Thoughts on “Midnights,” the musician’s newest release.
Taylor Swift released her tenth studio album last Friday and the reviews from fans and critics are mixed. Swift based her most recent album on a moody and sparkly aesthetic that fits with all details of the album – from the style of music to the color scheme – and infiltrates Swift’s life in the public eye.
From the moment Midnights was announced on August 28, there was a clear purple and silver theme, alluding to nightlife. Even the “Bejeweled” music video gave off a Great Gatsby vibe, with over-the-top parties, glitter and lots of fancy drinks. This vibe fits in well with the album’s softer pop sound, as well as the meanings of some of the songs.
I liked the album. Though it’s not my favorite of Swift’s albums, there are some songs I consider to be masterpieces. However, there are also songs I never plan on listening to again after I finish writing this review. Swift has made at least one “no skip” album for each of her fans, and this is not mine. However, of Swift’s 66,317,639 monthly Spotify listeners, it will be that album for someone.
With Swift’s ever growing popularity, Midnights will do well no matter what. Swift is currently the fifth-most listened to artist on Spotify, and is often commended for her ability to easily switch between genres and make critically acclaimed albums time and time again. This album continues Swift’s success, and for her fans that lean toward pop music, has created excitement.
For this review, I’ve decided to go song by song, including the bonus tracks Swift released at 3 a.m. after releasing the original album. I will rank each song using a five star system and write a short summary of my thoughts.
Let’s get into it:
Lavender Haze ★★★☆☆
“Lavender Haze” sets the mood for the rest of the album. Swift chooses to open the song and the album by singing “Meet me at midnight,” and then continues the rest of the song with an upbeat, pop sound. The lyrics describe the fun and exciting side of Swift’s love life. “Lavender Haze” feels like a night out with dancing and lots of purple hues. When it comes to opening tracks, this follows Swift’s typical pattern: a fun, catchy track, but not necessarily the most memorable.
“Maroon” describes a tumultuous situationship that eventually crashes and burns, ending in heartbreak for Swift. Throughout the song, Swift is looking in hindsight at this relationship, and though the verses have good and bad memories, the chorus is one good memory she has with this individual in New York. Though similar in content to “Lavender Haze,” “Maroon” feels more mature.
“Anti-Hero” is one of the most popular songs on the album, due partially to the line “It’s me. Hi. I’m the problem, it’s me,” which has blown up on TikTok. “Anti-Hero” is more lyrically complex than the previous songs on the album. This song is about Swift’s insecurities, and includes metaphors and references in her lyrics, including a clear reference to the TV show 30 Rock. Part of the criticism of the Midnights album is that it’s not as lyrically complex as Swift’s previous albums. However, Swift creates such a wide variety of music so often that not every album has to be a lyrical masterpiece like Folklore and Evermore were.
Snow on the Beach (feat. Lana Del Rey) ★☆☆☆☆
Fans everywhere had the same reaction when they heard “Snow on the Beach”: Where is Lana Del Rey??? Though she’s featured on the song, she has no solos and is hard to hear in the chorus. Swift has been criticized in the past for doing this to female features on her albums – like Haim in “No Body, No Crime” in her album Evermore – but not to male features. After a bit of research, I also have another question: why is actor Dylan O’Brien on drums??? Aside from these questions – that I will never get the answers to – “Snow on the Beach” is the clearest skip in the album. It’s not just repetitive, but also kind of boring.
You’re On Your Own, Kid ★★★★★
“You’re On Your Own, Kid” is my favorite song on the original album. The nostalgia of it hit particularly close to home, especially in the fall. Swift sings about her dreams of leaving her small hometown for a big city, but says that if one specific person asked her to stay, she would. Her references to sprinklers and fireplaces reminded me of my own childhood, and made me miss my small, suburban hometown just a bit. “You’re On Your Own, Kid” also includes a hard-hitting bridge: a necessity for any of her albums.
Midnight Rain ★★★★☆
Though the tempo and beat of “Midnight Rain” make it seem like Swift is over the relationship she was mourning in “You’re On Your Own, Kid,” a deeper listen to the lyrics will tell you she’s not. However, rather than looking for an excuse to stay, Swift is looking to remember this person who was once very special in her life. She accepts that they wanted comfort, but she was chaotic, and admits that she never thinks of him “except on midnights like this.” Throughout the song, she tries to work through the conflicting feelings of wanting him to be happy and wanting him back, which is often felt after relationships end on good terms.
To me, “Question…?” was unmemorable and felt like more of a filler track than a necessary part of the album. I can’t say it’s good, but I also can’t say it’s bad. It feels like a jump back time to Swift’s party-pop girl era where she sings about drunk nights, overthinking and trying to force a relationship.
Vigilante S—t ★★★★☆
“Vigilante S—t” would fit perfectly on one of my favorites of Swift’s albums: Reputation. “Don’t get sad, get even,” Swift says as she sings about reporting a man’s white-collar crimes to the FBI. The passive anger presented in this song – as well as the scheming – is something I can understand and relate to. “Vigilante S—t” is Swift’s clear maneater song on Midnights, and she has to have at least one on all of her albums.
Of all my unpopular opinions about this album, this will likely be my most controversial: I do not like “Bejeweled.” Some of the lyrics feel cheesy, and the consistent references to sparkles and diamonds feels juvenile. Unless I’m in the right mood, “Bejeweled” will always be a skip for me. However, I do appreciate the continuous nods to nightlife and parties, especially in this song.
“Labyrinth” is one of the slower songs on the album. It’s about navigating falling in love again after ending a relationship with someone Swift thought she’d always be with. “Labyrinth” immediately went on my homework and study playlist, but other than that it was somewhat unmemorable to me. However, this feels like the song on the album that’s going to grow on me over time.
“Karma” is another song on the album gaining popularity through TikTok. “Karma” uses the same theme “Vigilante S—t” does — wanting revenge but not necessarily needing to do anything to get it. “Me and karma vibe like that,” Swift sings. This song is about the satisfaction of knowing you were in the right the whole time, and other people finally starting to see it. It’s definitely one of my favorites on the album. “Karma” is upbeat, but not necessarily happy. The only way I can describe the feeling it evoked was pure satisfaction.
Sweet Nothing ★★☆☆☆
“Sweet Nothing” is a big switch from “Karma.” This is one of the most vulnerable songs on Midnights, as Swift sings about finding someone as a safety net and enjoying all of the little things they do. Including another complex bridge, “Sweet Nothing” is good for listening to while doing homework, similarly to “Labyrinth.”
“Mastermind” is the closing track to the original album not including the bonus tracks. When I first heard it as the closer, I was a bit unimpressed. However, after hearing it fit into the middle of the album with the 3 a.m. bonus tracks, “Mastermind” began to grow on me. “Mastermind” is relatable. I know other people understand scheming and making small moves to eventually get the person they want in a relationship. “Checkmate, I couldn’t lose,” Swift sings in a proud tone.
The Great War ★★★★★
“The Great War” is my favorite song in the whole album at the moment, though this is bound to change. Using war metaphors, Swift describes a relationship between two people who really love each other trying their best to make it work. They eventually “survived the great war” and overcame the conflict they were facing. There’s a clear story throughout the entire song, and the trumpets in the background at the end give an incredible sense of victory and happiness.
Bigger Than the Whole Sky ★★★★☆
“Bigger Than the Whole Sky” is the same story as “The Great War,” but if the couple hadn’t made it out in the end. Swift sings about her love and appreciation for an individual, even though their relationship didn’t work out. She also brings in elements of regret, as she sings, “What could’ve been, would’ve been, what should’ve been you.” This song is sad, but it’s so relatable. Similarly to “Midnight Rain,” “Bigger Than the Whole Sky” shows an appreciation to the relationship Swift is mourning.
“Paris” brings back some of the glamour of the original album. It fits more into the nightlife and glitter vibe of the original album than any of the other bonus tracks do, and uses one of the most glamorous cities in the world to do so. Swift also discusses her desire to keep her private life private, which is very difficult considering she is one of the most famous music artists in the world. “Romance is not dead if you keep it just yours,” she sings.
High Infidelity ★★★★☆
“High Infidelity” tells a tale that is all too familiar to many people struggling through relationships: not receiving enough love or effort from your partner until you feel the need to leave. Swift could be considered the villain in this song. After all, she did cheat on whoever her significant other was. However, she doesn’t regret it. “High Infidelity” is another song off the album gaining popularity after blowing up on TikTok. The concept of “High Infidelity” is bold. Throughout the song, you find yourself struggling to not be on Swift’s side, even though she is clearly in the wrong.
“Glitch” is one of the most heavily produced songs on the album. The song has constant glitching sounds, representing Swift’s confusion. She’s obsessed with someone she doesn’t want to be, and she doesn’t understand why, hence the glitch in her system. It’s about developing a soft spot after being emotionless for so long.
Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve ★★★★☆
“Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” is about Swift’s relationship with musician John Mayer when she was 19 and he was 32. Though this title is similar to lyrics in “Bigger Than the Whole Sky,” the messages of both songs are opposites. She shows mature anger she’s never shown regarding this relationship and how she was preyed on by Mayer. Throughout the song, she sings about how Mayer is “the devil” and how she wishes he had just left her alone in the first place. “Give me back my girlhood, it was mine first,” Swift sings. Her tone is angrier in this song than in any of the other songs in the album, almost like Swift is struggling to successfully hold back her emotions.
Dear Reader ★★★☆☆
“Dear Reader” has a much stronger tone of finality than “Mastermind,” making it a better conclusion to the album. Swift is giving advice to the listener after taking them through the story of “Midnights,” making it a necessary conclusion to the album. However, its placement directly after “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” makes it far less hard hitting than it would be if it was placed elsewhere in the album. Its slow tempo also makes it difficult to be excited about it.
Header Illustration by Magda Wilhelm