By Caroline Gilmore ~ Marketing Manager
Caption: Swift has described her 10th album, Midnights, as being inspired by ‘self-loathing’, ‘falling apart’, ‘falling in love’, and ‘wondering what might have been.’
On the eve of the debut of Taylor Swift’s 10th original album (not including the re-released “Taylor’s Version” albums), my sister and I met over a video call and shared all of our theories, including what songs we thought would be the best and what they might sound like. We were completely wrong.
After Swift’s last two albums, folklore and evermore, featured more folk music and extensive figurative language centered on mostly fictional narratives, I think a lot of fans were unsure what to expect in these new tracks. Rather than continue down the path of the last two albums, it seems Swift has backtracked to her Reputation, Lover, and 1989, pop-style sound. What emerged was a deeply personal, introspective autobiographical work about Swift’s sleepless nights. This concept album contains a lot of information about Swift’s perception of fame, the music industry, feminism, and plenty of her own struggles as an artist and as a person.
I did some of the digging and created this review for each track on Midnights. It was not quite what I expected, but overall I would rate this album 4.5/5 stars. This was not my favorite Swift album, but I have really enjoyed some of the catchier tracks and dissecting all of the things they might mean along with the rest of the internet. I hope you enjoy my reviews.
- Lavender Haze
The opening track of Midnights sets the tone for the rest of the album with a thumping synth and vocal sampling. Lavender Haze is a feminist take on public relationships and centers around Swift’s answer to the question she faces often in interviews, “When are you getting married?” Swift dances around the subject in this tune, which I personally hope we get a club remix of sometime soon.
Notable lyrics from this track:
All they keep asking me,
Is if I’m gonna be your bride,
The only kind of girl they see,
Is a one-night or a wife.
To the disappointment of some Maroon fans, I was not a fan of this song. I think being placed immediately after Lavender Haze affected its rating from me, as this song is not a fun and exciting song like the first. That said, Maroon still contributes to the central theme of the album of sleepless nights, but moreso in relation to regret and a love slowly fading away. I think the chorus does the best at capturing this aching feeling, meanwhile the verses distract me with the similarities to the lyrics in Out of the Woods from 1989.
Anti-Hero was the sleeper sensation for a lot of listeners I saw talking about the album on comment threads related to Swift on Twitter and Instagram. From the first reaction, some of the lyrics were a little confusing, like “Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby.” What? But upon the release of the music video for the single, it came out that the song was a commentary on the music industry, the pressure young women face in the performing world, and Swift’s self-loathing and mental health issues. I highly recommend looking at the Genius page for this song as the lyrics here are a lot deeper than they may seem upon the first listen.
I’ll stare directly at the sun, but never in the mirror.
- Snow On The Beach (feat. Lana Del Rey)
I was so disappointed in this song. It really feels fluffy to me. Lana Del Rey took up the post of an underutilized backup singer, just like similar complaints about Phoebe Bridgers’s feature in Nothing New (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault). A lot of jokes have come out of this song about Del Rey being “on mute” for the recording session and for me, this song is on mute when I listen through the album.
- You’re On Your Own Kid
Again, Swift echoes the sounds of her pop albums released prior. I think this song does a great job of demonstrating the frustrations and growing pains of a young woman in the music industry. It cuts deep hearing about Swift discuss her past experiences with an eating disorder, abusive relationships, and losing herself in the competition of it all so openly.
I searched the party of better bodies,
Just to learn that [you never cared/my dreams aren’t rare]
- Midnight Rain
A catchy chorus made by slowing down the sound of Swift singing drives the hook, but the verses lack the same level of depth that the chorus set up. It does have a classic Taylor Swift bridge to really tie up the story though.
He wanted it comfortable, I wanted that pain.
He wanted a bride, I was making my own name.
Similar to Midnight Rain, I understand why this track was shoved in the middle of the album. It is really similar in timbre to Midnight Rain but features even less depth. This song is all about doubt, what-ifs, and wondering- which is exactly what it sounds like.
- Vigilante Shit
The only solo-written track on the album, Vigilante Shit is a diss-track, but Swifties are not entirely sure who it is addressed to. It is cutting, venomous, and indicative of the Reputation era, specifically evoking Look What You Made Me Do with its type of sound. A couple analyzers have noticed a certain Billie Eilish-like influence on this track.
She needed cold, hard proof, so I gave her some,
She had the envelope, where you think she got it from?
Now she gets the house, gets the kids, gets the pride,
Picture me thick as thieves with your ex-wife.
The second single off Midnights is all about self-worth coming back after a bad breakup, whether it was a romantic relationship or a professional one, it still feels applicable. It has a touch of an 8-bit sound which could be tied to the popular video game of the same name as the track. But this song, following the revenge-fueled inspiration of Vigilante Shit, has a much more optimistic and playful tone.
And when I meet the band, they ask, “Do you have a man?”
I could still say, “I don’t remember”
The opening of this song is enchanting and tells almost the whole story of the song. I just thought that the chorus really lost the energy captured in the introduction and the verses.
“It only hurts this much right now” is what I was thinking the whole time.
This entire song is filled with metaphors and should not be taken literally. Swift details how karma has brought her nothing but good and has brought her opponents only misfortune. Karma is happy, fun, and great at giving people what they deserve. Swift must have known that we deserved an absolute bop, because that is what she gave us with Karma.
You’re terrified to look down,
Because if you dare, you’ll see the glare,
Of everyone you burned just to get there.
- Sweet Nothing
This track, co-written between “William Bowery” (Swift’s partner’s pen name) and Swift, shows the sensitive and beautiful nature of trust. It is a delightful note to wind up the end of the album with and shares the security of a caring relationship. It comes at face value and the lyrics feel very genuine. This was a song I had to listen to a couple of times before I could really appreciate its place on the album.
Swift knew what she was doing putting this as Track 13 and her fans noticed it as well. It traces back to a meme of Swift being the only person who searched Joe Alwyn’s (her now-boyfriend) name after the MET Gala in 2016. This song really shows how Taylor views herself in relationships and it was really interesting to hear her describe how she “planned” their romantic relationship to maintain control along with how she is disproven at the end of the song by Alwyn.
You see all the wisest women had to do it this way,
‘Cause we were born to be the pawn in every lover’s game.