September 25, 2023


Why Taylor Swift's Anti-Hero Is The Song We All Are Rooting For

Anti-Hero, the lead-single from Taylor Swift’s album Midnights, is the No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot100 for the past two weeks.

Ever since Taylor Swift released her tenth studio album Midnights, the internet has been abuzz with finding clues and decoding deeper meaning into what the singer has described as “the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life.” While songs like Lavender Haze and You’re On Your Own, Kid have touched familiar chords about love and identity, there’s one track in particular has caught the most attention. It is the lead-single Anti-Hero, which finds the 11-time Grammy winner at her vulnerable best, revealing her fears and anxieties like never before. Taylor even changed her bios on Instagram and Twitter upon the song’s release to read the catchphrase, “I’m the problem, it’s me.” The obsession hit the roof.

Taylor Swift posted a video on Instagram about the title on October 3, revealing how Anti-Hero is “one of my favourite songs I’ve ever written,” further adding how the song “is a guided tour throughout all the things I tend to hate about myself.” Written by Swift and co-producer Jack Antonoff, Anti-Hero begins with the line, “I have this thing where I get older but just never wiser.” Not only does this line connect with the millennial angst of growing older but also affirms that these intensely personal insecurities are universal. Then the chorus begins with the line, “It’s me, hi/ I’m the problem it’s me” which is the lyric that has since dominated TikTok and Instagram. Taylor ris admitting that she’s the reason behind most of the problems and that she’s the anti-hero in her own life. If you’re confused as to why everyone’s changing their bio to “I’m the problem, it’s me,” you know now.

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One immediately connects to the self-hatred that comes with how we tend to internalise what other people say or feel about us without even knowing that’s true. The struggle with self criticism is a constant, daunting affair. This line hits closer home because as a generation even if we are far more connected through social media, in reality we are quite lonely. Even if the line has echoes of self-loathing and shame, it exists on a suspended level of perspective. The quirkiness of Swift’s interpretation of the line gives it a light-footing, as if she is downplaying her insecurities at one go. Notice how Swift returns to the same line at the end of Anti-Hero but pauses before the words, as if she’s exhausted in carrying this burden of self-hatred. This slight alteration in the vocals during the catchphrase beautifully sums up the song, as even if she is downplaying her insecurities and admitting to her struggles, the toll it takes on her is physically and emotionally exhausting.

As far as the obsession with Anti-Hero is concerned, Taylor peppers the song with a good mix of reflective as well as confounding lyrics. One has no idea what she means when the lines “Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby/ And I’m a monster on the hill,” appears. Who is “sexy baby” and is it necessarily directed at someone? Then there is a line that goes, “I have this dream my daughter-in-law kills me for the money / She thinks I left them in the will.” Twitter has not given up the effort in coming up with a meaningful, researched theory behind these mysteriously quirky lines, but this is exactly what makes Anti-Hero a song with such great repeat value. It hits home at a lot of places, and then draws a tangent that encourages further inspection.

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She has expressed that although Anti-Hero is dealing with how she struggles with the idea of “not feeling like a person,” there is no need to feel bad for her. For most of her career, Swift has had to face intense media scrutiny for her multiple relationships with celebrities and using it as material for songs. It is almost a craze amongst her diehard fans to connect the dots, decode deeper connections with her lyrics and come up with theories about her past relationships. Anti-Hero suggests a full-circle in terms of owning up to these constant allegations in a way that had not felt this personal in quite some time. Note how she also uses the word “depression” for the first time in her songs, revealing a lot more about her struggles and insecurities that any of the other songs in the album. Even as the song has a casual energy in its overall treatment, Anti-Hero cuts deep and reveals a shared comfort in expression.

Taylor has already secured the top spot with Anti-Hero at the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the past two weeks. Anti-Hero is also the first song to have got a music video, directed by Swift herself. It sees the singer opening the door to her doppelganger, who does worse for her insecurities altogether. The video received backlash for promoting negative body images and the word ‘fat’ was later removed. Now that Jack Antonoff has released a duet remix version of the song with Swift, replacing “sexy baby” with “art bros”, expect the attention to hit the roof.

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