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Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’ Was A Pop Pivot with A Sense of Humor

Taylor Swift knows a thing or two about swerving when people least expect it. Still, nothing could have prepared listeners for the way she totally abandoned country music on her 2014 album 1989. Sure, she had teased some Max Martin-assisted pop hits on her previous album Red, but 1989 was a total 180 from the country starlet’s past, one that saw her teardrop-soaked guitar for sassier synths instead.

The crown jewel of the album is “Blank Space.” While lead single “Shake It Off” was an empowering kiss-off to the haters, the follow up was an unexpected satirization of Swift’s public image at the time as a “maneater:” It poked fun at all the talk around her romances with famous men and the ensuing songs about their times together. She fought back against sexist criticism she’d received around writing “too many break-up songs” and her dating habits with this ferociously catchy track that highlights her sense of humor and wit while helping break free a bit from her “girl next door” image.

On this week’s episode of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs, hosts Rob Sheffield and Brittany Spanos discuss “Blank Space” in-depth, exploring what makes this song so great and how it shifted Swift’s sound and lyricism for the better. Later in the episode, they are joined by their colleague and Rolling Stone Music Now host Brian Hiatt to dig into just how big of a risk her pop pivot had been.

In 2004, Rolling Stone launched its 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. Tabulated from a massive vote that had artists, industry figures, and critics weighing in, the list has been a source of conversation, inspiration, and controversy for two decades. It’s one of the most popular, influential, and argued-over features the magazine has ever done.

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So we set out to make it even bigger, better, and fresher. In 2021, we completely overhauled our 500 Songs list, with a whole new batch of voters from all over the music map. Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs takes a closer look at the entries on our list. Made in partnership with iHeart, Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs finds Brittany and Rob discussing a new song each week, delving into its history and impact with the help of a special guest — including fellow RS colleagues, producers, and the artists themselves. It’s our celebration of the greatest songs ever made — and a breakdown of what makes them so great.

Check out the latest episode above, on iHeart, or wherever you get your podcasts, and look for new episodes every Wednesday.

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