo.[45] On October 20, 2015, it became the most watched music video on Vevo.[46] In July 2015, the music video for "Blank Space" was nominated for two VMAs at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, for Best Pop Video and Best Female Video; the video won both its nominations during the ceremony on August 30, 2015.[47]

Live performances[edit]

Swift first performed "Blank Space" live as part of her five-song secret session with iHeartRadio on October 27, 2014 on a Manhattan rooftop in SoHo, with the Empire State Building providing a light show behind her. The performance was streamed by iHeartRadio and Yahoo!.[48] The singer performed the song on television for the first time on the 2014 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre on November 23, as the opening performance of the show.[49] Wearing a gold sequinned costume complete with metallic fabric that covered her legs,[50] Swift gave a live recreation of the video, opening the performance seated at an elegant dinner table before poisoning her love interest. The scene shifted to the singer burning a rose while a series of background dancers displayed their faces with art frames before the singer vanquished multiple beaus. At the end of the performance, a door opened to reveal Swift's mystery date.[51] John Walker from MTV News was positive with the performance, calling it "super nuts".[52] Two days later, Swift performed the song on NBC's talent show The Voice. Caila Ball-Dionne from Idolator considered the performance "delightful and terrifying".[53] On November 29, 2014, the singer performed "Blank Space" on Japanese show Songs.[54]

Swift performing "Blank Space" during her Detroit show of The 1989 World Tour

During the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show which was taped on December 2 and aired by CBS a week later, Swift sang the song, starting her performance by walking down the runway by herself wearing a peach satin grown with black lace trim and which showed her legs.[55] Another performance of the song was done by Swift during her show on the KIIS-FM Jingle Ball three days after; she was dressed in a black two piece outfit and backed by a suited band and candy-color visuals. Although Swift had laryngitis at the day of the performance, it was only apparent between songs when she spoke with the crowd.[56] She also performed the song live in London at Capital FM's Jingle Bell Ball 2014 along with some of her other songs on December 8, 2014.[57] Days later on December 13, the performance was reprised during her set on Z100 IHeartRadio Jingle Ball in New York, where the singer also celebrated her birthday. Rob Sheffield from Rolling Stone noted that the event "belonged" to Swift, while commenting that "If you thought there was any chance Taylor was going to surrender the stage before midnight and miss the opportunity to turn the entire event into her own personal birthday bash, you've probably never heard of Taylor Swift. This girl likes to make a scene, which is why she rules the pop world."[58]

Swift opened the 2015 Brit Awards with a performance of "Blank Space" on February 25. She performed the song in a black suit and red lips. In front of seven silhouettes dancing behind white screens, Swift paced the stage while singing the song. Towards the middle of the performance, she occupied the stage's runway backed by male dancers sporting black caps and white vests. As confetti began falling at the end of the performance, Swift went back to the principal stage, with just one male accompanying her. She closed the performance with a shove towards the man.[59] Kate Lacey from Cosmopolitan magazine reacted positively with the performance, describing it as "sexy, dramatic and full theatrical Taylor Swift JOY".[60] "Blank Space" was added to the setlist of her 1989 World Tour. It was the third song on the setlist, and according to The New York Times' writer Jon Caramanica, during the performance "she acted out that song's angst, contorting her body and face and, at one point, wielding a golf club with casual menace".[61] Swift created a vocal loop with the words "Blue Jays" and sang the bridge over it.[62] The performance of the song in Sydney, Australia, on November 28, 2015 at ANZ Stadium, was filmed and released to straming on Apple Music along with the full show in late 2015.[63] While on tour, she performed "Blank Space" during an one-off show on the BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend in May 2015, wearing a silver bodysuit.[64] Swift performed the song again at the Grammy Museum on September 30, 2015. The performance was not revealed to the public until January 7, 2016, when it was posted on YouTube.[2]

Cover versions[edit]

Ryan Adams' cover version of the song was featured on his Taylor Swift tribute album, 1989 (2015).[65] Father John Misty released a cover version of the song in the style of the rock band The Velvet Underground in 2015.[66] The cover is a reinterpretation of Adams' version and is built on the melody of the song "I'm Waiting for the Man."[67] I Prevail released a post-hardcore cover. This garnered much attention to the band,[68] and has received over 16 million views on YouTube since.[69]

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