Taylor Swift released “22” in 2012 along with her fourth studio album ‘Red.’ After nine years, this song still resonates in our heads and we feel like we never forget these lyrics: “Everything will be alright if we just keep dancing like we’re 22…” This song will likely continue to remain one of the most relatable songs for everyone out there.
“22” is the sixth track on Taylor Swift’s 2012 album ‘Red.’ The song marks a clear cornerstone in Taylor’s pop transformation from three Country albums prior. The pop beats, catchy lyrics, and the hip music video propelled the song to break the top 10 in many countries around the world. In the US, the song reached #20 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. All around the world, “22” has sold over 3.5 million copies to date.
Taylor Swift talked about the inspiration behind the song in an interview with Ryan Seacrest; “For me, being 22 has been my favorite year of my life. I like all the possibilities of how you’re still learning, but you know enough. You still know nothing, but you know that you know nothing. You’re old enough to start planning your life, but you’re young enough to know there are so many unanswered questions. That brings about a carefree feeling that is sort of based on in-decision and fear and at the same time letting loose. Being 22 has taught me so much.”
In the album booklet, “22” contained the hidden message “Ashley, Dianna, Claire, Selena,” a reference to her four close friends in real life.
Watch “22” Music Video by Taylor Swift
“22” Lyrics Meaning and Song Review
The song is about having carefree fun. Taylor Swift partly based the song on her own experience of being 22-years-old. As a pop artist, Taylor was already on the global map at the time and already has had her heart broken several times. But on this specific birthday, she is ready to forget all the bad memories from the past. She is ready to have some fun with her best friends.
In the first verse of the song, Taylor Swift sings about a specific night (maybe her 22nd birthday). She is feeling extra funky and she is happy about her life. She is surrounded by her besties and she is on top of the world with her career.
Taylor Swift plans to stay up late with her best friends and gossip around, joke around, and maybe even make fun of their exes. Remember, Taylor’s got a ‘long list of ex-lovers‘ at this point, the latest being actor Jake Gyllenhaal.
‘Breakfast at midnight’ is a reference to staying up so late that a meal at that time is almost breakfast, but it also dead in the night. Usually, people who stay up late, having fun, or clubbing go for midnight breakfast meals served at 24-hour food stores.
If you do go out at midnight and have fun, there is a chance that you will find a stranger to make love for the night. Taylor Swift is just imagining the possibilities with her girlfriends!
The age of 22 is a strange time in a teen’s life. You are an adult, but also a teen at the same time. The weight of the world may start getting to you, but you still can rely on your parents. You might start to contemplate your future, but will most likely end up coming up with nothing!
Taylor Swift summarizes this age perfectly;
We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time
It’s miserable and magical, oh, yeah
A 22-year-old doesn’t have much to worry about, but they seem to worry about a LOT! They will have more friends than they are ever going to have later in life, but they cannot help but feel alone, too! It’s truly a confusing time to say the least!
The chorus of the song is very catchy. Taylor sings about the sweet innocence of the age mixed with a playful tone.
Taylor Swift sings about a possible romantic partner who is going to be there for her and take care of her for the rest of her life. At 22, this is a lot to expect. Taylor knows this through experience. So, she might actually be talking about her best friends too.
Taylor consoles us all saying that everything will be alright if you just be yourself and not let the stresses of the world get to you. Everything will happen in good time.
So, Taylor Swift did go out with her best friends. Maybe it’s a club, or a bar, or even a school party. Whichever it is, it is full of cool kids. And these cool kids have no time for Country Taylor Swift.
This lyric might be another jab at Taylor’s then ex, Jake Gyllenhaal. The American actor is said to have not taken Taylor’s music seriously. Taylor talked about her ex in an interview with USA Today; “He made me feel like I wasn’t as good or as relevant as these hipster bands he listened to…”
Taylor Swift began her career as a Country artist and established herself as such with her earlier work. Country music rarely tops the charts and gets billions of streams. Many do not consider Country music to be mainstream music. So, Taylor is aware that she is not the definition of ‘cool’ or hip personality. But with the ‘Red’ album, she did change that public image about her. She proved that she can do mainstream pop as easily. “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” song from the same album became Taylor Swift’s first #1 hit on Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The carefree Taylor Swift wants to make some mistakes on her 22nd birthday.
It feels like one of those nights
You look like bad news
I gotta have you
Taylor Swift does not mind adding one more name to her list of ex-lovers. Might as well, right? Girls gotta have fun too.
Taylor Swift’s “22” stands as an anthem for carefree young adulthood where all of us will be free, happy, and confused at the same time. These are the last years of ‘freedom’ before life hits you in the head. So, might as well enjoy life while you can. Most importantly. the song advocates having good friends around you. When it comes to friends, only the quality matters, not the quantity.
Let us hear what you think about this song in the comments below. How were your 22s?
Check out the complete lyrics on Genius.