‘Midnights’: a love letter to past selves and future beginnings


Raph PH | Flickr

Samantha Sollitto

After two successful years of surprise album drops and re-recordings, Taylor Swift has released her 10th studio album, “Midnights.”

A drastic shift from her “COVID-19 pandemic” albums where she explored the idea of folk tales and alternative music, “Midnights” goes back to her roots, drawing inspiration from her life by telling the story of 13 sleepless nights.

While “folklore” and “evermore” were like putting on a brand new coat, “Midnights” is putting on that old cardigan Swift once sang about, allowing listeners to be engulfed in a warm hug of familiarity and nostalgia as she transports us back to one of her most notable sounds, pop.

The album is 44 minutes long with 13 songs that feel like a beautiful mixture of her previous pop albums,“1989,” “reputation,” and “Lover.” However, bearing gifts in the middle of the night like Santa himself, Swift gave her fans seven more songs to enjoy with the album, only three hours after its initial release, calling it “Midnights (3am Edition).”

Much of the scrutiny Swift has faced revolves around the content of her songs. Breakups, exes, love, relationships; if you could name it, Swift could write it. But the latest album enters a brand new arena.

Delving into the idea of self-loathing with “Anti-Hero,” the harsh reality of realizing you’re all alone with “You’re on Your Own Kid” and how beautiful it feels when someone receives exactly what they deserve in “Karma,” Swift covers it all. Do not  worry, she still has love songs for those who are happily in relationships.

A consistent hit-maker and all-around successful songwriter, “Midnights” is no exception to her reputation. One of her best, the album shows a side to her that her other albums fail to do. She does an exceptional job at stepping away from the safety net of love songs and dives head first into the scariness of a reality we know all too well.

It is not just a pop album, rather a social commentary on what it is like to be treated as if you are  not a real person by the people you hold close.

As discussed earlier this month, Swift revealed that “Anti-Hero”, the lead single of the album, gave fans and casual listeners alike a magnifying glass that highlighted all of her insecurities in a way she’s never done before.

Perhaps her fearlessness comes from constantly outdoing herself. Or maybe it comes from her versatility as an artist, a true chameleon when it comes to changing genre and switching sound so effortlessly.

After just one day of being released,  the album has broken several streaming records, becoming the most streamed album in a single day on Spotify with Swift simultaneously becoming the most streamed artist in a single day. What makes the feat more impressive is that Swift originally had her catalog pulled from the streaming service in November 2014 as a way to help smaller artists earn the money they deserve from listeners streaming their songs. It was not  until June 2017 that her music rejoined the app.

This is not  to say that her newest album has been a fan favorite, though. Many people have voiced that they are  upset that “Midnights” does not have the same lyrical mastery of “folklore” or “evermore.”

However, had Swift used her Shakespearean pen to writea pop album is not what we would have received. Sometimes simplicity can go a long way. But that is also a cheap-shot considering there are songs on the album like “Labyrinth” or “Bigger Than the Whole Sky” that are reminiscent of the poetic lyricism from her past work.

These songs, although lyrically beautifully, feel like imposters on an album as upbeat as this one. Maybe they were folklore scraps because the songs start slow and seem to never pick up, as if you were on a long narrow road that continues going straight forever.

“Upbeat” feels like a strange word to use when describing the album. While the production is certainly that, the lyrics are quite the opposite. But maybe that is what makes Swift the musical powerhouse that she is.

Having songs that are overwhelmingly upbeat with lyrics that are cry-your-eyes-out-in-thebathroom sad, helps create a sort of sound that feels exactly like life. Representing not only the good and the bad, she also shows what it is  like to pretend you are  alright in a world where you have to be alright in order to make it.

Ultimately, “Midnights “is a lengthy letter to past selves and skeletons in your closets that you’ve been too afraid to address. Whether you are  still too afraid or not, Swift takes your hand and guides you through her emotions, letting you know that you are  not alone and there is  always a brighter future ahead.