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  • Writer's pictureMackenzie Slusser

What sets Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero” apart from her other hits

Updated: Dec 4, 2022

For the fourth consecutive week, Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero,” a single from her latest studio album, “Midnights,” is ranked number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

Taylor Swift has seen this sort of radio success before with “Shake It Off” in 2014 and “Blank Space” in 2014-2015, but “Anti-Hero” is vastly different than her other popular songs.

In an Instagram video posted early in October, Taylor explained the meaning behind the song, “It’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written. I struggle a lot with the idea that my life has become unmanageably sized . . . and I struggle with the idea of not feeling like a person.”

She expressed that people should not feel bad for her and explained, “This song is a real guided tour throughout all the things that I tend to hate about myself. . . I like Anti-Hero a lot because I think it’s really honest.”

What makes Anti-Hero so interesting is the cultural moment it has produced. A snippet of the chorus, “It’s me, hi/I’m the problem it’s me,” has been trending on TikTok and Instagram since the album’s release.

Thousands of people worldwide have created light-hearted videos using the chorus. Another aspect that came from the song’s ubiquity is that it has created an opportunity for others to reflect upon themselves.

What Taylor Swift did by recording “Anti-Hero” is an increasingly rare thing to do today — she faced her insecurities. When the typical thing to do is to shove down the uncomfortable feelings, emotions, and ugly parts of life, it’s encouraging to see someone be honest.

Though the lyrics are self-critical, the song isn’t about being hard on oneself; it’s about putting the things one has deemed undesirable in the open and accepting them or changing them.

The song's meaning is relatable on a refreshing, human level, and that’s why it’s so popular.

An acoustic version of "Anti-Hero" was released on November 25, thus maintaining the song’s popularity.

The acoustic version of “Anti-Hero” is the sixth version of the song, but the minimalistic version lets the upbeat vocals and emotionally charged lyrics shine through.

The acoustic version is not a folk reimagining — it’s a pop tune through and through. Swift’s vocals are driven by rhythmic guitar, and the subtle, shimmering bells and strings add a dream-like quality to the song — not a nightmare like the music video for the original version of “Anti-Hero” is based on.

The cultural moment that came from “Anti-Hero” is not the first thing of this magnitude to happen because of Taylor Swift, and it won’t be the last.


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