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Lead Single | Midnights (2022)

“Anti-Hero” is the lead single and third track from Taylor’s tenth studio album, Midnights (2022). It was released on October 21, 2022, through Republic Records. Written and produced by her and Jack Antonoff, the song discusses self-loathing, depression, and anxiety. It is also one of Taylor’s favorite songs she’s ever written. “Anti-Hero” became her longest-leading No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with eight weeks and is arguably the biggest hit of her career.
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Background and Release

On August 28, 2022, Taylor announced her tenth studio album, Midnights, set for release on October 21, 2022. Exactly one month later, she began unveiling the track-list in a randomized order through a video series on TikTok, called Midnights Mayhem With Me. It consisted of 13 episodes, with one song revealed in per episode. In the sixth edition on October 3, 2022, Taylor announced the title of the third track as “Anti-Hero”.

On October 16, Taylor posted a short video on her social media that presented a schedule of the days leading up to the album release, entitled “Midnight Manifest”. The sheet specified that a music video for “Anti-Hero” was set to be released the same day as the album. The schedule also mentioned a #TSAntiHeroChallenge on YouTube Shorts. Universal Music Group sent “Anti-Hero” to Italian radio stations on October 21, 2022. Republic Records released it to the US Hot Adult Contemporary radio on October 24, and Contemporary Hit radio on October 25, as the lead single from Midnights.

Lyrical Theme

Driven by drums and shiny synthesizers, “Anti-Hero” was inspired by Taylor’s nightmares, her issues with depersonalization and self-hatred, as well as critiquing her shortcomings and societal pressures. When describing the song, Taylor said:

«'Anti-Hero' is one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written. I really don’t think I’ve delved this far into my insecurities in this detail before. You know, I struggle a lot with the idea that my life has become unmanagably sized and not to sound too dark, I struggle with the idea of not feeling like a person...This song really is a guided tour throughout all the things I tend to hate about myself. We all hate things about ourselves, and it’s all those aspects of the things we dislike and like about ourselves that we have to come to terms with if we are going to be this person. Yeah, I like 'Anti-Hero' a lot because I think it’s honest.»

In a short video posted to Spotify, Taylor further confirmed that “self-loathing” is one of five themes that inspired the Midnights album. In the bridge of “Anti-Hero,” she goes on to describe one of her nightmares, in which her daughter-in-law murders her to inherit her fortune. The lyrics also contain a reference to American sitcom series 30 Rock in the lyric “Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby, and I’m a monster on the hill.”

In January 2023, “Anti-Hero (Behind the Song)” was released, where Taylor talks about the meaning of the song in a broader context: “The story of ‚Anti-Hero‘ is that it really encapsulates this album and sort of the darkest corners of your mind when you can’t sleep. Playing out a dismal version of your very dark future, being afraid what everyone thinks about you, really exploring your own self-loathing…a kind of having a shocking self-awareness about your flaws as a human being. You know? Anxiety. It’s all throughout this song.”

Music Video

The music video premiered on YouTube at 08:00 EDT on October 21, 8 hours after the album’s release. Taylor wrote and directed the music video herself. In it, she sings the first verse in a 1970s-style suburban home kitchen at night, briefly surrounded by ghosts in tablecloths. She opens the front door, revealing a second version of herself with her early-2010s appearance and tour dance outfit, and they drink shots together. A third, giant version of Taylor crawls into a neighbor’s dinner party, whereupon a guest unsuccessfully tries to subdue her by shooting her in the heart with a bow and arrow. The bridge describes Taylor’s fear of her funeral, attended by her sons (Mike Birbiglia and John Early) and daughter-in-law (Mary Elizabeth Ellis), the latter of whom a fourth version of Taylor, peeking from inside the coffin, implicates in her apparent murder. The three attendees bicker over various family issues, before learning that her last will leaves them with no money and makes the metafictional claim that the video contains no hidden symbolism. The video ends when the first two versions of Taylor sit on the rooftop and offer wine to the giant version, who happily accepts.

Live Performances

Taylor publicly performed the song for the first time on January 12, 2023, as a surprise guest during a London concert (at the O2 Arena) of English band The 1975’s “At Their Very Best Tour.” The song is part of the regular set list of Taylor’s sixth headlining concert tour, “The Eras Tour” (2023).

Critical Reception

“Anti-Hero” received positive reviews from music critics. Olivia Horn of Pitchfork said the song confronts Taylor’s flaws and fallibility, and described it as a blend of “the lacquered synth-pop of 1989, the neurotic image analysis of reputation, the dense lyricism of folklore and evermore.” Brittany Spanos of Rolling Stone dubbed “Anti-Hero” an album standout, featuring a “Blank Space-level burn of both herself and her critics”, and praised the “deliciously diabolical” bridge. Chris Willman of Variety lauded the song’s confessional lyrics, quirky mood and “earworm” hook. The Guardian critic Alexis Petridis stated “Anti-Hero” offers “a litany of small-hours self-loathing”, but sensed “an appealing confidence” in Taylor’s approach — that she “no longer feels she has to compete on the same terms as her peers.” Billboard journalist Jason Lipshutz ranked it as the best song on Midnights. He commended its “wondrously scathing self-examination”, “sardonic masterstrokes”, and Antonoff’s “sleek, shiny” production.

Commercial Performance

Upon the release of Midnights, “Anti-Hero” earned over 17.4 million plays in its first 24 hours on Spotify globally, becoming the biggest opening day for a song in the platform’s history. The single debuted atop the Billboard Global 200 and Global Excl. US charts.

In the United States, “Anti-Hero” debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100 as Taylor’s ninth No. 1 song in the country, with 59.7 million streams, 13,500 digital downloads sold, and an airplay audience of 32 million. Taylor became the first artist to simultaneously occupy the top 10 spots of the Billboard Hot 100 chart; the first artist to debut atop the Hot 100 with solo songs five times; the female artist with the most top-10 entries (40), surpassing Madonna (38); the first artist to debut atop both the Billboard 200 and Hot 100 simultaneously as many as four times; and the first artist to occupy the entire top-ten of the Hot 100, Streaming Songs, and Digital Songs charts simultaneously. “Anti-Hero” also debuted at No. 13 on the Radio Songs chart, a personal best for Taylor, and eventually became her seventh No. 1 on the chart, making her the first artist to score a chart-topper in the 2000s, 2010s and 2020s decades separately. On May 1, 2023, “Anti-Hero” became Taylor’s longest running Top 10 hit of all-time on the Hot 100 (with 25 weeks spent in the region), surpassing “Shake It Off”.

The song sold 327,000 digital downloads in its third week in the US, achieving its biggest week and the biggest for any song since her own “Look What You Made Me Do” (2017) sold 353,000 in its first week. It spent eight weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, surpassing “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space” (2014) to become Taylor’s longest-running number-one song; “Anti-Hero” is also the 10th song in Hot 100 history to spend its first six weeks at No. 1.

«Remembering right before 'Anti-Hero' came out Taylor saying it’s her favorite song lyrically and that’s why it’s the first single. But it’s a strange and personal one so we shouldn’t expect it to go number 1…'Anti-Hero' 8th week at 1...insane...»

“Anti-Hero”  also topped the Canadian Hot 100 for five weeks as well, as her ninth No. 1 song in Canada. In Australia, “Anti-Hero” charted at No. 1 on both the ARIA Singles and Airplay charts. It marked Taylor’s ninth No. 1 song in Australia. According to Universal Music Australia, “Anti-Hero” became the first song ever to debut atop the airplay chart. It has spent six consecutive weeks atop the singles chart, with its first five weeks alongside Midnights‘ No. 1 run atop the albums chart—a record “Chart Double” streak. “Anti-Hero” debuted atop New Zealand’s singles chart as well, and spent nine consecutive weeks atop the Billboard Philippines Songs chart.

“Anti-Hero” marked Taylor’s second No. 1 single in the UK after “Look What You Made Me Do”; both debuted atop the UK Singles Chart. Taylor became the first woman since Miley Cyrus in 2013 (Bangerz and “Wrecking Ball”) to simultaneously debut atop the albums and singles chart, following the No. 1 debut of Midnights as well. “Anti-Hero” has spent six consecutive weeks atop the chart, surpassing “Look What You Made Me Do” to become her longest running No. 1 on the chart. It debuted atop the Irish Singles Chart, marking her third chart-topper in Ireland, and formed a Chart Double with Midnights‘ debut atop the Irish Albums Chart. The song was No. 1 in Ireland for six consecutive weeks.

In Germany, “Anti-Hero” scored Taylor her first top-ten song on the Top 100 Songs chart since “Look What You Made Me Do”, debuting at No. 8 and later peaking at No. 7. In Switzerland, it peaked at No. 6. “Anti-Hero” charted at No. 1 for four non-consecutive weeks in Belgium and three in Latvia. It broke the all-time records for the most streams for a song by an international artist in a week and day on Spotify Brazil and Canada. It received a “Gold” certification from Music Canada within its first five days.


A remix of “Anti-Hero” was exclusively uploaded to Taylor’s official store on November 7, 2022. It features Jack Antonoff’s band Bleachers. When annoucning this version of the song, Taylor wrote:

«Jack’s version of ‘sexy baby’ is ‘art bro’ and we sincerely hope it confuses just as many people.»

On November 9, 2022, Taylor released a second remix, called “Anti-Hero (Roosevelt Remix)”. A day later, three further versions were made available on her official store, called “Anti-Hero (Kungs Remix),” “Anti-Hero (Jayda G Remix),” and “Anti-Hero (Acoustic Version)”. On November 17, the Anti-Hero (Illenium Remix)” was added to the store and later uploaded to streaming services.


“Anti-Hero” won numerous accolades. It took home the honors for “Song of the Year” and “Best Lyrics” at the 2023 iHeartRadio Music Awards, “International Hit” at the Capricho Awards 2022, and “Top 10 Single” at the Hit FM Music Awards 2023. The music video won the award for “The Music Video of 2022” at the 2022 People’s Choice Awards. When thanking the fans at the iHeartRadio Music Awards, she said:

«This is incredible and feels so good. First of all, I wanna say thank you to Jack Antonoff, who's – at this point – like a family member and also the collaborator of dreams. I just distinctly remember calling him up when I had decided that this would be the first single off of Midnights and I said, 'I'm finally just gonna pick a first single based on the one that I like the most. And I'm just prepping you, I don't think that this is gonna be a hit song.' Because we're kind of fed the messaging that in order for it to be a hit song it has to be really simple, it has to be stuck in everybody's head and you just have to not have lines in it like, 'Did you hear my covert narcissism I disguise as altruism, like some kind of congressman?' So I had fully prepped him, it's not gonna work at radio, this is not why we're doing this. So I would like to thank iHeart, and radio everywhere, and fans everywhere, for proving that wrong.»


[Verse 1]
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

[Pre-Chorus 1]
I should not be left to my own devices, they come with prices and vices, I end up in crisis
Tale as old as time
I wake up screaming from dreaming one day I’ll watch as you’re leaving
‘Cause you got tired of my scheming – for the last time

It’s me
I’m the problem, it’s me
At teatime
Everybody agrees
I’ll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror
It must be exhausting always rooting for the anti-hero

[Verse 2]
Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby
And I’m a monster on the hill
Too big to hang out
Slowly lurching toward your favorite city
Pierced through the heart but never killed

[Pre-Chorus 2]
Did you hear my covert narcissism I disguise as altruism like some kind of congressman?
Tale as old as time
I wake up screaming from dreaming one day I’ll watch as you’re leaving
And life will lose all its meaning – for the last time

It’s me
I’m the problem, it’s me (I’m the problem, it’s me)
At tea time
Everybody agrees
I’ll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror
It must be exhausting always rooting for the anti-hero

I have this dream my daughter-in-law kills me for the money
She thinks I left them in the will
The family gathers ’round and reads it
And then someone screams out
“She’s laughing up at us from hell!”

It’s me
I’m the problem, it’s me
It’s me
I’m the problem, it’s me
It’s me
Everybody agrees
Everybody agrees

It’s me
Hi (Hi)
I’m the problem, it’s me (I’m the problem, it’s me)
At teatime (Teatime)
Everybody agrees (Everybody agrees)
I’ll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror
It must be exhausting always rooting for the anti-hero

General Information
ArtistTaylor Swift
ReleasedOctober 21, 2022
StudiosRough Customer (Brooklyn, NY)
Electric Lady (New York, NY)
GenreSynth Pop
Length3:21 (Album Version)
LabelRepublic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Jack Antonoff
ProducersJack Antonoff
Taylor Swift
MaroonAnti-HeroSnow On The Beach
Single Certification
Single Artwork
Taylor Talks About the Song
Music Video
Live Performance
Lyric Video
Official Audio
Remix feat. Bleachers
Acoustic Version
Roosevelt Remix
Kungs Remix
Jayda G Remix
Illenium Remix
Official Instrumental