It’s no secret that Taylor Swift is a musical ‘Mastermind,’ and she pours her heart into every single lyric she writes, but it’s always fun to get more insight into her creative process and why she shapes her songs in the way she does. And she totally knows we feel that way – certain copies of albums like 1989 and Lover came with voice memos talking about the stories behind some songs, the reputation era gave us an entire video series called The Making Of A Song, and now we’re getting a closer look at the songs on Midnights thanks to her Behind The Song features!
If you buy a limited-edition digital version of Midnights from her store on January 5th, you’ll get a Behind The Song audio clip where Taylor breaks down one of the songs on the record. But if you don’t have the money right now, you’re an international fan, or you just missed out on it, don’t worry! The audio for these features already appeared on iHeartRadio stations during Midnights release week, and we’re about to give you a little refresher on what Taylor said about each of these tracks.
The main concept of the Midnights album is the feelings we can experience late at night. Taylor introduced us to that idea so well with the album’s lead single, ‘Anti-Hero.’ This one touches on those insecurities and fears that pop up when we’re tossing and turning and can’t fall asleep. It definitely calls us out several times!
The story of ‘Anti-Hero’ is that it really encapsulates this album and, sort of, the darkest corners of your mind when you can’t sleep. Playing out a dismal version of your very dark future, being afraid of what everyone thinks about you, really exploring your own self-loathing and kind of having a shocking, scary self-awareness about your flaws as a human being. You know? Anxiety. It’s all throughout the song.
As the final track of the standard version of Midnights, ‘Mastermind’ makes us question all the references to fate that Taylor placed in songs like ‘invisible string,’ insisting she shaped all the little moments that led to her long-standing relationship with Joe Alwyn. The serotonin we get when the intensity heightens on the “what if I told you none of it was accidental?” lyric is unmatched!
‘Mastermind’ is a song that I put last on the album because I’m really proud of it. And I love that when we were making this song, we wanted the verse to sound like romance, and sort of heroes-type of soundtrack, and we wanted the chorus to sound like a villain has just entered the room. And the idea that you’re flipping this narrative, and you have been planning and plotting things and making them look like an accident, and I think that’s sort of an inside joke between me and my fans—that I tend to do that, and so this song is the romantic version of that.
Fans theorized for years that Karma was the name of a lost album that Taylor secretly made before releasing reputation, so we all went pretty feral when she announced ‘Karma’ as a track on Midnights. But rather than adhering to the edgy theme we expected, ‘Karma’ is an upbeat, bouncy song about your good energy and warm intentions coming back to you!
One of the themes of Midnights is how you’re feeling in the middle of the night, and that can be intense self-hatred, intense self-love—you go through these very polarizing emotions when you’re up late at night and your brain just spirals. It can spiral downward or it can spiral way up and you can just be really feeling yourself. And ‘Karma’ is written from a perspective of feeling like really happy, really proud of the way your life is, feeling like this must be a reward for doing stuff right, and it’s a song that I really love because I think we all need some of those moments. We can’t just be beating ourselves up all the time. We have to have these moments where we’re like, “You know what? Karma is my boyfriend, and that’s it.”
‘Bejeweled’ might be the high-energy bop of the Midnights album, flaunting how Taylor can easily leave an unsupportive partner behind and step into her own shining light. She really does “polish up real nice,” turning a difficult situation into a buzzing anthem that’s guaranteed to make you feel more confident any time you need a boost.
The song ‘Bejeweled’ is a song that I think is really about finding confidence when you feel that it’s been taken away, for whatever reason. You know, you’re feeling insecure, you’re feeling taken for granted, one of the things we love to do at night is we love to go dancing, we love to put on an outfit that makes us feel good, and we love to feel like we’re still bejeweled. And I think that there are tiny inflections of me hyping myself up to return to pop music after spending these glorious years writing folk songs, and being in this metaphorical forest I’ve created, which I’ve loved so much, but there was a bit of pumping myself back up to be like, ‘You can do it! You’re still bejeweled!’ Am I still bejeweled? We’ll see. But that’s what the song’s about.”
BONUS: ‘Lavender Haze’
Okay, so ‘Lavender Haze’ wasn’t one of the lucky Midnights songs that got a Behind The Song clip, but Taylor still gave us more insight into the track in an Instagram Reel! The album’s opening track sends you right into that electrifying, fun version of staying up too late, describing the thrill of falling in love with someone who loves and accepts you for who you are.
I happen upon the phrase “lavender haze” when I was 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. Like, if you were in the lavender haze, then that meant that you were in that all-encompassing love glow… and I thought that was really beautiful. And, 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.
BONUS: ‘Snow On The Beach’
Another grail from Taylor’s Instagram Reels! ‘Snow On The Beach’ is a stunning duet between Taylor and Lana Del Rey about the magical experience of falling for someone new and how surreal it can feel to connect with someone on that level. It’s absolutely beautiful and definitely one of our favorite tracks on Midnights.
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, faded moment where you realize someone feels exactly the same way that you feel, at the same moment, 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. And Lana Del Rey is, in my opinion, one of the best musical artists ever, the fact that I get to exist at the same time as her is an honor and a privilege, and the fact that she would be so generous as to collaborate with us on this song is something I’m gonna be grateful for, for life.
Which of these track explanations is your favorite? Which song on Midnights would you love to learn more about? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! And for more Taylor content, click here.