Taylor Swift's brilliant new album is here, and the hunt for hidden meanings and Easter eggs is well underway. Here are some of the best Easter eggs and fan theories Swifties have picked up on in Midnights so far:
'Lavender Haze' was inspired by 'Mad Men'
This one was confirmed by Swift herself, who explained on Instagram the opening track "Lavender Haze" was inspired by Mad Men, or at least that's where she first heard the title phrase. "I happened upon the phrase 'lavender haze' when I was watching Mad Men, and 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. You can find the original Mad Men clip here. Time to start digging to figure out which one of these songs is a Pete Campbell diss track.
"All they keep asking me is if I'm gonna be your bride," Swift sings on "Lavender Haze," a clear reference to the endless tabloid gossip and speculation that she is either engaged to boyfriend Joe Alwyn or already secretly married to him. She previously described the song as being about how she's had to "dodge weird rumors" and "tabloid stuff" during her relationship.
"Talk your talk and go viral," she sings in apparent reference to people spreading this gossip. The Sun … you're officially on notice.
One odd "Anti-Hero" lyric threw a lot of Swifties off at first: "Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby." But it actually appears to be a possible 30 Rock reference.
In the season five episode "TGS Hates Women," Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) hires a female writer after the show is accused of misogyny. But Liz grows annoyed when the writer, Abby (Cristin Milioti), comes in and is a ridiculous, infantilized caricature of an oversexualized woman with pigtails who speaks in a baby voice. While Liz urges her to "drop the sexy baby act," Abby insists, "The whole sexy baby thing isn't an act. I'm a very sexy baby!"
Are 'Maroon' and 'Question…?' about Karlie Kloss?
Some fans were convinced at least two, and possibly more, songs on the album are about Karlie Kloss, the model Swift was friends with after they met in 2013 until they seemingly had a falling out.
On "Maroon," Swift sings, "'How'd we end up on the floor, anyway?' you say. 'Your roommate's cheap-ass screw-top rosé, that's how.'" Swift and Kloss were reportedly roommates at one point. She also sings about "the one I was dancing with in New York, no shoes," which could fit with Kloss. Then again, dancing in New York could be referring to Swift and Tom Hiddleston, her ex-boyfriend, dancing at the Met Gala in 2016, or even Swift and Harry Styles recreating the Dirty Dancing lift at a New York party in 2012.
There was also speculation "Question…?" could be about Kloss, or at least a woman. "It definitely feels pretty straightforward that she's singing about kissing a girl," one fan theorized on Reddit. In 2014, TMZ reported Swift and Kloss may or may not have kissed at a concert, though her representative dismissed this. Other fans saw "Question…?" as being about Swift's ex-boyfriend Harry Styles, but either way, it's safe to say the conspiracy theory that Swift is secretly gay is unlikely to die down anytime soon.
The song "Question…?' opens with an "I remember," which appears to have been sampled from Swift's 1989 track "Out Of The Woods." Could this indicate she's sampling from an unreleased "Taylor's Version" of the song, meaning 1989 (Taylor's Version) is coming next? We want to believe.
Special guest drummer Dylan O'Brien
We knew ahead of time that Zoë Kravitz has a songwriting credit on the track "Lavender Haze," and she provides background vocals, too. But there was another surprise special guest appearance on the song "Snow on the Beach," as The Maze Runner star Dylan O'Brien, who starred opposite Sadie Sink in Swift's "All Too Well" short film, is credited with playing the drums on the track.
In "Snow on the Beach," Swift sings, "Now I'm all for you like Janet," a reference to Janet Jackson's 2001 song "All for You."
'I hosted parties and starved my body'
The song "You're on Your Own, Kid" includes the heartbreaking lyric, "I hosted parties and starved my body like I'd be saved by a perfect kiss." In the 2020 documentary Miss Americana, Swift opened up about struggling with an eating disorder. "I tend to get triggered by something, whether it's a picture of me where I feel like I looked like my tummy was too big, or someone said that I looked pregnant or something, and that will just trigger me to just starve a little bit, just stop eating," she revealed.
Is 'Midnight Rain' about Tom Hiddleston or Taylor Lautner?
In the song "Midnight Rain," Swift reflects on a past relationship, seemingly in which her boyfriend wanted to get married. "He wanted a bride, I was making my own name," she sings. "Chasing that fame, he stayed the same."
Many fans read this song as being about Loki star Tom Hiddleston, whom Swift dated in 2016. At the time of their break-up, Us Weekly reported that Swift "was the one to put the brakes on the relationship," as "Tom wanted the relationship to be more public than she was comfortable with."
Others read it as being about Taylor Lautner, the Twilight star whom Swift dated in 2009.
But still others argued the song is perhaps about a non-celebrity boyfriend from Swift's hometown, which would fit with her reflections about how "my town was a wasteland, full of cages, full of fences, pageant queens and big pretenders."
Is 'Vigilante S--t' about Scooter Braun?
The Reputation-esque banger "Vigilante S--t" seems to be about getting revenge on an enemy by giving information about an affair to his wife. "She had the envelope, where you think she got it from?" she sings. "Picture me thick as thieves with your ex-wife." Swift also sings, "He was doing lines and crossing all of mine. Someone told his white-collar crimes to the FBI."
We probably shouldn't take all of this super literally, though fans were quick to speculate the song may be referencing Scooter Braun, the record executive Swift feuded with and who gained ownership of her master recordings in 2019, leading her to start re-recording her albums. Braun and his wife split in 2021. Wait, is Swift confessing to being somehow responsible for their break-up? Tell Scooter … I want him to know it was me.
In 2021, Braun was also involved in a $200 million lawsuit connected to a private equity fund — which, to be fair, is a lot different than being investigated by the FBI.
The other theory was that Swift is singing about Kim Kardashian and Kanye West here, but for the love of God, nobody tell Ye that.
On "Karma," Swift at one point sings, "Spider boy, king of thieves, weave your little webs of opacity." Fans think "spider boy" could be another Scooter Braun reference, as they share the same initials, "SB." Braun has to be in here somewhere, right? It could even double as a reference to Scott Borchetta, founder of Swift's former record label, Big Machine.
Alternatively, others speculated "spider boy" could be a reference to Jake Gyllenhaal, Swift's ex-boyfriend and alleged red scarf owner, who was in Spider-Man: Far From Home and came close to playing Spider-Man himself — unless Swift has a random beef with Tom Holland we've never heard about. You didn't think Gyllenhaal would make it out of the album completely unscathed, did you?
The guy on the screen
Also on "Karma," Swift sings, "Karma is the guy on the screen coming straight home to me." Fans took this as being about Swift's boyfriend Joe Alwyn in reference to his acting career.
Commencement speech foreshadowing
Swift cleverly hid Easter eggs for Midnights in her May 2022 NYU commencement speech, where she received an honorary doctorate. For one, the song "Labyrinth" includes the lyric "Breathe in, breathe through, breathe deep, breathe out." She said that, word for word, near the end of her NYU speech before quipping, "And I am a doctor now, so I know how breathing works."
Swift also seems to have referenced the song "You're on Your Own, Kid" when she told NYU graduates, "The scary news is, you're on your own now." Has this woman ever spoken without dropping some Easter eggs? Probably not.
The song "Sweet Nothing" was co-written by Swift's boyfriend Joe Alwyn, who's once again credited under the pseudonym William Bowery, and it includes the lyric, "Does it ever miss Wicklow sometimes?" Wicklow is a town in Ireland where Alwyn was spotted shooting his show Conversations with Friends, as a fan noted on Genius. It's a big day for Irish Swifties!
Is 'Mastermind' about Swift's career?
On the surface, "Mastermind" seems to be a love song in which the singer describes pulling the strings in the relationship, admitting that nothing involved with them getting together was accidental. But Swifties also interpreted it as being about the singer's relationship with her own fans.
"No one wanted to play with me as a little kid, so I've been scheming like a criminal ever since to make them love me and make it seem effortless," she sings. "This is the first time I've felt the need to confess, and I swear I'm only cryptic and Machiavellian 'cause I care." You know, like the way she strategically drops cryptic Easter eggs that are then broken down by Swifties in Easter egg breakdown articles? Okay, this is getting too meta.
At the Los Angeles Times, critic Mikael Wood agreed the song is about Swift's career and specifically "the deliberation and the ingenuity of the moves that took the 32-year-old from being a teenage country phenom to being one of the two or three biggest acts in all of music."
Swift further sends up her tendency to drop cryptic Easter eggs in the music video for "Anti-Hero," which includes a scene where her children read her will at her funeral and insist it must contain a "secret encoded message that means something else!"
A bunch of visual callbacks in the 'Anti-Hero' video
Beyond that hilarious funeral scene, the "Anti-Hero" music video features tons of visual callbacks, including the guitar she used on her Speak Now tour and the cat ears and heart glasses from her music video for "22." So there really was a secret encoded message!
Is 'Bigger Than the Whole Sky' about a miscarriage?
On the 3am edition of Midnights, "Bigger Than the Whole Sky" might be one of the most heartbreaking songs of Swift's career, and it was widely interpreted as being about suffering a miscarriage. She sings about how "you were more than just a short time" and "I'm never gonna meet what could've been, would've been, what should've been you." Swift has never discussed personally experiencing a pregnancy loss.
On "High Infidelity," a song that appears to be about the singer admitting to cheating, Swift sings, "Do you really want to know where I was April 29th?" Um, yeah, we do!
With the caveat that not all of Swift's lyrics are fully literal or autobiographical, fans immediately figured out that April 29, 2016, happens to be the day Swift's ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris released the song "This Is What You Came For" with Rihanna, which Swift secretly co-wrote under a pseudonym. Yet when Harris was asked by Ryan Seacrest at the time if he would ever collaborate with Swift, he said, "I can't see it happening." TMZ later reported Swift "really is the creative brains behind" the song, "and their relationship fell apart because he disrespected her when the song was released."
The Met Gala where Swift danced with Hiddleston, whom she soon began dating, took place shortly after the song's release in 2016. Swift also seemingly met Alwyn at this event.
Back in September 2021, Swift posted a TikTok in conjunction with the release of "Wildest Dreams (Taylor's Version)," but the video included an odd glitch effect in the middle of it. Was that a genuine issue with the video? Buddy, who do you think we're talking about, here?
In retrospect, this now appears to have been an Easter egg for the song "Glitch." Just in case you think it might be a coincidence, the Spotify Canvas for this song is the glitch effect from the TikTok video.
"Glitch" includes the lyric, "It's been 2,190 days of our love blackout." 2,190 days is exactly six years, presumably a reference to how long Swift has been with Joe Alwyn, whom she's been dating since 2016.
'Would've, Could've, Should've' is almost certainly about John Mayer
There doesn't seem to be much ambiguity with this one: Swifties are universally convinced the song "Would've, Could've, Should've" is about her relationship with John Mayer, whom she reportedly dated when she was 19 and Mayer was 32.
Swift already wrote a song that was clearly about Mayer: 2010's "Dear John," which includes the lyrics, "Don't you think 19 is too young to be played by your dark twisted games when I loved you so?" Now in "Would've, Could've, Should've," Swift sings, "If I'd only played it safe, I would've stayed on my knees, and I damn sure never would've danced with the devil. At 19, and the God's honest truth is that the pain was heaven, and now that I'm grown, I'm scared of ghosts." She also sings, "If I was a child did it matter if you got to wash your hands?" To twist the knife further, this also happens to be the 19th track on the album. Coincidence? Absolutely not.
Great news for Jake Gyllenhaal: You're not the biggest villain of the album this time!
Here's one of the "Swiftie QAnon" variety, but it's too bonkers to not mention: Fans have pointed out that Swift, who was born on Dec. 13, 1989, is exactly 12,000 days old as of Midnights' release. You know, 12 as is midnight, or like how there are 12 numbers on a clock? Could that have possibly been intentional? This is Swift we're talking about, so ... yeah, probably. Mastermind, indeed.