Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’: Meanings Behind The Buzzed-About Songs & Everything Else To Know

'Midnights' is finally in our ears! Taylor Swift blessed us with her brand new album, as well as 7 additional tracks, on Oct. 21, and we're breaking down everything to know here.

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  • Taylor Swift’s 10th album, ‘Midnights’, was released at midnight on October 21, 2022.
  • She announced the album while accepting an award at the VMAs in August, and dropped small hints about the record in the weeks leading up to its release.
  • ‘Midnights’ features 13 tracks, including one that features Lana Del Ray, as well as 3 bonus tracks.
  • In addition to the 13 songs, Taylor also dropped 7 separate tracks at 3:00 a.m. on Oct. 21, making up the ‘3AM’ version of the album.
  • The album touches on her relationship with Joe Alwyn, as well as stories about exes like Calvin Harris and John Mayer, among others.

The wait is over! Nearly two months after Taylor Swift made a surprise appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards on August 29, where she shocked fans with her big announcement of a brand new album, she dropped Midnights on Oct. 21. Taylor was accepting the award for Video of the Year for her “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)” Short Film, and revealed that she had a new album coming out. She also said that she’d be giving more details at midnight, which was less than one hour away at the time.

True to her promise, Taylor announced the upcoming release of her 10th studio album, Midnights, at 12:00 on the dot. Although Taylor dropped some never-before-heard songs with the re-releases of Fearless and Red in 2021, this was her first full, new album since Evermore in 2020. In the weeks since the VMAs, Taylor continued to surprise fans with more tibits about Midnights, including all the track names and one very special featured artist. Now, the album is finally here — along with seven ADDITIONAL songs, which Taylor surprised fans with at 3:00 a.m. on Oct. 21. Now, we’re doing a deep dive into the whole thing!

What Songs Are On ‘Midnights’?

On Sept. 20, TikTok urged fans to check out Taylor’s page on the app at midnight. That evening, she released her new segment “Midnights Mayhem With Me,” which featured her revealing track names from the Midnights album. Following the first segment, Taylor continued “Midnights Mayhem With Me” every few days at midnight, revealing one track at a time. She used a random lottery ball spinner to decide which track would be shared each day.

@taylorswift

Midnights tracklist reveal!! Introducing: Midnights Mayhem with Me 🌌😎 #TSmidnighTS #SwiftTok #MidnightsMayhemWithMe

♬ Midnights Mayhem episode 1 – Taylor Swift

The first track Taylor shared was track 13, which is called “Mastermind.” She followed it up with track 8, which is called “Vigilante S***.” On Sept. 26, she revealed track 7, “Question…?” and on Sept. 28, she shared that track 6 is called “Midnight Rain.” Friday, Sept. 30 brought the reveal of track 2, which is “Maroon.”

Next up, on Oct. 3, Taylor shared that Track 3 will be calfled “Anti-Hero.” Along with that announcement, she also posted a “Behind The Song” video for the track on Instagram, explaining what it is about. “Anti-Hero is one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever delved this far into my insecurities in this detail before. I struggled a lot with the idea that my life has become unmanageably sized and — not to sound too dark — but I struggle with the idea of not feeling like a person. Don’t feel bad for me, you don’t need to, but this song really is a real guided tour throughout all the things I tend to hate about myself. We all hate things about ourselves and it’s all of those aspects of things we dislike and like about ourselves that we have to come to terms with if we’re going to be this person. I like “Anti-Hero” a lot because it’s really honest.”

Taylor confirmed that track 9 is called “Bejeweled” on Oct. 5, but then she really threw fans for a loop with her Oct. 6 announcement, when she shared that track 11 is called “Karma.” There’s an old fan theory that Taylor previously scrapped a 2016 record called “Karma” when she went into hiding, so Taylor’s fans went absolutely nuts when they saw that this was a song title on Midnights. Even Taylor was in on the joke, as she chuckled while announcing the track on TikTok.

Fans were once again caught by surprise at midnight on Oct. 7, as Taylor began an all-night “Midnights Mayhem With Me” series. At the top of the next five hours, she announced the remaining Midnights tracks, so the full list was confirmed by the early hours of Oct. 7. First up was track 1, “Lavender Haze,” followed by track 5, “You’re on Your Own, Kid,” and then track 10, “Labyrinth.” The final two tracks announced were track 12, “Sweet Nothing” and track 4, “Snow On The Beach.” Oh, and track 4 also features none other than Lana Del Rey!

Additionally, Taylor included another “Behind the Song” for “Lavender Haze,” and explained that she learned the phrase while watching Mad Men. “I looked it up because I thought it sounded cool and it turns out that it’s a common phrase used in the 50s where they would just describe being in love. If you were in the lavender haze that meant you were in the all-encompassing, love glow. I thought that was really beautiful. I guess, theoretically, when you’re in the lavender haze you’ll do anything to stay there and not let people bring you down off of that cloud. I think a lot of people have to deal with this now — not just ‘public figures’ –because we live in the era of social media. If the world finds out you’re in love with somebody, they’re going to weigh in on it. My relationship for six years, we’re have to dodge weird rumors, tabloid stuff, and we just ignore it. This song is sort of just about ignoring that stuff to protect the real stuff.”

On October 14, Target confirmed the title for the album’s deluxe version bonus track, which is called “Hits Different.” The brand also revealed which two songs will be remixed. “You’re On Your Own, Kid” will get a strings remix, while “Sweet Nothing” will get a piano remix on the deluxe album.

The full track list:

  1. “Lavender Haze”
  2. “Maroon”
  3. “Anti-Hero”
  4. “Snow On The Beach” (ft. Lana Del Rey)
  5. “You’re On Your Own, Kid”
  6. “Midnight Rain”
  7. “Question…?”
  8. “Vigilante S***”
  9. Bejeweled
  10. “Labyrinth”
  11. “Karma”
  12. “Sweet Nothing”
  13. “Mastermind”
  14. “Hits Different” (Bonus Track)
  15. “You’re On Your Own, Kid” (String Remix)
  16. “Sweet Nothing” (Piano Remix)

In addition to these 13 tracks and three bonus tracks, Taylor also released seven other songs on the 3AM version of Midnights, seen below. “I think of Midnights as a complete concept album, with those 13 song forming a full picture of the intensities of that mystifying, mad hour. However! There were other songs we wrote on our journey to find that magic 13. I’m calling them the 3am tracks. Lately I’ve been loving the feeling of sharing more of our creative process with you, like we do with From the Vault tracks. So it’s 3am and I’m giving them to you now.”

Midnights 3AM Version Songs

14 “The Great War”

15 “Bigger Than The Sky”

16. “Paris”

17. “High Infidelity”

18. “Glitch”

19. “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve”

20. “Dear Reader

Who Are The Songs On ‘Midnight’s About?

As usual, fans began immediately speculating who the songs on Midnights are about. Since the album is about sleepless nights throughout Taylor’s life, not all of the songs are rooted in present day. However, Joe Alwyn did inspire a number of tracks, including “Lavender Haze,” “Mastermind,” “Sweet Nothing,” “Paris,” The Great War” and “Glitch.” All of the song reference the pair’s relationship of the last six years. Many of the lyrics make references to Taylor’s fear that something could go wrong between them, but at the end of the day, she’s clearly blissfully happy.

One of the most buzzed about songs on the album is “Vigilante S***,” which is about one of Taylor’s nemeses. After much detective work, fans have concluded that Scooter Braun is the subject of the song. In the second verse, Taylor sings about befriending the subject’s ex-wife, and Scooter recently went through a very public divorce. She also references her enemy’s “white collar crime,” and Scooter faced some legal trouble when he was hit with a $200 million fraud lawsuit in 2021.

The song “High Fidelity” appears to flash back to Taylor’s relationship with Calvin Harris. She references the date April 29 on the song, which is the day Calvin and Rihanna’s “This Is What You Came For” debuted. Taylor wrote the song under a pseudonym, and reportedly felt disrespected when Calvin claimed he had no plans to ever work with her on the day it came out. Following the song’s release, Taylor attended the Met Gala, where she met Tom Hiddleston. She hints at being unfaithful to Calvin with Tom on “High Fidelity.”

Then there’s “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve,” which looks back at Taylor’s relationship with John Mayer. The scathing track calls out John for taking advantage of her when she was just 19. She previously referenced the young age at which she dated John on the 2010 song “Dear John,” but “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” takes it to a whole new level. Taylor admits to “regretting” her relationship with John and calls him out for taking her “girlhood.”

The song “Midnight Rain” looks back at what appears to be a high school love, as Taylor sings about ending a relationship as she went to pursue fame, leaving her “nice” ex behind in order to “make her own name.” The saddest song on the album, though, is “Bigger Than The Sky,” which tells the story of a heartbreaking loss in great detail. Many fans have even theorized that it is the story of a miscarriage. In recent years, Taylor has drawn on experiences that weren’t her own to write music, so it’s not confirmed whether or not this was something she actually went through herself.

Another track that has everyone talking is “Karma,” where Taylor sings about how she’s been treated well by karma over the years, where those who have scorned her are paying the price. Although fans thought the song lyrics were a bit “cheesy” at first, the song quickly became a favorite, with Taylor rising to the top. “Anti-Hero” is a deeply personal song for Taylor, as she sings about some of her biggest insecurities that keep her up at night. Some of these include her height, her weight and whether people are using her for her fame.

‘Midnights’ Music Videos

There’s plenty of more Midnights content where all these songs came from, though. On Oct. 20, Taylor revealed that she’d be releasing visuals for the Midnights tracks, which she wrote and directed. She shared a teaser trailer for the upcoming videos on Instagram.

The first video was for “Anti-Hero,” and it was released on Oct. 21. The video stars Taylor, as well as John Early, Mary Elizabeth Ellis and Mike Birbiglia. Taylor is faced with her biggest fears and demons in the video, and it concludes at her funeral, where her sons (played by John and Mike) and daughter-in-law (Mary Elizabeth) are arguing over her will. While the video is quirky and fun, the song dives into some of Taylor’s most deep-rooted insecurities, which are shown on the screen.

Taylor confirmed that the second music video will be released on Oct. 25, although she did not reveal what song it is for. She also did not give a timeline for the release of the subsequent music videos.

Who Did Taylor Work With On ‘Midnights’?

Taylor took a step in a different direction with her last two new albums, Folklore and Evermore, in 2020. The records had more of an indie/alternative sound, which strayed from her former pop and country roots. Well, it looks like we’re back to the POP genre on Midnights. The album was listed as a ‘pop’ record before it was released, which immediately tipped fans off to the vibe.

Taylor also shared some behind-the-scenes clips from the making of Midnights on social media. In the footage, Jack Antonoff appears alongside her in the studio. Jack and Taylor collaborated heavily on 1989, which was her first full foray into pop music. He’s also been the producer on many of her most fan-loved pop songs. Some of the songs Jack and Taylor have worked on together include “Cruel Summer,” “Call It What You Want,” “Getaway Car” and “Out Of The Woods,” so fans were expecting that vibe on this record.

taylor swift jack antonoff

Once the album came out, it was revealed that Jack had co-written almost all of the tracks with her. She also collaborated with Zoe Kravitz, Sounwave, Jahaan Sweet and Sam Dew on “Lavender Haze,” as well as Zoe, Sounwave, Jahaan and Keanu Torres on “Karma.” Taylor worked with boyfriend, Joe, on “Sweet Nothing,” and reunited with her Folkore/Evermore partner, Aaron Dessner, for three tracks on the 3AM version.

Midnights is a wild ride of an album and I couldn’t be happier that my co-pilot on this adventure was Jack Antonoff,” Taylor wrote on Instagram. “He’s my friend for life (presumptuous I know but I stand by it) and we’ve been making music together for nearly a decade HOWEVER..this is our first album we’ve done with just the two of us as main collaborators. We’d been toying with ideas and had written a few things we loved, but Midnights actually really coalesced and flowed out of us when our partners (both actors) did a film together in Panama. Jack and I found ourselves back in NY, alone, recording every night, staying up late and exploring old memories and midnights past.”

What Is Happening With Taylor Swift’s Re-Recordings?

Since Taylor was in the midst of re-releasing some of her records when she announced Midnights, many are wondering what the timeline is for the rest of those re-records. So far, Taylor dropped two re-recorded albums, Fearless and Red, which means she has four more to go: Taylor Swift, Speak Now, 1989 and Reputation.

taylor swift
Taylor Swift at TIFF. (Shutterstock)

Taylor has already released the full re-recorded versions of “This Love” and “Wildest Dreams” from 1989, as well as a clip from the new version of “Bad Blood.” This led fans to believe that 1989 (Taylor’s Version) would be her next record. However, without any warning, Taylor dropped the Midnights bomb on us instead!

The truth of the matter is that, like many things with Taylor…we simply don’t know! We can expect her to give Midnights some time to marinate before the next re-recording is released, but a timeline has not been shared just yet.

Taylor is re-recording her first six records so she can earn the Master’s to the music. She tried to buy the Master’s from her old record label, Big Machine, but was denied the right to do so by label head Scott Borchetta, who discovered Taylor as a teenager. Rather than just letting Taylor buy the Master’s flat-out, Scott wanted her to record six new albums for Big Machine in order to earn back the rights to each of the albums. Taylor did not want to take that deal, so she left Big Machine in 2018, and in 2020, she began the process of re-recording.

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