Updated: May 11
By Emily Rosenberg Associate Editor
Less than a year after her record-breaking “Red (Taylor’s Version)” hit streaming platforms, the release of Taylor Swift’s 10th studio album attracted enough fans to crash Spotify.
“Midnights,” released Oct. 21, soon made Taylor the first artist in history to hold all top 10 spots on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time.
The album is a collection of some of the most intense songs of her career, without turning off casual listeners.
It is also notable that Jack Antonoff of Bleachers was a co-producer of the album, making “Midnights” the first album Taylor and Antonoff produced solely together.
“13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life,” is the phrase Taylor used to market the project. The concept gives the album continuity and makes the listening experience enticing and curious because we all have midnight crises and epitomes.
The album’s single “Anti-Hero” is a catchy anthem for any human who isn’t a narcissist. Lamenting about how she sometimes feels like “everybody is a sexy baby” and she’s a “monster on the hill,” Taylor’s lyrics are provocative and melodramatic, which arguably work perfectly for a song about self-doubt.
Of all the topics Taylor has covered in her career through songwriting, “Anti-Hero” is a landmark for her, proving to her fans that not only is she an imperfect human, but she feels major insecurities too.
She also does it with charm and humor, especially in the self-directed music video where she pokes fun at Swifties in a scene where her “children” are trying to decipher a “secret message” left in her will. This is similar to how Swifties assume Taylor leaves secret codes in all of her social media posts.
On the fifth track, “You’re On Your Own, Kid,” she sings the lyric, “I hosted parties and starved my body like I’d be saved by the perfect kiss.”
Here, Taylor continues the album's theme of insecurity, discussing the devastating reality of an eating disorder she admitted to having in the “Miss Americana” documentary.
“You’re On Your Own, Kid'' is a heartbreaking track that runs smoothly to replay, especially considering bits of the instrumental will allow you to literally picture Taylor running aimlessly and helplessly through the city.
Songs such as “Lavender Haze” and “Karma” are upbeat car jams. And “Vigilante Shit,” another groove where she sings about how she’s been dressing for revenge, is a sexy, badass, bass-driven theme song for a villain that sounds like it was stolen off of “Reputation.”
Unfortunately, “Snow on the Beach,'' featuring Lana Del Ray, sounds too much like a Del Ray song even though you hardly hear her on the track.
This was highly criticized by the media. Taylor is notoriously known for inviting female artists to feature on her tracks only to provide background vocals or a short snippet.
One of the album’s mellow songs, “Labyrinth,” a personal favorite of mine, is reminiscent of Swiftie gem, “The Archer” from “Lover,” both songs wrestling with having anxiety through the eyes of a partner.
At first, the lyrics sounded stupidly simply when she repeats the same phrase “Oh no, I’m falling in love,” over minimal electronic instrumentals. After a second listen, or in my case, 30th, the build up to the phrase is a masterful representation of how it really feels to be in-like with someone over and over again after years of self-inflicted hate.
“Mastermind” is also a slower piece which beautifully builds up to the album’s finale which is almost like a breath of sparkling fresh air after a long journey through Taylor’s traumas and questions.
After releasing five record breaking albums since 2020, Taylor has no need to prove anything as an artist. However, what “Midnights” expresses exceptionally well is even with all her success with her fans, will she ever be truly satisfied with herself?
This, along with the themes expressed throughout are ideas she’s kept throughout her career but could never write about because she did not have executive control over it. The tales she tells on this album are like a long lost autobiography of her younger and current self.
“Midnights” is intricate, delicate storytelling which we can always count on from Taylor.
A: Taylor Swift truly is a ‘Mastermind’