Anti-Hero

Album: Midnights (2022)
Charted: 1 1
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Songfacts®:

  • "Anti-Hero" is the lead single from Midnights. Swift said that "self-loathing" partially inspired the album, and this scathing self-examination finds the singer digging into her own paranoia and need for control.

    "'Anti-Hero,' is one of my favorite songs I've ever written," Swift said during an episode of her TikTok series Midnights Mayhem. "I really don't think I've delved this far into my insecurities in this detail before."

    "I struggle a lot with the idea that my life has become unmanageably sized," she continued in the video. "Not to sound too dark, but I just struggle with the idea of not feeling like a person - don't feel bad for me, you don't need to. But this song really is a real guided tour through all the things I tend to hate about myself; we all hate things about ourselves."
  • Swift starts the song by blaming herself for not getting enough sleep. She's at her lowest ebb at night and this is when she's feeling most low.

    I have this thing where I get older, but just never wiser
    Midnights become my afternoons
    When my depression works the graveyard shift, all of the people
    I've ghosted stand there in the room


    On the pre-chorus, she dives into her fear of rejection because of her need for control.

    I wake up screaming from dreaming
    One day, I'll watch as you're leaving
    'Cause you got tired of my scheming


    On the hook, Swift acknowledges that she has only herself to blame.

    It's me
    Hi
    I'm the problem, it's me


    She's unable to confront those issues head-on.

    I'll stare directly at the sun, but never in the mirror

    Those people who stick up for her must get tired of her shortcomings.

    It must be exhausting always rooting for the anti-hero

    Swift continues to divulge her insecurities in the second verse.

    Sometimes, I feel like everybody is a sexy baby
    And I'm a monster on the hill


    And on the bridge.

    I have this dream my daughter-in-law kills me for the money
    She thinks I left them in the will
  • Swift wrote and recorded "Anti-Hero" with her longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff. The pair laid down much of Midnights at Antonoff's home studio in Brooklyn and at Electric Lady Studio in Greenwich Village. Both of them were dating actors (Swift - Joe Alwyn, Antonoff -Margaret Qualley).

    The album, said the pop star, "really coalesced and flowed out of us when our partners did a film together in Panama. Jack and I found ourselves back in New York, alone, recording every night, staying up late and exploring old memories and midnights past."
  • Jack Antonoff sang the backing vocals and played acoustic guitar, bass, Wurlitzer, Mellotron, drums, and synthesizer on the track. The only other instrument is violin played by Bobby Hawk, a touring musician with Antonoff's band Bleachers and with Swift. He played violin on four Folklore tracks and three Evermore tracks.
  • Written and directed by Swift, the video comically depicts Swift's anxieties and insecurities using three of her different incarnations.

    One scene dramatizes the nightmare Swift depicts on the song's bridge ("I have this dream my daughter-in-law kills me for the money...") where her future family fight over her will after her daughter-in-law kills her. It stars standup Mike Birbiglia and comedian John Early as Swift's sons, and Mary Elizabeth Ellis from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia as her daughter-in-law.
  • Swift launched the #TSAntiHeroChallenge on YouTube Shorts on October 21, 2022. She asked fans to show their anti-heroic traits to the world as part of the internet challenge.
  • Midnights has a concept of nocturnal contemplation inspired by "13 sleepless nights" throughout Swift's life. "One of the themes about Midnights is how you're feeling in the middle of the night, and that can be intense self-hatred," Swift told Apple Music. "You go through these very polarizing emotions when you're up late at night and your brain just spirals – it can spiral downward or it can spiral way up and you can just be really feeling yourself."
  • "Anti-Hero" debuted at #1 in the UK, becoming Taylor Swift's second chart-topper, following "Look What You Made Me Do."

    Midnights also soared straight to the top of the UK albums chart, making Swift the first female artist in nine years to debut atop both tallies simultaneously. Miley Cyrus previously achieved the feat when Bangerz and "Wrecking Ball" both landed at #1 in August 2013.
  • "Anti-Hero" became Taylor Swift's ninth Hot 100 chart-topper when it debuted at #1. Every one of the 13 tracks from the standard version of Midnights occupied spots in the Top 15, and Swift became the first artist to control the survey's entire Top 10.
  • In the original video, about two minutes in when Swift steps on the scale, there's a shot of the scale reading "FAT." This was edited out days after the debut, likely in response to critics who accused Swift of being "fat-phobic."
  • Taylor Swift released a remix featuring Jack Antonoff's solo project Bleachers on November 7, 2022. Antonoff sings the second verse, changing some of the lyrics. He also inserts some one-liners throughout the new version.
  • Birbiglia got the video gig through his friendship with Jack Antonoff. The pair first met at Bonnaroo in the 2000s and became pals. "It just so happened she was writing the music video the day that we happened to meet," Birbiglia told The Late Show host Stephen Colbert. "And we were having pizza with Jack and a bunch of folks and she thought, 'Oh, you.' Apparently in her mind she thought this is the dystopic, nightmare version of what my son would be. And that's my dream come true."

    Shortly afterwards, Birbiglia received a text from Swift. He wasn't sure it was the superstar contacting him or someone pretending to be her. "I thought, 'it's either Taylor Swift… that would be cool,' or it's someone catfishing me who's an excellent writer," he recalled. "Because she sent the script to the video, that's wonderful and very funny... so I thought, 'either way, sort of a win-win.' And I go, 'count me in... either Taylor Swift or catfish person!'"

Comments: 2

  • The Philadelphia Drifter from On The Border Of Tempe & Mesa ArizonaNice job on the song and the video and can laughingly cause one to spiral down (or up) into the never ending loop. Kinda like 'you probly think this song is about you, don't you.' But of course it is! Keep up the good work. BTW: who is in the will?
  • DylonOk, so like the music video popped up on youtube the same day Black Adam was officially released in theaters, right? And I thought “Whoa, did they actually get Taylor Swift to do a song for this movie?” So I watch the vid, and of course it has nothing whatsoever to do with Black Adam or DC

    and I just felt really dumb for thinking there was any connection for even a second -_-'
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