Swifties are worked up over who they think Taylor is shading on ‘Midnights’

A triptych of a woman, left, and two men
Fans think Taylor Swift, left, takes jabs at musician John Mayer, center, and music executive Scooter Braun on her new album, “Midnights.”
(Associated Press, Getty Images)

If Taylor Swift puts out a new album and fans don’t have a slew of highly complex and potentially accurate theories, did it even really exist?

After “Midnights” was released late Thursday night on the West Coast, Swifties went right to work dissecting lyrics from the pop musician’s 10th studio album.

The latest objects of their speculation? You already know their names and their complicated histories with Swift: John Mayer, Scooter Braun and Kanye West.

Here’s a rundown of how fans are reading between the lines.

After two rootsy pandemic albums, ‘Midnights’ picks up right where 2014’s ‘1989’ and 2017’s ‘Reputation’ left off.

Oct. 20, 2022

Swift wrote a second song about John Mayer

From “Midnights (3am Edition),” the seven-song LP Swift released three hours after “Midnights,” fans believe the song “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” is about Mayer, Swift’s fellow musician and former romantic partner.


Their “evidence”?

These lyrics: “I damn sure would’ve never danced with the devil at 19 ... Now that I’m grown, I’m scared of ghosts / Memories feel like weapons.”

“Taylor really put Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve, a song directly about her relationship with John Mayer when she was just 19, as TRACK 19 ON THE ALBUM. SHOTS WERE FIRED,” tweeted @moftherosa.

Swift and Mayer dated in 2009 when she was 19 and he was 32. Of the 20 tracks Swift just released, “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” is the 19th and released now that she is 32.

She goes on to sing, “And if I was some paint, did it splatter on a promising grown man? / And if I was a child, did it matter if you got to wash your hands?”

“Give me back my girlhood, it was mine first,” she sings on the bridge.

Some of the lyrics appear to mirror those of her 2010 song “Dear John.”


“Dear John, I see it all now, it was wrong / Don’t you think 19 is too young to be played by your dark twisted games?” Swift sang.

Mayer responded to “Dear John” in a 2012 interview with Rolling Stone, saying that he was “really humiliated” by the song and “didn’t deserve it.”

John Mayer ‘humiliated’ by Taylor Swift’s ‘cheap’ song attack

June 6, 2012

“I’m pretty good at taking accountability now, and I never did anything to deserve that. It was a really lousy thing for her to do,” he said, adding, “As a songwriter ... I think it’s kind of cheap songwriting.”

A rep for Mayer did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment.

“john mayer was sleeping peacefully but was awoken at 3am with a chill down his spine,” tweeted @midnightsmars.

“upon listening to could’ve would’ve should’ve I would like to issue a formal apology for every time i’ve called john mayer hot,” tweeted @holy_schnitt. “we ride at dawn.”

Hours after she released her latest album, ‘Midnights,’ Taylor Swift surprised fans with bonus tracks and a video for the song ‘Anti-Hero.’

Oct. 21, 2022

Swift takes a swipe at Scooter Braun

On “Vigilante S—,” the only song on “Midnights” that Swift wrote solo, fans believe the Grammy winner aims her fury at Braun.

Swift’s feud began with the music executive after he bought the rights to her master recordings in 2019 and then sold them in 2020 — reportedly without her knowledge.

Fans are speculating that the lyrics “While he was doin’ lines and crossin’ all of mine / Someone told his white-collar crimes to the FBI” are about Braun.

Swift says that the owners of her catalog are prohibiting her from performing her old hits on the American Music Awards and in a Netflix documentary.

Nov. 14, 2019

Last year, the Hollywood Reporter reported that Braun was involved in a $200-million legal dispute over a private-equity fund. That could be the “white-collar crimes” Swift references.

Other listeners noted that Swift may have alluded to Braun’s recent divorce from Yael Cohen.

“Is Taylor admitting to helping Yael Cohen in her divorce and alluding [to] turning Scooter Braun into the FBI on Vigilante S—???,” tweeted @ihatetreclay.

Following a public dispute with super-manager Scooter Braun, who purchased her master recordings in June, Taylor Swift plans to record new versions of her old songs.

Aug. 21, 2019

“That song ‘vigilante s—’ is about the Scooter Braun / Yael Cohen breakup and you can’t convince me otherwise.” @letabknow tweeted. “I will not be taking questions at this time. Thank you.”

More would-be evidence? The lyrics: “Now she gets the house, gets the kids, gets the pride / Picture me thick as thieves with your ex-wife.”

A rep for Braun did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment.

Kanye isn’t safe either

Others think “Vigilante S—” is about West, another famous Swift foe.

The long history of Kanye versus Swift goes back to when the rapper jumped onstage during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards while Swift was accepting her award for best female video.

But the rivalry really picked up in 2016 after West released the album “The Life of Pablo.” The LP features “Famous,” which includes the lyrics, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that b— famous.”

Swift was not pleased.

West said he can say whatever he wants. West’s then-wife, Kim Kardashian, backed him, claiming Swift was contacted and “totally gave the OK” for West to use that lyric.

In response, Swift said in a statement that what Kardashian claimed was “incorrect,” that she never OK’d the use of “b—” and that she was “humiliated” by the lyric.

Swifties believe the lyrics “Now she gets the house, gets the kids, gets the pride / Picture me, thick as thieves with your ex-wife,” are actually a reference to West and Kardashian’s divorce, not Braun’s. Another line says, “And she looks so pretty / Driving in your Benz.”

Taylor Swift and collaborator Jack Antonoff worked together because of a mutual connection to Claire Denis’ new film, ‘Stars at Noon.’

Oct. 21, 2022

Earlier this year Kardashian commented on her struggle to divorce West.

“Divorce is difficult enough on our children and Kanye’s obsession with trying to control and manipulate our situation so negatively and publicly is only causing further pain for all,” she said.


@tast0494 tweeted, “You can’t tell me this isn’t about Kim Kardashian and Kanye west. We love, adore and respect a petty Taylor Swift.”

“Follow me here... Vigilante S— is about Taylor Swift telling Kim Kardashian and giving her evidence that Kanye West was cheating,” @TheTitanBaddie tweeted. “Revenge for everything that took place in 2017.”