The infamous track 5 strikes again.
By Lauren Huff October 21, 2022 at 12:45 AM EDT
For the uninitiated, many midnight moons ago, fans noticed that the fifth song on any Swift album tended to be the most emotional or devastating or vulnerable on the record (looking at you, “Dear John” and “All Too Well”). She’s said in past interviews that when she caught wind of this observation, she started doing it on purpose in later albums, and a tradition was officially born.
Midnights‘ fifth track, “You’re on Your Own, Kid,” follows in this pattern, although at first listen it’s more sonically upbeat than one might expect.
Swift counters this, however, with feather-light vocals that evoke an almost childlike vulnerability. This is fitting, as the song is told from the perspective of an adult Swift, looking back on key points in her youth, and it feels like she’s reaching through the veil of time to give her younger self some pointers.
It starts with a verse about young, unrequited love (perhaps with the same subject mentioned on her early track “You Belong With Me”?): “Summer went away / Still the yearning stays / I play it cool with the best of them / I wait patiently / He’s gonna notice me / It’s ok, we’re the best of friends / Anyway.”
This is followed by the chorus, which changes slightly each time we hear it to reflect the heartbreak of the preceding verse. It always ends with Swift sadly telling herself, “You’re on your own, kid, you always have been.”
The second verse sees Swift move on from the boy, and into her fledgling career aspirations. This time, the crushing realization is not about a romance, but the devastating idea that, as she sings, “My dreams aren’t rare.” It’s only she who can pave her own way now.
What makes this track particularly vulnerable and important though, is that it’s the most clearly open Swift has been about her struggles with body dysmorphia and disordered eating in her music, after previously revealing her struggles in 2020’s Miss Americana documentary. In “You’re on Your Own, Kid,” she mentions seeing “better bodies” at parties in the chorus, and towards the end of the song, she says, “From sprinkler splashes / To fireplace ashes / I gave my blood, sweat and tears for this / I hosted parties and starved my body / Like I’d be saved by a perfect kiss.”
Unlike some other track 5s, though, Swift ends Midnights‘ on a more hopeful note of self-reflection:
“I looked around in a blood-soaked gown/ And I saw something they can’t take away/ Cause there were pages turned with the bridges burned/ Everything you lose is a step you take/So make the friendship bracelets/ Take the moment and taste it/ You’ve got no reason to be afraid/ You’re on your own, kid”
Yeah, something tells us it’s all going to work out in the end — after all, as the songstress tells us herself in the album’s closing moments, she is, in fact, a mastermind.
Midnights (2022 album)
Taylor Swift’s 10th studio album, covering the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout the singer-songwriter’s life.