Meaning Behind Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero” Song

After waiting for a long time, Taylor Swift released her newest album Midnights, and now, fans have been spending time trying to break down what all of the tracks on her 10th studio album mean. If you’ve been wondering about the meaning behind Taylor Swift’s Anti-Hero song, which is the lead single from Midnights, keep reading to find out! 


Anti-Hero is the lead single from Swift’s 10th studio album, and it was both written and produced by her and Jack Antonoff, who has been her collaborator for a very long time. The song features synth-pop and pop-rock, and there are synthesizers and looped drums in it that give you both some vibes of nostalgia for 80s rock as well as feelings of some new music stylings.

UltimateWarrior13, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It was first mentioned by Swift in the sixth episode of her video series on TikTok where she played a lottery game with numbered balls 1 through 13. The series began on September 21, 2022, and in each episode, she would pull out a ball and let Midnight’s track list be revealed. On October 3, 2022, she picked song number three, which she revealed in that TikTok video would be called Anti-Hero. The track was available for fans to download digitally on October 21, and then debuted on the radio on October 24.

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The Lyrics 

The lyrics in Anti-Hero refer to a lot of anxiety, depression, and self-loathing, which are all themes that are personal to Swift. She calls herself a problem and then talks about those insecurities she has or things she’s done such as having ghosted her acquaintances.

In the lyrics, she talks of feeling like all of her relationships have been more transactional in nature instead of having true feelings for the person. For example, the bridge delves into a nightmare she has about her future daughter-in-law murdering her just to obtain her money. The final chorus has her feeling tired and sluggish. 

Swift posted an Instagram video where she talked about how Anti-Hero is a favorite of hers because it goes into all of her insecurities mentally. She talks about how she doesn’t feel like a person and goes into all of the things she doesn’t like about herself in this song, so she said she’s never gone into details quite that far before about her mental state publically. 

The Music Video 

Taylor Swift - Anti-Hero (Official Music Video)

Swift released the music video for Anti-Hero on her Vevo YouTube channel on October 21, just hours after Midnights was released. It begins with her in a kitchen from the 70s at night where she sees ghosts that are dressed up in tablecloths. She then opens the door where the early 2010s version of her appears, and they are altogether taking shots while singing the chorus of Anti-Hero

The current Swift is strumming on the guitar while the younger version starts to critique the new version, including her current weight while, at the same time, her grandma is shown on the screen.

Later, a third Swift appears, who’s bigger, and is trying to get into a neighbor’s party where a party guest ends up shooting her with a bow and arrow to keep her away. Eventually, she begins to just eat a bunch of food without being stunned by the bow and arrow. 

In the final parts of the video, she is dreaming about her funeral where her kids read her will and find out that she only left them 13 cents each while her cats get her entire fortune. The kids begin arguing over which one of them made more money off their mom’s name, and there is a brawl between the kids. All three versions of Swift are seen at the end of the video on a roof where a bottle of alcohol is offered and accepted by the third version. 

So…What Is It About? 

There is one line in Anti-Hero that tells you exactly what this song is all about, which is “I’ll stare directly at the sun, but never in the mirror.” 

When you think about this line in the track, you can figure out that this is a personal song where Swift looks at herself and examines everything that is wrong with her as opposed to blaming others. It’s called personal responsibility, and in Anti-Hero, she takes responsibility for her actions and behaviors and finds out she needs to grow and change as a person. 

It also could be used to talk about her kids in the song and how they don’t take personal responsibility for their actions and don’t look inward, but instead, chose to look outward at her. Looking in the mirror at yourself to see your own flaws is something none of us like to do, but we should do so that we become better people, both for ourselves and for our loved ones. 

The track also hints at how her life is hers and not yours, and instead of criticizing her for her behaviors, people should just focus on themselves and all of their flaws. Pop stars and celebrities are just like anyone else, meaning they make bad choices and aren’t perfect.

In the song Anti-Hero, Swift goes into all of the ways she’s not perfect, including being antisocial and suffering from depression. You can hear this when she talks about how her depression has the graveyard shift, and everyone who she has ever ghosted is just standing in a room. You get the feeling she wants everyone to love who they are instead of being self-loathing.  

She also mentioned how this track goes into those details about everything she hates or dislikes about herself because it’s the one way to grow and change. If you don’t take that honest look in the mirror and come to terms with who you are, then you’re never going to be able to change that person and become the person you want to become. She said she struggles with not feeling like a person sometimes and how big her life has become, which she struggles with even today, years after she first became famous.

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