Happy Midnights day to one and all!
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, you’ll know that Taylor Swift has released her 10th studio album, Midnights, today. And, yes, it’s already a masterpiece.
In fact, she not only blessed us with 13 songs at midnight but also dropped a further seven just three hours later, meaning we now have 20 new songs to become obsessed with.
In the run-up to its release, Taylor revealed that the album had been inspired by “sleepless nights” across her life, and one of its core themes is “fantasizing over revenge.”
It needs to be pointed out, however, that lyrical interpretation is subjective, and therefore, we can’t be 100% certain of who any of the songs are about. This story is the result of piecing together public knowledge with themes that have appeared consistently across Taylor’s work. So, let’s get into it.
The first song that appears to be about two of the most devastating feuds in her life is track 11, “Karma,” which opens with what seems to be a reference to Karlie Kloss.
For those who don’t know, Taylor and Karlie were completely inseparable BFFs between 2014-2016. However, their friendship completely fell apart around the same time as the demise of Taylor’s ~reputation~ at the end of 2016.
At the time, neither Taylor nor Karlie addressed the rumors of a feud. However, two years later, reports emerged suggesting that Karlie had leaked private information about Taylor to her manager, Scooter Braun, who Taylor has since described as her nemesis.
And this was seemingly corroborated on Taylor’s 2020 track “It’s Time to Go.” In this song, Taylor sings: “When the words of a sister come back in whispers / That prove she was not in fact what she seems / Not a twin from your dreams / She’s a crook who got caught.”
The reference to sisters and twins — something the pair were constantly described as throughout their friendship — as well as a “crook” being caught saying things behind her back seemed to point pretty heavily toward Karlie.
Taylor seemed to continue to reference her fallout with Karlie in “Closure,” released five months later, which reflected on her lack of desire to reconnect with a person who had betrayed her.
And the feud appears to come up again in “Karma.” This song opens with a reference to a person “talking shit for the hell of it,” which again connects back to the reports that Karlie was spreading gossip about Taylor behind her back.
The lyric goes on to accuse the subject of being “addicted to betrayal” in order to stay “relevant.” This not only appears to once again acknowledge the betrayal Taylor felt at the hands of someone she trusted, but could also be considered an acknowledgment of the way Karlie was accused of using her friendship with Taylor for relevancy — both at the time and long after it was over.
For example, she continued to reference Taylor in interviews, including her 73 Questions for Vogue in 2018, where she insisted they were very much still friends despite Taylor signaling that they were done the year prior.
Later in the song, Taylor appears to reference her feud with former record label boss Scott Borchetta.
Taylor and Scott had worked closely together for 15 years after she was signed to his record label, Big Machine Records, when she was just 14. The singer has since admitted that she considered Scott family.
However, the pair’s relationship imploded when, at the end of her contract, Scott refused to give Taylor the rights to the master recordings of her first six albums. Instead, he gave her the option to sign a new contract and essentially “earn” the rights to one old album for every new one she released. He also refused to sell the masters directly to Taylor.
Taylor knew that Scott would sell the label once she signed a new contract, so she decided to walk away. Scott then brokered a $300 million deal, selling the label and her masters to Scooter Braun — something Taylor described as her “worst-case scenario” after claiming Scooter had bullied and manipulated her “for years.”
Taylor has since said Scott’s actions redefined her understanding of betrayal. She has explored this in songs including “My Tears Ricochet” and “It’s Time to Go.”
In “My Tears Ricochet,” Taylor reflects on feeling as though her entire life’s work had been robbed from her by Scott’s actions, describing her masters as “stolen lullabies.”
In “It’s Time to Go,” Taylor focuses heavily on Scott’s “greed.” This is something she also reflected on in an interview after the deal with Scooter was made public, where she described feeling like a “prized calf that he was fattening up to sell to the slaughterhouse that would pay the most.”
And both themes reappear in “Karma,” with Taylor appearing to describe Scott as a “king of thieves” who’s made her “pennies” his “crown.”
She goes on to suggest that he should be wary of prioritizing only wealth and financial greed and that he’ll come to regret tricking her and losing her in his life both personally and professionally.
It’s also interesting to note that “Karma” follows the exact same structure as “It’s Time to Go,” with Karlie seemingly being called out in the first verse and Scott appearing in the second.
It’s arguable that elsewhere on the album, Taylor also mentions her infamous feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, who legally changed his first name to Ye.
I’m sure you’re well versed in the details of this feud, but the abridged version goes something like this: Back in 2016, Ye released his song “Famous,” which included the lyric: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous.” While he insisted that Taylor had known and approved of the lyric in advance, her publicist maintained that Taylor never knew she’d be referred to as “that bitch.”
Just a few months later, Kim Kardashian posted a video showing a phone call between Ye and Taylor, where they discussed the song and she apparently gave approval. It did not, however, show him telling her about the “I made that bitch famous” line.
After the release of the video, #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty began trending worldwide, and she retreated from the public eye completely for over a year.
But it appears to crop back up again in Midnight’s “Vigilante Shit,” which is hyperfixated on seeking revenge — a concept she’s spoken and sung about at length in relation to what went down with Kimye.
Before we get into it, it’s worth noting that since Folklore and Evermore, Taylor has increasingly explored songwriting from the perspective of fictional characters. And this song may be another example of that, with Taylor exploring relationship dynamics that she’s not a part of. But it’s also compelling to read it through the lens of the Kimye feud.
In one verse, Taylor describes a wife needing “cold hard proof,” which she supplies. While some interpret this as relating to an affair, others think it could be a metaphor for Kim needing “proof” in order to destroy Taylor’s reputation. This was supplied by the singer answering Ye’s phone call that day — something she’s since said she regrets deeply.
This notion echoes a line from 2020’s “Mad Woman,” in which Taylor appears to suggest that Kim did Ye’s “dirtiest work” for him by leaking the audio.
In “Vigilante Shit,” Taylor goes on to reference a divorce between the two subjects of the song, with the ex-wife getting the “house,” “kids,” and “pride,” which connects very strongly to the current situation between Kim and Ye.
However, others are reading the verse very differently. Some think it’s about Scooter Braun, who, as you know, Taylor actively despises. Incidentally, Scooter also recently split from his wife of seven years, Yael Cohen Braun, amid reports of infidelity.
Some fans are theorizing that Taylor was involved in helping expose Scooter to Yael, while others are interpreting the lyric as her simply fantasizing over contributing to his demise.
This wouldn’t be the first time Taylor has seemingly referenced Scooter and Yael in her work. 2020’s “Mad Woman” also alluded to infidelity while she was raging over the Big Machine deal.
That’s it for now, but if we notice any more lyrical references, we’ll be sure to keep you updated!
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