Revisiting Taylor Swift with a look at her new single “Blank Space”

Taylor Swift has a new song out, so it’s time to revisit the delightful madness she exhibits.

Last time, we reviewed “Shake It Off” which we determined was a monstrosity of a song that transcended time and space to be the inspiration for every terrible song that came before it.

This time we look at “Blank Space” though I can’t give you another 1,500 words on it. It still bears investigation.

And animated gifs. We’ll intersperse them throughout the post.



One issue is that the song is the best sounding Taylor Swift song I’ve ever heard.[1] That doesn’t mean it’s a great song, but it’s not a pop nightmare.

There’s a decent rhythm and she varies the patterns of her voice in a catchy and seemingly unique way. There’s repetition, but really only of the standard chorus-y variety. There’s figurative language that at least flirts coquettishly with cleverness.

But of course we are not here for my musical critiques[2], just my critiques of music.

In “Blank Space”, Taylor Swift sings about her current method of handling relationships. This method is apparently to date players for a short time until the relationship explodes.

stab-stab-stab

Somehow they explode.

This is fine! She just turned 25, she just moved to New York, and she’s completely allowed to experience life in any way she sees fit.

This issue is this coming on the heels of “Shake It Off” where TayTay chastises people who criticize her for going on too many dates but can’t make them stay, and seems fed up with players[3], urging young women to not get depressed about liars and cheats[4], and instead just get down to This. Sick. Beat.

Now she’s only about getting with the players, and always looking for the next one.

Why can't she just make them stay?

Why can’t she just make them stay?

I’m not exaggerating. Here are some sample lyrics:

You look like my next mistake
Love’s a game, wanna play?

I can make the bad guys good for a weekend

‘Cause you know I love the players
And you love the game


It’s completely understandable for an artist to change over time. We don’t expect someone to remain the same person throughout their life. It would be unfair to compare Taylor Swift to the creepy girl who stalked a guy and might have been dangerous in “You Belong With Me”, for instance.[5]

Maybe it would be unfair.

Maybe it would be unfair.

But “Shake It Off” was released on the same album as “Blank Space” so they should be providing a snapshot of who the artist is at the time. They were even released back to back. Swift purports to write her own songs, so she’s not just singing whatever drivel a studio hands to her, which could explain the mixed signals she’s sending out to her young fans.

Thus when she sings:

Got a long list of ex-lovers
They’ll tell you I’m insane


you feel compelled to side with the long list of ex-lovers.[6]

who-could-say-that

It’s possible that what Swift is purporting to shake off is the idea that her relationship history is negative. That she instead feels it’s silly when people say her not being able to keep a guy is anything other than her goal. That doesn’t really fit with the tone of the song, though, and certainly doesn’t fit the image she has created to this point, so I’m not sure we can give the idea too much credence.

The most disturbing part of the song, to me, is this couplet:

Find out what you want
Be that girl for a month

In light of the recent hit Gone Girl, that sounds remarkably like one of the main characters, Amy. Without spoiling the book or movie, you do not want to turn out like Amy.

them-crazy-eyes

The other line that shows maybe Taylor Tots shouldn’t be regarded as a sage on romantic entanglements actually gets repeated in the song:

Boys only want love if it’s torture
Don’t say I didn’t, say I didn’t warn ya
Boys only want love if it’s torture
Don’t say I didn’t, say I didn’t warn ya

Swift has made a career out of celebrating her failures in relationships, but I’m not sure any of her lyrics or answers in interviews has ever spoken so succinctly at how bad she is at them.

Yes, this is clearly what boys want.

Yes, this is clearly what boys want.

Boys don’t want love if it’s torture. It’s not love then; it’s torture. These are very different things, and everyone should be aware of the differences. Here’s a quick breakdown of one main difference:

Love feels good.
Torture feels bad.

Taylor Swift doesn’t need to spell out her warnings on love. Her entire career is a warning on how not to achieve it.

1. I have only heard her singles, and probably not even all of those.
2. Which is good, because I understand nothing about music and have no musical ability.
3. Defined as those who “play, play, play, play, play”.
4. Or at least not those cheats who are “dirty, dirty”.
5. I wonder if she still has the pictures of that guy and his girlfriend, but with Taylor’s face pasted over the girlfriend’s.
6. Let us take a moment to be glad she’s not calling anyone her “ex-man” in this song, as she did in “Shake It Off”, and which is a term that should only be used to describe someone who has had a sex-change operation to become a woman, or is using his mutant powers to fight for a humanity that hates and fears him.

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