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Swifties Think Taylor Packed ‘Midnights’ With Joe Alwyn Breakup Clues

I think there's been a glitch.
Taylor Swift Midnghits
Image: Octavio Jones/TAS23/Getty Images for for TAS Rights Management

I think there’s been a glitch. Apparently, everyone misinterpreted the meaning behind Taylor Swift’s Midnights. The singer initially described her 10th studio album as “13 sleepless nights scattered throughout [her] life.” However, it sounds more like a breakup album in light of Swift’s reported split from long-term boyfriend Joe Alywn. As of April 14, neither Swift nor Alwyn have publicly commented on the April 10 reports they broke up “a few weeks ago,” per Entertainment Tonight. That didn’t stop TikTokers from diving back into October 2022’s Midnights to look for breakup clues, which there are plenty of.

While Swift and Alwyn kept their six-year relationship mostly private, fans were under the impression things were going swimmingly, and even thought the pair might have been engaged. After all, Alwyn helped pen two songs on Swift’s July 2020 album, Folklore, under the pseudonym William Bowery. Most recently, he co-wrote “Sweet Nothing” on Midnights.

News of the reported split came as a shock. An inside source told People on April 10 that Swift reportedly “didn’t see them working out in the long run.” The source added they “grew apart” but are still “friendly.” Without commentary from the singer herself on the split, SwiftTok went into full investigator mode, replaying Midnights track by track to find any clues the singer indicated trouble in her relationship.

Before even getting to the songs, Swift may have given a major clue when she revealed the album was the story of sleepless nights throughout her life. Usually, when you’re having big life changes, like contemplating a breakup, sleep can be hard to come by. While not all of the tracks directly relate to a possible split from Alwyn, there are some clues that are hard to miss.

“Lavender Haze”

Lavender Taylor Swift
Image: Octavio Jones/TAS23/Getty Images for for TAS Rights Management

Swift said in October 2022 that this track is about the “all-encompassing love glow,” referring to her relationship with Alwyn. She said in an Instagram video at the time, “…We’ve had to dodge weird rumors, tabloid stuff, and we just ignore it.” It’s possible Swift and Alwyn are ignoring the breakup rumors and happily writing another album together, but TikToker @rossisfun points to the marriage references in the second verse as an indicator things weren’t great: “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.” Rather than interpreting those lyrics as someone who doesn’t want to get married to buck tradition, it could be seen as someone who knows they won’t get married to the person they’re with, but wants to stay in the relationship anyway. Ross theorizes the lyrics are more bleak than love glow-y, with references to “melancholia” and the lavender haze “creeping” up on Swift. The song could sound like Swift was trying to hold on to the lavender haze due to actual relationship issues in addition to outside chatter.

TikToker @kylieisstillcrazy goes one step further, suggesting Midnights is the antithesis of Lover, which was filled with romantic songs for Alwyn. In “Cornelia Street,” a song about the apartment where Swift and Alwyn fell in love in New York, she sings “We were a fresh page on the desk/Filling in the blanks as we go,” but in “Lavender Haze,” Swift could be rebutting that directly with: “Get it off my desk.” To add to the theory, Swift also appears to “burn down” the Lover house in videos that play during her Eras Tour, so it could be a pointed reference to the end of the relationship previously hyped up in that 2019 album.


Taylor Swift
Image: Getty Images.

There’s trouble right in the first verse: “‘It only hurts this much right now/Was what I was thinkin’ the whole time/Breathe in, breathe through, breathe deep, breathe out/I’ll be gettin’ over you my whole life.” Notably, “breathe in, breathe through, breathe deep, breathe out,” was from Swift’s New York University commencement speech in May 2022, so if it was connected to her relationship (and perhaps she was writing “Labyrinth” at that time), she and Alywn may have had problems long before the Midnights album was released. Later in the song, Swift references presumably Alwyn turning around a plane that’s going down and breaking his back to make her “break a smile,” which indicates they worked through their issues. Swift and Alwyn reportedly had “rough patches” in their relationship in the past, a source told People, during which they would take time apart and then “eventually come back together.”

“The Great War”

Taylor Swift
Image: Octavio Jones/TAS23/Getty Images for for TAS Rights Management

While Ross’ TikTok jumps possibly a bridge too far by suggesting there was some sort of other woman in the picture because of the line, “maybe it was her,” commenters on the video suggest the “her” refers to Swift’s ego. Given Swift’s illustration of her different selves in “Anti-Hero,” it makes sense “The Great War” detailed a time of inner turmoil due to questions about the relationship, as seen in this lyric: “And maybe it’s the past that’s talking/Screaming from the crypt/Telling me to punish you for things you never did.”

By the end of the song, Swift indicates they “survived the Great War,” adding, “I vow I will always be yours.” Whether the song was about a time they separated before coming back together or Swift was trying to talk herself back into the relationship, this track definitely looks different post breakup.


Taylor Swift
Image: Octavio Jones/TAS23/Getty Images for for TAS Rights Management

On the surface, “Glitch” seems to refer to Swift and Alwyn’s unexpected romance, but trouble brews in the second verse: “But it’s been two-thousand one-hundred ninety days of our love blackout/(Our love is blacking out)/The system’s breaking down.” When you divide 2,190 by 365, that equals roughly six years, a.k.a. how long Swift and Alywn had been dating when the album came out in fall 2022. But then the song says the “system’s breaking down,” which isn’t great.

Moving to the bridge, it references “a brief interruption” and “slight malfunction.” As Ross points out, Swift already established the new status quo is her relationship with Alwyn (that’s no longer the glitch), which makes him believe the bridge is about Swift having intimate thoughts of someone who’s not Alwyn, and that’s the new glitch. Commenters on the TikToker’s video pointed out the bridge could simply refer to doubts and questions about the relationship, which would also be a hiccup during the “love blackout.”

“Dear Reader”

Taylor Swift
Image: Octavio Jones/TAS23/Getty Images for for TAS Rights Management

Songwriter Mariel Loveland dove into the final song on Midnights (3AM Edition). Careful not to speculate on the rumors, Loveland says “Dear Reader” sounds like Swift is speaking to herself. There’s one line that really pops to Loveland, which she says could be Swift’s subconscious speaking out about her relationship with Alwyn: “Dear reader, you don’t have to answer/Just ’cause they asked you (You should find another).” It also seems like Swift may have been lonely in her relationship, thanks to this line from the bridge: “To a house, not a home, all alone ’cause nobody’s there.”

The chorus is all about not listening to someone who doesn’t seem like they have it together, and Swift seems to identify herself as “someone who’s falling apart.” Finally, the last line of the album is, “You should find another,” which Loveland says is “poignant” because it sounds like Swift is talking to her fans. But, of course, the singer loves making music and continuing to connect with Swifties, which indicates she could be talking about something in her personal life, like finding another boyfriend.


Swifties think Taylor Swift's 'Midnights' is a breakup anthem
PHOTO: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

A lot could be plucked out of “Bejeweled,” but one of the most compelling arguments for it being a response to a  Lover song is Swift’s reference to “baby boy.” As @kylieisstillcrazy reminds Swifties, in “Paper Rings,” the lyrics read, “Wrap your arms around me, baby boy.” In “Bejeweled,” the singer addresses possibly the same fellow, when Swift sings, “Baby boy, I think I’ve been too good of a girl.”

This song is about Swift regaining her shine and coming out from under something that was holding her back. Now, it doesn’t seem like Swift was dissing her entire six-year relationship, but there may have been instances, like quarantine, that brought up some not-so-great times in their relationship. She does sing in the song that “familiarity breeds contempt.”

Swifties see this song as the singer coming back to what she loves: performing. She sings, “I miss you/But I miss sparkling.” While Swift may miss her relationship with Alwyn, she is currently on tour glittering in plenty of fab outfits. Finally, if this song is a response to “Paper Rings,” it could make sense that she’s re-negging on the fact that she said in song she’d marry Alwyn with a paper ring, likely due to the fact that their relationship ran its course. In “Bejeweled,” she’s the opposite of no frills—and pretty happy about it.

“Sweet Nothing”

Swifties think Midnights is a breakup album
PHOTO: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

This is the only song William Bowery, a.k.a. Alwyn, wrote with Swift on Midnights. It’s a look at the best parts of their relationship and how it could survive, at least for a time, outside forces: “They said the end is coming/Everyone’s up to something/I find myself running home to your sweet nothings/Outside, they’re push and shoving/You’re in the kitchen humming/All that you ever wanted from me was sweet nothing.”

There don’t seem to be any issues between the two of them in this song, just really sweet moments, like when Swift sings: “On the way home/I wrote a poem/You say, ‘What a mind’/This happens all the time.” It seems to show Alwyn appreciated Swift’s talent, but perhaps the chatter and her stardom proved to be too much for the relationship to withstand. The song is there almost as a tribute to their relationship and a warning that it might not be able to last forever.


Swifties think Midnights is a breakup album
PHOTO: John Shearer/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

There’s a faction of Swifties that say listening to Midnights in the order Swift initially announced the songs in fall 2022 during “Midnights Mayhem With Me” is a big hint, since the songs were out of order. I’m not sure it’s a surefire tell, but one interesting move is that “Mastermind” was the first track announced, but it was the final track of the original 13 songs on the album, meaning she sandwiched this album with a track about how she is pulling all the strings. This song is about how Swift made little coincidences occur on the way to a relationship with who you’d assume is Alwyn, with lyrics like, “What if I told you none of it was accidental/And the first night that you saw me, nothing was gonna stop me?”

In the song, they seem to still be together, but the title could refer to even more than her relationship. Swift could be the mastermind of hiding so many breakup clues in the album during a time when everyone thought she and Alwyn were possibly even on the way to the altar. Coupled with the fact that the singer came out the gate with “Mastermind,” there’s a case to be made that the queen of Easter eggs was hiding a clue in plain sight, and possibly that she even knew everyone would come back to the album for hints of trouble between her and Alwyn.

“Midnight Rain”

Swifties think Midnights is a Joe Alwyn breakup album
PHOTO: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

All the Swifties see the breakup vibes in this song. It’s about a relationship where one person can’t stop the fame and attention and the other just can’t handle it. The lyrics really speak to what likely could have been a big reason Swift and Alwyn broke up: “Rain, he wanted it comfortable/I wanted that pain/He wanted a bride/I was making my own name/Chasing that fame/He stayed the same.”

“Fame factored into their split,” a source reportedly told Us Weekly on April 11. “Joe is very shy and never liked all of the attention that came with dating one of the most popular singers in the world.” The insider added that Alwyn didn’t “fault” Swift for her status, but “he didn’t like having to be on all the time.”Calling Midnights a full breakup album wouldn’t be accurate, but plenty of fans can see how it provided Swift a way to work through her feelings when she may have been going through the beginnings of a breakup. The song ends with the notion that the pair may be over and she’s trying not to think about him, when she sings, “And I never think of him/Except on midnights like this.”

“You’re On Your Own, Kid” 

Swifties think Midnights is a breakup album
PHOTO: John Shearer/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

Blondie herself may have let fans in on the fact that her most recent album is more than just “13 sleepless nights.” During her Eras Tour in Tampa, Florida, on April 14, a TikTok from that night shows Swift during the acoustic portion of her concert, telling the crowd that initially she didn’t want to repeat any songs from night to night, but that she was making an exception for one album. “I’m making a little caveat to the rule, which is that if it’s on Midnights, I can do it however many times I want,” Swift said. “Midnights is, like, the most accurate picture of my life to date. I’m really connected to it, and I’m really proud of it.”

She then went on to perform “You’re On Your Own, Kid,” which is a story of the trajectory of Swift’s career. But as @kylieisstillcrazy points out, the song ends with the Grammy winner being alone: “You’re on your own, kid/You always have been.” On its own, you could think this is solely about her professional career, but since she hinted she might play it more than once on tour, you could get the sense she’s relating to it in more personal ways as well.

Swift is known (and often awarded) for her songwriting prowess, so it’s no surprise fans picked out new clues about her relationship with Alwyn in Midnights. There’s no knowing what the truth is until the singer speaks on it herself, but in true Swift fashion, you might just have to wait for new music to fully make sense of it all.

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