Adin Linden, Grade 11, Staff Writer
In a short Instagram post introducing her 10th studio album, Taylor Swift calls Midnights a “collection of music written in the middle of the night … the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life.” The album does just this; it is a collection of songs that each seem to give a glimpse into an isolated moment in Swift’s career and life.
This album is a sharp turn from her two latest original album releases evermore and folklore, which were narrative based indie-folk albums, each with slow ballads that focused on stories Swift was writing from invented characters’ points of view. Midnights, in contrast, shifts away from the ethereal, soft style of those albums, and is purely a pop album, with clear synth-pop and dream-pop inspirations present throughout the album.
This album has major highs and lows. Some of Swift’s best writing is on display in several songs. Other songs, however, are overproduced and suffer from some very poorly written lyrics. Additionally, due to the album being about separate sleepless nights in Swift’s life, the tracklist sometimes feels like it lacks cohesion.
In the opening line of the opener for Midnights, “Lavender Haze,” she sets the tone for the rest of the record, inviting us to “meet her at midnight.” Throughout the rest of the track she talks about how people view women as just a “one night or a wife” and tells her lover that she just wants to stay in the “lavender haze.” Lyrically and sonically this song serves as an introduction to the album, but very unremarkable as a standalone track.
We are then thrust into a 12 song run with songs that range from excellent to abysmal, with a multitude of tones and styles. Two songs are standouts for me in this album, with amazing writing, production, and vocal performance.
“Maroon,” the second track, is a softly sung dream-pop song that perfectly builds. With the lyrics connecting multiple moments in Swift's life with the common theme of the color maroon. The production is subtle with atmospheric drums behind the track as Swift sings in her lower register. Although short, the song expertly reflects on this relationship that left a “real legacy” on Swift. It's subtle, soft, and well written.
Track five is a special spot on an album by Taylor Swift, often reserved for her most sad and raw tracks. Midnights is no different with the emotional “You’re On Your Own, Kid.” This song is a masterclass in what Swift does best, songwriting that reveals to us her innermost thoughts. This track is a perfect emotional rollercoaster, exemplified by Swift’s expert writing.
“You’re On Your Own, Kid” and “Maroon” are, in my opinion, the two best songs from Midnights but there are some other good tracks. “Karma” is light and danceable. “Sweet Nothing” is soft and probably the most similar to folklore’s style on Midnights. “Mastermind” is satirical and builds to a pretty good conclusion. These songs are pretty good tracks that are fun to listen to.
Some other tracks on the album, however, are not as good in my opinion. “Snow On the Beach” is a good song, but features Lana Del Ray very little. “Bejeweled” is overproduced and has an annoying chorus, but the music video is very well done. These songs aren’t terrible and they fit the album's themes, but they are not that great as individual songs.
Swift also released a deluxe version called Midnights (3am Edition) which was excellent. I strongly suggest listening to this album with the 3 a.m. tracks because they are particularly great, with “Would’ve Could’ve Should’ve” standing out as the best song among them. The 3am track closer, “Dear Reader,” ends the album much better than the standard edition closer, “Mastermind” does.
Overall I think that this is a pretty enjoyable album with a couple of bad tracks. The production and sound is unique and the writing is well done. This isn’t Swift’s most emotional or most concise album, but it has truly great moments. I think it is worth giving a listen, even if you aren’t the biggest fan of Taylor Swift.