Taylor Swift released her 10th studio album, Midnights, on Oct. 21. The 13-track album is about 13 sleepless nights she has had throughout her career. This album marks her return to pop after her previous two albums, folklore and evermore. Swift has not released an all-original album since evermore because she has been busy re-recording her first six albums.
After Swift announced a new album when she was onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards, I freaked out. I have been a Swift fan since 2006 and have loved the music she has released. She has helped me through all the ups and downs of my life, and the release of Midnights is no exception.
When the clock struck midnight (or 9 p.m. in Tucson), I rushed to Spotify to listen to the album for the first time. I could tell this album would be one of my favorites from the first song.
The first track, “Lavender Haze,” shocked me because I did not expect this album to be a pop album. Being a fan for so long, I have heard her country, pop, indie and now her return to pop. This song is about wanting to be in a bubble when you are in love, where nobody’s comments can get to you.
The second track, “Maroon,” is a more grown-up version of her song “Red,” in which she uses colors to represent her emotions. In the song, Swift writes about different shades of red, and maroon is a darker version. This song goes through all the stages of a relationship: becoming friends, entering into a romantic relationship, facing the trials of long-distance, having issues and eventually breaking up. “Maroon” is more grown-up than “Red” because it's about a more mature relationship that mentions intimacy and sex.
The third track, “Anti-Hero,” is an upbeat song with heartbreaking lyrics. It’s about her insecurities about her moral character and how Swift feels she is never doing enough. She calls herself out with the lyrics, “It’s me / Hi! / I’m the problem.” Swift has been ridiculed throughout her career for dating, and this song is her rewriting how the public views her and taking back some of her power.
The fourth track, “Snow on the Beach,” featured Lana Del Rey, which I was excited about, but I was ultimately disappointed as Del Rey only had background vocals. The song is about feeling weird about falling in love, but how it’s a beautiful thing. It’s about a person falling in love with you at the same time you’re falling for them. I love this song, and one of my only dislikes of this album is that Del Rey did not get a verse.
The fifth track, “You’re on Your Own, Kid,” made me cry the first time I listened. Notoriously, track fives on Swift’s albums are the most personal and vulnerable, and this is no exception. It follows a girl who loved someone in the past, but he was holding her back. She writes about how you’re on your own now, but you made it without them. This song resonated with me because I’ve been independent for so long that I didn’t realize I didn’t have anyone around me to celebrate my accomplishments with me.
The sixth track, “Midnight Rain,” took me by surprise because of the interesting synth intro, but it quickly became one of my favorites because of the lyrics and the experimental synth. It’s about ending a relationship to keep her career as a musician. Swift and her lover were opposites, but she sometimes thinks about what could have been if they had stayed together.
The seventh track, “Question…?,” is about asking questions to a former lover to see how the two relationships compare. She wants to know if her ex still thinks about her when she reminisces about their relationship. This song reminds me of sharing secrets with my friends about the people they’ve kissed and teasing each other about who we’ve been with.
The eighth track, “Vigilante Shit,” has major Reputation vibes and is about getting even instead of being sad. The song follows the story of a mistress helping the wife get back at her cheating husband. This song is surrounded by rumors of who it is about, but Swift rarely mentions who her songs are about. This song reminded me of the late Princess Diana Spencer because of her iconic revenge dress and Swift mentioning “dressing for revenge.”
The ninth track, “Bejeweled,” is the song that grew on me the most. I did not like the beat or the lyrics during my first listen, but now I adore them. It’s about Swift knowing her worth and going out knowing people will be in awe of her. She knows she is the ultimate prize and is not waiting for a man to realize that. The way she says the word “shimmer” in the song scratches my brain just right.
The 10th track, “Labyrinth,” is about being scared that you’re falling in love so quickly. She thinks the love will not last because she barely got out of a relationship and is already falling in love. I liked the repetition of the lyrics “Oh no, I’m falling in love” because every time she sings them, she adds a different emotion, like being scared or being excited.
The 11th track, “Karma,” refers to a fan theory about Swift making an album called Karma after her reputation era that she did not release. The song is about Swift sitting back and watching her enemies get what they deserve. This song surprised me because I thought it would have darker lyrics instead of being an upbeat and fun song.
The 12th track, “Sweet Nothing,” was written with William Bowery, aka her long-time boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. This song is a beautifully written love song about finding peace in the chaos. Since Swift is one of the most famous musicians in the world, her life is chaotic, but her relationship with Alwyn grounds her and helps her to be more at peace.
The 13th track, “Mastermind,” is about a relationship being meant to be. She planned to ensure Alwyn would be in a relationship with her when she first saw him. When she told Alwyn that she schemed to get them together, the song mentioned that he had known all along. I think it was a great album closer because it wraps up the album by being about love and how women have to be calculated to get what they want.
When Swift releases an album, the world listens. On Oct. 22, Spotify announced Swift broke the record for the most-streamed album in one day. In its first four days of release, Swift had the biggest equivalent album units sold since Adele’s 25. It also had the biggest traditional album sales week since her album Reputation. After four days, Midnights had the biggest streaming week of the year with 357 million on-demand streams, the largest streaming week ever for an album by a female artist.
All of the records she’s broken so far have been well-deserved. She has constantly been reinventing herself to have a successful music career — and it worked. Her experimenting with darker lyrics and returning to her roots of writing autobiographical songs has helped her connect with her fans. I loved that she went back to writing about her personal life because, other than her music, she doesn’t share her personal life with the public anymore.
The release of Midnights shows that Swift still has what it takes to be a powerhouse, even after her 18 years in the music industry.
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Kelly Marry (she/her) is a sophomore majoring in journalism and public relations. She loves to read and travel in her free time.