I heard it the first time I played Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.” It came up in the chorus, and while the phrase didn’t immediately make sense, I liked it. It’s not hard for this song to stay in your head, and so the lyrics, while peculiar, became a permanent fixture in my brain. “So it’s going to be forever, or it’s going to go down in flames / You can tell me when it’s over, if the high was worth the pain / All those Starbucks lovers, they think I’m in insane…”
Flash forward a week later. I’m scrolling through my Twitter feed and come across an article. It said Tay never sang ‘Starbucks lovers.’ Instead, in all her panda-eyed, mascara-smudged glory (an excellent screenshot from the film clip if I do say so myself), it was stated that the actual lyrics to the hit song are, “Got a long list of ex-lovers, they’ll tell you I’m insane.”
What? There was no ‘Starbucks lovers’? This had me mighty confused. It’s normal to mishear lyrics, but it became apparent once searching the Internet and talking to my friends that nearly everyone misheard these lyrics too. With this correction, the chorus made more sense. Swift’s ability to use the song and it’s corresponding clip as a satire of her life (or at least the media’s portrayal of it) is phenomenal, and addressing her very public, and apparently very unrealistic “long list of ex-lovers” slots into it perfectly. That being said, why on earth did so many of us hear the phrase ‘Starbucks lovers’?
Listening back to the song, I realized that Taylor uses syncopation in this lyric, and therefore when all the words meld together, they become ‘Starbucks lovers.’ But the fact so many of us jumped on to this obscure reference intrigues me. So I must ask the question: Does anybody know what a Starbucks lover is?
Is it two beanie-wearing hipsters who meet in Starbucks over a mutual love of their decaf soy vanilla latte? Is it the enigma that exists between two people on a date in Starbucks? Is it when the barista leaves their number on a cute customer’s cup? Or maybe it’s when someone buys an attractive stranger a coffee, and the ‘blank space’ that is meant to contain their name now has a scribbled romantic remark in it? This would account for the ‘blank space’ continually mentioned throughout the song on all accounts, plus the vision of Swift’s femme fatale character in the music clip picking up men in Starbucks and dropping them like flies is rather hilarious.
Taylor is known for dispensing hidden messages in her songs, and her album booklets include secret messages for devoted fans that are willing to pour themselves over the lyrics. Because of this, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this lyric was a combination of the ‘Starbucks lovers’ phrase I lean towards and the more satirical “long list of ex-lovers.”
Then again, as Taylor so delightfully suggests in “Blank Space,” I’m probably just creating a story out of fluff. So I think I have to accept that my desire to understand the concept of ‘Starbucks lovers’ is entirely my own creation, and probably one that leaves Miss Swift in hysterics. That being said, if you know what a Starbucks lover is, please tell me. I really do want to know.