Breaking Records by Midnight

A review about Taylor Swift’s new album “Midnights”


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Getty Images photographs Taylor Swift for MTV Awards on August 28, 2022 as Swift announces new album

Taylor Swift is a world famous pop star. In my opinion, it’s the genre she does best, as proven by her album “1989,” which sold 1.3 million copies during its first week. Swift understands the makings of the perfect pop album, with catchy lyrics and upbeat rhythms. “Midnights” is no different, as the album feels familiar while remaining new.

Recorded completely with Jack Antonoff, “Midnights’ ‘ is a blurred, synth-pop album that personifies the atmosphere of an after-party; streamers on the floor, loud silence, bodies hung over couches and chairs, with Swift in the middle of it all.  In the track “Midnight Rain”, Swift gathers her thoughts and experiences and through “Anti-Hero”, she reveals her self-regrets and lost relationships in her pursuit of fame. This project shows that midnight is the time when Swift is at her best: raw and honest.

This project shows that midnight is the time when Swift is at her best: raw and honest

— Oshe Eliapo

As Swift described it, these songs are “a collection of music written in the middle of the night, a journey through terrors and sweet dreams.” It’s music from different moments of her life, reflections of who she once was compared to who she is now. Each track feels as though it belongs to one of her previous albums, which is simultaneously the downfall and the redeeming factor of “Midnights.”

High-energy pop songs with catchy melodies are placed in conjunction with songs that speak of self-loathing and deep regret, making the album feel slightly thrown-together, hand-picked from scattered moments in Swift’s life. This isn’t a bad thing, as there is a sense of shock that listeners feel as the album moves from one emotion to another in brisk succession. It’s introspective, but never too deep. “Midnights” doesn’t have one classified aesthetic; it’s supposed to feel confusing and unsettling. These are thoughts that kept Swift awake at night as she never achieved closure when writing about them, but has understood them for what they are. It’s her looking back and accepting her mistakes, regrets and past loves — whether they were successful or not.

Compared to “Folklore” and “Evermore,” this album is less fictional and feels more like a collection of pages from Swift’s diary as she sings, “I’ll stare directly into the sun/But never in the mirror.” The album addresses Taylor Swift, the individual, and “Taylor Swift,” the identity she created throughout all her years of songwriting. It’s her way of showing us the human behind the pop star.

Swift has always been a romantic at heart, shown by her album “Lover,” as well as some tracks from “Reputation.” As listeners, we’ve been led to believe that her experiences have quite simply just fallen into her lap. However, this notion of a fairytale ending comes burning down as we listen to her track “Mastermind.” She sings of planning out her relationships precisely, confessing that, “I’m only cryptic and Machiavellian because I care/So what if I told you/None of it was accidental.” She’s lived and she’s learned, and there’s been far too much risk for her to let the cards fall where they may. It’s the perfect way to close this candid album, as she finally bares it all.

She’s lived and she’s learned, and there’s been far too much risk for her to let the cards fall where they may. It’s the perfect way to close this candid album, as she finally bares it all.

— Oshe Eliapo

As an added confession, the seven bonus tracks in “Midnights (3am Edition)” act as grounding forces to the original 13 songs. They serve as reminders that while midnight is the hour where Swift shines the most, the hours that follow are painful understandings that seek to wound her already fragile self. She wails over what was never meant to be in her track “Bigger Than The Whole Sky,” accepting sadness and grief for what and how it is. “Every single thing I touch becomes sick with sadness/’Cause it’s all over now” is a heartbreaking realization, but it’s not regretful. Swift finally glazes over this track by saying “It’s not meant to be,” accepting her defeated ventures as they are.

My personal favorite bonus track, however, is “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve.” The song is a flagranting look back into her past with John Mayer, a cry for help from her younger self. She’s written about him before, but it is the most brutally honest. The track stings, as she says time and again, “I damn sure never would’ve danced with the devil/At nineteen”, reliving on her gullibility and innocence as she dated then 32-year-old Mayer. She pleads for her childhood back, voice cracking as she sings “Give me back my girlhood/It was mine first.” It’s painful and regretful, much like what Swift went through during this relationship. 

I enjoy the bonus tracks much more than some of those on the album, and why Swift chooses to release her best work on her deluxe albums never fails to confuse me. “Midnights” is different, as it’s a painting of Swift going back and forth between each one of her personas. It’s all-encompassing, loud, honest, raw and boundaryless. She pushes the paper as far as she can with this album, putting a new meaning to her already established popstar self. An honest meaning. It’s upbeat, but never too casual, as these thoughts keep her awake at night and haunt her forever.