Taylor Swift’s tenth album impresses

‘Midnights’ is a return to Swift’s pop era but also has some experimental songs


Courtesy of Dork

Taylor Swift’s tenth album impresses fans.

Prarthna Batra, Contributing Writer

The iconic singer-songwriter Taylor Swift — arguably my favorite artist of all time, no matter how basic that is, I am a swiftie with my entire heart, and I cannot deny it even if I tried — dropped her 10th studio album “Midnights” at exactly midnight on Oct. 21, 2022.

The album is a return to pop after two indie albums. In the album, Swift sings about how she is perceived and how she perceives herself. with strong themes of nostalgia and maturation Swift is at her absolute best when she is writing about the character, idea and theme of herself. 

From the second I heard the lyric “meet me at midnight” on “Lavender Haze”, the first track of the album, I knew “Midnights” was going to be a good one. 

“Midnights” is about reflecting on past relationships and the feeling of being deeply scrutinized while growing up. “Midnights” is about the thoughts that keep you up all night — thinking about why you are the way you are. 

The 13 songs are “a collection of music written in the middle of the night, a journey through terrors and sweet dreams,” Swift said in an Instagram post announcing the album.

“Midnights” is the first of her 10 studio albums to be recorded entirely with record producer Jack Anotonoff. There are some unique and unexpected synth sounds on this album, like in the mid-album centerpiece “Midnight Rain”. The song talks about pursuing a career over romantic relationships, and the synth and production with lyrics such as “He wanted it comfortable / I wanted that pain” accentuate the dramatic emotion of having to choose between two life-defining pursuits. 

The opening track, “Lavender Haze” reminded me an awful lot of “Delicate” from Swift’s 2017 album “Reputation”, in which Swift spoke about her relationship with her long-term boyfriend Joe Alwyn constantly being under scrutiny. She discussed the difficulties of living in an era where social media and others’ opinions are so easily accessible. “Lavender Haze” is about the wonderful emotion of bliss in a relationship; in which you are on cloud nine and want to stay in that happy bubble.

 “Maroon” is about reminiscing on a passionate yet doomed old romance and how it was trampled by other people. Personally, I love most of the songs on the album, but “Maroon” is one of my lower-ranked songs on the album. The only lyric from the song that sticks out in my head is “that’s a real f*****g legacy to leave” because that lyric is about the icon that Swift is and how she will go down in history as one of the most memorable artists of all time.

The next song on the album, “Anti Hero”, is one of my favorites and Swift’s favorite on the album, as well.

“I really don’t think I’ve delved this far into my insecurities in this detail before,” Swift said in an Instagram video released ahead of the album.

In her 2020 albums “Folklore” and “Evermore”, Swift ventured a little away from autobiographical writing and delved more into fictitious narratives. In “Midnights”, she returns to the core character of her music — self-conscious, aware and addressing her individuality and persona. “Anti-Hero” — inspired by Swift’s insecurities and self-loathing — gets the message across with a simple, catchy chorus: “It’s me, hi! I’m the problem, it’s me!” My favorite lyric from this song sounds a little silly but it holds a deeper meaning to me — “Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby.” This lyric emphasizes insecurity about physical appearance. This line is particularly special to me because, going to a school where most people don’t look like me, it is so easy for me to think that just because they look different than I do, they are superior to me. This line speaks to people who feel like they don’t fit in with conventional beauty standards.

“Snow on the Beach”, the song that contains the album’s only feature — none other than American singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey — has sounds of synth, violin and eerie vocals that you wouldn’t really expect in typical Swift music. Del Rey’s voice matches the dark aesthetic that this song is trying to achieve, but Swift is a little too cheerful for this song. This is definitely one of my few skips on the album.

Track 5 on “Midnights”, “You’re on Your Own Kid”, is my favorite song on the album and arguably one of my favorite Swift songs of all time — which is a very bold statement to make. The lyrics of this song are some of the most well-written I have ever heard; they really struck a personal chord and really hit home. It is pretty rare for a song to possess the ability to leave me with goosebumps and make me cry, but this song brought out those compelling emotions from within. This track explores strong themes of nostalgia and trauma incredibly well. The lyrics that are standing out to most audiences are, “I gave my blood, sweat and tears for this, I hosted parties and starved my body, like I’d be saved by a perfect kiss.” This aspect of the song is about constantly seeking male validation — discussing the things you would do for it and the extent you would go for it. 

“Question…?” is one of my other skips on the album — it’s just not the kind of song that appeals to me. “Question…?” is about an encounter that a good girl has with a boy one fateful night that leaves her with many questions. 

“Vigilante Shit” is one of the songs on the album where Swift tries to step out of her comfort zone.  To me, Taylor Swift is pop, indie or country with lyrics that are memorable. This song didn’t have any of the traditional Taylor Swift elements.

“Bejeweled” reminds me of songs from Swift’s albums “1989” and “Lover”, with the same upbeat and pop tone. This is undoubtedly the pop anthem of the album. “Bejeweled” makes me feel confident — it makes me want to get up and dance and do the “Bejeweled” strut. The character development arc from “You’re on Your Own Kid” to “Bejeweled” is what I aspire to have and wish for everyone. Both of these songs are my favorites on the album.

“Karma” is a sassy song that sounds badass and is trending on TikTok with its catchy chorus. “Mastermind”, the album’s energetic closer, paints what I could call Swift’s villain origin story. What is special about this song to me is the aspect of the track that is about how couples that are together now ended up with each other — the little intentional things they did were all a part of their plan. That is a sweet way to look at this track, and that is how I choose to remember it. 

“Sweet Nothings”, possibly the most Swift track on the album, is all about her vulnerability and is a heart-warming, romantic description of her wonderful longtime relationship with Alwyn. It leaves you with a smile on your face, reminiscing on the good times and genuine happiness for the relationship that Swift and Alwyn share.

In keeping with her recent tradition, Swift also released seven bonus tracks at 3 a.m., which could be described as rather chaotic. “Glitch” and “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” are the biggest hits amongst audiences, but my favorite is “Hits Different”. The final chorus generates so much serotonin, despite the not-so-happy lyrics talking about how Swift’s friends tell her that love is a lie and hint at how she keeps up boundaries in relationships to protect her feelings. 

Swift hasn’t toured since her “Reputation” Album Tour in 2018. The songs from “Lover” have never seen a stadium. The music from “Folklore” and “Evermore” had very different vibes from her usual music and aren’t apt for a big stage performance. “Midnights” is going to be that much more iconic in stadiums with a long overdue tour. Her recently announced “The Era’s Tour” in 2023, where she takes us through all of her musical eras and albums — giving “Lover”, “Folklore” and “Evermore” the love they deserved but never got and “Midnights” the wonderful welcome it was made for — will go down as one of the most iconic tours in musical history.