All Of The Hidden Meanings In Taylor Swift's Midnights Album

For Taylor Swift, every new album is an exercise in reinvention. She morphs from persona to persona: her girl-next-door, guitar-strumming teen years; her bright, pop star years; her angry, revenge-fueled years; her pandemic-influenced woodsy, acoustic years. "Lover" was the last album based on Swift's personal life. In the album's optimistic song "Daylight," Swift embraced the light. "I want to be defined by the things that I love, not the things I hate," she says as the song fades out. "Not the things that I'm afraid of. Not the things that haunt me in the middle of the night." 

In "Midnights," Swift turns away from the daylight of "Lover" and delves deep into those middle-of-the-night fears with, as she described it on Instagram, the "stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life." 

"Midnights" ushers in yet another new era — one of late-night musings and unwavering introspection, but also of mature self-reliance. Combining the bright, synth-filled pop of "1989" with the quiet, pared-down poeticism of "folklore" and the darker, R&B-inspired sounds of "Reputation," "Midnights" features Swift's most sophisticated songs to date and a sound that mirrors its artwork — think deep blues and purples with a shimmering, glittering sheen. 

In typical Swiftian fashion, the intensely personal songs of "Midnights" are filled with subtle hints of moments from Swift's past. Here is a breakdown of all of the hidden meanings peppered throughout the album.

Lavender Haze

"Midnights" opens with the deep synth drum beat of "Lavender Haze." With lines like, "I been under scrutiny / You handle it beautifully," and "Talk your talk and go viral / I just need this love spiral," Swift seems to delve into her long-term relationship with actor Joe Alwyn. While the press and the public clamor for headlines, she implies, she is content to ignore it all and stay lost in the "lavender haze" of love. 

As Swift explained in an Instagram video prior to the album's release, she borrowed the phrase "lavender haze" from "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," she said. "If you were in the lavender haze, then that meant you were in that all-encompassing love glow and 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." 

She went on to explain that in her relationship with Alwyn, they constantly had to deal with external pressures. "We've had to dodge weird rumors, tabloid stuff, and we just ignore it," she said. "So this song is about the act of ignoring that stuff to protect the real stuff."


In the darkly reflective "Maroon," Taylor Swift sings about the highs and lows of an old relationship. While it's not clear which ex-boyfriend was the inspiration for this song, there are a few clues. 

For one thing, Swift describes the man in question as "the one I was dancing with in New York." As some fans have noted, Swift was spotted dancing (and kissing) Harry Styles in New York in 2012. However, the singer was also seen dancing with her ex Tom Hiddleston in New York City at the Met Ball a few years later. 

And then, of course, there's the whole color palette of it all. In Swift's memory, this relationship is defined by dark reds: scarlets, burgundies, maroons. Sound familiar? In her 2012 song "Red," Swift allegedly sang about Jake Gyllenhaal, saying, "Loving him was red." Could this be a hint that "Maroon" is also about Gyllenhaal? After all, the singer spent time in New York with him, too.


In "Anti-Hero," Taylor Swift reveals some of her most intrusive thoughts — you know, the ones that creep up on her in the middle of the night. When she's alone at night, she reveals, her "depression works the graveyard shift." She feels haunted by all of the people she's ever ghosted. She freaks out about her partner getting tired of her and leaving. She gets the feeling that everybody else is a "sexy baby" (a potential "30 Rock" reference, or maybe just a jarringly evocative line), while she's a "monster on a hill." She has a recurring nightmare about her future daughter-in-law killing her for her money. She is, in short, her own worst enemy — as the already iconic line goes, "It's me. Hi, I'm the problem, it's me."

As Swift explained in an Instagram video, the song is all about self-loathing. "[It] is one of my favorite songs I've ever written," she said. "I really don't think I've delved this far into my insecurities in this detail before." She added, "Not to sound too dark, but, like, I just struggle with the idea of not feeling like a person." 

Snow On The Beach

The soft and dreamy "Snow On The Beach" features the ethereal vocals of Lana Del Rey and has a mesmerizing, almost hypnotic quality. Kind of like — well — snow on a beach. The song muses on the "weird, but f***ing beautiful" moment when two people both realize they are falling in love. 

Taylor Swift gave a few details in an Instagram video about her inspiration for the central metaphor. "The song is about falling in love with someone at the same time as they're falling in love with you, in this sort of in this cataclysmic, fated moment where you realize someone feels exactly the same way that you feel, at the same moment," she said. "And you're kind of looking around going, 'Wait, is this real? Is this a dream? Is this for real? Is it really happening?' Kinda like it would be if you were to see snow falling on a beach."

This song also features a quick reference to Janet Jackson's song "All For You," with Swift's line, "Now I'm all for you like Janet."

You're On Your Own, Kid

In "You're On Your Own, Kid," Taylor Swift reflects on the fundamental loneliness of being one of the world's biggest pop stars. While partners have come and gone, ultimately, she is the only person in her position. As she sings, "You're on your own, kid / You always have been."

The song contains a brief reference to Swift's eating disorder. She sings, "I gave my blood, sweat, and tears for this / I hosted parties and starved my body." Swift previously addressed her struggle with an eating disorder in her documentary "Miss Americana," saying, "It's not good for me to see pictures of myself every day," adding that in the past, if she saw "a picture of me where I feel like I looked like my tummy was too big, or ... someone said that I looked pregnant ... and that'll just trigger me to just starve a little bit — just stop eating." 

In a 2020 interview with Variety, Swift explained, "My relationship with food was exactly the same psychology that I applied to everything else in my life: If I was given a pat on the head, I registered that as good. If I was given a punishment, I registered that as bad."  

Midnight Rain

The song "Midnight Rain" explores a relationship from Taylor Swift's past. "He wanted it comfortable, I wanted that pain," she sings. "He wanted a bride, I was making my own name." The song seems to be about what happens when two people in a relationship ultimately want different things. 

It's not entirely clear who inspired the song, but based on the lyrics, the song seems to be about someone who offered Swift a happy, normal life. "It came like a postcard / Picture perfect, shiny family / Holiday, peppermint candy," she sings. At the end of the song, Swift wistfully explains that now, she only thinks of him "on midnights like this." 

Some fans have hypothesized that the ex in question is Tom Hiddleston, who Swift dated in 2016. Rumors have circulated that Hiddleston once proposed to Swift, who ultimately decided she wasn't ready for marriage, according to InTouch.


In Taylor Swift's "Question...?," the singer appears to speak to an unnamed love interest about where the relationship is heading. "Can I ask you a question?" she sings. "Did you ever have someone kiss you in a crowded room / And every single one of your friends was making fun of you / But 15 seconds latеr, they were clapping, too?" Fans were quick to link this line to Harry Styles, as Swift was spotted kissing the singer in 2013 in the middle of a crowd.

Another clue lies in the production of the song itself. "Question...?" begins with a pitched-down voice singing, "I remember." It seems to be a direct sample from Swift's 2014 song "Out of the Woods." As one fan noted, the two songs also feature the same background melody and beat. And rumor has it that "Out of the Woods" was about — you guessed it — Mr. Styles. One fan even suggested that, as a reflection on an old relationship, "Question...?" was directly inspired by Swift's most recent interaction with Styles at the 2021 Grammys.

Vigilante S***

In the track "Vigilane S***," Taylor Swift's "Reputation" era meets Billie Eilish. "Draw the cat eye sharp enough to kill a man," murmurs Swift as the song opens. It's a song about being betrayed and taking revenge. Most fans are convinced that the song is a direct reference to the Scooter Braun situation, which saw Swift battling with the Big Machine Records owner for ownership of her own masters and eventually led to her re-recording her first six albums.

In the second verse, Swift sings about an unnamed friend who needed "cold hard proof" for her divorce proceedings. "She had the envelope, where you think she got it from?" sings Swift. "Now she gets the house, gets the kids, gets the pride / Picture me thick as thieves with your ex-wife." Interestingly, Braun's divorce from his ex-wife Yael Cohen was finalized in 2022, with Yael receiving $20 million in the settlement (via Page Six). In another verse, Swift sings, "Someone told his white-collar crimes to the FBI," which appears to be a reference to Braun being sued for $200 million over a failed private-equity fund.


"Bejeweled" is one of "Midnight's" poppiest tracks. In this song, Taylor Swift seems to rediscover her confidence and self-worth in the face of romantic failure. "Baby love, I think I've been a little too kind," the song opens. "Didn't notice you walking all over my peace of mind." But by the chorus, Swift is rallying. "Best believe I'm still bejeweled / When I walk in the room / I can still make the whole place shimmer," she sings.

Some fans are convinced that the song refers to Swift's relationship with musician Calvin Harris, who she dated for 15 months before they broke up in June 2016, per People. Harris famously went on a little Twitter rant about Swift after their breakup. "I figure if you're happy in your new relationship you should focus on that instead of trying to tear your ex-bf down for something to do," Harris wrote. "...I'm not that guy, sorry. I won't allow it."It seems fitting that Swift would write a song about not losing her shine to an ex, with Harris in mind.


In the song "Labyrinth" on her new "Midnights" album, Taylor Swift sings about the fear of falling in love after heartbreak. "Oh, I'm falling in love / I thought the plane was going down / How'd you turn it right around?" she sings. Instead of being about one specific relationship, this song appears to be a reflection on the nature of falling in and out of love. As Swift explained in her "Midnights" announcement, the overall concept of the album came from the nights when she "[lay] awake in love and in fear." In "Labyrinth," the singer explores how the two emotions intertwine and keep her up at night.

One line may have sounded familiar to Swifties. In the first verse, she sings, "Breathe in, breathe through, breathe deep, breathe out." It's a line that Swift first said during her commencement speech at NYU earlier in 2022 (via NME).


In "Karma," Taylor Swift finally gets to relish how things come back around for those who have wronged her in the past. While karma might be scary for some, for Swift, it's welcome. "'Cause karma is my boyfriend / Karma is a God / Karma is the breeze in my hair on the weekend," she sings. 

This song might have the most complicated backstory of any song on the album. In 2016, Swift pointedly said, "Karma is real" during a Vogue interview. After Swift's "Look What You Made Me Do" music video featured an airplane with "TS6" on the side, fans developed a theory that Swift had a missing sixth album that should have come after "1989." Years later, in her music video for "The Man," one scene featured a wall graffitied with all of the albums owned by Scooter Braun, including the word "Karma" and a note that said, "MISSING: IF FOUND RETURN TO TAYLOR SWIFT." Some fans believed that the missing album was meant to be called "Karma" (via Yahoo!).

We may never know whether or not the song is a reference to the fan theory, but we can guess who the song is about. Chances are, the song refers to both Kanye West and Scooter Braun — both of whom are not exactly having the best year, with Braun facing media scrutiny and West dealing with a thorny divorce and the loss of his collaboration with Balenciaga in the aftermath of increasingly controversial comments.

Sweet Nothing

The "Sweet Nothing" track is the closest thing on Taylor Swift's "Midnights" album to a love song. Co-written by Swift and her partner Joe Alwyn (like other songs he has written with Swift in the past, it was penned under his pseudonym, William Bowery), the song is a gentle, delicate glimpse into their relationship. Like the opening track, "Sweet Nothing" is about how, for Swift, Alwyn seems to offer respite from the chaotic outside world. She sings, "Outside, they're push and shoving / You're in the kitchen humming / All that you ever wanted from me was / Sweet nothing." 

The song opens with Swift musing about a pebble she and Alwyn found in his pocket, wondering, "Does it ever miss Wicklow?" This is likely a reference to a trip Swift took to visit Alwyn on the set of "Conversations with Friends," which was filmed in Wicklow, Ireland in July 2021 (via the Daily Mail).


Taylor Swift has always been known for planning ahead — way ahead. In an interview with Jimmy Fallon in 2021, she explained how she began dropping cryptic clues in her music when she was "13 or 14" and creating her first album. "I wanted to do something that would incentivize fans to read the lyrics," she said. As time went on, she started dropping clues years in advance. "Can I hint at something three years in advance?" she mused. 

Swift's final track on "Midnights," "Mastermind," is a direct nod to her plotting and scheming — both in her career and, it would seem, in her love life, too. The song describes how she laid the groundwork for a relationship — probably the one with Joe Alwyn. "What if I told you / None of it was accidental / And the first night that you saw me / Nothing was gonna stop me," she sings. 

Taylor Swift is a mastermind — and she knows it. And the best part? It seems Alwyn is totally on board. At the end of the song, Swift explains that when she told him of her plotting, "all [he] did was smile." It's extra sweet because way back in track three, "Anti-Hero," Swift revealed one of her deepest fears: "One day I'll watch as you're leaving / 'Cause you got tired of my scheming." By the sounds of things, Alwyn won't get tired of her scheming anytime soon — instead, he'll just smile.