Emma Friend, Photo Chief
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard about Taylor Swift’s new album, Midnights. Midnights is her 10th studio album (12th if you count the re-recordings), and is a re-entrance into what we know and love: Taylor Swift as pop. Those who became fans in 2020 after her releases of folklore and evermore are surprised by her seemingly sudden foray into pop, but pop is the genre Taylor is most comfortable in, as we see in 1989 (2014), Reputation (2017), and Lover (2019). Her return to the genre in Midnights is a comfort to fans who have been around since her first experimentations with pop on Fearless (2008). While the sound is reminiscent of earlier albums, lyrically the songs on the album have reached new depths. This album is the most personal Taylor has ever released – she takes on her personal experiences with eating disorders, expectations of marriage, unhealthy relationships, and much more, which is a shift from the storytelling seen in folklore and evermore.
The first track on the album, Lavender Haze, is about Taylor’s annoyance with the constant questioning on her relationship status with her current boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. One line goes, “All they keep asking me, is if I’m gonna be your bride // The only kinda girl they see, is a one night or a wife”. She stated in one of her TikTok videos that the song was inspired by a line she heard in the show Mad Men, a “lavender haze” is when you just want to be in love and stay in that feeling forever.
The second track, Maroon, plays with various shades of red. The imagery in the song describes how the different shades of red are present in a passionate relationship. It acts almost as a sequel to the song Red, or perhaps its older sibling. It shows the maturation Taylor has gone through since writing Red in both her views on love and her writing skills.
Anti-Hero has a quick, catchy beat with some quick, catchy lines. When you stop and read the lyrics, with or without the music playing, you see that Taylor Swift is her own worst enemy. She talks about her eating disorder and how she feels like her career has grown larger than she can handle. This song introduces a theme we will see later in the album that everyone in her life wants something from her (except for her boyfriend). One of my favorite lines in the song is in the chorus – she sings, “I’ll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror”. I love the idea that someone would rather look at the sun than look at themselves, it is both relatable and devastating at the same time.
Her fourth track, Snow on the Beach, features Lana del Ray; however, her feature is virtually undetectable. That being said, this is another song that has a deeper meaning behind it. She shared in a video that the song is about how rare it is to fall in love with someone at the same time they are falling in love with you: “It’s almost as rare as snow on the beach.” The chorus is catchy, but personally it is at the bottom of my own personal ranking – the rest of the songs are just better in my opinion.
Taylor Swift’s fifth tracks are famously her saddest songs on the albums. Dear John (Speak Now), All Too Well (Red TV), and White Horse (Fearless TV) are all examples of “Track 5s” on her previous albums. You’re On Your Own, Kid is no exception to the rule. With lyrics like “I hosted parties and starved my body, like I’d be saved by a perfect kiss” and “You’ve got no reason to be afraid // You’re on your kid, you always have been” it’s nearly impossible to claim that this strays from the pattern.
At first listen, I wasn’t a huge fan of Midnight Rain, but the more I listen to it the more I like it. The auto-tune isn’t really something Taylor has used a lot in the past so having that first verse be auto tuned was a bit of a shock. That being said, I do really love the basis of the song, which is one that we also saw in Lavender Haze. She doesn’t want to be a wife; she wants to be her own person with her own career, and whoever she was thinking about when writing this song didn’t want the same things – “You were sunshine, I was midnight rain.” The song feels very similar to That’s the Way I Loved You (Fearless TV).
Question…? feels similar to Harry Styles’ bridge in his song, Keep Driving. I honestly don’t have much to say about this song that would be different than everything I have said and everything I will say, other than that it is a Good Song.
Track 8, Vigilante Shit can be added to the list of famous “women kicking butt” playlist. The lyrics in this song are written to build the confidence of a wronged woman and that is my favorite genre of music. Country stars like Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood are experts in this field, but Taylor has had a few hits that fit in the realm of these songs as well. Some previous examples would be Should’ve Said No (Taylor Swift), Picture to Burn (Taylor Swift), and Dear John (Speak Now). This song definitely feels like it could’ve been written by 2006 Taylor (minus the country accent).
Bejeweled sounds bejeweled if you get what I’m saying. I don’t know what kind of magic she put in this song, but the current TikTok trend (the Bejeweled strut) is a very fitting “dance” for this song. The song just makes you want to strut on a runway or into a ballroom with everybody’s eyes on me (which I never want). And don’t even get me started on “SHIMMER.”
The first time I listened to the album, Labyrinth was my favorite song. It felt so real and honest, especially when she sings, “Breathe in, breathe through, breathe deep, breathe out.” Those lyrics are something she said at the graduation speech she gave to NYU. I also love how the song is about falling in love when it is the most inconvenient and begging for the feeling to go away – it’s something that can resonate with a lot of people.
Karma is in fact my boyfriend. The word “karma” means a lot to the Swiftie community, but we won’t get into the details of that too much. Although, karma didn’t end up being an entire album, the song itself lives up to the legend that is “karma.” The chorus is also incredibly catchy, even if the lyrics sound silly.
Taylor Swift and her boyfriend of six years, Joe Alwyn, wrote Sweet Nothing together. Joe has written for Taylor before and for those songs, as well as this one, he uses the pseudonym William Bowery. This song continues a theme we’ve seen earlier in the album: Everybody wants something from her. Except, in this song, she continues the theme to say, “everybody wants something for me except for him.” That sentiment is so wholesome and, while the whole song is rather wholesome, the opening notes really add to that feeling.
Finally, we have arrived at the last track on the album, Mastermind. This is currently my favorite song on Midnights. Once again, the flow/beat of the song is one that sticks in my head and the lyrics are fantastic (as they pretty much always are). The premise of this song is her telling her boyfriend that the stars aligning perfectly to give us the chance to meet wasn’t a coincidence, it was all due to my mastermind. My favorite part is the first chorus when we first hear “I laid the groundwork and then, just like clockwork, the dominoes cascaded in a line.” It flows so well that every time I hear it, it almost itches my brain. I also think it is beautiful when she says “I laid the groundwork and then saw a wide smirk, on your face, you knew the entire time,” which just shows that even though she thought she was manipulating the situation in her favor, Joe knew the whole time and let her do it.