Taylor Swift’s Midnights album has taken the world by storm once again, with fans praising the album’s introspective and honest lyrics. In particular, the song “Anti-Hero” has drawn in nearly 60 million streams in one week, making it the album’s most popular track.
At its core, “Anti-Hero” offers a personal and introspective look at one’s own weaknesses and struggles. Swift is known for writing songs that call out others, but in “Anti-Hero,” she turns the tables against herself, admitting that she causes some problems rather than maturing past them.
“I have this thing where I get older but just never wiser,” she sings. “I’ll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror.”
The song’s video doubles down on these introspective and confessional lyrics. In it, various versions of Taylor Swift interact with each other and with other people. By the end of the video, these different expressions of her personality seem to make peace with one another, perhaps indicating that she’s coming to terms with her past and moving on.
“We all hate things about ourselves. It’s all of those aspects of the things we dislike and like about ourselves that we have to come to terms with if we’re going to be this person,” she wrote on Instagram about the song.
However, while we can appreciate Swift’s introspective and honest look at herself, the song’s lyrics provide little relief when it comes to dealing with insecurity. Her somewhat bleak personal confessions leave us feeling a bit down, with little encouragement to consider what we might improve. Instead, the fatalistic vibe in “Anti-Hero” suggests that our flaws are simply part of who we are and impossible to change.
“I’m the problem, it’s me,” she sings. “At teatime, everybody agrees…It must be exhausting always rooting for the anti-hero.”
The video for “Anti-Hero” also features some mock violence, as Swift is shot with an arrow in the chest and “bleeds” purple glitter. When she drinks too much (several scenes involve alcohol), she likewise vomits the same purple glitter.
The video also imagines how her future children and their families might remember her after she dies. The song cuts to a dramatic, campy vignette at the reading of her will (with yet another version of Taylor listening in the coffin).
It shows her children fighting bitterly over her will, with her sons and daughter-in-law revealing they only came to the will reading to claim Swift’s assets rather than because of a genuine connection to her.
After a son discovers that Swift has only left them 13 cents, he says “She’s laughing up at us from hell.”
This part of the video fleshes out these lyrics from the song: “I have this dream my daughter-in-law kills me for the money. She thinks I left them in the will.”
Despite these darker elements, “Anti-Hero” continues to be a fan favorite, and Swift’s honesty and vulnerability are what sets her apart from other pop stars. In an industry where image is everything, Swift is unafraid to show her flaws and insecurities, reminding her fans that they’re not alone in their struggles.
“There’s much to be said about how a bright spotlight can make us feel like we’re alone in the dark,” she wrote on Instagram. “And as Swift and many, many artists testify, fame can often result in feeling more like an elevated and isolated monster–that ‘life has become unmanageably sized,’ as Swift puts it in an Instagram post.
After all, when so many people look up to you, it can make you feel like any mistake is letting them down.”