The Music Moment: Listening to Taylor Swift’s “Midnights” Past Midnight

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Taylor Swift’s long awaited album crashed Spotify yesterday, as the site was down for some users for a few minutes right at the time of her 10th studio album Midnights release. The songs are all based off of “13 sleepless nights scattered throughout [her] life.” The album is also more personal, a change from her last two new albums folklore and evermore, where she narrated the stories of multiple characters. The album features 13 tracks that all seem to tread the line of calm pop and indie music. 

Track 1 – “Lavender Haze”: This first track has the perfect intro to the album, starting off with “meet me at midnight.” The track is very mainstream pop; it creates this nostalgic feeling for something I’ve never even really experienced. It is a tad bit repetitive compared to the other tracks but I like it as it’s the perfect mix of blurred and clear vocals. 

Track 2 – “Maroon”: The verses in this song are just not very interesting, and the production is minimal. The lyrics in the verses are primarily very specific scene-setting, which makes the song a little boring until the chorus comes in. I liked the fast chorus though, especially the lines, “the mark they saw on my collarbone, the rust that grew between telephones.” The delivery of the lines contrasting between verse and chorus was just so chilling and musically pleasing with the production. 

Track 3 – “Anti-Hero”: Concept-wise, I find this to be the most intriguing song on the album. The song dives into viewing one’s self through a lens of insecurity and self-loathing in its lyrics, presented in a relatively calming manner with the help of production. It was almost good enough for me to forget the line “sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby.” However, lines like “I’ll stare directly at the sun, but never in the mirror” and “pierced through the heart but never killed” make the song a lot more complex.

Track 4 – “Snow on the Beach”: I loved the beginning of the track: playing on word enunciation is one of my favorite quirks of Swift’s songs, and this one is no exception, like with the line, “life is emotionally abusive.” It’s almost the polar opposite of “Maroon,” starting out more jabby and with a laid-back chorus. I’m disappointed that Lana Del Rey wasn’t in this song much, despite being a featured artist.  The song definitely fits Del Rey’s style, but it seemed like she just does backing vocals on the track and the first line in the outro. Since Del Rey’s voice is blurry-esque and usually murmured and Swift’s is very loud, sharp, and clear, I can’t even fully appreciate the backing vocals. I was hoping for a verse or chorus featuring Lana Del Rey. 

Track 5 – “You’re On Your Own, Kid”: The song is more direct than the rest of the album. It’s essentially a letter to Swift’s young self, telling the story of a small town possible romance. It mirrors “tis the damn season” from evermore. My favorite line was, “so make the friendship bracelets, take the moment and taste it,” just because it seemed like such an innocent, nostalgic thing to say to your younger self. 

Track 6 – “Midnight Rain”: I didn’t really like the distorted voice at the start of this song, as it didn’t seem to complement Swift’s voice. However, it is a much more interesting track with more sharp instrument changes and beat drops, especially in the chorus. The production matched the vibes of the lyrics well. I’m sure many of the lyrics, such as “he wanted it comfortable, I was chasing that pain,” hit close to home for a lot of people.

Track 7 – “Question…?”: I love the fast spitting of phrases and the way the lyric chunks are handled in this song. The “ah”s in the chorus fit the beat drop perfectly; it’s satisfying to listen to. All the harsh jab-like delivery of lines like “half moon eyes, bad surprise, did you realize out of time” make it a riveting listen.

Track 8 – “Vigilante Shit”: The beginning is similar to “Look What You Made Me Do” from reputation, with an ominous backtrack coupled with lyrics like “lately I’ve been dressing for revenge.” It feels like an aesthetic Tumblr quotes page turned into a song, with lines such as “you did some bad things but I’m the worst of them” and “don’t get sad, get even.”

Track 9 – “Bejeweled”: This song seems more like her Lover album, reminiscent of songs such as “ME!” And “You Need to Calm Down.” It’s more dance pop than the other songs and, to me, seems less lyrically advanced, with the chorus containing the line, “best believe I’m still bejeweled, I can make the whole place shimmer,” which almost seems childish. The only real deep place in the song, to me, seems to be the bridge, where the music is more mellow and slow, a lot more similar to the previous track “You’re On Your Own Kid” and her other more emotionally heavy songs.

Track 10 – “Labyrinth”: Out of all the songs on the album, this is most like her sister albums folklore and evermore in terms of its production and lyrics. The line “you know how scared I am of elevators” seems like a slightly slowed down version of the line “you’re not sure which is worse” from evermore. The track seems more indie than pop, and includes deeper vocal tones. It also includes a lot more harmonies than most of the other songs, similar to “gold rush.”

Track 11 – “Karma”: I enjoyed the play on words in this track with the line “karma is my boyfriend, karma is a god,” and using a positive connotation of karma. It almost seems like a track that belongs to reputation, with lines like “karma’s a relaxing thought, aren’t you envious for you it’s not?” The song includes some complex lyrics at times and has some fun sound elements such as bass, but it feels more mainstream calm pop song than anything else.

Track 12 – “Sweet Nothing”: True to its title, this is the longest intro Swift has with no lyrics. This song has many more specific details, lines such as, “does it ever miss Wicklow sometimes?” and “you’re in the kitchen humming,” so it seems more personalized to Swift herself. It’s a love song, and has a piano background which makes it a lot more of a relaxing track.

Track 13 – “Mastermind”: As the last track of the album, this song truly ties the whole album together. It has elements of every track in it, with slow, rhythmic lines as well as jabby enunciation games. It also has a nod to some of her older work with the line “what if I told you none of it was accidental,” a callback to the line “I hate accidents except when we went from friends to this” in “Paper Rings.” 

As a surprise, Swift released Midnights (3am Edition), the deluxe version of Midnights, three hours after the album’s initial release. It includes an additional seven tracks, which was a bit more emotional turmoil than I’d signed up for. However, after the masterpiece of “High Infidelity” and falling asleep halfway through “Dear Reader,” I’ve decided that my favorite of these seven bonus tracks is “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve.” It’s just so lyrically beautiful, and the toned down, less instrument-heavy production allows you to truly appreciate Swift’s lyricism. “Now that I’m grown, I’m scared of ghosts, memories feel like weapons” sent chills up my spine. There’s many direct, hard-hitting lines like “I miss who I used to be” and “I regret you all the time” which really made the song relatable. 

As for my favorites in the entire album, I loved “You’re On Your Own Kid” and “Midnight Rain” for their lyrics, whereas “Vigilante Shit” is my favorite in terms of sound. I appreciate “Lavender Haze” for its calmness and murmured nature. It’s hard to pick one track as a favorite because there is such a wide variety of different sounds, genres, and levels of lyricism in the album.

Malika is a senior and second-year journalist. In her free time, she likes to read and listen to music. Malika is also involved in soccer and website design.

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