If you’ve been anywhere near a computer in the past 24 hours, you’ve probably seen Taylor Swift’s newest music video "Blank Space." If not, this is the premise: tortured Taylor Swift lives alone in a castle, playing out the stereotype of crazy girlfriend, using and discarding men for fun. This video has horses. This video has cake. Most importantly, this video utilizes the ever-present music video trope of the empty mansion.
Before Swift, we’ve seen Madonna, Bonnie Tyler, Elton John, and Lady Gaga use curiously unoccupied stately houses to illustrate how success, fame, and wealth can still leave you stylishly unfulfilled. In these videos, pregnant with symbolism, our protagonists wander through interminable rooms and build a creeping sense of madness. They leave their windows and doors wide open so that their curtains are left to billow beautifully in the wind. Crushed under the burden of psychological turmoil, they often don’t even bother to furnish their houses. Animals wander in, from horses, to deer, to doves. Woodland critters or beautiful significant others, however, offer no solace from the all-consuming loneliness. #DEEP
So, let’s recount some of the most memorable times that music videos have taken us Behind Mansion Doors in an ID-channel kind of way.
"Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler
Empty mansion music video 101, guys. This is the video that started it all. As a side note, maybe we should call animal control to get those birds out of here before they turn vicious.
"Love Dosen't Live Here Anymore" by Madonna
Columns, marble floors, bay windows flung open — Madonna is a classic scorned lover in this quintessentially '90s music video.
"I Want Love" by Elton John
Robert Downey Jr. is either taking one last solemn look at this house before moving out or couldn't deal with the stress of hiring an interior decorator. Also, is there anything in the fridge?
"Honey" Mariah Carey
Sometimes, empty mansions in music videos aren't attached to their owners, and the space is symbolic of some evil overlord who uses an empty mansion as a holding space for hostages. Such is the empty mansion in Mariah Carey's "Honey."
"Paparazzi" by Lady Gaga
Sometimes the artist has a hunky significant other to keep them company in their palace of opulence. However, we understand that these symmetrically-faced partners must be disposed of by the video's end because they inevitably turn on our pop star friends. See: Alexander Skarsgård in "Paparazzi."
"Blank Space" by Taylor Swift
Taylor is destined to be her own proverbial woman in the attic in this Rochester-like mansion. Her hysterical jealously will inevitably surface to drive all her lovers away, leaving her along again in this stately mansion hanging with Olivia Benson. You get the notion that this is just how she likes it. After all, she's really put all that "me" time to good use by teaching herself to stand on the back of a horse.
Image: TaylorSwiftVevo/ Youtube