Who Is Taylor Swift's "Hits Different" About? Fans Have Some Theories

Taylor Swift is a master of breakup songs, but perhaps none of those tracks has married heartbreaking lyrics and a very danceable beat like "Hits Different." Back when "Midnights" was released in October 2022, "Hits Different" was exclusive to the deluxe edition of the album that was sold at Target. While some enterprising fans ripped the song from their CDs and uploaded it online, Swift waited a few months to make the song accessible everywhere. On May 26, Swift released the "Til Dawn" version of "Midnights" that includes "Hits Different," plus a "Karma" remix with Ice Spice and a new version of "Snow on the Beach" with "more" from collaborator Lana Del Rey. And on June 4, Swift performed the song live for the very first time as a surprise track on her Eras Tour. "I don't know if you'll know this one. It's pretty new," she said before she began. "But we'll see." Of course, once she started, fans screamed along.

Like with all of her breakup songs, many fans have wondered what Swift's "Hits Different" means and who it's about. The song details how a specific breakup feels so different from the ones Swift has had before: it hits different. The answer about which relationship inspired it, though, isn't totally clear. Swift and Joe Alwyn split earlier this year, but news of their separation only broke in April, many months after "Midnights"'s release. Still, many fans believe songs on the album are about the end of their six-year romance, though they seemed to still be together at the time.

But there are parts of the song that hint at Swift's other exes. "I washed my hands of us at the club," she sings at the start of the track. That could allude to Swift's ex DJ Calvin Harris, though there aren't very many other clues about him.

A big part of "Hits Different" is about how Swift usually can move on quickly from breakups, and at the start of the second verse, she sings, "I used to switch out these Kens / I'd just ghost." As Ryan Gosling (who plays Ken in the "Barbie" movie) has said repeatedly, the whole point of a Ken doll is to be an accessory to Barbie, a support. In fact, as the movie's director Greta Gerwig noted in a Vogue article published on May 24, Ken came into being after Barbie because people wrote Mattel letters begging to get Barbie a boyfriend. Swift evokes that history with this line about her exes being "Kens."

Some of the song's lyrics also call to mind her song "Cornelia Street," which most fans believe is about the start of her romance with Alwyn. In that song, she sings that a split would be "the type of heartbreak time would never mend." In "Hits Different," she cries over the "artifacts" of their relationship and the memories she has of them together. She specifically calls out "your hair," which may be telling since she also makes references to Alwyn's hair in "Gorgeous" and "Gold Rush." She also calls herself an "argumentative antithetical dream girl," which conjures the arguing she sings about in "Gold Rush."

But, of course, the song could be about a relationship Swift has never been public about. Plus, some fans have theorized that it's actually about a fictional relationship. Back when "Lover" was released in 2019, Swift said that "Death by a Thousand Cuts" was inspired by the Netflix rom-com "Someone Great." The movie (and the breakup at its center) inspired Swift so deeply, she told Elvis Duran's radio show in 2019, that, "For about a week, I start waking up from dreams that I'm living out that scenario, that that's happening to me," per Decider. Now, since "Midnights" is about thoughts Swift had in the middle of the night, could "Hits Different" be a second take on the feelings "Someone Great" brought up for her? It's definitely possible.

Swifties will have to wait and see if she sheds more light on the track, which could happen if she performs it live again.