taylor-swift-on-a-horse

There's an inter­est­ing piece on NYMag.com about 'Blank Space', the Taylor Swift song that recently broke a chart record but would have broken at least one other record ('MOST AMAZING SINGLE EVER RELEASED') if it had been 'Style'.

Anyway, the inter­est­ing piece concerns something we all know exists but rarely acknow­ledge in public: the fact that in 'Blank Space' the line "long list of ex-lovers" sounds so much like "lonely Starbucks lovers" that many people think Taylor's actually singing about a coffee emporium-based romance scenario.

According to our notes from the album playback we, too, made that mistake when we first heard the song. In fact a portion cut from our 1,989 word album review (in order to get it down to 1,989 words) says this:

Lady Gaga declared that ‘ARTPOP’ would provide what she described as a ‘reverse Warholian exped­i­tion’, but with con­sid­er­ably less fanfare Taylor offers a few exped­i­tions of her own: a reverse Sondheimian exped­i­tion with 'Out Of The Woods', a reverse Orwellian exped­i­tion with privacy banger 'I Know Places', and an espresso-fuelled Shakespearean exped­i­tion with ‘Blank Space’, in which the ‘star-crossed lovers’ you so often find in pop lyrics somehow end up in Starbucks.

It is just as well we chopped that bit out because as well as being a terrible piece of writing it was also wrong about the Starbucks bit.

So why does everyone hear the line incor­rectly when, once you know what she's singing, it's totally obvious what she's been a-warbling all along?

Well, the inter­est­ing piece goes into all sorts of things. According to a linguist quoted in the article, misheard lyrics are mostly about what you think you're going to hear. The inter­est­ing piece explains that part of your under­stand­ing comes from what you're actually hearing, and the rest comes from "our minds — from our expect­a­tions, in other words".

What the inter­est­ing piece doesn't explain is why anyone would actually expect to hear 'Starbucks lovers' in a Taylor Swift song. 'Starbucks lovers' is not, as they say on the internet, 'a thing'.

But 'star crossed lovers' is a thing. It's a thing from a Shakespeare romp called Romeo & Juliet, which was a love story, which inspired a love song, which was called 'Love Story', which was by Taylor Swift.

If you are listening to a Taylor Swift song you are sub­con­sciously expecting something to do with Romeo & Juliet.

THE END.