“Mastermind” by Taylor Swift
Although Taylor Swift does refer to herself as a “mastermind” in the chorus, this track isn’t particularly what we would refer to as braggadocio. In fact, it can be deemed one of the more generally-applicable songs found on her “Midnights” album, if you were to exclude the bridge.
You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Taylor Swift's Mastermind at Lyrics.org.
What the vocalist is saying primarily is that “all the wisest women”, like herself, don’t leave romance up to chance, since they are underdogs, so to speak, in the realm of romance. So the guys who they decide to hook up with may think that such encounters are by chance. But instead these ladies have their own ‘plans’, ‘designs’ or what have you to ensure that once they see a man they want, they will indeed get him. And it is such machinations which make them ‘masterminds’.
But of course this being Taylor Swift, the narrative doesn’t simply end there. The bridge actually reads as if it leads us in a different direction, in fact proving to be one of the most profound and revealing passages found on this album.
Therein, Tay Tay admits that she wasn’t popular as a child. So what is consequently being implied is that part of the reason she strove to become a popular musician was part of a “scheme” to make people ‘love her’ in a manner that ‘seems effortless’.
So basically, she is comparing her fandom to the romantic interest(s) referred to throughout the rest of the song. But concluding that said interest is a personification of her fans, all lyrics considered, would be a stretch.
Then as far as the rest of bridge goes, honestly it is a bit confusing, but what it appears Taylor is saying is that she actually cares for her fandom. Therefore she is “confessing” – for “the first time” actually – that her “cryptic and Machiavellian” ways are in the name of edifying the listener.
Or if this passage is to be taken specifically within the context of the rest of the song, then what the vocalist would rather be asserting is something like being an outcast as a child and consequently endeavoring to make people like her helped shape her into the romantic genius she is today, i.e. one who is able to attract a desirable man ‘effortlessly’.
But Swift’s own explanation contributes to the idea that maybe this piece isn’t wholly romantic in nature, as she’s on record as saying that she “wanted the verse to sound like romance”, thus implying that maybe it actually isn’t.
So in conclusion, that’s where we will leave this analysis, by arguing that perhaps it can be interpreted in two different ways. In one regard, it is pretty clear that Taylor is speaking to the cunningness of herself and likeminded females in the romantic arena. But on the other, it is as if she is insinuating that said cunning approach is one she likewise utilizes in relation to her music career.
The “Midnights” Album
“Midnights”, including its “3am Edition”, which Republic Records concurrently issued on 21 October 2022, is an album that’s 20 songs in total. But as for the album’s 13 song standard playlist, “Mastermind” is the last track to be featured thereupon.
That is how Tay Tay wanted it, having stated that she personally put this ‘song last on the album because she’s really proud of it’. Apparently the song is also a fan favorite. Other fan favorites from this album are:
Credits for “Mastermind”
As with most of the songs on “Midnights”, the creation of this one, i.e. its writing and production, is attributable to the following:
- Taylor Swift
- Jack Antonoff
Antonoff can be considered primarily a studio man and is not nearly as popular as Taylor. But he has been part and parcel of her very-successful career for about a decade and has also worked, in a behind-the-scenes’ capacity, with other A list musicians, most notably Lorde and Lana Del Rey.
Swifties love “Mastermind”
Many a Swiftie considers “Mastermind” one of their favorite tracks on “Midnights”.
Some fans have shared that “Mastermind” has shown them that they have to go and get what they want instead of waiting for it to happen.