Taylor Swift’s latest abum ‘Midnights’ Target exclusive, is a collectors item for devoted Swifties. PHOTO COURTESY KAT DELANEY /SNAPPER
Head Copy Editor
On Oct. 21, 2022, Taylor Swift released her tenth studio album “Midnights.” The album tells the stories of 13 sleepless nights from throughout Taylor’s life. This is her first original album since 2020, as she has been busy rerecording her previous albums to regain ownership of the music she released under her former record label Big Machine Records. Although very different from what fans expected, Taylor yet again managed to create an album full of hits.
At 3 a.m. on the same day, Taylor announced on Instagram that she had an additional seven tracks that she was adding on to the end of the album. She calls this extended album “Midnights (3am Edition),” explaining that these songs are similar to her “From The Vault” tracks that she’s been releasing with her rerecordings. This essentially means that the tracks were written while she was writing the album, but ultimately did not make the cut. In her Instagram post, Taylor said, “I think of Midnights as a complete concept album, with those 13 songs forming a full picture of the intensities of that mystifying, mad hour.” I agree that the album is complete with the original 13 and, for that reason, will not be including the additional seven in this review.
“Midnights” is arguably Swift’s darkest and most personal album yet. On Spotify’s pre-save page, she sighted self-loathing, fantasizing about revenge, wondering what might’ve been, falling in love and falling apart as the inspiration for this album. With lyrics like, “No one wanted to play with me as a little kid / So I’ve been scheming like a criminal ever since / To make them love me and make it seem effortless,” in “Mastermind” to, “You know how much I hate / That everybody just expects me to bounce back / Just like that,” in “Labyrinth,” it’s not difficult to see that her late nights were filled with some negative emotions.
In a “behind the song” feature she posted on Instagram, Swift said that “Anti-Hero” is one of her favorite songs she’s ever written.
“I really don’t think I’ve delved this far into my insecurities in this detail before. I struggle with the idea that my life has become unmanageably sized and I, not to sound too dark, but I just struggle with the idea of not feeling like a person.” Swift said. “This song is a real guided tour throughout all the things I tend to hate about myself, and it’s all those aspects of the things we dislike and like about ourselves that we have to come to terms with if we are gonna be this person, so I like ‘Anti-Hero’ a lot, because I think it’s really honest.”
One thing about Taylor Swift is that she’s very good at creating a cohesive sound in her albums. However, she may have gone a little overboard this time. After exclusively listening to “Midnights” for three days, a few of the songs are still blending together in my mind. “Sweet Nothing” and “Labyrinth,” in particular, are two songs that I have difficulty telling apart.
The editing decisions on this album are interesting. One that I particularly disliked was the voice distortions on “Midnight Rain” and “Labyrinth.” The distortions are reminiscent of sticking your face in front of a fan and talking into it to sound like an “alien.” Once I had that thought, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and it made those songs feel a little childish.
Another interesting decision was to make the album’s only featured artist basically non-existent. If Taylor hadn’t said that Lana Del Rey was featured on “Snow On The Beach,” I wouldn’t have known, which brings up the question of why have Lana Del Rey be the only featured artist on the album if her vocals were hardly used?
One thing that fans love to do is speculate who her songs are about. With “Dear John” from her “Speak Now” album and “Style” from “1989,” it’s easy to speculate that those may be about John Mayer and Harry Styles. However, on “Midnights” it’s not as easy to unravel.
I find it very interesting that fans have to dig into the sound of the song and the lyrics to figure out who it’s about. Being that this album is the story of 13 of Taylor’s sleepless nights, it may be inviting fans to engage in some sleepless nights of their own. One song in particular that I think is very obvious is “Question…?” as the first two lyrics seem to callback to her songs “Out Of The Woods” and “Style” from her album “1989.” Also, the actual sound of the album is very reminiscent of “Keep Driving” by Harry Styles. However, the song “Midnight Rain” has Swifties fighting over whether it’s about Taylor Lautner or Tom Hiddleston. Regardless of who the songs are about, it’s interesting to hear Taylor calling back to her previous works.
Ultimately, “Midnights” is not at all what I expected. Being the first original album since the releases of “Folklore” and “Evermore” in 2020, I, along with many other fans, expected the album to have more of an indie feel. Instead, the overall vibe of the album seems to fit in more with “1989,” “reputation” and “Lover,” which were released in 2014, 2017 and 2019 respectively.
I think that having the sound of Taylor’s older albums helps to create a familiar but newer sound and reinforce that these are the sleepless nights throughout her life. I’d like to see Taylor try a new genre for her next original album; maybe something of the Rock genre?