"You can tell me when it’s over, if the high was worth the pain," sings Taylor Swift in the video for "Blank Space", a song from her recent 1989. "Got a long list of ex-lovers, they’ll tell you I’m insane," she sings with mascara running down her face and wild eyes staring straight into the camera, a little smile on her lips as she draws out "insaaaane." "Blank Space" hinges on two main ideas: one, Swift has a public history of seemingly dysfunctional romantic relationships, which the media keeps tight tabs on. And two: that at the end of the day her songwriting pen holds a dangerous amount of power. A lyric like "I got a blank space baby, and I’ll write your name," asserts that Swift has the last word in guiding her narrative and, hell, if it consistently reads as "insane," she doesn’t care.
Taylor Swift is still, clearly, America’s Sweetheart; being so safely ensconced in pop’s upper echelons allows her to try out her version of the woefully unhinged ex-girlfriend figure. With "Blank Space" she owns her "nightmare dressed like a daydream" status proudly, without having to sweat what it might do to her rep or her Top 20 chart position. Yet, what’s more curious than "Blank Space" is its timing, and that Swift was just one of many female musicians this year who unabashedly inhabited the role of a mad woman in love (or lust).