Co-Arts & Entertainment Editor
“Summer went away, still the yearning stays,” and for fans of Taylor Swift, the yearning for her highly anticipated album Midnights came to a climax on Oct. 21. A collection of songs that Swift claimed to have stemmed from sleepless nights, Midnights touches upon romance, societal expectations, and self-reflection. Now, before anyone comes after me for the title of this article, let me preface this review by making clear that I am a fan of these 13 (plus seven in the 3am Edition) new songs that Swift has released.
About 16 years after her debut, Swift returns with a vulnerable and emotional album. Her new songs hint towards 1989, Reputation, and Lover — all three very distinct Taylor Swift eras that have come to a culmination in Midnights. All of the songs were written and produced by Jack Antonoff.
The album opens with the ear-catching “Lavender Haze.” Lyrically, the song speaks about the tabloid rumors about Swift and her longtime boyfriend Joe Alwyn. In classic Taylor Swift fashion, she uses a play on words with “lavender haze,” a 1950s phrase used to describe the feeling of being in love. Still a love song, it shies away from the vibes of her previous pop hits like “Look What You Made Me Do,” offering a new side of Swift.
The next song on the track, “Maroon,” is incredibly powerful. The chorus quite literally tells a story of a love that has burnt out from start to finish. But perhaps the most powerful lyric of this song is, “And I wake with your memory over me / That’s a real fucking legacy to leave.” Her tone suggests a lack of closure, and if you’ve also suffered from a tough breakup that leaves you grasping at strings, then you probably felt the impact of this song too.
The album only gets better with “Anti-Hero.” Arguably the best song on the album, it discusses mental health, anxiety, and depression. The lyrics tell of Swift’s internal struggle as she confesses through the catchy chorus that “she” is the problem. During the bridge, she expresses her fears of only being remembered for money by referencing the funeral scene of Rian Johnson’s hit screenplay, Knives Out. The first distinctly pop song on the album, “Anti-Hero” parallels “The Archer” from her 2019 album Lover. It offers a different and darker insight into her personal struggles and jabs from the media.
Swift’s highly anticipated song “Snow on the Beach” (feat. Lana Del Ray) had fans of both artists eagerly anticipated. Lyrically, the song reads like a poem, as expected of Del Ray’s incredible songwriting ability. While many fans were disappointed that she only had background vocals on the song, it remains an indisputable fact that this song is near the top of the best songs on this album.
The next song, “You’re On Your Own, Kid” speaks to the struggles of growing up and navigating the world almost entirely on your own. A gentle song that speaks on puppy love and mental health in our adolescent years, Swift turns a reflectional monologue into a touching song. The bridge opens up to Swift’s inner troubles from navigating the world as a celebrity, but in the end, she reminds us “you’re on your own kid, you can face this.”
“Midnight Rain” and “Vigilante Shit” are probably the most distinct songs on the album with the addition of techno synth and beat that’s reminiscent of Reputation. The latter song gives fans an insight into her work in the background when she faced attacks from Scooter Braun and Kanye West. Like the other songs on this album, she discusses her media image and all that she’s done behind the scenes.
Across social media platforms, and especially on TikTok, her songs “Bejeweled” and “Karma” blew up, with thousands of fans dissecting the audio. Going hand in hand, “Bejeweled” discusses leaving a toxic relationship, and “Karma” reflects on this as Swift happily proclaims that “karma is [her] boyfriend.”
While sappy love songs aren’t personally my thing, “Labyrinth” and “Sweet Nothing” sound closest to Swift’s album Lover. She navigates through a labyrinth of what it feels like to fall in love. The songs complement one another in their ability to bring out the real fears we have with falling in love and the reassurances that we desire, as described in “Sweet Nothing.”
Finally, Swift offers “Mastermind” to close out the album. It describes a plan to catch the attention of a longtime crush. She sings “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” alluding to the idea that women have to play dirty and plan extensively to get what they want. But the best part of the song is when she sings, “Saw a wide smirk on your face / You knew the entire time.” With a chorus that begs to be screamed while riding in a car, Swift closes out the wonderful album with an upbeat and fun song to tie together all the emotions and stories she has offered.
Despite the backlash Swift may have received over social media, it remains an indisputable fact that Midnights is her most honest album yet. Its vulnerability extends an open hand for the audience to take and explore. The more you listen and allow for the lyrics to sink in, the more you feel Swift’s incredible lyrical storytelling come to life.