Midnights Features Taylor Swift’s Classic Sound, Stellar Lyrics

On Friday, Oct. 21, at midnight sharp, Taylor Swift released her 10th studio album Midnights. I, like many fellow fans and eager listeners, went to Spotify as soon as the clock struck midnight, only to find that we had crashed the site in anticipation. Once the platform was back up and running, the listening party commenced. 

Midnights is a dream pop album that centers 13 stories of 13 sleepless nights in Swift’s life. Swift opens the album with the high of falling in love in the song “Lavender Haze.” The story travels to the feeling of deep insecurity (“Anti-Hero”), to the sacrifice of love for prioritizing your own dreams (“Midnight Rain”), and even to the malefic desire to enact revenge (“Vigilante Sh*t”). Three hours after its release, Midnights was followed by Midnights (3am edition), featuring seven bonus songs, and, like most of Swift’s bonus tracks, many of them are just as good, if not better, than the songs on the main tracklist. These additional songs explore a unique perspective of cheating (“High Infidelity”) and retrospection on misunderstood past trauma (“Would’ve Could’ve Should’ve”). 

Midnights’ sound is similar to 1989 and Lover, but it feels like a more mature version of pop, mirroring Swifts’ growth as a person since her past releases. Midnights contains songs that are airy and fun, with synth beats and catchy melodies, but that still delve into some of the darkest periods in her life. In “You’re on Your Own, Kid” Swift says  “I hosted parties and starved my body / Like I’d be saved by a perfect kiss.” You don’t need to be a Swiftie or know the inner details of Swift’s life to appreciate what she shares in songs like this, nor do you even have to be a fan to enjoy the album — it mirrors the likes of Lana Del Rey and Lorde. The sounds of both of these artists seeped into Midnights with the help of mutual collaborator Jack Antonoff, Swift’s main accomplice on this album. 

A lot of complaints about the album stem from the fact that it doesn’t match the same sound aesthetic of Folklore or Evermore. Despite her change in genre – or rather her return to pop – Swift has always proven that she never stays in one era for too long, always innovating and changing the style of her music from album to album. 

Another complaint is that the album showcases musical production more than Swift’s songwriting, arguably her  best quality as an artist. Sure, she may have some weaker lyrics like “everybody is a sexy baby” and “weird but f**king beautiful,” but the strange, cringey one-off lines are contrasted by the eloquent, clever, and interesting lyrics we have grown to love and expect from her. Lines like “I’m only cryptic and Machiavellian ’cause I care” and “do I really have to chart the constellations in his eyes” prove that she will always redeem herself with stellar and poetic lyrics.  

Although many of the songs follow the same synth-pop style, the musical styles of some of her old albums bleed into these songs as well. “Sweet Nothing” and “Bejeweled” could easily have been a part of the Lover era, “Maroon” would fit in beautifully on Reputation, “Labyrinth” is a remnant of Folklore, “Paris” might as well have been a 1989 vault track, and “High Infidelity” is exactly the style of Evermore. Even a song like “You’re on Your Own, Kid” is one that could easily blend with Red. 

My only real complaint is how Lana Del Rey’s feature is almost nonexistent in the vocals on the fourth track, “Snow on the Beach.” Although I have come to expect that from Swift, who has repeatedly placed featured artists on backing vocals beginning with Colbie Caillat’s “duet” on “Breathe” in 2008, I was still hopeful that I would hear more from Del Rey, especially after Swift proved it was possible with her Phoebe Bridgers feature in “Nothing New” on Red (Taylor’s Version). 

Personally, I love this album. To me, Midnights is exactly what we would expect from Taylor Swift, good or bad. As much as she is sometimes painfully cringey and millennial, we as fans shouldn’t expect anything less from her than what she has given to us with every release since her debut album nearly 20 years ago: a mixture of songs that are fun for dancing and ones you can listen to as you sob in your bed alone — the two ways a Taylor Swift album should always be listened to.