Midnights, by Taylor Swift, was released last Friday, October 21, 2022. Describing it as ‘the story of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life’, Swift released her 10th studio album, 12th including her re-recorded albums Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and Red (Taylor’s Version). Going back to her more upbeat, pop sounding style, not heard since Lover, released in 2019, Swift did not miss a beat while experimenting with new sounds and arguably giving this album the title of her best work to date. In this review, the mood of each song, as well as some additional information, will be given to serve as a guide for your next listen to Midnights.
Track 1, Lavender Haze, truly sets the tone for the rest of the album. Stating that Lavender Haze was a common phrase used in the 1950s that described being in love, Swift started with Midnights with a wholehearted bop. Many speculated that this album would not be as upbeat as some of her previous work, but this song rejected those theories. This song has perfect placement on the tracklist and can be listened to in any cheerful or positive scene.
Track 2, Maroon, takes a small step back from the vibe set up by Lavender Haze. This song is a great listen apart from the album as a whole. Telling the story of some time she spent in New York during a relationship, Swift uses a sound familiar to her fans, as heard in songs such as Dress and Cornelia Street. Overall, this song is ranked highly among those on Midnights.
Track 3, Anti-Hero, quickly became the most popular and relatable song on the album. This being one of two songs with a music video, both of which self-directed by Swift, she shared how this song helped her navigate the struggle to feel like a person as well as detailing some of her insecurities. Very pop sounding, the line within the chorus that stands out the most is “It’s me, hi. I’m the problem, it’s me”. For being such a sad song, it is honest and will undoubtedly go down as one of her most personal, yet successful songs ever written.
Song On The Beach (feat. Lana Del Rey)
Track 4, Song On The Beach (feat. Lana Del Rey), is the only collaboration with another artist on the album. To Swift, this song is about looking around and asking yourself ‘is this real?’. With a calming and ethereal sound, Rey’s backup vocals towards the end add everything to this song. While Rey doesn’t have an entire verse, she still contributes to the overall mood and production of this song as these two icons share many of the same fans.
You’re On Your Own, Kid
Track 5, You’re On Your Kid, is possibly my personal favorite song on Midnights. It takes a minute or two to grow, but oh wow. The bridge is theorized to take the listener through each of her ‘eras throughout her career, starting with her self-titled debut album Taylor Swift to her most recent album Red (Taylor’s Version). This song can be listened to anywhere, anytime. While it is more delicate than some of her other songs on this album, Swift did not fail to serve her listeners with pop-perfection in terms of Track 5.
Track 6, Midnight Rain, experiments with lots of autotune. While some strongly dislike the sound of that, others believe it adds to the song and the album as a whole. Midnight Rain would be better listened to with a part of the whole album as there is no incredibly noticeable technique or vibe. With all this considered, it is still a very good song, just simply not her best.
Track 7, Question…?, definitely took more than one listen to get behind, as did You’re On Your Own Kid. The lyrics tell the story of how she changed throughout one of her past relationships. In a concert setting, this song would be one of the most anticipated to hear live. The overall sound grows as the song progresses and definitely earned the label as a certified bop.
Track 8, Vigilante Sh*t, was the second song title released in Swift’s TikTok series, Midnights Mayhem With Me. Respectfully, this song felt forced and does not fit in with the rest of the album’s general vibe. Vigilante Shit has its own sound that could only be related to the mood and aura of Reputation, released in 2017, with more of a lower, edgy sound. To be completely honest, the fact that this song is the shortest on Midnights does not upset me.
Track 9, Bejeweled, was the second song on the album to be given a music video, which was released several days after the initial release of Midnights. Taking her own spin on the classic story of Cinderella, this is her second song centered around older literature, the first being her song Love Story telling her version of Romeo and Julliet. Bejeweled is very upbeat and has its own unique sound, similar to Vigilante Shit.
Track 10, Labyrinth, is yet another song with that ethereal and delicate sounding vibe to it. Labyrinth is focused around the idea of getting hurt, but unexpectedly feeling better and becoming a better person because of that past experience. Upon first listen, many fans noticed the particular lyric, “Breath in, breath through, breath deep, breathe out”. This lyric was heard before in Swift’s commencement speech to the New York University Class of 2022, where she was given an honorary doctorate degree.
Track 11, Karma, was by far the most anticipated song on this entire album. To fill locals in, a theory existed that Swift was going to release an album called Karma in 2016, until she unfortunately got canceled on the internet by Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. This song returns to the overall mood of the album, pop and upbeat. This song can stand alone as it is, at the end of the day, iconic. Touching on her not-so pleasant past, the lyric that stands out the most is, “Ask me what I learned from all those years. Ask me what I earned from all these tears. Ask me why so many fade, but I’m still here”. These lines are powerful because not many people can say that they have been a part of the industry for 20 years, while being canceled and making a comeback in the process.
Track 12, Sweet Nothing, is definitely the slowest paced song on Midnights. To compare to her other works, it has a similar sound to Folklore and Evermore, both released in 2020. With a piano based melody, this song sounds like a quiet, summer daydream. It is very peaceful and is a great way to almost close the original 13 tracks on this album. This song sounds better with the album as a whole, rather than a stand alone single.
Track 13, Mastermind, is the final track on the standard edition of Midnights. It is a fantastic way to close the album as it has a good mix of the upbeat pop mood, yet also the poetic and thoughtful mood. Mastermind was the first song announced in Midnights Mayhem WIth Me. Being Track 13, Swift’s favorite number, this song is overall a solid song as the lyrics flow with the instruments in a natural way.
BONUS TRACKS – 3 AM Edition
The Great War
Bonus Track 14, The Great War, was the first bonus track that is a part of the 3am Edition of Midnights. The Great War is just your average Taylor Swift pop-sounding song. Like many of these 3am Edition tracks, they make more sense when played with the album as a whole rather than as an individual song.
Bigger Than The Whole Sky
Bonus Track 15, Bigger Than The Whole Sky, is definitely slower than many of the previous tracks on Midnights, however this song is simply beautiful. Singing about some form of grief, Swift opens up about some type of loss that left her with a lasting impact. The guitar in the background adds to the overarching theme of sorrow throughout this song.
Bonus Track 16, Paris, is once again, your average Taylor Swift pop-sounding song. Swift shared that these bonus tracks were meant to be more creative rather than fitting with the mood of the first 13 tracks, and Paris defines that. While it does fit in with Midnights, there is not quite any special message that Swift is trying to convey to the listener.
Bonus Track 17, High Infidelity, has the poetic mood that can be seen in Folklore and Evermore, yet with the pop sound that can be seen in Midnights. The keyboard that can be heard throughout the song adds to the mood as it is constantly there to backup Swift’s vocals. Once again, this song sounds better with the album as a whole rather than by itself.
Bonus Track 18, Glitch, is near the range of Vigilante Shit, meaning it does not really go with the vibe of Midnights. As I’ve mentioned before, there are no sad feelings toward this song being the shortest of the bonus tracks. The glitchy sound in the song gave me a headache, but this may be an unpopular opinion.
Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve
Bonus Track 19, Would’ve Could’ve Should’ve, is all around fantastic. It feels like two or three different songs, but it works. This theme of would’ve, could’ve, should’ve was also seen in Bigger Than The Whole Sky. This song could have easily been put into the original 13 tracks as it matches what Swift was going for in Midnights perfectly. “I miss who I used to be” is the lyric that stands out the most in this song.
Bonus Track 20, Dear Reader, is another truly personal song that Swift feels a close connection with. Similar to Anti-Hero, Swift explores how her life has changed or been different from most ever since she stepped into the public eye at a younger age. The mood of Dear Reader is slower, yet powerful as the piano, along with the other instruments used, convey her message of, even though being an A-tier celebrity, she still struggles mentally with issues centered around her public image. Overall, this was an unbelievable way to close this version of Midnights.
Target Track 14, Hits Different, is the only original song on her deluxe Target version of Midnights. On the same level of pop only heard in Cruel Summer and Getaway Car, Hits Different is incredible as very few of her songs are as upbeat as this track. The only negative side to this song is that it is completely unavailable on all digital platforms, as it is only accessible on the physical cd or vinyl only sold at Target.
You’re On Your Own, Kid (strings remix)
Target Track 15, Your On Your Own Kid (strings remix), is the same song lyrically as Track 5 on the original album, however it is a little less pop, and a little more alternative. Instead of the upbeat mood of the original track, it has more of a string focus, meaning primarily violin with some guitar and cello. This version sounds a little more heavy, yet also more freeing and well made than the original.
Sweet Nothing (piano remix)
Target Track 16, Sweet Nothing (piano remix), is similar in style to Your On Your Own Kid (strings remix) in that it has the same lyrics as Sweet Nothing, but with a different vibe. This version of Sweet Nothing is slower than the original, but also more intense as the piano and violin combination give the song a more meaningful sound and mood. This song, along with Your On Your Own Kid (strings remix) sound better with the album than separately by themselves.