Kris Jenner works hard, but Swifties work harder: Following the release of Midnights, Taylor Swift’s diehard fans have pulled a collective all-nighter to dissect every moment of the pop star’s latest album. (I know—I was one of them.)
In fact, the internet has been tracking Swift’s every move ever since she announced Midnights while accepting her win for best music video (for “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)”) at the 2022 VMAs. And for good reason! The singer is known to plan her projects years in advance, which only fuels the speculation that surrounds every sly reference and Easter egg she famously drops into her work.
Take Karma, for example. Blondie’s fanbase has obsessed for years over the rumored “lost album” that was allegedly scrapped in between 1989 and Reputation. Swift herself has seemingly dropped several hints about it, the loudest of which came when she announced that “Karma” would be a single on Midnights.
Now that the album is here, it’s clear this is one of her most vulnerable projects to date. Several of the songs on Midnights reference the heartache and emotional turmoil she’s experienced throughout her years in the public eye. Below, let’s unpack all of the rumored Easter eggs and references in Midnights.
The opening track on Midnights is obviously about Swift’s relationship with Joe Alwyn and the tabloid coverage around it. “All they keep asking me / Is if I’m gonna be your bride. / The only kinda girl they see / Is a one-night or a wife,” Swift sings. “I find it dizzying. / They’re bringing up my history. / But you weren’t even listening.”
In an Instagram video, Swift revealed that the title was inspired by an episode of Mad Men. “I happened upon the phrase lavender haze when I was watching Mad Men, and I looked it up because I thought it sounded cool,” Swift says. “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, then that meant that you were in that all-encompassing love glow, and I thought that was really beautiful.”
She continues, “I think a lot of people have to deal with this now, not just like public figures, because we live in the era of social media. And if the world finds out that you’re in love with somebody, they’re gonna weigh in on it. Like my relationship for six years, we’ve had to dodge weird rumors, tabloid stuff, and we just ignore it. And so this song is sort of about the act of ignoring that stuff to protect the real stuff.”
“You’re on Your Own, Kid”
Track five touches on Swift’s struggles with fame and mental health. She first opened up about an eating disorder in her documentary Taylor Swift: Miss Americana, something she again discusses here. “From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes,” Swift sings. “I gave my blood, sweat and tears for this. / I hosted parties and starved my body / Like I’d be saved by a perfect kiss.”
Swifties are speculating that this one’s about Jake Gyllenhaal. The song is clearly about an ex, and at one point Swift sings about getting caught up in her partner’s “flames.” It could be a nod to the “twin fire signs” of Swift’s Red single “State of Grace,” which is widely understood to be about the actor.
Many think this single is about her relationship with Harry Styles. “Did you ever have someone kiss you in a crowded room,” Swift sings. “And every single one of your friends was makin’ fun of you?” Perhaps a reference to that infamous New Year’s Eve kiss between Styles and Swift?
Swift sings about becoming “thick as thieves” with the ex-wife of an enemy. One camp of Swifties believe she’s referencing Kim Kardashian’s divorce from Kanye West. (Midnights did come out on Kardashian’s birthday….) However, others think Swift is singing about Yael Cohen, recent ex-wife of Scooter Braun.
Leave it to Swift to think of everything. While giving the commencement address for New York University’s class of 2022, Blondie snuck in lyrics from her album: “As long as we are fortunate enough to be breathing, we will breathe in, breathe through, breathe deep, breathe out,” she said at the time. “And I’m a doctor now, so I know how breathing works.”