Taylor Swift “22” Lyrics Breakdown: What’s It Like to Party With Taylor?

VMAs Taylor Swift Performance
Posted on 10/19/2012 at 6:20 PM

Related To: Lyrics, News

The Popdust Files: lyrics, red, taylor swift

The going-out song is an important part of many young artists’ oeuvre: Katy Perry has “Last Friday Night,” Ke$ha has every Ke$ha song ever, and even Carly Rae Jepsen, barely six months in, has “Good Time.” But for some reason, their compatriot Taylor Swift has largely avoided recording a party song of her own, preferring instead to focus almost single-mindedly on her favorite subject, love. Or, as Swift told the New Yorker with an obsessiveness that rivals Mykelti Williamson in Forrest Gump: “Love, and unrequited love, and love that didn’t last, or love that you wish had lasted, or love that never even got started.” Compared to that, the joys of going out and acting stupid with your friends must seem hopelessly barren as inspiration.

Whether it was through the influence of producer Max Martin or because of a desire to expand her horizons, Swift has finally tackled a going-out song on Red, her upcoming fourth album. “22,” not to be confused with the Lily Allen song of the same title, is the most lighthearted track on Red and, coincidentally or not, one of the most polarizing in the Popdust offices.

What’s a night out with Taylor’s gang like? We broke down the lyrics to “22,” to find out!

It feels like a perfect night to dress up like hipsters

Taylor Swift, as has been amply documented, does not like hipsters. Based on their appearances in her songs and the way she talks about them in interviews, it seems to us that she sometimes projects her own insecurities about her level of mainstream success onto the hipster hordes, and it’s not always a good look on her. Some hipsters are actually very nice. Taylor should get to know them!

And make fun of our exes, uh-uh, uh-uh

We’re off to a pretty snide start as far as this night is going. But hey, at least it’s accurate, and who doesn’t love a good venting sesh? Also note that Taylor’s following the Ke$ha strategy of writing her going-out songs in first-person plural. We’re dancing like we’re dumb, let’s make fun of our exes, etc. Does any songwriting conceit evoke pre-gaming as well as this?

It feels like a perfect night for breakfast at midnight

This oblique reference to drunk food is the only hint of alcohol in the entire song. That’s either savvy songwriting or an unconscionable omission, depending on your respective levels of affection for both Taylor Swift and alcohol.

To fall in love with strangers, uh-uh, uh-uh

Even in her going-out song Taylor can’t resist the urge to fall in love. But we’ll allow it, because developing intense, spontaneous crushes on people you’ll never see again—and, more importantly, talking about these random crushes with all your friends—is one of the best parts of going out.

We’re happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time
It’s miserable and magical, oh yeah

Wait, who let Thought Catalog out into the recording studio? We’re kidding, of course, but Swift is trotting firmly on the trendy Girls/TC/Fuck I’m In My 20s path of being happy and sad and overwhelmed by the very fact of your own youth. Sure, it’s approaching the level of cliche, but it serves the same purpose as using “we” instead of “I”: This isn’t an “I’m so messed up” song, it’s a group solidarity song.

Tonight’s the night when we forget about the deadlines, it’s time, uh-oh

This part is pretty clearly fiction. We’d bet a solid sum that Taylor Swift has never forgotten about a deadline in her life.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22

It might not seem like it at first, but there’s a genius level of craftsmanship in this hook. Think of how it speaks to each demographic of listeners. For the teens downloading from iTunes, it’s aspirational: You’re so cool that you seem like you’re in your twenties already! For the post-college crowd listening to their Spotify playlists, it’s a bit of #LWWY fun: We’ve got to get drunk and mess around because that’s what people in their early twenties are supposed to do. And for the moms listening on the radio, it’s nostalgic: Just for one night, we’re going to party like we used to, before we had any responsibilities. That’s some major four-quadrant calculation right there.

Everything will be alright if you keep me next to you
You don’t know about me, but I bet you want to

The lyrical shift here, though, is a little clunky. The rest of the verses and chorus so far have been addressed in “we” form; as listeners we’re implied to be part of T. Swift’s cackling girl gang. But now suddenly the “you” of the song is a random dude Taylor’s dancing with? We get the intent, though: When you’re singing along, this is the part where you imagine you’re singing it to your crush.

Everything will be alright if we just keep dancing like we’re 22

Do 22-year-olds dance notably different than people of other ages? Probably not, but just go with it.

It seems like one of those nights, this place is too crowded
Too many cool kids (Who’s Taylor Swift anyway?) uh-uh, uh-uh

Again with the hipster bashing! Girl, you’ve had two no. 1 albums and nine top ten singles—even in Williamsburg, people know who you are.

It seems like one of those nights we ditch the whole scene
And end up dreaming instead of sleeping

Taylor’s got the right idea here. Never underestimate the simple pleasure of bouncing out of a party you’re not enjoying and just going and doing your own thing. And that line about dreaming is a typical Swift switcharound (Swiftaround?); even in a throwaway party song, she’s still got time for lyricism.

We’re happy, free, confused and lonely in the best way
It’s miserable and magical, oh yeah
Tonight’s the night when we forget about the heartbreaks, it’s time, uh-oh

Forget about heartbreak? That’s probably an emotionally healthy response, but is it wrong to wonder what that will do for Taylor’s songwriting career?

It feels like one of those nights
You look like bad news, I gotta have you, I gotta have you

There’s a degree of sexual longing in this closer that we haven’t heard from Swift before. But hey, if even One Direction want to get some tonight, why can’t Taylor Swift? Just be careful: As the band from whom she jacked this line warned a few years back, once the going out turns to going home, then there is no mystery left.

Here are the full lyrics. You can play the song at the bottom of the post!

It feels like a perfect night to dress up like hipsters
And make fun of our exes, uh-uh, uh-uh
It feels like a perfect night for breakfast at midnight
To fall in love with strangers, uh-uh, uh-uh
Yeaaaah
We’re happy free, confused and lonely at the same time
It’s miserable and magical, oh yeah
Tonight’s the night when we forget about the deadlines, it’s time, uh-oh

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22
Everything will be alright if you keep me next to you
You don’t know about me, but I bet you want to
Everything will be alright if we just keep dancing like we’re 22
22

It seems like one of those nights, this place is too crowded
Too many cool kids (Who’s Taylor Swift anyway?) uh-uh, uh-uh
It seems like one of those nights we ditch the whole scene
And end up dreaming instead of sleeping
Yeaaaah
We’re happy, free, confused and lonely in the best way
It’s miserable and magical, oh yeah
Tonight’s the night when we forget about the heartbreaks, it’s time, uh-oh

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22
Everything will be alright if you keep me next to you
You don’t know about me, but I bet you want to
Everything will be alright if we just keep dancing like we’re 22
22

I don’t know about you, 22, 22

It feels like one of those nights
We ditch the whole scene
It feels like one of those nights
We won’t be sleeping
It feels like one of those nights
You look like bad news, I gotta have you, I gotta have you

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22
Everything will be alright if you keep me next to you
You don’t know about me but I bet you want to
Everything will be alright if we just keep dancing like we’re 22, 22

Dancing like 22, yeah, 22, yeah yeah

It feels like one of those nights
We ditch the whole scene
It feels like one of those nights
We won’t be sleeping
It feels like one of those nights
You look like bad news, I gotta have you, I gotta have you

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