Taylor Swift drops new album ‘Midnights’

Taylor Swift – Cover of single, “Bejeweled” – via Wikimedia Commons

Taylor Swift’s tenth album Midnights is here. Released at midnight on October 21, it garnered 184.6 million streams on the day of its release and broke the record for the most streamed album within 24 hours on Spotify. By the end of the week, it had been streamed close to one billion times. The standard album consists of thirteen tracks, with the lead single, “Anti-Hero,” reaching number one on over 150 charts worldwide. Rolling Stone even called Midnights an “Instant Classic.”  To any Swiftie, Midnights sounds so new and strange, yet so distinctly Taylor. The best way that I can describe it is if you take the intimacy of reputation, the upbeat pop tempos of Lover, and the lyricism and drama of Swift’s 1989 era, you get Midnights. Written over thirteen sleepless nights, these thirteen songs tell the story of Swift reconciling her past lovers, dealing with everything the media has thrown at her, and connecting with Joe Alwyn, her fiancé. Midnights is a love spiral to all her previous eras.

Track 1: Lavender Haze. The original meaning of the term “lavender haze” comes from the 1950s, representing the beginning stages of falling in love. Throughout the song, Swift’s voice is never heard unaltered. She is breathy in the chorus and it seems as if she’s singing through a thick fog of drowsiness, as the title of the album, Midnights, might suggest. The distortion of her voice may also symbolize how the media always twists her into a serial dater, constantly speculating whether or not she will be “a one night or a bride.” The media brings up her history and constantly puts loads of drama on her chest, to which Swift says “get it off your chest, get it off my desk.”

This is a collection of songs written in the dead of night about past lives and past lovers

Track 2: Maroon. “Maroon” invokes the feeling of “marooning” a lover after dancing with them all night in New York. Swift sings the lyric, “I lost you/the one I was dancing with In New York/no shoes.” The best part of this song is the bassline. The drumming synth beat hums through the entire song, almost like a siren. It feels like it could be a slowed-down song from 1989. The song mentions “scarlet lips,” a deeper shade of red, and a direct nod to “red lip classic” lyric on “Style” from her album 1989. Additionally, the lyric “The mark they saw on my collarbone” references a photo taken by the paparazzi of Taylor Swift after a night out with Harry Styles. She also sings, “and I wake with your memory over me/that’s a real legacy to leave.” While this bridge isn’t the strongest on the album, it does make the message of the album clear: this is a collection of songs written in the dead of night about past lives and past lovers.

Track 3: Anti-Hero. In the lead single from the Midnights album, Swift admits to the media, “it’s me/Hi/I’m the problem/It’s me,” giving into the stereotype that she is in fact the crazy ex-girlfriend serial dater that the media perceives her to be. Swift’s genius allows her to give us a song that should be cried to, but instead, it’s turned into a dance-pop song with an incredibly catchy chorus. The best part about this song is that it is mostly all true. All of Swift’s insecurities are poured into this song, also visibly portrayed in the accompanying music video. This song shows Swift expressing why she believes that she is always the reason that relationships don’t work. She sees each one end before they do in the lyric, “I wake up screaming from dreaming/One day I’ll watch as your leaving and life will lose all its meaning,” and each heartbreak leaves her “Pierced through the heart but never killed.” This song is riddled with anxiety and is reminiscent sonically of the song “Perfect Places” by Lorde, which is about coping with anxiety through partying and the short-lived high of one-night stands.

Taylor Swift singing during her 2018 Reputation Stadium Tour – via Wikimedia Commons

Track 4: Snow On The Beach. “Snow On The Beach” is a nice song, but it’s practically a Christmas song. There are sleigh bells playing in the background, and the song is quite literally about witnessing snow fall on a tropical beach, a place that many people go during the cold months of winter. The song isn’t the best on the album, as it is disappointing that Lana Del Rey doesn’t get a verse on the song at all. Instead just whispers in the background like a ghost of Christmas past.  

Track 5: You’re On Your Own Kid. One of the ways to determine the quality of a Taylor Swift song is its bridge. “You’re On Your Own Kid” has hands down the best bridge on the album. The song never really picks up until the pre-chorus where Swift delivers the lines, “From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes/I waited ages to see you there/I searched the party of better bodies/Just to learn that you never cared.” These heartfelt lines are only precursors to the bridge that essentially tells the narrative of her life. From her young friendship bracelet-making days as a country singer, through her torment by the media to her finally realizing that all she ever really needed to succeed was herself (and her cats).

She seamlessly transitioned from country to pop, something no other genre-breaking artist has managed to do so successfully

Track 13: Mastermind. The planets and the stars aligned just for Swift and Alwyn to be together. Midnights is a love story between the two of them, with Mastermind being the cliche moment in every movie where the villain reveals their master plan as to how they will take over the world. In this case, however, it is how Swift would write her own happy ending. “Saw a wide smirk on your face/You knew the entire time/You knew that I’m a mastermind.” These lyrics reveal that Swift isn’t the hero of the narrative; Joe Alwyn is. Swift instead takes the role of the villain that the media would portray her as early in her career but, this time, she takes control of her story after years of being jerked around by strings that weren’t hers. She owns all of her masters now and doesn’t have to listen to the media anymore because she’s no longer dating. There is no other mastermind quite like Taylor Swift. She seamlessly transitioned from country to pop, something no other genre-breaking artist has managed to do so successfully.