Taylor Swift is known for a lot of things, but producing mediocre music videos is not one of them. All of the songstress’ offerings, from “You Belong With Me” to “Shake It Off” to “You Need To Calm Down,” are inspired, cinematic and unique, not to mention beautifully styled, from the costumes and makeup right down to the locations. That is especially true of 2014’s “Blank Space,” which BuzzFeed recently ranked as number one in the singer’s vast catalog thanks to its many heavily stylized elements. As author Cameron Sackett details, “The house? Incredible. The looks? Incredible. Her acting? Incredible. This will go down in history as one of the greatest music videos of the 2010s. There never was a blank space at the top of this list because this is far and away Taylor Swift’s best music video.”
Highlighting the oft-repeated media narrative that Swift has a problematic history when it comes to the opposite sex, the video sees the singer wooing, romancing and then drastically “making all the tables turn” on model Sean O’Pry against the backdrop of an opulent old mansion. To direct the piece, Taylor enlisted Joseph Kahn, the veritable music video king behind some of the most iconic shoots of our time, including Eminem’s “Without Me,” Britney Spears’ “Toxic” and Brandy and Monica’s “The Boy Is Mine,” among countless others. “Blank Space” marked the first collaboration for Swift and Kahn and it proved a fruitful partnership, with Taylor walking away from the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards with the Best Pop Video and Best Female Video trophies safely in hand. (The two later teamed up to make magic with “Wildest Dreams,” “Bad Blood” and “Look What You Made Me Do.”)
The inspiration for “Blank Space’s” cinematography came from an unlikely place – Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 dystopian drama “A Clockwork Orange,” which Kahn happened to be watching when Swift first approached him to helm the piece. He explained to MTV, “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.”
The overall look, though, is decidedly Swift, with the singer “dressed like a daydream” in eye-catching retro-inspired garb, holding one of her beloved “muskrats” and emoting in front of a breathtaking array of backdrops. Interestingly though, the mansion at the center of the story is not a singular spot, but two grand New York estates meshed together to appear as one.