Who Fans Think Taylor Swift's Songs Are About, From "Midnights" to "1989 (Taylor's Version)"

Taylor Swift's latest releases, once again, have Swifties picking apart the songwriter's lyrics. From her rerecorded "1989 (Taylor's Version)" album (which dropped on Oct. 27) and July's "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)" to her epic Eras Tour, fans are searching high and low for clues and signs that hint at who each of Swift's tracks could be about. Following her breakup with longtime boyfriend Joe Alwyn (which went public in April) and amid her new romance with Travis Kelce, fans are even more curious to know which of Swift's songs are about each of her past boyfriends.

Between her music, her tour, and everything else in between, Swift has been very, very busy, especially since moving to her new record label, Republic, in 2019. First, she released her studio album "Lover," then she dropped her sister albums, "Folklore" and "Evermore," in 2020. And now that the singer officially owns everything she releases under Republic Records, she's decided to rerecord her first six albums, which she never owned the masters to; her old label, Big Machine Records, and record executive, Scooter Braun, held on to them against her wishes and eventually sold them.

So far, Swift has rerecorded four of those albums, which have even included never-before-heard tracks from her music vault. She also directed a short film to go along with the longer version of "All Too Well" from 2021's "Red (Taylor's Version)." As for "1989 (Taylor's Version)," many of the songs are believed to be about (or at least reference) Swift's romance with Harry Styles.

All this music might be hard to keep up with, so we're here to update you on who Swift's most pointed releases over the years could be about, and no, not all of them are about romantic partners. Ahead, find out who some of Swift's songs could be about.

Additional reporting by Shannon Vestal Robson, Noelle Devoe, and Victoria Edel

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"You Are in Love" — "1989 (Taylor's Version)"

The telling lyrics: "And you understand now why they lost their minds and fought the wars / And why I've spent my whole life tryin' to put it into words"

Who it's supposed to be about: Jack Antonoff and Lena Dunham

Why? Swift literally admitted this song was about Antonoff and Dunham's relationship. During a 2014 appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," she told the host, "I wrote it with my friend Jack Antonoff, who's dating my friend Lena. Jack sent me this song, it was just an instrumental track he was working on, and immediately I knew the song it needed to be. I wrote it as a kind of commentary on what their relationship has been like. So it's actually me looking and going and, 'this happened and that happened then that happened,' and that's how you knew you're in love."

Dunham and Antonoff split in 2018 after six years together, but Swift remains friends with both and even attended both their weddings — Antonoff married Margaret Qualley in August 2023, while Dunham wed husband Luis Felber in 2021. Swift's song in general remains a beautiful tribute to love.

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"Out of the Woods" — "1989 (Taylor's Version)"

The telling lyrics: "Your necklace hanging from my neck / The night we couldn't quite forget / When we decided / To move the furniture so we could dance / Baby, like we stood a chance / Two paper airplanes flying, flying . . . "

Who it's supposed to be about: Harry Styles

Why? Swift revealed the song's inspiration as "a relationship where I was kind of living day to day, wondering where it was going, if it was going to go anywhere, if it was going to end the next day," and BuzzFeed investigated the whole paper plane/necklace thing. Seems like the case is closed!

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"Style" — "1989"

The telling lyrics: "I say I heard that you been out and about with some other girl / Some other girl / He says, what you've heard it's true but I / Can't stop thinking about you . . . You got that long hair, slicked back, white t-shirt"

Who it's supposed to be about: Harry Styles

Why? Swift and Styles had a blink-and-you-missed-it romance, and the lead in the video is a dead ringer for Styles. Also, the song is called "Style," so . . .

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"Forever & Always" — "Fearless (Taylor's Version)"

The telling lyrics: "Was I out of line? / Did I say something way too honest? / That made you run and hide like a scared little boy?"

Who it's supposed to be about: Joe Jonas

Why? This 2008 song was written for her album "Fearless," released just after their breakup, and also features lyrics about Swift staring at the phone (she famously revealed that Jonas broke up with her on a brief phone call). As a retort, Jonas wrote the song "Paranoid."

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"Bad Blood" — "1989 (Taylor's Version)"

The telling lyrics: "Did you think we'd be fine? / Still got scars on my back from your knife / So don't think it's in the past, these kinda wounds they last and they last now / Did you think it all through? All these things will catch up to you / And time can heal but this won't, so if you're coming my way just don't / Oh, it's so sad to think about the good times, you and I"

Who it's supposed to be about: Katy Perry

Why? Swift started this one when she told "Rolling Stone" a story about a fellow singer she realized was her "straight-up enemy," and as if in response, Perry tweeted, "Watch out for the Regina George in sheep's clothing."

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"Karma" — "Midnights (3am Edition)"

The telling lyrics: "You're talking sh*t for the hell of it / Addicted to betrayal, but you're relevant," "Spider boy, king of thieves," and "Trick me once, trick me twice
Don't you know that cash ain't the only price?"

Who it's supposed to be about: Scooter Braun or Kanye West

Why? "Karma"'s opening lines, "You're talking sh*t for the hell of it / Addicted to betrayal, but you're relevant," reference someone who "talks sh*t" to be relevant and is fixated on betrayal, which could both arguably be seen as qualities of West, who often makes headlines for calling people out for betraying him on social media (his ex-wife Kim Kardashian is the latest target, unfortunately). The lines "Spider boy, king of thieves" and "Trick me once, trick me twice / Don't you know that cash ain't the only price?" could also refer to Braun, who many argue stole Swift's masters in his lucrative acquisition of Big Machine records.

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"End Game" — "Reputation"

The telling lyrics: "I wanna be your end game / I wanna be your first string / I wanna be your A-Team /I wanna be your end game, end game"

Who it's supposed to be about: Joe Alwyn

Why? When Swift was dating Alwyn, things seemed to be getting serious. Not only does she talk about falling hard for this guy, but she says she wants to be with him forever (though that's not the case now on account of their split).

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"Gorgeous" — "Reputation"

The telling lyrics: "And I got a boyfriend — he's older than us / He's in the club doin' I don't know what"

Who it's supposed to be about: Joe Alwyn

Why? Fans who attended Swift's private listening sessions say it's about Alwyn, which would make sense given that Swift first met Alwyn at the 2016 Met Gala when she was dating Harris.

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"Marjorie" — "Evermore"

The telling lyrics: "Watched as you signed your name Marjorie / All your closets of backlogged dreams / And how you left them all to me"

Who it's supposed to be about: Swift's late maternal grandmother, Marjorie

Why? Swift's grandmother's name was Marjorie, and she is recounting all of the memories they had when she was a child and her grandmother was alive and the life lessons she taught her. Swift also mourns the fact that she lost her grandmother so young and wasn't able to fully know her.

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"Call It What You Want" — "Reputation"

The telling lyrics: "I recall late November, holdin' my breath / Slowly, I said, 'You don't need to save me / But would you run away with me?'"

Who it's supposed to be about: Joe Alwyn

Why? Even though Swift was extremely private when it came to her former romance with Alwyn, the lyric appears to be a nod to when she attended the screening of Alwyn's film "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" in November 2016.

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"Happiness" — "Evermore"

The telling lyrics: "There'll be happiness after you / But there was happiness because of you"

Who it's supposed to be about: Her best friend, Abigail Anderson

Why? There were rumors that Anderson divorced her husband and Swift was her shoulder to lean on during that time. All traces of Anderson's ex have been scrubbed from Anderson's social media pages. "Happiness" is a letter to an ex about their crumbling relationship and how while the couple were once a source of happiness to each other, the author hopes they both find happiness after each other (Anderson got remarried in September 2022).

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"King of My Heart" — "Reputation"

The telling lyrics: "Your love is a secret I'm hoping, dreaming, dying to keep"

Who it's supposed to be about: Joe Alwyn

Why? Swift and Alwyn secretly dated for months before their relationship became public.

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"Betty" — "Folklore"

The telling lyrics: "Betty, I won't make assumptions," "You heard the rumors from Inez," and "She said, 'James, get in, let's drive'"

Who it's supposed to be about: Fictional characters based on Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds's daughters

Why? Swift is friends with Reynolds and Lively, and Betty, Inez, and James are the names of their three daughters. Even though the song is fictional, it's a touching tribute to her friends.

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"Epiphany" — "Folklore"

The telling lyrics: "Keep your helmet, keep your life, son" and "Just a flesh wound, here's your rifle"

Who it's supposed to be about: Swift's late paternal grandfather, Dean

Why? He fought in the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II, and this song is about a soldier fighting through a war. It honors not only her grandfather but also every soldier who has fought in a war. It also draws the connection to people who worked through the COVID-19 pandemic and had to care for sick and dying patients.

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"This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things" — "Reputation"

The telling lyrics: "It was so nice to be friends again / There I was, giving you a second chance / But then you stabbed my back while shaking my hand / And therein lies the issue / Friends don't try to trick you / Get you on the phone and mind-twist you / And so I took an ax to a mended fence"

Who it's supposed to be about: Kanye West

Why? Swift references the infamous phone call between her and West and how he and Kardashian later twisted the truth about what they talked about.

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"My Tears Ricochet" — "Folklore"

The telling lyrics: "You hear my stolen lullabies" and "Even on my worst day, did I deserve, babe / All the hell you gave me?"

Who it's supposed to be about: Big Machine Records CEO Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun

Why? Big Machine Records and Braun kept ownership of the masters for Swift's first six albums despite her desire and efforts to purchase them when she moved to a new label. So the "stolen lullabies" in these lyrics are all the songs she wrote and recorded that she'll unfairly never own, and "all the hell they gave me" could be about Borchetta and Braun putting up a fight against letting her buy ownership of her masters.

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"Ready For It" — "Reputation"

The telling lyrics: "Younger than my exes, but he act like such a man"

Who it's supposed to be about: Joe Alwyn

Why? In addition to the lyrics, Swift made it crystal clear that the track was about Alwyn when she dropped hidden references to the actor in the accompanying music video for the song. Not only did she include his name in Chinese characters on one of the walls in the video, but she also included a quote that reads "I Love You in Secret," which seemed like a nod to their former relationship. However, there are some theories that "Ready For It" was inspired by another relationship.

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"The Last Great American Dynasty" — "Folklore"

The telling lyrics: "Rebekah rode up on the afternoon train. It was sunny"

Who it's supposed to be about: Rebekah West Harkness

Why? Swift bought a Rhode Island house, Holiday House, from a woman named Rebekah, which she still owns to this day, as reported by Vogue. The story tells the legacy of the woman who owned the house before her and ties into Swift's own story.

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"I Did Something Bad" — "Reputation"

The telling lyrics: "They're burning all the witches even if you aren't one / They got their pitchforks and proof / Their receipts and reasons"

Who it's supposed to be about: Kanye West and Kim Kardashian

Why? Swift takes a shot at West and Kardashian and references how they exposed her on Snapchat.

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"Soon You'll Get Better" feat. The Chicks — "Lover"

The telling lyrics: "And I hate to make this all about me / But who am I supposed to talk to? What am I supposed to do / If there's no you?"

Who it's supposed to be about: Swift's mom, Andrea Swift

Why? Swift revealed that her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and later a brain tumor. This song is about how Swift is dealing with her mother's illness and everything they went through. Plus, The Chicks are Andrea's favorite band, so Swift had to include them.

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"Lover" — "Lover"

The telling lyrics: "I've loved you three summers now, honey, but I want 'em all"

Who it's supposed to be about: Joe Alwyn

Why? This one is pretty obvious. The lyrics indicate that in 2019, she and Alwyn had been together for three summers already, but she wants to spend all of her summers with him. Since they met at the Met Gala in 2016, the lyrics add up.

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"I Forgot That You Existed" — "Lover"

The telling lyrics: "Got out some popcorn / As soon as my rep starting going down, down, down / Laughed on the schoolyard / As soon as I tripped up and hit the ground, ground, ground / And I would've stuck around for ya / Would've fought the whole town, so yeah / Would've been right there, front row / Even if nobody came to your show / But you showed who you are, then one magical night."

Who it's supposed to be about: Swift's former friends and enemies, including maybe ex boyfriend Calvin Harris and Kim Kardashian

Why? Swift's 2017 album, "Reputation," was all about revenge and getting back at the people who hurt her, including her ex and Kardashian. The first song off "Lover" is about moving on into a new era defined by love.

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"Dress" — "Reputation"

The telling lyrics: "Nights back when you met me / Your buzz cut and my hair bleached"

Who it's supposed to be about: Joe Alwyn

Why? Swift had platinum-blond hair when she attended the Met Gala in 2016, and it just so happens that Alwyn had a buzz cut at the time.

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"Look What You Made Me Do" — "Reputation"

The telling lyrics: "I don't like your little games / Don't like your tilted stage."

Who it's supposed to be about: Kanye West

Why? Swift's feud with West and Kardashian isn't a secret. After Kardashian famously published videos on Snapchat of Swift's phone call with West discussing his song lyrics for "Famous," Swift hit back at West with this scathing track.

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"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" — "Red (Taylor's Version)"

The telling lyrics: "And you would hide away and find your peace of mind / With some indie record that's much cooler than mine"

Who it's supposed to be about: Jake Gyllenhaal

Why? From evidence like the scarf used in the video to the actor in the video looking a lot like Gyllenhaal, all signs point to Swift's 2010 fling. (He also has a well-documented love for indie bands.)

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"Midnight Rain" — "Midnights"

The telling lyrics: "I broke his heart cause he was nice / He was sunshine, I was midnight rain" and "He wanted a bride, I was making my own name / Chasing that fame, he stayed the same"

Who it's supposed to be about: Taylor Lautner

Why? Fans noticed immediately that "Midnight Rain"'s lyrics were filled with regret and Swift acknowledged she hurt the person the song is about, which gives off major "Back to December" vibes, a song that is widely believed to be about Lautner. The lyrics, "He was sunshine, I was midnight rain," seem to allude to "Midnight Sun," the title of the latest Twilight novel released in 2020 (Lautner famously starred as the werewolf character Jacob in the movie franchise). The lyrics, "I was making my own name / Chasing that fame, he stayed the same," suggest the song is about someone she dated in the early stages of her career when she was making a name for herself, which also tracks with her relationship with Lautner, who she dated in 2009.

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"Maroon" — "Midnights"

The telling lyrics: "The burgundy on my T-shirt when you splashed the wine onto me / And how the blood rushed into my cheeks, so scarlet, it was / The mark you saw on my collarbone, the rust that grew between telephones / The lips I used to call home, so scarlet, it was maroon"

Who it's supposed to be about: Jake Gyllenhaal or Harry Styles

Why? Most glaringly, maroon is a deeper shade of red, which happens to be the name of the album that explored much of Swift and Gyllenhaal's ill-fated relationship — especially her single "All Too Well." The lyric "the mark you left on my collarbone" could be an allusion to the iconic red scarf Swift references in "All Too Well," which Swift said was a "metaphor" — not an actual scarf — at TIFF in September 2022. Alternatively, the song could be about Styles, with the line "the rust that grew between telephones" possibly representing their challenging long-distance 2012 relationship.

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"Lavender Haze" — "Midnights"

The telling lyrics: "I've been under scrutiny / You handle it beautifully" and "They're bringing up my history / But you weren't even listening"

Who it's supposed to be about: Joe Alwyn

Why? In an Oct. 7, 2022, Instagram video commenting on the inspiration behind "Lavender Haze," Swift revealed it was about ignoring all the speculation and rumors surrounding her and Alwyn's former relationship. "For six years, we've had to dodge weird rumors, tabloid stuff, and we just ignore it, and so this song is about the act of ignoring that stuff to protect the real stuff," she said. Throughout the song's lyrics, Swift sings about how Alwyn isn't "listening" to all of the noise and has borne it all "beautifully."

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"I Bet You Think About Me" — "Red (Taylor's Version)"

The telling lyrics: "I bet you think about me when you're out / At your cool indie music concerts every week" and "You grew up in a silver-spoon gated community / Glamorous, shiny, bright Beverly Hills"

Who it's supposed to be about: Jake Gyllenhaal

Why? Gyllenhaal was the main victim of Swift's "Red" album after their pretty nasty breakup. In "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," Swift mentions indie records, and these lyrics match up with them. As for the second part, Gyllenhaal comes from a pretty influential family, as both his mother and father are accomplished film directors.

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"Message in a Bottle" — "Red (Taylor's Version)"

The telling lyrics: "How is it in London? / Where are you while I'm wonderin' (wondering') / If I'll ever see you again?"

Who it's supposed to be about: Harry Styles

Why? At the end of the "Red" era, Swift began dating Styles. It makes sense that this song was inspired by him, because he lived in London at the time and she had sung about him on the deluxe track "Come Back . . . Be Here."

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"Dear John" — "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)"

The telling lyrics: "Dear John, I see it all now that you're gone / Don't you think I was too young / To be messed with?"

Who it's supposed to be about: John Mayer

Why? Well, it's called "Dear John," after all! After Swift and Mayer collaborated musically, the song came out, and Mayer opened up about how it made him feel: "I never did anything to deserve that. It was a really lousy thing for her to do."

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"Back to December" — "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)"

The telling lyrics: "Then I think about summer all the beautiful times / I watched you laughing from the passenger side / And realized I loved you in the fall"

Who it's supposed to be about: Taylor Lautner

Why? Swift said about this 2010 song in an interview with USA Today: "It's the first time I've ever apologized in song. It's the first time I've ever admitted guilt in my music." Many believe it to be about "Twilight" hunk Lautner, since it came out after they dated and costarred in "Valentine's Day" together.

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"Dancing With Our Hands Tied" — "Reputation"

The telling lyrics: "I could've spent forever with your hands in my pockets / Picture of your face in an invisible locket"

Who it's supposed to be about: Calvin Harris

Why? Harris gave Swift a gold heart locket for their one-year anniversary back in March 2016.

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"Vigilante Sh*t" — "Midnights"

The telling lyrics: "Someone told his white-collar crimes to the FBI"

Who it's supposed to be about: Scooter Braun

Why? These lyrics seem like a reference to Braun's involvement in a $200 million legal dispute in 2021 over the failed launch of a private equity fund called SCOPE Capital Management (a legal dispute Braun claimed was an "extortionate" ploy ahead of the $1.05 billion sale of his company, Ithaca Holdings). Whatever the case may be, in an Oct. 18 video shared on Spotify, Swift revealed one of the inspirations behind her "Midnights" songs was "fantasizing about revenge" (via Billboard), and she certainly could have been fantasizing about getting revenge against Braun considering he infamously acquired Big Machine Records in June 2019 along with the masters to Swift's first six albums (which preempted Swift's decision to re-record them).

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"Better Than Revenge" — "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)"

The telling lyrics: "She's not a saint / And she's not what you think / She's an actress, whoa / He was a moth to the flame, she was holding the matches"

Who it's supposed to be about: Camilla Belle

Why? Swift was candid about her feelings that Belle had come between her and Joe Jonas, and the pointed lyrics about an actor (see above) and her love for vintage dresses make it clear that this song is about Belle. Swift swapped out some of the song's controversial original lyrics ("she's better known for the things that she does on the mattress") for the more toned-down metaphor above, but the message remains the same.

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"Ronan" — "Red (Taylor's Version)"

The telling lyrics: "I remember the drive home / When the blind hope turned to crying and screaming 'Why?' / Flowers pile up in the worst way, no one knows what to say / About a beautiful boy who died"

Who it's supposed to be about: Ronan Thompson, a 4-year-old boy who died from cancer

Why? Ronan was a little boy who died from a rare form of childhood cancer. Swift read his story on his mother's blog and reached out to her about writing and recording a song based on his mom's words. It was a non-album track until the new version found a home on "Red (Taylor's Version)."

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"When Emma Falls in Love" — "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)"

The telling lyrics: "'Cause Little Miss Sunshine always thinks it's gonna rain"

Who it's supposed to be about: Emma Stone

Why? Swift and Stone were friends before Swift began writing "Speak Now," which Stone confirmed in March when she told Vanity Fair she'd known Swift "since we were 17 and 18."

"When Emma Falls In Love" seems to be a song about a close friend, and one key lyric has made fans think it's about Stone (aside from the name in the title): In a scene from Stone's 2010 film "Easy A," Stone's character dances around to "Pocketful of Sunshine," which Swift could be referencing with "Little Miss Sunshine." Stone dated Teddy Geiger and Kieran Culkin while Swift was writing "Speak Now," making either of them contenders for the object of Emma's love.

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"Getaway Car" — "Reputation"

The telling lyrics: "The ties were black, the lies were white / The shades of gray in candlelight / I wanted to leave him / I needed a reason"

Who it's supposed to be about: Tom Hiddleston

Why? The black-tie event Swift mentions references the 2016 Met Gala where Swift and Hiddleston first met, though she was still dating Calvin Harris at the time. It seems like she could be alluding to the fact that she started dating Hiddleston as a reason to leave Harris.

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"Sweet Nothing" — "Midnights"

The telling lyrics: "Outside they're pushin' and shoving / You're in the kitchen hummin' / All that you ever wanted from me was sweet nothing"

Who it's supposed to be about: Joe Alwyn

Why? This track sees the reappearance of Swift's frequent songwriting collaborator William Bowery, which we all know is her ex-boyfriend, Alwyn's, pen name. Just the fact that Swift and Alwyn wrote "Sweet Nothing" together is enough to suggest its content was inspired by their six-year-long relationship. The chorus's lyrics, "Outside they're pushin' and shoving / You're in the kitchen hummin' / All that you ever wanted from me was sweet nothing," suggest that in a world where Swift experiences so much noise from her status as an A-list celebrity, Alwyn and their quiet life together were an escape.

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"Mr. Perfectly Fine" — "Fearless (Taylor's Version)"

The telling lyrics: "'Cause I hear he's got his arm 'round a brand-new girl. I've been pickin' up my heart, he's been pickin' up her" and "Mr. Never Told You Why, Mr. Never Had to See Me Cry."

Who it's supposed to be about: Joe Jonas

Why? The "Fearless" era was about Swift's breakup with Jonas, so it's no wonder fans started to speculate this song was about him as well. Shortly after breaking things off with Swift over a 27-second phone call, Jonas moved on with Camilla Belle, while Swift was still healing from the breakup.

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"Would've, Could've, Should've" — "Midnights (3am Edition)"

The telling lyrics: "At 19 / And the God's honest truth is that the pain was heaven / And now that I'm grown, I'm scared of ghosts / Memories feel like weapons" and "I damn sure never would've danced with the devil"

Who it's supposed to be about: John Mayer

Why? Fans think that "Would've, Could've, Should've" is a more mature version of "Dear John," Swift's 2010 track about Mayer off "Speak Now." The song is track 19 on the "Midnights (3am Edition)" and Swift was also 19 when she dated Mayer briefly around 2009. The line, "I damn sure never would've danced with the devil," may suggest that, now, looking back as a 32-year-old woman, she knows she would not have entered into that relationship knowing what she knows now.

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"Delicate" — "Reputation"

The telling lyrics: "Come here, you can meet me in the back / Dark jeans and your Nikes, look at you / Oh damn, never seen that color blue"

Who it's supposed to be about: Joe Alwyn

Why? Not only does Alwyn have blue eyes, but the pair were once spotted leaving Swift's apartment in NYC in matching Nike sneakers. The song also refers to a dive bar, which is allegedly where Alwyn and Swift went on one of their first dates. Swift sings about the "girls back home," a reference to Alwyn being from Britain. Another lyric says, "My reputation's never been worse, so / You must like me for me," a reference to Swift's then-ongoing feud with Kardashian and Kanye West.