Reviewing the Billboard Hot 100: Taylor Swift — “Blank Space”


PREVIOUS NO. 1: “Shake It Off” — Taylor Swift

WHAT’S THE SONG’S DEAL?: People make fun of Adele for needing a breakup to produce an inspired album, but we can’t leave Taylor out of this phenomenon. In Taylor’s eyes, people hate Taylor, and she can only go out with assholes — at least she knows this, though? She acknowledges and welcomes the eventual pain in whatever relationship she steps into, knowing it’ll either be true love, lasting forever (highly unlikely) or an derail into an emotional travesty (high likely).

Swedish savant Max Martin returns for another No.1 single effort, which is akin to LeBron James dropping a 27-8-7 line: It’s boringly amazing. The haunting, disparate keys make the song, hidden by the sharp snare and low, driving synth bass.

What stands out is Swift’s verse meter; it switches up from quick and pointed to sing-songy and deliberate. The chorus is sung conventionally, but the verses draw you in. it breaks up the monotony of another “boy meets girl” narrative that’s existed for approximately hella days. Even though she positions herself as the crazy one, Swift places the agency of fucking up the relationship on the man and his player ways. (What if he chooses her, though?) This also moves to at least the second song in her oeuvre to recognize a lover as trouble and still going with it.

MUSIC VIDEO: This needs some SERIOUS unpacking. Oh, man.

The first thing that catches my eye is the blatant commercialism of the “American Express Unstaged” credit before we even see Taylor Swift or her name — and then it ends with an ad for her app! Y’all could have pretended this wasn’t a marketing vehicle. Could it have been so difficult?

The video is tremendous for myriad reasons, perhaps primarily for its indirect shades of “Sunset Blvd.” Swift positions herself as some kind of modern-day Gloria Swanson, holed up in a mansion to court 2014’s Joe Gillis.

Let’s call him Sean, because that’s the name Tay carves into the BLANK SPACE on a tree on her spanning 122-acre property. There are some crazy moments in this, from the various animals littered inside the establishment, to the portrait Taylor paints of Sean, to the fight in the second pre-chorus moment. From Swift’s ABSOLUTLEY CRAZY FACE, to the voodoo apple moment, to the finale reveal — that she welcomes ANOTHER MAN over. This video prohibits me from being able to even.

PROJECTED LASTING POWER: I don’t think it stays No. 1 for more than three weeks. Another 1989 single could pop up, but there may be some momentary Swift fatigue, allowing another artist to temporarily disrupt her dynasty.

FAVORITE HOT 100 SONG OF 2014?: Would probably still go with “Shake It Off.” Please don’t take a 3-wood to my Civic.


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