Babe, wake up! #TS10 is here, and Taylor Swift remains our modern-day Shakespeare. Her catchy hooks, and creative, lyrical turns of phrase always seem to work their way into our vernacular (see: “Sad, Beautiful, Tragic” and “casually cruel”). She continues to evolve musically, but we can always count on her for poignant lyrics that only Swift can pen. Expertly articulating the overlooked minutiae of daily life and interior thoughts of a millennial is her signature style.
Midnights is full of these intimate moments. They run the gamut of Swift’s three song categories, described last month in her acceptance speech for Songwriter-Artist of the Decade at the Nashville Songwriter Awards — the peppy, not-too-serious “glitter gel pen” songs; the poetic, personal stories of “fountain pen” songs; and the old-fashioned, transportive “quill pen” songs.
But some stand out from the rest as being just so Taylor. Bonus points were awarded for her strong suits: self-referential lyrics, lyrics that mention a color or time of day, lyrics that mention cats, lyrics that mention New York, and lyrics about her main muse, Joe Alwyn.
Here are the top 10 most quintessentially “Taylor” lyrics on Midnights:
“And I lost you. The one I was dancing with in New York. No shoes.” – “Maroon”
A double whammy in this line from “Maroon” with both a New York mention and an allusion to dancing with your beloved. Not to mention the very Swiftian detail of “no shoes.”
“I picked the petals. He loves me not. Something different bloomed, writing in my room.” – “You’re On Your Own, Kid”
This is in the running for the top lyric on the album. A three-line summation of her career and an ode to her origin story, all while using lovely floral imagery.
“My boy was a montage — a slow-motion, love potion.” – “Midnight Rain”
Add this to the Taylor Swift Hall of Fame of metaphors describing the men she loves.
“‘Cause I don’t remember who I was before you painted all my nights a color I’ve searched for.” – “Question…?”
Swift excellently makes sweeping declarations of love and its impact on her worldview, and she’s particularly fond of using colors and painting as a metaphor to portray that cosmic shift.
“Draw the cat eye, sharp enough to kill a man.” – “Vigilante Shit”
The opening lines of “Vigilante Shit” are quintessential Reputation-era Taylor and nod to her go-to make-up style. The red lipstick is implied.
“So put me in the basement, when I want the penthouse of your heart.” – “Bejeweled”
Domestic bliss and conflict is always a theme in Swift’s music, whether literally or most often, metaphorically. Make that house metaphor an aspirational plea for unconditional love directed at your beau? It’s an award-winning Swift line!
“Karma is a cat, purring in my lap ‘cause it loves me.” – “Karma”
Meredith, Olivia, and Benjamin know this best. If there’s one thing Swift is going to do, it’s remind us that she’s a proud cat lady!
“Spider boy, king of thieves, weave your little webs of opacity.” – “Karma”
It’s giving “Mean.” It’s giving “King of My Heart.” It’s giving “The Archer.” It’s giving Swift lyricism at its finest.
“I’m only cryptic and Machiavellian ’cause I care.” – “Mastermind”
Swifties are whipping out their dictionaries again for this “quill pen” song that combines her love for obscure vocabulary and playfully winking at the listener.
“Sip quiet by my side in the shade. And not the kind that’s thrown, I mean, the kind under where a tree has grown.” – “Paris”
This lyric is a trifecta of Taylor: romantic plant language, a callback to earlier lyrics about the cultural definition of “shade” (“You Need to Calm Down”), and drinking.